ALAH School Board approves 3.69 Tax Levy for 2020
Teaching positions will be available in the near future
By ARIANA R. CHERRY
A public hearing was held for the 2020 tax levy before the Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond School Board meeting went into session on Wednesday, December 16. Last year’s EAV was $239,000,000 and this year’s EAV is $246,000,000. This year’s tax levy is estimated at 3.69 and the aggravated tax levy is 3.55. During the official board meeting, members approved the 2020 tax levy.
Pastor Al Rennert of the Lovington Christian Church made a public comment at the beginning of the meeting. He mentioned that he had subbed at Lovington Grade School in the past and also recently had been doing some tutoring. During his time as a sub, there were a couple of students who he had noticed had fallen behind in their math studies, and had offered to tutor them. Before the pandemic, Rennert had been tutoring the students at the Lovington Public Library, but once COVID19 hit, he had been trying to find other facilities in which he could tutor the students. Rennert questioned the board if they had any ideas and Superintendent Shannon Cheek offered that he would speak with members of his administration team and help him with some ideas after Christmas break.
During the Treasurer’s report, Cheek mentioned that Illinois schools are still in limbo of how the state will proceed with potential cuts. “There is a potential for a 5% cut this year and a potential 10% cut for next year,” he informed. Governor Pritzker is working on a package plan that could possibly have up to $700,000,000 in cuts just in his first round to address a $3.9 billion dollar shortage. Cheek did report that the district received two payments for transportation, although one of them is for the last fiscal year. There has not been a payment received for December but the district is anticipating receiving the same amount as last year. “We have to remain optimistic about what this can look like moving forward. We may not like it, but we will deal with it,” quoted Cheek.
While the district is anticipating cuts from the state, the community is being financially supportive. Four donations adding up to a total of $2,700 was received from four different sources, which the district was very grateful for. Five teachers received $300 each to use to their discretion in their classrooms. The Arthur Southern Baptist Church donated funds to help assist the school for Veteran’s Day activities. The Women’s Club also made a donation.
Cheek presented a staffing update and informed the board that there are some positions opening up in the district in the near future. There is an opening for a math teacher at the Atwood Hammond Grade School for next semester. There also is an opening for an art teacher which is needed to split time between Atwood-Hammond Grade School and Lovington Grade School, although Cheek mentioned that there might be a potential candidate to fill the position. Next school year, there will be a grade school teacher opening due to retirement. During his staffing update, Cheek commented that the IEA did a survey not long ago, and found that a third of teachers have considered leaving the profession or have left the profession. “There is already a shortage,” he said, “and we will continue to strategize,” Cheek went on. “It is difficult to be an educator and it is not easy to do. Times right now are different. Their jobs are not what they used to be,” he added.
A COVID update was also given at the meeting. Presently, 1,075 students are currently doing “in-person” learning while 106 students are full time remote. Cheek made an estimate that perhaps there might be less students going remote next semester, but it is still a requirement that the district offer a remote option. As of Wednesday, December 16, 56 students were quarantined and there have been 48 positive cases since school started. Six students are quarantined due to testing positive. There were nine staff members who were quarantined and two staff members who were quarantined due to a positive test. “We have the community behind us. Custodians are doing more than they are used to. All of our teachers are wiping down and sanitizing everything. It has been a team effort. The Douglas County Health Department has been the best to work with. They communicate and provide guidance. I am pretty proud. We made it,” said Cheek. The district plans on continuing with the current school schedule through the month in February and then providing an update. It will “steer the course” for another month or two afterward and then it will depend on what things look like after that.
“Thank you all for what you are doing. It is good for kids to hear that it is difficult and rewarding,” commented Monica Green.
“Thank you all for what you are doing,” added Beth Wiley.
“I don’t think the majority of educators will go back to doing things the old way. There has been a lot of creativity,” said Cheek. “There are over 800 districts in our state. And there’s not a ton of them that are open. I am proud of what we have done,” he added.
December 16, 2020
• Accept the letter of resignation from Keith Blandford from the Math position at AHGS
• Recommend for hire, Mr. Ryan Jefferson as Girls Head Track Coach.