United Board approves fee increases

Sheila Pressley/Correspondent

In an effort to increase revenues, United School board approved fee hikes during its March 11 meeting. All students will pay a $55 dollar book rental, a $10 increase. Lunches for Pre K-5 will cost $2, a fifty-cent increase, students in grades 6-12 will pay $2.25, a fifty-five cent increase, and adults will be $2.50, a fifty-cent increase. This marks the first increase in lunch rates in six years.

Admission to sporting event costs were increased from $3 and $2 to $4 and $3. A limit of $15 was set for a family.

A 1 percent Warren County sales tax was discussed. United Superintendent Jeff Whitsitt had been contacted by Monmouth-Roseville head Paul Woehlke who asked that United and Monmouth-Roseville join forces in support of the tax. Proceeds from the tax would go to the two school districts and would be based on the number of students in each with Monmouth-Roseville receiving about two-thirds while United would get about one-third or an estimates $200,000. The issue would first have to be approved by county voters. Whitsitt told the board, "I will have to do more digging and report back to you."

Whitsitt reported that "I have good news to tell you. In conjunction with ICS (Immaculate Conception School) in Monmouth, we wrote a grant last fall. We just received word that it was accepted. We'll have a laptop computer for every student in grades five through eight and all wireless connectivity that is needed." The competitive state grant "United Heroes" is funded through the Illinois Association of School Boards. The students will take their computer with them as they advance to the next grade.

Board members have approval to the 2010-11 school calendar. The year begins on Aug. 23 with a teacher's institute, students will attend their first day on Aug. 25. Five emergency days are built in. Students will attend classes on Martin Luther King and Casimir Pulaski days, but there will not be classes on Veteran's Day. The year ends on May 23 with students receiving their report cards.

Alexis Volunteer Fire Department received permission to use the former high school building for a training exercise on March 27.

After an executive session, all tenures teachers were re-employed for 2010-11. The re-employment of eight non-tenured teachers was approved. They are Kristi Anderson, Barb Gossett, Linda Groves, Linda Johnston, Linda Kozelichki, Jerry Platt, Ryan Westart and Carl Young. The following first-year teachers were not re-employed as reduction in force for financial consideration: Alison Coutler, Katie Fry and Natalie Kopriva.

Jerry Platt was employed as assistant track coach.

Three resignations were approved: Erin Kleiber as jr. high music teacher; Caroline Ault as high school secretary with thirty years of service, and Terry Malcolm as North Elementary night custodian. All are effective at the end of the current school year.

Supt. Whitsitt discussed several budget-saving recommendations for the 2010-11 school year. Included were three plans that included the annual reduction in force (RIF) possibilities. The state requires that each school district must make personnel decisions (RIF's) by the end of March. It is possible that some of those persons will be rehired if funding is made available.

At Whitsitt's request, the district's teachers submitted suggestions for cutting costs. He read many of them. Board members had discussed other days during the February board meeting. Whitsitt said, "We don't have to make all of these decisions at tonight's meeting."

In routine business, the February meeting minutes, payment of bills, the treasurer's monthly statement and activity fund accounts were approved.

A public meeting is planned for April when cost-cutting measures, including the future of the fieldhouse in Alexis, will be discussed. No definite date was set. The next board meeting is April 8, 7 p.m. at the Unit Office, Alexis.