Fieldcrest Superintendent Dr. Kari Rockwell discussed the problems associated with remote learning at the board's remote meeting on Zoom Wednesday night. Dr. Rockwell said at least 50% of remote learners in the high school are failing at least one class. 45 percent of the failings are in math. She felt that we have lost some of our students in remote learning and may need summer school to catch up.
To address the remote learning issue Dr. Rockwell said those remote learning high school students who have failing grades will need a medical reason not to return to in house learning next semester. She said beginning December 1 all failing high school students will be required to take tutoring lessons at school.
Dr. Rockwell said in house students are struggling as well. She said there has been a lot of changes and stress this past year and she didn't realize how much we are social beings. She added that finals may not be appropriate this year due to the stress level.
The board approved the IHSA decision to temporarily halt sports for the winter season. Board member Joe Stasell said because of COVID-19 it is too risky to start basketball. Dr. Rockwell said the Dance Team can hold practice on Thursday as they are considered in a safe tier and take social distancing. After Thursday it is not known what IHSA will allow.
Dr. Rockwell said the lack of sports has affected the mental health of the students and plans are being made to address the situation. Board member Kimberly McKay suggested having video game contests as a solution to providing sports in school. She said other schools are doing it now.
The board approved a Risk Management Plan that will add employee assistance programs. The plan will provide short term mental health services and short term financial and legal aid to various employees. The Risk management plan is a guide for the district in the area of risk and safety and guides the district in covering partial salaries of some employees.. The employee assistance program (EAP) is allowed by this plan, but not part of the plan. The EAP provides assistance for ALL employees. The plan will be funded by the school.
In other business Chris Tyra of Midwest Construction Professionals said the estimated cost for Phase 1 construction at the Fieldcrest High School is $7.9 million compared to a budget of $8.3 million and the estimated cost for Phase 1 construction at the middle school is $7.5 million compared to a budget of $9.8 million.
The board approved a 2 year bus lease with Central State Bus Sales. The lease includes nine full capacity buses at $18,738 each, two full capacity buses at $19,457 each, one 24-passenger bus at $13,980 and one 35-passenger bus at $13,039. Dr. Rockwell said Transportation Manager Greg Frei will be looking into the possibility of purchasing buses in the future instead of leasing but right now because of abnormal times that decision will be delayed.
The board approved the issuance of $14,500 in General Obligation School Bonds for non HLS funds to be used for repair and upkeep of buildings. The bonds will be voted on at the middle school December 16 but may change to remote if COVID-19 conditions have not improved.
The tentative tax levy was approved in the amount of $8,926,544. This assumes a 3% increase in the EAV. The levy does not include the bonds being issued. Dr. Rockwell said as the revenue from the new windfarms come in the tax rate should decline.
The board approved the hiring of Elizabeth Legner as High School English teacher.
Dr. Rockwell thanked the board and school staff for their support and efforts during these trying times. She said the decision to go to remote learning was the right decision after getting reports of new cases last weekend. She asked students and staff to make sure they feel ok before returning to school after Thanksgiving. If not, stay home.
Student Representative Rachel Schmitt said she appreciates the extra help the teachers are providing and that they are there to support us. Student Representative Rebecca Hudson stressed the importance of students not coming to school if they are not feeling well.
Board members expressed their appreciation for the school staff for their efforts during these trying times. Board member Melinda Tiraboschi said Dr. Rockwell is one of the best she has worked with.