GIFFORD — A greenhouse will be going up at Gifford Grade School.

Superintendent/Principal Jay Smith said the greenhouse will be erected behind the school bus barn.

He said science teacher Tara Stegall received a government grant “three or four years ago” for the greenhouse, but it hadn’t been put up yet.

“She will be utilizing it for different science projects throughout the year,” Smith said.

He said school board member Matt Kuntz will help him to erect the greenhouse.

At the September school board meeting, members learned Russell Leigh and Associates performed the district audit and found no abnormalities.

The district’s operating accounts were in the red by $565,380 for the recently ended school year. Smith reminded board members no district in Champaign County received their early tax dollars, which impacted the deficit in the operating funds.

The board learned the district had received a financial rating of 3.55 out of a possible 4.0, which is a “recognition” status.

The board approved an FY 20 budget that is $116,300 in the red.

Estimated revenue was placed at $2,070,199, while anticipated expenditures are at $2,186,499.

Resident Janice Hutchison attended a public hearing on the budget prior to the board meeting.

She asked about the tax rate and the projected deficit.

Smith explained the budget is a “worst-case scenario if everything went as if we were going to need to spend everything.”

Smith showed Hutchison that Gifford’s tax rate is the lowest in the county when compared to other K-8 districts.

Enrollment figures were presented. The school has 18 students in kindergarten, 11 in first grade, 19 in second, 16 in third, 26 in fourth, 22 in fifth, 17 in sixth, 24 in seventh and 14 in eighth for a total of 167. That is down from 184 last year.

The board learned a new law that will take effect Feb. 7 will require new bus drivers to pass a federal proficiency exam of 80 percent or higher in addition to taking the CDL, school bus and passenger exams.

Personnel from the Bayer Research Facility, Flatville, gave a presentation to K-2 students on pumpkins and bumble bees. They received a pumpkin, coloring sheets, seed packets and a fuzzy bumble bee.

The school baseball team finished with a record of 8-10, while the softball teamended with a mark of 5-12. Smith said the cooperative agreement with Potomac and Armstrong worked well.

Crisis plan drills were conducted for severe weather, fire, soft lockdown and intruder/evacuation.

Smith said he is working with Brody Crozier on Fire Prevention Week. The fire department will give a presentation to students. There will be a coloring contest for younger students.

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Bible school program donated $1,862 to the school’s back pack program.

In personnel action, the board approved the hiring of Keegan Brooks as a fifth/sixth boys basketball coach, Jeremy Crawford as a volunteer boys basketball coach, Meghan Rodgers as a volunteer volleyball coach and Eric Suits as a bus driver pending licensure.

dhinton@rantoulpress.com