Mercer County Budget amended, sub teacher pay increased

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Cathy Decker/Correspondent

ALEDO -- A budget hearing was held before the June 17, 2020 regular Mercer County school board meeting to amend the 2019-2020 numbers. The school year will end June 30, 2020 with a projected fund balance of $10,047,847. The budget changed from a projected $17,036,780 to $16,095,240. “We are not seeing an increase in funding from the state for next year,” said Scott Petrie, superintendent.

Petrie noted that some of the changes were due to reclassification of some sales tax revenue and revenue regarding the CARES Act, which affects staff and teacher income due to COVID 19. The transportation fund was also reduced due to not having extra-curricular sports. The board approved the budget changes.

The board also learned the substitute teacher salaries for next year will be increased from $100 to $120 a day, with long-term sub pay going from $125 to $150 per day.

Petrie told the board that minimum pay increases Jan. 1, 2021 from $10 per hour to $11 per hour which might make adjusting next year’s budget a necessity.

There was lengthy talk about whether or not school will be in session in 2020-2021, or held virtually starting in mid-August. “I wish I had some ideas on what was going to happen,” said Petrie.

Board member Mike Bowns said that a number of parents were asking him about next year’s schooling including their thoughts about home schooling or moving to Iowa. A couple of the other board members said they had been having similar conversations with parents.

He said that Phase 4 guidance for school openings “is not available yet.” The main issues are   related to telehealth and contact tracing.

One guidance issue regarding transportation changes the numbers for bus travel from only allowing 15 students per bus, to allowing 50 “That would be doable,” said Petrie.

Another certainty involves students and staff required to wear face masks or shields at all times while in school.

Some of the obstacles noted include arranging lunch periods, band and recess at the elementary schools.

Assistant high school principal and athletic director Andrew Hofer said that the district began strength training and conditioning this week. In the first three days, there were 100 students, he said. Students are required to have temperatures taken and wear face masks during their sessions.

Another issue tackled at the board meeting involves this year’s graduation and prom dates.

High school principal Stacey Day said the date for both has been moved to July, but might need to be altered again. Prom is set for Sunday, July 26th at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline. Graduation is set for Friday July 24th. She said the 84 seniors have already received their diplomas, but a ceremony at the school is in the works. “I don’t want to do it in August,” said Day.

Guidance for reopening schools will come from combined thoughts from the governor’s office, the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Health, Petrie said.

New hires and spring coaches were approved at the board meeting include the following: Varsity wrestling coach, Jeremy Finch; high school dance coach Teague Smith; high school physical education teacher Brad Hofmann and spring coaches Lara Swanson, girls’ track; Mick Louck, boys’ track and Emily Baldwin (all track); baseball -- Jacob Harrison (high school); Peter Nelson (junior varsity}; Ryan Garrett (all baseball); and softball coaches Morgan Weeks (high school); Dustin Murray (junior varsity) and Kay Hucke (all softball);

Resignations accepted were from Nick Jones, junior high custodian; Rowena Parsons, high school special education teacher, Stephanie Retherford, high school cheer coach and the retirement of Margaret Puckett was approved effective the end of the 2023-2024 school year.

The board also approved:

·       Insurance renewals from Prairie State Insurance Cooperative (PSIC) for property, casualty, and liability and Workers’ Compensation Self Insurance Trust (WCSIT);

·       Contracts for Milk (Prairie Farms); Bakery (Aunt Millie’s Bakery) and fuel (Halcomb Oil);

·       A resolution regarding pedestrian hazards on IL routes 17 and 94 in Aledo and learned there may be a need for additional hazard resolutions for New Boston and Joy pedestrian crossings in the future.