Tax questions answered at Amboy School Board meeting


AMBOY – A bit of confusion about the proposed tax levy was discussed during the Amboy District 272 Board of Education meeting on Dec. 13.

Amboy Superintendent Joshua Nichols began his remarks during the Tax Levy Hearing by explaining that the tax levy request is not the same as the tax rate. “The tax rate is what people will actually see on their tax bill,” he said. “It’s based on the Equalized Assessed Value (EAV). The levy request is related to that but it is not the same thing.”

This year’s levy request is 5.98 percent - compared to last year’s 6.3 percent. The tax rate is also expected to go down slightly this year from 4.9204 to 4.8788. However, Nichols emphasized that a rate of 4.8788 cannot be guaranteed at this time because school districts do not yet have all the final numbers from the county. “We are taking a guess on the levy at this time because it will not be finalized until the spring,” he said. “Based upon what we’ve been given as estimates from the assessors, it would be 4.8788, but that information will change between now and when the tax bills go out in the spring.”

Nichols also discussed the state’s Adequacy Target for Education, which is the amount of money the state says each school district should spend. “They didn’t provide any extra money to districts to cover that, they just said this is what you should have,” he noted.

With the new got Evidence Based Funding model, some school districts received millions of dollars [more than in prior years], but Amboy only got $15,000. From a budgetary standpoint, however, Nichols said at least the state is guaranteeing a set revenue that schools can plan on receiving. Prior to the new funding, sometimes the state would “pro-rate” schools during the year and only release 82 percent of the amount they were owed.

Nichols said Amboy is at 92 percent adequacy, meaning the district should be spending $8 million when the actual amount spent was $7,328,000. “We are a very heavy property tax district,” he said. “Local property tax is 83.6 percent of our revenue.”

In answer to questions concerning an article about the tax levy in another newspaper, Nichols again explained that the 5.98 levy is not the tax rate. “You will not have a rate that high from this levy. My best guess right now would be the 4.88 percent,” he said, acknowledging that there is confusion between those two numbers. “My door is open. Please feel free to call me - if somebody else has other questions, please reach out to me.”

Board president Nicole Jones agreed that the tax levy is very confusing because of the state’s tax code. “I’ve been on the board eight years and I’ve read the Illinois Property Tax Code,” she noted. “It’s actually the most complicated one in the country. It is a little bit ridiculous what we have to go through.”

PRINCIPALS’ REPORTS

Amboy High SchoolPrincipal Janet Crownhart congratulatedNoelle Jones, who is the December Student of the Month.

  • Four FFA members attended the BUILD Conference in November. This conference is for junior and senior members and focuses on building leadership skills.
  • Six students from the Plant Science Class competed in the Section 2 FFA Agronomy CDE hosted by the Rochelle FFA on Nov. 14. Amboy placed third overall as a team and Calvin Seier was the third highest individual.
  • On Nov. 15, Ms. Mills took three students to Lee County Courthouse for the day as part of their final assignment for Business Law.
  • The Ag Business class attended an Agriculture College Fair on Nov. 15. The fair featured schools with agriculture programs from Illinois and surrounding states. This event was sponsored by the Ogle County Extension Office.
  • On Dec. 11, Miss Bus took her drama class to “The Wizard of Oz” at the Paramount Theater in Aurora.
  • Mrs. Arellano received a Maggie and Amos Grant in the amount of $250 to purchase 25 calculators for the math department.
  • Mrs. Crownhart, Mrs. Shauna Dinges and Mrs. Zimmerly gave a presentation at the Raising Student Achievement Conference on Dec. 4 in St. Charles.
  • Miss Rose coordinated with the Amboy Fire Department to train all students in health and anatomy classes on how to use “Stop the Bleed” kits. The fire department was at the high school on Dec. 5 to train the students.
  • The Floral Design Class created three wreaths that were available for bids during the Amboy Christmas Walk.
  • The Welding Lab was open during the Amboy Christmas Walk to show off the new renovations including eight new 6 x 6-foot welding booths with a ventilation unit in each booth. Four multi-processing welders have been purchased so far, with the goal to purchase four more as soon as the corn from the farm plot is sold.
  • Teachers are starting to update their course listing for the 2019-20 school year. There is also discussion about students who wish to attend both Sauk and Whiteside Area Career Center next year, as well as schedules for students that want to attend Sauk full-time.

School Activities

  • The fall play, “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” was Nov.16 and 18. Crownhart congratulated the cast and crew for a great job.
  • Boys and girls basketball teams have created theme nights for all of their games.
  • Congratulations to Cameron Simpson on auditioning and being selected for the state IMEA chorus. The performance will be the last weekend in January.

Building Activities

  • An unannounced dangerous intruder drill was held on Nov. 27 with Chief Blake. Students had previously been advised what to do if a dangerous intruder entered the building. Crownhart said students and staff had a positive reaction during the drill and she thanked Chief Blake for his effort.

