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July-August La Harpe School Board Meetings

The La Harpe school board held regular meetings in July and August and minutes have been approved for publication.

School Board members Brian Brown, Lacey Covert, Dustin Detherage, Bobi James, Ryan Johnson, Darren Spangler, and Cindy Wear along with Supterintendent Dr. Ryan Olson, Principal Lila McKeown, and Secretary Jeanne Clayton attend the meetings.

In July, the board approved the consent agenda and payment of the bills, and had set the new budget hearing date for (last evening) September 19, 2017 at 7:15 p.m. in the school library.

The board approved the District Internet Use Policy, the Wellness Plan, the Integrated Pest Management Plan, and approved the annual auditor. The board also renewed the Athletic Coop Agreement with Dallas ESD, approved air conditioner repairs, opened 3 sets of closed meeting minutes, accepted Brian Sullivan's resignation and hired Angela Douglas as a teacher and Darcy Stonger as a paraprofessional.

Superintendent Olson gave a report of the most recent state payments totaling over $150k which have been vouchered, but are waiting processing by the Comptroller. We received $20k in reimbursements in late June for transportation and early childhood.

The first tax payments have been received from Hancock, Henderson, and McDonough counties. The IL General Assembly passed a budget after going without one for over 2 years. Income tax was raised to 4.95%; $350 million was added to help schools with a higher % of low income; and $65 million was added to early childhood.

The General Assembly had also passed the "Evidence-Based Model" school funding, Senate Bill 1, which provides the framework for funds to flow through the budget that was passed. The Governor promises to veto it, which then would require more legislative support to override.

Dr. Olson encouraged the board to contact Senator Tracy and Representative Frese to indicate support of Senate Bill 1. Senator Tracy has indicated in a previous communication that she does not support Senate Bill 1 primarily for the dollars it sends to Chicago Public Schools. Discussion also included Senate Bill 1124, which doesn't appear to have the same legislative traction as Senate Bill 1.

Dr. Olson mentioned some changes in teaching assignments he is making as a result of a couple of junior high vacancies.

Principal Report: Mrs. McKeown is on summer vacation, but attended a Student Growth Administrator Academy which is required as a teacher evaluator. McKeown also provided the monthly financial statement for the activity account.

In August, Dr. Olson led a Committee of the Whole through the policy updates proposed by the Illinois Association of School Boards PRESS Policy Service. The committee considered wording choices and heard changes in law which warrant the policy updates. Policies reviewed dealt with the following topics: School Board: Exhibit - Closed Meeting Minutes; Uniform Grievance Procedure; Instruction: Teaching About Controversial Issues; Instructional Materials; Students: Orders to Forego Life-Sustaining Treatment; and Community Relations: Accommodating Individuals with Disabilities. Policy updates are officially approved by board vote in a regular open meeting, then they are sent to PRESS Policy Service and an updated district policy manual will be received for the offices and posted on the district website at

At the regular August meeting, the board approved the consent agenda and payment of the bills, approved the preliminary budget, school bus routes, policy updates, and a Health/Life Safety amendment to be used for HVAC repairs, and approved Vivalda Roberts as sub custodian.

Superintendent Olson gave a report of the most recent State payments totaling over $87,300 that have been vouchered, but are waiting processing. This is $67,411 less than last month as FY17 3rd quarter mandated categorical payments have been received. For the first time, State Aid payment was missed.

Dr. Olson mentioned that the Governor AV'd (Amendatory Vetoed) Senate Bill 1, which would require State Aid to flow through an evidence-based model. The Senate convened and overrode the veto, and the House will soon call the override to a vote. Dr. Olson contacted Randy Frese and shared his response with the Board. He also provided the board with a fact sheet on the negative consequences of the Governor's amendatory veto of SB1 produced by the bi-partisan, nonprofit research group, the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

Principal McKeown listed student enrollment by grade including students attending programs in other districts. Total student enrollment is 212, up from 205 this time last year.

The board and Mrs. McKeown discussed schedule changes for this year, particularly with the 5th grade schedule, which will be more structured with movement for specific classes. McKeown included the Activity Account monthly financial report for the Board to view.

La Harpe School Board meetings are held at 7:00 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month in the school library. Agendas and approved minutes are posted on the website at