Parents asked to complete 5 Essentials Survey

MENDOTA – The District 289 Board of Education met on Nov. 19 to discuss several topics.

Board members who attended the annual Illinois School Board Association Conference in Chicago held Nov. 16-18 shared information from the workshops they attended and the presenters who spoke. Most notably was the presentation by Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an all-white school in the 1960s. Other session topics included school safety, pensions, collective bargaining, and technology.

Shirley Morris and Carolyn Hartt were recognized as this month's Pause for Applause recipients. Morris and Hartt are morning and lunch room supervisors at Blackstone School.

Starting this year, all districts are required to administer a climate and culture survey annually. Beth Wackerlin, curriculum director shared information on the 5 Essentials Survey, the survey the district will use.

The 5 Essentials Survey provides school districts with detailed data on school culture and climate by inquiring into five critical areas for school improvement - effective leaders, collaborative teachers, involved families, supportive environment, and ambitious instruction. The data from the survey will also be published on the Illinois State Report Card at More information on the survey can be found at

The district only had 5 percent of parents participate in the last survey. However, Wackerlin noted that at least 20 percent participation is needed to configure the data. Teachers, students, and parents will be able to complete the survey through mid-January 2019. Wackerlin noted that information on completing the survey will be sent to parents.

Superintendent Kristen School recognized the Mendota Police Department for the safety training that they have provided administrations and staff since the start of this school year. Most recently, staff has received building and classroom specific training. School noted that she was surprised to learn all of the things already in the classrooms that could be of use in various situations.

The annual safety meeting with the police, fire, and EMT departments will be held in December.

The state currently owes the district $341,443 with $18,000 still due from last year. School said $165,000 in state aid is expected by the end of the month.

The district is in the last year of a five-year service agreement with the current copy machines, ending in June. "From day one the machines were undersized for the job they had to do. After the first year, the company agreed but did nothing about it," stated School.

The district is anxious to move forward with another company and new copiers, possibly with a contract buyout. "We are actively seeking other alternatives," School told the board.

After a company buy-out, the financial software that the district currently uses will no longer be available for support as of July 2020. School has been talking to other school districts and software vendors for replacement options. There are four prospective programs available. Quotes obtained already are significantly more than costly than their current software. "We won't have a choice in this," said School.

School told the board she hopes they can make the transition to the new software in January 2020. More information will be brought to the board in the next few months.

The board approved the tentative levy. It is on display in the district office until next month. Errors in Lee County taxes from last year still have not been adjusted. Currently, the tentative levy does not exceed a 5 percent increase, but a hearing has been set for Dec. 20, just in case final figures change. With so much uncertainty, School would not give a predicted tax rate.

School also shared information about a Property Tax Relief Grant from the state. The board directed her to apply for the grant, which could potentially save money to the taxpayers.

The board received and approved one snow removal bid from USA 1 at a cost of $60 per hour for 2018-2020.

The board also approved, with regret, the resignation of Kim Shepperd as elementary social worker effective Dec. 21.

The next board meeting is set for Dec. 20 at 6:30 p.m.


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