Principal Andrew Full, Amboy Junior High

Curriculum and School Improvement

  • On Nov. 16, Mr. Full, Mrs. Bulfer, Ms. Vicks and Mrs. Dinges attended a Targeted School Improvement Training presented by the Regional Office of Education. Since AJHS is a targeted school for improvement, the school is required to develop a new School Improvement Plan. Full said this includes a large amount of paperwork, planning and data analysis. They will receive assistance from Anji Garza of the ROE, who will help coach them through the process. “It’s actually a very good process to see where we’re at as a school and it’s definitely going to help us in the long run,” Full said.
  • On Dec. 7, the Art Grant team held their last meeting.

PBIS

  • The monthly PBIS Assembly was held Nov. 30. Students were recognized for Student of the Month, Character Trait (good manners), the Speech Team was recognized and performed, cheerleaders got the students pumped up with some cheers, Katie Bulfer and Jackie Owensby won the faculty/staff recognition, and a friendly game was held between grade levels.
  • The PBIS team is working on organizing the second quarter trip to Plum Hollow on Dec. 19.

School Activities

  • On Nov. 14, AJHS hosted speaker John Donahue-Grossman, who discussed perseverance, bullying, and not judging others by their outward appearance.
  • AJHS held an armed intruder presentation on Nov. 14. Mr. Full gave a presentation and teachers discussed their plans in each class throughout the day. Full thanked law enforcement officers who attended that afternoon to answer questions, talk about plans and offer suggestions.
  • In the boys basketball Chadwick Tournament, 8th grade placed first and 7th grade got third.
  • Girls basketball begins Dec. 19 with coaches Shauna Dinges and Adri Whitney.
  • Mr. Surufka and the Student Council teamed up for the annual food drive from Dec. 3-14.
  • Students who sold 25 boxes or more of Fannie May candy were taken to Pizza Hut in Dixon by limo on Dec. 14.
  • On Dec. 6, Mr. Surufka took a group of students uptown to paint windows for the Amboy Christmas Walk.

Principal Joyce Schamberger, Central Elementary

PBIS

  • On Dec. 10, Central held a short assembly to hand out “Student of the Week” Awards to students.
  • On Dec. 20, Central School will have movies, donuts and hot chocolate for their 2nd Quarter Incentive Celebration for PBIS. They will also hold class parties in the afternoon.
  • Central’s PBIS Teams will retrain students on proper procedures and expectations after winter break.

Curriculum

  • The Central School RtI committee met and rewrote the RtI Handbook and presented the changes to the staff on Dec. 4. Starting in January, students will be placed in groups according to their ability.

School Activities

  • The Central Christmas Concert was held on Dec. 18 in the AJHS gym.
  • Fourth grade won Best Attendance for November with 97.6 percent attendance. They were rewarded with a snack and drink from the kitchen paid for by Central PTC.
  • Fourth grade participated in the Amboy Christmas Walk by entering the gingerbread house contest. Central also decorated a wreath and donated it to the Depot Museum.
  • Schamberger wrote a $2,500 grant for books, which was received and will be equally matched by an online company. Mrs. Zinke will research which books to order with the $5,000.

OTHER BUSINESS

The board approved the use of Health Life Safety Funds to repair pipes at AJHS. Nichols said a steam tunnel leak developed in the tunnel that feeds to the kitchen, locker room and gym foyer. The district maintenance department installed a temporary venting pipe, which probably kept them from having to shut down the building for an emergency repair.

Nichols said the leak could not be located it so they will have to abate about 250 feet of the tunnel for inspection at an estimated cost of $88,250. Health Life Safety Funds are limited to this type of situation, so the district had to get the approval of an architect and the state superintendent. “We have to fix it,” Nichols said in response to a question from the board. “There might be some creative ways of getting around it . . . very preliminary and no idea if it would be cheaper or not but maintenance will ask about it and try to find a less expensive way.”

Partitions have been installed in one of the boys’ bathrooms at Central but the other bathroom has to wait for asbestos test results.

AHS students Emma Bickett and Kaitlyn Ortgeisen gave a presentation on their AP Government service project. The students decided to give a donation to the PADS shelter in Dixon, which has two houses and is open year round. Their project ended up collecting $200 and two boxes of supplies to donate. “It’s especially difficult for them in winter because a lot of people live on the street,” the students said.

Bickett and Ortgeisen said they learned how hard it can be to organize a service project. Once they finally got started and began collecting items, they found it became much easier to manage. They also learned that they can make a difference and affect people’s lives positively.

PERSONNEL

Following closed session, the board accepted the resignation of Melissa Fields as part time cafeteria cook at Amboy Junior High, effective Nov. 30, and approved her as assistant head cook at AJHS, effective Dec. 3.

The next regular meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24 at Amboy High School.

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