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By CAROL THILMONY
Rantoul Press correspondent
FISHER -- Fisher schools Superintendent Barb Thompson told a concerned parent at Monday night’s board meeting who questioned school safety in the wake of the school shootings in Connecticut that the district is reviewing its procedures.
The parent was concerned about Fisher’s rural location and small police department.
“We’re trained; we’re evaluating; we’d look to the county and to Rantoul to help,” Thompson said.
Later, Thompson offered Fisher’s support and condolences to Newtown.
“We don’t know that we could ever be completely prepared, but we’d try to protect the students the best we could,” Thompson said. “Teaching is not a job for the faint of heart. In 20 years (in education), in every job I’ve worked in the people (custodians, other workers, too) would have done what that staff did.”
Thompson was referring to the stories of heroism coming from Newtown.
After a truth-in-taxation hearing the board passed its tax levy. Because tax caps are in effect in Champaign County, the percent increase over last year is limited to the increase in the consumer price index, which is three percent. The district hopes to bring in $3.4 million. She said the district’s tax rate would most likely rise to $5.19 per $100 of assessed value over last year’s rate of $5.14. The rate reflects an additional $.03 to pay off additional debt
The new debt is the $1.3 million in working cash fund bonds the board issued to finish paying for the junior/senior high renovation/addition project. The new bonds were bundled with a 2006 bond issue that makes for only a marginal increase in the cost of debt repayment.
Also the board agreed to allow early dismissal twice a month from February through May to allow the district’s teachers to align curriculum with the state’s new Common Core standards. That amounts to a loss of about 10 ½ hours of instruction time. Board member Mike Rice was not in favor of the action. But Thompson said other ways to address giving the teachers the needed time would cost money, hiring substitutes to give teachers release time or changing the calendar, adding in another school improvement day. Some schools locally dismiss once a week to work on such projects.
Thompson updated the board on the school construction project. The new kitchen and new locker rooms are open and are being used. But Thompson said a delay in getting hall lockers for the new addition will push to mid-January the completion of the project.
Elementary school Principal Jim Moxley thanked kitchen staffs of both buildings for working so well together the past three months out of one kitchen.
Junior/senior high Principal Tom Shallenberger said he has invited parents to come in later this week to review their students’ Explorer and Plan test results and to learn of ways to help improve those scores with an eye to students doing well on the ACT and tests all students are required to take as juniors.