RANTOUL — The Rantoul Township High School board has adopted a fiscal year 2021 budget with a $2 million surplus.

Revenue for 2020-21 is anticipated to total $17.69 million, and expenditures $15.67 million. The only deficit appears in the fire prevention and safety fund.

Last year’s budgeted revenue was $12.85 million.

“Revenue for this year’s budget will seem higher,” Superintendent Scott Amerio said, explaining that problems in the county treasurer’s office prevented the district from receiving property tax revenue before the end of fiscal year 2020. “It’s a big chunk we normally would’ve gotten in last year’s budget.”

The fiscal year 2021 budget is 26.14 percent larger than the $12.43 million budgeted for fiscal year 2020.

Amerio said the district should see its numbers normalize during the next fiscal year.

Amerio reported the district had received $41,585.60 from the 1 percent school facilities county sales tax. According to Amerio, the district needs at least 60 percent of the expected revenue over the next three months to continue paying off the district’s bonds.

That’s feasible, he said, since the district has been getting about 77 percent. Revenue will be down this fall, Amerio noted, since the district won’t be getting revenue normally generated by sources like the University of Illinois football games. While the Big Ten has agreed to start the football season in October, there will be no fan attendance.

Swift, Wilson recognized

RTHS students Jakira Wilson and Tayon Swift were recognized for being national finalists in the NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) competition, a year-long achievement program designed to recruit, stimulate and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students.

Students can choose up to three competitions from a total of 29 offerings.

“It really strives to push students to excellence,” choral teacher Andrea Welty-Peachey said.

Working with ACT-SO committee chairperson Dr. Barbara Gillespie-Washington, a retired Urbana school district educator, Wilson and Swift represented Champaign County.

Wilson, a 17-year-old senior, told the board she enjoys painting and writing poetry and competed in a short story category. She also competed in ACT-SO as a 13-year-old in drawing.

Wilson described her short story to the board, saying she has been inspired by the writing of Edgar Allan Poe.

“I couldn’t stop reading his books,” she said.

This year the competition was done virtually rather than face-to-face.

“It was challenging,” Wilson said.

Wilson is enrolled in an EMS program at Parkland College and wants to be a tattoo artist.

Swift, a 16-year-old junior, admitted, “Getting into this program I didn’t know what to expect.”

Other than singing, Swift was unsure of what abilities he had.

“It helped me explore my own talents,” he said. “They help you set up priorities and goals. Coming out of it, I have a better sense of what I want to do in the future.”

Swift ended up choosing painting as one of his competition areas and found it therapeutic.

“I needed to get my own feelings and thoughts out on a canvas,” he said.

Also recognized was Exchange Club Student of the Month Lilly Swanson.

Teacher evaluations

The board tabled a decision on a memorandum of understanding with the RTHS Education Association for teacher evaluations during the 2020-2021 school year.

Labor and management organizations have been discussing the issue. Amerio said while the district wants to continue giving constructive feedback to teachers, it does not want to use evaluations in a summit of rating that is used for a sequence of dismissal. Normally, teachers with the lowest average performance rating are dismissed first.

“This year would be hard,” Amerio said. “It’s so different because of what they’re doing in the classroom.”

Personnel issues

The board accepted the appointments of intervention teachers Krista Hinkley, Sam Kelly, Kevin Beebe, Cortni McCabe, Aaron Poradzisz and Anthony Cantu. Tom Hess will serve as Eagle Enhancement director for fall, winter and summer, and Chris Wagner will for spring.

Theresa Porter and Nick Cotter were appointed as co-FFA sponsors, Trisha Freeman and Dede Graham as class of 2024 sponsors and Kristen Walerowicz as class of 2022 sponsor. Renee Reed was hired as the new business teacher, starting Oct. 7.

The board granted a leave of absence to bus driver Charles Smith. And the board accepted the resignation of custodian David Beinborn, effective Aug. 18.

Return to school

Amerio updated the board on the return to school.

“Everything is going pretty well,” he said. “We’re taking an extra step with some of our protocols. All of that’s working as it should.”

For example, he said, students with symptoms such as stomachaches or headaches are being sent home unless it’s obvious they’re being caused by something other than COVID-19. Any classrooms the student was in are then shut down so that they can be deep-cleaned.

So far, only one student has tested positive for COVID-19.

“The student is doing very well,” Amerio said.

A student who rode to school with that student in a car has also been quarantined as a precaution.

Title IX policy changes

The board took action to approve federally required changes to Title IX guidelines for handling harassment, assault and discrimination. The Title IX education amendment was designed to discourage discrimination based on sex/gender in educational settings that receive federal funding.

The new federal rules went into effect Aug. 11.

To view the policy changes, go to https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wItMo672CxZUKemcmE0yBUi18aPHFPvn/view

Foster resigns

Board member and former board president Kelly Foster submitted his resignation, explaining he is moving out of the district.

The board has 60 days to fill the position and will accept letters of interest from candidates, interview them and appoint one. (See related story.) Because Foster was up for election in April, the appointed person will need to run for election to retain the seat.

Public comments

Debbra Sweat told the board there will be a vigil at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6 ,in front of the municipal building on Tanner Street in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Masks and social distancing will be required. The police department will block off the area of U.S. 136 just north of the municipal building in case of an overflow crowd.

Equipment declared surplus

Two refrigerators and an oven were removed from Family and Consumer Science during a recent remodel. One of the refrigerators will be moved to Eagle Academy, an alternative school. Older Chromebooks will be issued to students needing devices for blended or fully remote learning.

Anti-racism statement

Board President Ann Reale said board members Janet Brotherton and Monica Hall have been working with Sweat, who is a Rantoul Reformed representative, and a parent to craft an anti-racism statement.

Student data privacy

The board also approved a policy as a result of a new law designed to protect student data privacy and security as technology tools for virtual instruction have been put into place.

Donations received

First Baptist Church donated $50 to the district in recognition of struggles with the pandemic, Amerio reported. And Waters Electric donated $1,000.

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