The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Farewell To Two La Harpe School Board Members

At the rescheduled Tuesday, April 23, 2019 school board meeting, the La Harpe School Board said farewell to two of its longtime members.

Cindy Wear has served 16 years on the school boards of unit district #335 and elementary district #347 and Darren Spangler has served a total of 8 years on the school board of elementary district #347.

We are grateful for the support and valued input both of these community members have selflessly contributed!

The board welcomed newly elected member, Dana Blythe, appointed member Jake Allen, and re-elected members Lacey Covert and VP Dustin Detherage.

Board members continuing their terms are: Brian Brown, Pres. Bobi James and Ryan Johnson.

The board approved Stephanie Moran as Scholastic Bowl coach and Dave Clover as assistant JH Girls Basketball coach for 2019-20, and renewed the 2-year athletic coop agreement with Dallas Elementary District.

The board approved Becky Smith as sub cook, received Lauren Wascher's resignation as paraprofessional, and approved reduction in force resolutions for paraprofessionals Macy Smith and Cassie Bundy.

District Bookkeeper, Laura Claassen and Treasurer Karen Nudd attended as Superintendent Michelle Lee gave the board an overview of La Harpe District Financial Trends and Orientation Program for new board members.

Dr. Lee researched ten years of the annual financials and compiled the trend financial data for the district for the board.

Lee noted that the district had lost $1.5 million over the last 8 years, noting the times when cash on hand was too low and the deficit spending from '12 through '17 in the 4 major funds: Education, Operations and Maintenance, Transportation, and Working Cash.

Lee attributes these issues to a reduction in state reimbursements over time, yet expenditures had remained the same.

Lee emphasized the dangers of continuing with the status quo and urged the board to join with her in thinking about the future of the district and acting to preserve it.

In addition to the financial trend data, Dr. Lee's orientation program included a great deal of information about how the board functions, general school finance, accounting, and budgeting, instructional, co-curricular, and personnel information, as well as acronyms, names to know, and tentative monthly board agenda items.

Dr. Lee also alerted the board to HB3053 which, if passed, creates a School District Efficiency Commission to make recommendations by May 1, 2020 for the reorganization of school districts into unit school districts.

The commission's recommendations would be placed on the ballots of the designated school districts in the next general election.

The board agreed to continue meeting the third Tuesday of each month, set the amended budget hearing for June 18 at 7 p.m., and renewed the district membership with IESA.

The board approved the final school calendar and discussed next year's tentative calendar-the parameters for which the state has not yet set. area districts plan to start school a week earlier this August and build additional emergency days throughout the school year.

The district now has a tuition waiver in place for employees whose children live outside the district. The board approved the new Consolidated District "E-Plan" which is required for applying for federal grants, raised school meal prices and the registration fee, and considered a Pepsi contract for a new gym scoreboard.

Dr. Lee reported that Dave Thompson, administrator of Western Illinois School Insurance is retiring. A plan is in place for that transition.

The ROE Mini-Compliance visit was completed and Dr. Lee thanked the administrative staff who helped with this.

Dr. Lee gave an update from the architect about the Corry house demolition. Lee would like to have the asbestos retested in order to pinpoint which areas must be abated before the demolition can take place.

Dr. Lee gave the board a survey of administrators per school district and enrollments across the area in response to last month's discussion. Tree removal service was discussed.

The school camera system is now up and running. Johnson suggested looping law enforcement and fire service into that system.

Dr. Lee received feedback on the kitchen equipment grant we did not receive due to having received the grant in prior years and having less than 70% free and reduced lunch eligibility. We will try for the equipment grant again this year.

The board will have a Committee of the Whole meeting in May at 6:15 to review PRESS Plus Policy changes.

The board discussed having a memorial plaque made to remember Lila McKeown. Lee also included an Alliance Legislative Report showing significant bill action for the week.

Principal Kenser gave a Good News Report with a list of all of the class field trips this spring. 3rd-8th grades have been participating in the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) in language arts and math.

Mr. Kenser expressed appreciation to Mrs. Sholl for facilitating the testing. Results should be available late summer.

1st grade students and their parents enjoyed a night of STEAM activities in which students experienced building barges.

Kindergarteners enjoyed "Donuts with Dads" including student and parent necktie activity for a group photo. Students enjoyed Easter parties and activities.

Mrs. Byers students enjoyed STEM activities building and testing catapults. Kenser provided an activity fund report and a count of students who participated in each sport this school year. A copy of Mrs. Schatz' 2nd grade newsletter was provided for members to learn of their recent activities.

La Harpe School Board regular meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month in the Central Office Conference Room.

Agendas and approved minutes are posted on the website at