Early dismissals on tap for first seven days of school at PBL

PAXTON — The Paxton-Buckley-Loda school district will have early dismissals each of the first seven days of the 2018-19 school year to allow more time for staff to hold coordination meetings.

Superintendent Cliff McClure said the construction of an addition to Clara Peterson Elementary School, along with the renovation of that school and PBL High School, is expected to continue nearly up until the first day of school, meaning there will not be “a lot of time” for collaboration meetings to be held as they normally are prior to the start of classes.

McClure asked the school board during its July 12 meeting if it would support his plan to have early dismissals from Aug. 16-25. There are already early dismissals built into the calendar for Aug. 16 and Aug. 21, he noted.

McClure noted that the early-dismissal days still count as a “regular calendar day.”

“It’s 300 minutes” of instruction time, McClure said.

The board authorized McClure to go ahead and schedule the additional early-dismissal days.

McClure said he would likely ask for additional early-dismissal days for the start of the 2019-20 school year, too, since the construction work is expected to continue through summer 2019 and “time is going to be tight again next year.”

“Once we get going and the (new) building is open, I don’t think that’s going to happen (again),” McClure said.

Also during the July 12 meeting, the school board heard a report on the progress of the construction project from Brian Mrozak, project manager for Chicago-based Gilbane, the district’s construction-management firm.

Mrozak said the work on the addition to Clara Peterson Elementary School continues to be on track.

Gutter and curb work is under way for the “ring road” in front of the addition, which will house PBL Eastlawn School’s third- through fifth-graders, Mrozak said. Stone work for the parking lot and other areas was expected to be completed by July 14.

Mrozak said 80 percent of the utility work is complete, as well.

There is about “a week and a half” left of foundation work, Mrozak said, adding that masonry work will likely start toward the end of the following week.

The interior renovations to the existing Clara Peterson Elementary School are on schedule, as well, Mrozak said. On the building’s west side, ceiling grating and the installation of light fixtures is complete, he said, and ceiling tile will be placed starting in the next week. Ceiling work will then begin on the building’s east side.

The renovation work at the high school is expected to be done in August. The classrooms now all have air-conditioning, but there remains some insulation and electrical work left to do, Mrozak said. New units have been installed in the gymnasium, and the work in the gym is expected to be completed by Aug. 17.

“The rest of the work we’re tracking to be done by Aug. 3,” Mrozak said. “It may push into the following week a little bit ... but the majority will be done by the third.”

McClure said technology for the new addition was discussed recently, as well as new playground equipment.

“We’ll likely have some kids involved in picking the final plan (for the playground equipment), since they’re going to be playing on it,” McClure said.

Also, McClure said, the district’s design team will meet to finalize furniture selections for the new addition on July 21.

Other business
Also during the meeting:

➜ The board learned that a paraprofessional at PBL Eastlawn School had resigned after being offered a full-time position at Lodge Church of God.

➜ The board learned that Rebecca Flessner has requested medical leave for the beginning of the 2018-19 school year due to an upcoming surgery. She said she was hopeful that if her recovery goes well, she will be able to return to school on Sept. 17.

➜ The board learned that Sam Schmale had resigned as PBL Junior High School’s dean of students as well as eighth-grade boys’ basketball coach and junior high boys’ track coach. Schmale said he has accepted an offer to join the administrative team in another district.

➜ The board learned that Emily Wood would be resigning as prom coordinator at PBL High School to allow her to take over the leadership of the school’s annual community service trip to the Mississippi Delta over spring break.

➜ The board learned that Jessica Hendershot had resigned as a sixth-grade teacher after 21 years of employment with the district.

➜ The board learned that Kylee Kilian had resigned as a PBL High School math teacher and cheerleading coach, effective immediately.

➜ The board learned that Theresa Carley had resigned as a teacher for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

➜ The board approved the following people serving as volunteer coaches: Rusty Vaughn (softball), Pat Prina (softball and baseball) and Taylor Rubarts (volleyball).

➜ The board voted to authorize McClure to begin the budgeting process for the 2019 fiscal year, which began July 1. McClure suggested that a meeting of the board’s finance committee be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, to discuss the budget. McClure said the committee’s findings on the budget would then be discussed by the full board during its regular monthly meeting that same day at 6 p.m.

➜ The board voted to accept the only proposal received for waste services for the 2018-19 school year — from Elson’s Paxton Sanitary System, the district’s current provider. Proposals were opened July 11.

➜ The board approved new and revised school board policies that were discussed by the board in June. “Most of them are either due to ESA updates, the Fair in Education Act, or they’re five-year reviews and updates,” McClure said.

➜ The board asked that McClure draft a document related to the board’s “vision and goals” in preparation for the board discussing it in August and then possibly approving a final version of the plan in October or November.

➜ McClure said that primarily as a result of not receiving “early payment” of property taxes from Ford County during the last fiscal year that ended June 30, the district ended last fiscal year with $2 million less in revenue than the year before. However, the district’s expenses were also less — by $615,849. “With all that being said, I thought we did particularly well this (past) year,” McClure said. “We usually get three Ford County payments in a year and we only received two. But we’ll receive our three payments within this fiscal year this year.”

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