Paris 95 hones plan for district

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The Paris 95 school district is putting the finishing touches on the new strategic plan for the district, the board of education heard during its April meeting Monday, April 8.

The first draft of the strategic plan was presented to the school board by Paris 95 Superintendent of Schools Jeremy Larson. The first draft was based on submission from the community, parents, teachers and administrators following a public meeting in March. The first draft was also presented during a public meeting Wednesday, April 10.

There were 27 people who attended the session Wednesday to review the plan, Larson said Friday. He described the suggestions as, “enthusiastic and well-thought out.”

“I continue to be amazed at the commitment and excitement this community has for the fine arts,” Larson said. “The people here are hungriest for the fine arts. They want a commitment to see it grow.”

The revised strategic plan will be available for public inspection after the spring break, which began Friday. Students return to school Monday, April 22. “We’ll make the new plan available online and in other venues,” Larson said.

The core values of the district include collegiality, integrity, responsiveness, accountability, responsibility to learners and sustainability.

The strategic plan includes five areas — ambitious instruction, support services, wellness/safety, commitment to the community and student activities.

“We continue to believe in strong schools and strong communities,” Larson said in describing the plan Friday. “The Paris Union School District No. 95 opens their doors to community feedback and collaboration to help guide the direction of our schools.”

Monday’s board meeting was the final one for the old board and a reorganization will occur by April 30 following the April 2 election. There will be no personnel changes on the board as all four the incumbents — Amy Isaf, Cindy Mathis, Kevin Knoepfel and Steve Eitel, Knoepfel is currently president of the board and Mathis is secretary. Eitel is also currently the president of the Paris Cooperative High School board of directors.

Larson announced the all of the district’s physical education teachers have completed coursework so the district can provide its own adaptive P.E. classes for special needs students. Previously, the district used a teacher that traveled from Mattoon a couple times a week to fulfill the Paris 95 students needs.

In answer to a question from Eitel, Larson explained there will be a savings for the district but there will also be a stipend for the teachers involved. Memorial School P.E. teacher Amy Payne explained the adapted class for students will likely be during a prep period.

Larson praised the work of Mayo principal Kyle Shay who “did the legwork” to make the changes possible. “We appreciate Kyle leading the way,” the superintendent said.

Much of the meeting was filled with housekeeping work, including setting the lunch prices for next year, approving non-certified salaries and hiring or transferring new personnel.

Larson recommended the price of a school lunch for the 2019-2020 school year be increased to $2.65, up 10 cents from the current school year. He explained the district must use a formula provided by the USDA to determine the price. “It goes up 10 cents every year,” he explained.

The district will be filling out paperwork required by the state to determine if it makes sense that Paris 95 join the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The program is a non-pricing meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas. CEP allows the nation’s highest poverty schools and districts to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students without collecting household applications. Schools that adopt CEP are reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students categorically eligible for free meals based on their participation in other specific means-tested programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Larson said previous CEP computations for the Paris 95 determined a greater loss for the district’s school lunch program.

The school lunch price increase was approved by the board on a 6-1 vote, with board member Bill “Beetle” Bailey voting no.

Salaries for non-certified employees including maintenance, secretaries, paraprofessionals, aides and custodians for the new fiscal year were approved by the board. Larson said the non-certified raises are 2 percent, in line with the recent three-year contract approved by the Association of Paris Teachers (APT) and the district.

In other business Monday, the board approved the hiring of former Paris High School physical education and basketball coach Shawn Nugent as a physical education teacher at Mayo Middle School. The vacancy was made possible by the transfer of Mayo P.E. teacher Mick Roberts to the district’s Alternative Learning Opportunities Program (ALOP) on Eads Avenue. The program provides the opportunity for dropouts or chronic truancy students with an opportunity to obtain their high school diplomas. The program has already graduated 15 students and 17 are presently enrolled. Larson said Nugent is also certified in adaptive P.E.

The board also:

Hired Debbie Ashley as the superintendent’s secretary and Melinda Lynch as a secretary.

Hired Lori Black as a custodian.

Accepted the retirement request of Mayo Middle School guidance counselor Dan Gates in four years.

Approved the first reading of minor changes in district policy as recommended by the Illinois Association of School Boards.

Adopted the 2019-2010 school calendar. Teachers and staff will report for in-service on Wednesday, Aug. 14. Students will begin school Aug. 14-15 with early dismissal at 11:35 a.m. on those dates. The first full day of school will be Monday, Aug. 19.

Approved the student handbooks for the 2019-2020 school year.

Approved the district’s Risk Management Plan.

Approved the food agreements with HeadStart and Bridges. Paris 95 provides lunches for the children attending those programs.

At the beginning of the meeting, Larson introduced two students, Joshua Griffith and Eli Brinkerhoff, who were the first students to participate in IESA bowling and chess. Griffith, a fifth grader, bowled three games at the recent sectional tourney. Brinkerhoff was the first Paris 95 chess player to win a game in competition.

The board also heard from Wenz School teacher Stephanie Schmitt, who leads mentoring for new teachers in the district. Larson said there are over 20 new teachers in the Paris district this year and Schmitt coordinated making sure the new faculty had the support they needed.