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(PANA) — All four attendance centers in the Pana School District have obtained the status of “Commendable,” according to the annual school report card issued by the Illinois Board of Education. The results were reviews during the Pana School Board meeting held Monday night in the Unit Office in Pana.
All four principals commented about their individual school results. They had glowing compliments of their staffs who they credited with the performance of each grade level. One thing all four mentioned as something they are working on is chronic truancy. While each school is above the state average on attendance, the principals are faced with the challenge each day to find ways to get students to school. One positive they pointed out was students want to come to school because of the welcoming staff.
Superintendent Jason Bauer reviewed the 2023 tax levy for he district. He said the Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) has increased by 11-and-a-half-percent to almost $154,600,000 for the three-county area. The reason for the higher valuation is Pana and Assumption townships had their quadrennial reassessments this year. Residents were hit with higher than usual equalization factors due to higher sales figures for properties during the past four-year cycle.
Because of the higher EAV, the school’s is increasing their tax levy by just over 10%. In 2022, Pana’s levy was almost $6 million while 2023 shows an increase to almost $6.3 million. Since this levy is 105% higher than the previous year, a Truth in Taxation hearing must be held. It is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 18, 2023 at 6:15 p.m., prior to the regular monthly Board meeting.
Bauer pointed out while the levy is actually higher this year, individual tax rates for the school district will go down in 2024. The 2023 rate is $4.80, eight cents less than the 2022 rate $4.88.
“Truth in Taxation hearings can be tricky for there general public to understand as people sometimes assume that the school district is holding the hearing to raise the level of taxation on the citizenry. This is false,” Bauer said. “The hearing comes into play due to the fact that the request is in ‘new dollars’ is over 5% than the previous year’s extension. In essence, the request is for new dollars. The tax rate will actually decrease.”
The tentative level was approved by the Board and called for the hearing on Dec. 18.
In other business, Jeff Stauder, director of buildings and grounds, told the Board construction of the new elementary school is progressing and the contractor said construction is about two weeks ahead of schedule.
Stauder reported the Facilities Committee is recommending replacing the roof of the high school. They opted to apply a rubber membrane, similar to other roofs in the district which comes with a 20-year warranty. Estimated cost is a little more than $1.5 million. He said he would come back to the Board with a recommendation when he secured a firm price.
The Board approved a motion to seek a $50,000 maintenance grant from the state. It is a matching grant which was included in the new fiscal year budget passed in September. The funds will be used to purchase new door hardware for the high school classroom doors and replace some older interior doors at the junior high.
Freshman MacKinsey Perry was recognized by the District for attaining a perfect score on the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) test which she took as an eighth grade student. Pana Junior High School Principal Lisa Mayhill presented her with a certificate of achievement. Superintendent Bauer said in his 15 years of being a superintendent, he has never seen a student get a perfect score.
Family members and teachers of MacKinsey were on hand for the presentation.
The IAR test is a federally required math and English language arts assessment which is given to all students in grades three through eight. The IAR assesses the students’ pastry of the Illinois Learning Standards and contributes to federally accountability designations for school.
There was an hour-and-15-minute executive session held by the Board. When they returned to open session, the following employment recommendations presented by the superintendent were approved: Employment, Jamie Christen, Title 1 Parador; Donna Frailey, Parador substitute; Christian Taylor, substitute teacher/parapro; Deborah Spears, bus driver; Ronald Frost, substitute custodian; and Dorothy “Colleen” Weddle, substitute teacher. Retirements: Lynn Pumphrey, Driver’s education/History and Laurie Berns, Math. Both are effective June 1, 2024. Transfer, Samantha Perry, Title 1 Parador to Waterford Lab Parador and Derek Ade, volunteer to interim freshman boys basketball coach. Spring coach: Jessica Etter, junior varsity softball coach. Volunteer coach: Jared Beyers, boys basketball assistant.
After a discussion on the recently completed Illinois Association of School Boards Convention in Chicago, the meeting adjourned at 8:56 p.m.