GIFFORD — Under Ashley’s Amendment to state law, medical cannabis can be stored on school grounds and nurses/administrators must administer to students who are prescribed it.

That is one of the state law changes educators will deal with in the new school year, Gifford Grade School Superintendent Jay Smith said.

The Illinois State Board of Education will develop training for nurses and administrators, who can’t be arrested/prosecuted for complying with the law.

Also, students who qualify for medical marijuana may self-administer it. To qualify, a student must have a debilitating medical condition and be registered with the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The law applies to all public, private and charter schools.

Eligible to be administered only will be any medical cannabis-infused product such as food, oils, ointments or other products containing cannabis that are not smoked.

The medical cannabis issue was one of the topics discussed at recent state board of education meetings Smith attended that touch on a range of topics, including cyber security.

“Cyber security is a hot topic among school districts being hacked,” Smith said.

Tax levy approved

Smith discussed the issues at the December meeting of the Gifford school board.

The board also approved the 2019 levy for taxes payable in 2020.

The levy was set at $1.406 million for a tax rate of $2.6366 per $100 EAV, bringing in an additional $116,107 — an increase of 9 percent over last year.

At a public hearing prior to the meeting, resident Ryan Ihnen asked why the district was seeking the 9 percent increase.

Smith said the numbers the district receives are only estimates, and to capture every available dollar, the board feels safe at that amount. Smith also said Gifford is a tax-capped district, and the most it will ever receive is new growth in the district and what the Consumer Price Index is for the year, which currently stands at 1.9 percent.

Smith provided Ihnen with current tax rates among other districts in the county.

School maintenance grant

The board approved applying for a state school maintenance project grant. Smith said the grant is a matching one, meaning the district would provide the same dollar amount received from the state, using funds from operations and maintenance, working cash, 1 percent sale tax revenue or with health/life/safety funds if the project qualified.

Several areas need attention, Smith said, including repairing some HVAC system components, completing a study to see which steam traps are not working properly and repairing those not working adequately, and parking lot resurfacing.

Other business

The board also:

— Learned from Smith that the threat assessment procedure/plan team met Nov. 12 to discuss the plan of action in the event of a major threat by a student. The plan is paired with the district’s crisis management plan that is already in place. The team includes members of the administration, a psychologist, social worker, special education teacher and police officer.

— Approved a $136,943 abatement of 2020 bond payments.

— Accepted the resignations of Tracy Gernentz as track coach, and, at the end of the school year, Jan Reynolds as library aide.

— Approved the transfer of Angela Kelly to the fifth-grade teaching position. She currently teaches computers/RTI.

— Heard from Smith, who encouraged all parents to complete the parent and student online survey for future Illinois report cards.

— Learned the county still owes the district $288,606 in levy/tax money.

— Learned the school’s girls basketball teams recently ended their seasons. The seventh grade finished with a record of 12-7, while the eighth-graders were 10-11. The first game of the volleyball season will begin after Christmas break.

Upcoming dates at the school include Teacher Institute Day Jan. 3; students return to school from break Jan. 6; second quarter ends Jan. 10; the eighth-grade career conference will be held Jan. 15 in Champaign; awards day and report cards go home with students Jan. 17; and no school for Martin Luther King Jr. Day Jan. 20.

dhinton@rantoulpress.com