District 95 talks refinancing, Fiscal Year 22

By NANCY ZEMAN nzeman@prairiepress.net
Posted 9/19/22

The Paris District 95 school board took the final step to refinancing a portion of the debt associated with the construction of Paris High School — saving district taxpayers more than $500,000 …

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District 95 talks refinancing, Fiscal Year 22

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The Paris District 95 school board took the final step to refinancing a portion of the debt associated with the construction of Paris High School — saving district taxpayers more than $500,000 in the process.

“Let me be clear, we are not extending the debt,” Paris 95 Superintendent of Schools Jeremy Larson said.

“This process was to lower the interest rate last year when rates were low.”

Larson extended the district’s thanks to Prospect Bank for assistance in the process, making the savings to Paris 95 taxpayers possible.

In another financial matter, the board approved the tentative levy for the district. For the first time in recent years, the district is not holding a truth in taxation hearing as the levy increase is only 4.9%. Larson noted in the recent past, the district set the levy at 25% to capture all the local property tax monies possible.

The district’s auditors, Larsson, Woodyard and Henson, CPAs, are presently working with the district personnel to finalize journal entries for Fiscal Year 22, Larson said. The journal entries allow the district to document expenditures in the correct account.

Faith Milam, the district’s prevention counselor, outlined recent trainings and security for Paris schools.

In addition to the recent active shooter training, more than 200 teachers in the district have been trained in mental health first aid and 16 teachers are now eligible to conduct the training for new employees and the district. There are also 60 teachers and employees who have completed basic first aid training which includes CPR and AED use.

The district now has an anonymous tip line at the top of every school’s web site. Managed by a third-party company, Milam said the tip line provides students, parents and others concerned about something in the school an opportunity to report their concerns.

Larson said the tip line has been in use since last school year. Calls in the past have included a variety of subjects including bullying, child hunger, threats, problems with staff and personal concerns.

The district has also been assessed by Navigate 360, a company which provides plans for risk and threat assessment, emergency management as well as plans to comply with school safety mandates.

The assessment occurred both during regular school hours and in the evening, checking everything from if doors were locked or open and other possible vulnerabilities. The company uses a holistic approach — prevent, prepare, respond and recover.

The district hosted a first responders meeting which included a tour of the district’s facilities, Larson reported.

Maria Hartwig, director of the district’s Beyond the Bell program, provided photo albums of pictures and an update of the program which began in January. Last school year, there were 140 students from 125 families attending the program which begins after school and continues until 6 p.m.

The 2022-2023 program is underway with nearly 200 students from 160 families attending in all three schools. She also noted there were 31 camps this past summer sponsored by Beyond the Bell including everything from an Adventure Camp to a Drama Camp to a STEAM Camp as well as sports camps. There were a total 640 students who attended, led by 31 well-invested leaders, Hartwig said.

Five PHS students will be joining the program to assist with the program, Hartwig announced.

The tutoring program in cooperation with Illinois State University has also been a huge success, she said. Tutoring is in literacy and math and included 16 tutors and 48 students. It was so popular 11 groups of three continued to meet during the summer.

Hartwig praised Larson who expanded the tutoring program to 40 tutors now serving 120 students. There are currently 11 community partners who are not teachers who are working as tutors, she said.

“This district has the largest tutoring program through Illinois State,” she said.

The board approved purchasing six items for Paris 95 and Paris High School. Those include:

PHS forklift for $21,000

$33,533 for a pavilion at the PHS football field

$33,533 for a pavilion between the PHS softball and baseball fields.

$120,409 for a walk-in freezer at Wenz School

$52,010 for a walk-in freezer at Memorial School

$279,221 for a retractable concert shell for the Paris Center of Fine Arts

Two well-know district employees have filed their notices to retire, Larson said. Mayo Middle School social studies teacher Myndy Wooten and district maintenance director Jerry Thurman are retiring. Wooten will retire in four years while Thurman will retire in November.

The district is moving forward with plans to replace the roof at Wenz School. The work will be with Durolast which is a state approved contract purchase. The work will be done locally by John Tingley Roofing, Larson said.