Several issues pertaining to the new school year which began Aug. 19 were discussed by the West Carroll School Board at its Wednesday, Aug. 21, meeting.

The first order of business was welcoming Walt Miller of Savanna as a new board member. Miller was appointed July 15 by Regional Supt. Aaron Mercier to fill the District 4 position left vacant when Jerry Anderson did not seek re-election.

Miller and the other six board members recited aloud the oath of office and code of conduct.

As is customary at the beginning of the school year, the board did not meet at the district office but instead at the West Carroll Middle School where Principal Brady Knop took the board and audience on a tour of the school, highlighting some of the recent changes to the building and classrooms.

Transportation Director Bob Nolan guided the board outside to see the district's new activity bus. The board first began the possibility of leasing an activity bus last January. The vehicle seats 14 and does not require the driver to have a CDL, allowing coaches and faculty to drive it.

One of the primary actions of the board at the meeting was to approve posting the tentative draft budget for the 2020 fiscal year. The budget will be available for public inspection for 30 days.

A budget hearing was set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, at the West Carroll Primary School, followed by the school board meeting.

With the start of the school year, the board also discussed complaints received concerning weeds at the West Carroll Primary School. Supt. Julie Katzenberger said staff membrs have been working to minimize the weeds and that the cost of "spraying" for weeds at WCPS could be as much as $1,500. Katzenberger and board member Fred Tipton noted it is rather late in the season for spraying.

Board member Bev Kilpatrick said the appearance of the school grounds is important, especially with West Carroll hoping to increase the number of families moving into the district.

"I think it's important that we remedy this situation," Kilpatrick said, also inquiring about the "butterfly garden" at WCPS, which has now gone to weeds.

WCPS Principal Tracey Rein said the butterfly garden in question used to be maintained by the FFA, but eventually fell in disarray. The area has been mowed down but is more weeds than grass. Board member Jessica Edwards said projects such as the butterfly garden are great, but require a lot of work and commitment.

Supt. Katzenberger said the district staff will continue to "assess" the weed situation, noting that it is looking better since school started. The superintendent said she is looking into possible service groups for landscaping projects and said the district can discuss spraying for weeds in the spring. Kilpatrick suggested the district contact representatives from the Master Gardener program.

In another matter, the board accepted bids for fuel and snow removal for the school year.

Fuel bids included: 2.536 for unleaded gas (with ethanol) and 2.541 for diesel from Chadwick Oil & Ag Service; 2.449 for unleaded gas (with ethanol) and 2.539 for diesel, plus.05 cents per gallon for a winter additive from Carroll Service Co.; 2.4568 for unleaded gas (with ethanol) and 2.541 for diesel or 2.5071 with winter additive from Saunders Oil Co. Inc. in Warren.

The board discussed whether to go with the low bid from Saunders or stay with long-time provider Carroll Service Co. Tipton pointed out the board did not go with the low bid previously, instead opting to stay local and loyal to Carroll Service Co. Tipton said that while he agrees with staying local, he has been approached by residents saying the district needs to save money wherever it can.

The board unanimously approved accepting the low bid from Saunders Oil Co.

Only one snow removal bid was received, from Ritchie Excavating Co. of Savanna. The bid included cost for removing "tracking snow" (1.5-2 inches) and "heavy snow" (2 inches or more).

The bid amount for snow removal for "tracking snow" is $205 at WCHS, $165 at 801 S. St. in Thomson. and $205 at the WCPS. Cost for removing "heavy" snow is $225 at WCHS, $210 in Thomson and $230 at WCPS. Cost for salt application is $175. The board unanimously approved the snow bid.

In other business at its Aug. 21 meeting, the West Carroll School Board:

•Heard updates from all three principals and Supt. Katzenberger about the first day of school. Katzenberger reported the district has 13 new teaching staff this year. She noted that West Carroll is celebrating 15 years of consolidation, with 2005-06 having been the first year of the consolidated district between Mount Carroll, Savanna and Thomson.

•Approved allowing the district's architect to perform an enrollment and facility planning study. Board member Dawn Rath voted against paying for the study.

•Approved a varsity baseball trip April 9-12, 2020, to Millington, Tenn. The $2,000 cost will be covered through the team's fundraising efforts, with no cost to the district.

•Approved an FFA overnight trip to Bloomington-Normal on Sept. 18-19. The only cost to the district will be for a vehicle and gas.

•Approved resignations for: Amanda Rockey, WCMS counselor, effective July 3; Claire Rypkema, WCPS kindergarten teacher, effective at the end of the 2018-19 school year; Samantha Barra, WCHS and WCMS choir director, head of drama, and head of musical, effective at the end of the 2018-19 school year; Denise Brotzman, WCHS special education teacher, effective Aug. 12.

Christine Jensen, bus aide (5 and 1/2 hours a day), effective July 1; Jessica Rubio, WCPS head secretary, effective August 14; Monica Rieck, WCPS part-time paraprofessional, effective Aug. 9; Sue Fritz, WCMS full-time paraprofessional, effective Aug. 12; Nicole Risser, WCPS nurse, effective Sept. 3; Hayley Ballard, WCHS freshman volleyball coach, effective Aug. 19; Nicholas Coffey, WCHS varsity boys basketball coach, effective Aug. 2.

•Approved certified hirings for 2019-20: Angela Sheddan, WCHS science teacher; Elizabeth Jendra, WCSD K-8 social worker; Katherine Gardner, WCPS kindergarten teacher; Rebecca Atherton, WCPS kindergarten teacher; Jeremy Castro, WCMS career services.

•Approved non-certified hirings for 2019-20: Michelle J. Hartman, WCMS part-time assistant cook (3 hours daily, 5 days a week); Jerica Byram, WCMS full-time cook (7 hours daily, 5 days a week); Angela Handel, WCPS part-time assistant cook (3 hours daily, 5 days a week); Brenda Gable, WCHS part-time assistant cook (3 hours daily, 5 days a week); Andrea McGinnis, five- hour special education bus aide; Janice Oviatt, WCSD bus driver (5.5 hours).

•Approved Lacy Bangert as WCHS National Honor Society advisor and Angela Sheddan as WCHS yearbook advisor.

•Approved the voluntary transfer of Tracy Kostallari from WCMS SEL teacher to WCMS resource teacher (effective for the 2019-20 school year) and the voluntary transfer of Betty Hartman from WCMS head secretary to WCPS head secretary, effective Aug. 26.

•Approved a request for a leave of absence from Jeanelle Iben, with an estimated start date of Jan. 15, 2020.

•Approved a request from James Preston to teach part-time during the 2019-20 school year.