Montello School District Administrator Dr. Marggie Banker began the October School Board meeting by thanking National Exchange Bank & Trust Foundation for their donation of a new scoreboard for the athletic field. It replaces both the football and baseball scoreboards that had been there since the 80’s and 90’s respectively, and for which the school could no longer get parts to repair them. Banker thanked Jed Keller, Vice President of Lending at National Exchange Bank & Trust, who joined them for a picture celebrating the installation and also thanked Rick Retelle, Director of Buildings and Grounds, who coordinated the effort to search out fundraising options for the scoreboard, which was a $10,000 expense.
In the consent agenda, the board approved the middle school Washington DC trip to take place from 6/6/2021-6/12/2021, accepted a piano donation from Johnny & Cathay Ellison with an estimated value of $1,000, and accepted 110 $5 Kwik Trip gift cards for staff members from Bill Tierney. They then approved the hiring of Lucas Wogernese as a Custodian, William Moyers as the Daytime & Lead Custodian, Travis Gould as the Elementary Music/6-8 Choir Teacher, Renate Moyers as the Food Service Clerk, Candace Vires as the Football Cheerleading Coach, and Tammy Kohnke as an Administrative Assistant.
Dr. Banker then gave an update on the Safe Start to School Plan the District had implemented going into the start of the school year with COVID-19 in mind. They currently have 464 students attending in school, 79 students attending real-time with the classroom virtually, and 92 students enrolled in online classes at home. The Food Service Department has served over 10,000 meals in September and there are 88 children who have 5 days’ worth of lunches delivered to them on Wednesdays. About half the elementary students eat breakfast and lunch in their classrooms and the other half eat in the lunchroom, with rotations occurring on a monthly basis. The district has also developed a transition plan for students who go into quarantine and have made a contingency plan for the district in the case that the school has to be closed.
Rick Retelle, Director of Buildings and Grounds, gave an update on the District’s transportation after receiving questions at the previous meeting. They currently offer seven routes and an additional route for special education students. The busses are disinfected immediately after each route is finished in the AM and PM and hand sanitizer is on each bus for the students to use. The buses use assigned seating to help with social distancing and the assigned seating has also eliminated many of the discipline issues that they had previously experienced. Retelle reported that bus-ridership is down about 40% from last year due to a few factors. One factor is that there are no longer AM and PM 4K pickups, which now are part of the regular routes and another factor is that they are not offering courtesy pickups in town this year due to COVID protocols. Going forward, the student transportation contract with Lamers is set to renew next year, and the district will be sending it out for RFP (Requests for Proposals) to ensure there is language in a new contract that directly addresses shutdown situations and the pricing associated with them.
Dr. Banker then gave an update on the 3rd Friday Pupil Count to the board. This is the number of enrolled students currently in the school that the District reports to the state. There are 701 students in the district this year, down about 33 students from last year. Dr. Banker attributes the decrease to the 4K program having 15-18 less students, students open enrolling out, or students being homeschooled. She notes that they have lost less than most surrounding districts that have lost students because they are not offering virtual instruction.