Administrative reportsMeridian Elementary School Principal Lori Guebert summarized some of the activities that have occurred at the school since the previous meeting. Among them were Red Ribbon Week and for Veterans Day. Other activities described were the collection and donation of food to the Middle School food drive, donations to several area organizations, and the upcoming letters to Santa for the area newspapers. Guebert presented a student census at the elementary school with 443 students. The students will be learning Christmas music with virtual grade-level “concerts” coming soon. They will be recorded and posted on social media. They are planning for a spring in-person concert for all grades. Middle School Principal Mindy McGuire presented a student census of 212. McGuire listed some developments going on at the school, including a peer tutoring program, the Junior Honor Society food drive, donations to the Humane Society of Decatur, their Socktober drive and the Art Club mural at the new barbershop among others. Meridian High School Principal Eric Hurelbrink announced 317 students in attendance, which accounts for attendees at the Middle School and students in alternative placement. Students of the month for November have been submitted. SADD and the National Honor Society (NHS) have held a couple events since the previous meeting, including NHS’ blood drive on Nov. 12 and SADD’s ongoing coat drive. Six students were selected as Meridian’s Illinois State Scholars. They are Laney Jones, Lexi Jones, Keagan Kantor, Cole Rappe, Madison Sapp, and Maria Steiling. The middle school drama team will hold their Christmas play “The Holiday Channel Christmas Movie Wonderthon” on November 19 and 21.
Basketball programs about to beginAthletic director Kaleb Renfro was absent from the meeting. However, Hurelbrink did briefly mention that the girls’ basketball season started Monday night, with the boys starting action on November 23. Renfro’s report detailed the outcomes of the Hawks football, volleyball, soccer, and golf teams for the fall 2021 season.
Board approval of resignationsThe board voted to approve the consent agenda, which included the resignations of MMS secretary Erin Janvrin, assistant boys’ soccer coach Ashley Dawson, bus driver Kayla Parker, and assistant boys’ basketball coach Ponce Palmer. While the resignations of Dawson, Parker, and Palmer were immediate, Janvrin’s doesn’t go into effect until Dec. 13.
Meridian Board discusses budget analysis, tax levySuperintendent Andy Pygott gave the board some insight regarding the district’s current budget analysis before proceeding on the issue of the tentative tax levy. The issue of the levy resulted in some heated debate and some confusion on the matter. Tentatively, the district is considering a levy in the amount of $5,074,847, an increase of roughly $33,000 from the prior tax year. The levy would later earn approval, with one board member making the sole dissenting vote.
Other board actionsThe Board of Education meeting schedule for 2022 is set and approved following an amendment. This accounts for three Tuesday meetings, with the September and October meeting times amended to 7:30 p.m. A matter relating to two tax abatement resolutions for the 2021 tax year will continue in December due to tabling the issue. The board also approved a resolution to offer qualifying employees access to the Teachers’ Retirement System’s supplemental savings plan. Additionally considering the purchase of two school buses that they currently need, the motion passes to make the purchase from Midwest Bus Sales.
New hires, volunteer coachesThe board voted to enter executive session at 8:32 p.m. to discuss matters of employment, appointment, or dismissal of employees or officers. They returned from executive session at 9:29 p.m. to approve the following personnel changes:
- Megan Helfer as Meridian Elementary School secretary
- Brittany Deckard as bus monitor
- Shawn Scales and Karla Sinnard as custodians
- Chelsea Getz as middle school girls volleyball assistant coach
- Jennifer Hendricks and Christina Fields as volunteer middle school volleyball coaches
- FMLA request approval for custodian Bob Murray
- Rehiring coaches Mat Rund (HS boys soccer), Jennifer Hendricks (HS girls volleyball), Phil Stielow (HS golf), and Micah Sheppard (HS football)
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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.