Elementary school board: Financial presentation made for potential future improvements
McCombs recognized for IPA award
ROCHELLE —At its monthly meeting Tuesday, the Rochelle Elementary School District Board heard a presentation by Bob Lewis of PMA Securities on the district's options as it continues to look at financing upcoming facilities improvements.
At its April meeting, the board gave the administration its approval to pursue the moving up of Tilton School’s 10-year health/life safety review by the Regional Office of Education due to anticipated renovation projects at Tilton that are coming up.
In March, the board established an ad-hoc committee to provide direction on potential facilities improvements. Talked-about upgrades have included window repairs, HVAC replacement, technology and roofing at Tilton School totaling $4-5 million, safety and security updates at all buildings, and repairs or replacement of the district's maintenance shop on Cherry Avenue.
Tilton School was built in 1949. Central School was built in 1939 and May School was built in 1959.
"We've been talking over the last number of board meetings about having facility issues we need to bring up and concerns," District Business Manager Kevin Dale said. "We felt it was a good time to go over what kind of funding availability we have depending on what project needs seem to arise in the future."
Lewis said the district currently has the ability to have $24 million in principal outstanding, minus the $6.2 million in principal it currently has outstanding for a net margin of just under $18 million.
Lewis gave an example of if the district were to issue bonds totaling $15 million with $10 million issued in 2023 or 2024 and another $5 million in 2025. The hypothetical taxpayer impact would be an estimated $28 increase on a $100,000 home. For the district's median home value, the impact would be about $41.
The bond issuance process would take about 2.5 months to receive funds once it starts, Lewis said.
The board recognized Rochelle Middle School Special Education Teacher Jayme McCombs for her receipt of the Illinois Principal Association (IPA)’s Teacher Leadership Award for the state's northwest region. McCombs has worked in the district for 21 years
“Jayme has a very strong connection with all of her students," RMS Principal Jordan Young said. "She also does a wonderful job of supporting her peers and mentoring new teachers. She's in a lot of classrooms throughout the day and has grown a lot of students and teachers. She makes great connections with the families of her students and is always willing to help out and step up."
During the meeting, Superintendent Jason Harper recognized the six certificated and seven non-certificated staff members that will be retiring from the district at the end of the semester. The retirees have a combined 272 years of service to the district.
Certificated retirees include Maria Lopez-Galvan (preschool teacher, 11 years), Sheryl Casey (third grade teacher, 18 years), Susana Guzman-Holland (title one reading teacher, 18 years), Holli Duthie (special education teacher, 25 years), Tammy Mellor (third grade teacher, 29 years) and Melissa Frankfother (fifth grade teacher, 32 years).
Non-certificated retirees include Richard Bearrows (delivery food/mail truck driver, five years), Melanie Nantz (cafeteria/cook, seven years), Jane Saenz (paraprofessional, 16 years), Judi Rand (middle school secretary, 23 years), Laurie Haub (middle school secretary, 24 years), Michael DePriester (custodian, 31 years) and Sandra Hickey (cafeteria/cook, 33 years).
"We wish them nothing but the best of luck," Harper said. "On behalf of the board, we'd like to recognize them and say thank you."
RMS Band and Choir Directors Paul Madere and Hayley Wendling made a presentation on the school's music programs.
Madere said in the 2019-2020 school year, the band program was "the best it had ever been" and Wendling said the choir program had grown large as well. The COVID-19 pandemic limited band and choir to Zoom only, reducing numbers.
"The following year, we were able to bring the numbers back up to about 50 percent of what we had before, and this year we're at about 80 percent," Madere said. "Our sixth grade program is back up to where it should be in terms of where we were before COVID-19."
The program currently has 90 band students and 116 choir students. A total of over 100 new sixth graders are involved in the program.
"It's an overload of kids," Wendling said. "Obviously we're seeing a trend here, which is great. Our program is definitely growing, and we hope it continues to grow."
The board unanimously approved personnel changes including the resignations of Jonathan Gehm (seventh grade social studies teacher, RMS), Trace Hippen (eighth grade physical education teacher, RMS) and Mattie Hoiness (special education teacher, Tilton) and the employment of Noah Mershon (seventh grade social studies teacher, RMS), Kathryn Lawton (substitute as needed), Lindsay Ditmars (speech language pathology), Anna Hess (speech language pathology) and Jennifer Rising (math intervention coordinator, Lincoln).
Harper discussed the district's end-of-year dates. May 26 will be the last school day with students, and that same day will see the eighth grade promotion ceremony at Rochelle Township High school at 6 p.m. and May 30 will be teachers' last day.
May 31 will mark the start of the district's summer HUB Program at Lincoln School, which will run Monday through Thursday, four hours per day for 14 days (ends June 22).
June 6 will mark the start of the Huskie Hub Tutoring summer program at Rochelle Middle School on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon, ending June 29.