EFFINGHAM — The Unit 40 school board rejected plans to raffle a gift certificate to a local firearms shop this week after a board member raised concerns about the message that would send.
Newly elected board member Robin Klosterman, a former teacher, said her feelings about raffling a $500 gift card to Accuracy Firearms – or $400 cash – has nothing to do with the local business. She said it has everything to do with safety and liability to the school district.
“Given the times, it just seemed to be a negative for the school to be connected to something that has to do with guns, as much as we worry about the safety of our students and teachers,” said Klosterman.
She told the board that her research found several gun raffles held in the area, but most were not by school-sanctioned groups. Some were parent groups or another support group, but then the money was donated to the school.
The request was for a fundraiser for Effingham High School Boys Basketball team, to be held June 17-July 13.
“As much as people enjoy this type of activity, there are also many people who find that offensive, as it is connected to the school,” said Klosterman. “I have concerns and I am against the school sanctioning this particular type of fundraising event.”
The board agreed to pull fundraiser from the consent agenda at the request of board member Brad Waldhoff. The raffle fundraiser died for lack of a motion as an individual agenda item.
“I do think that they came up with the gift card idea because they didn't want to say they were raffling off a gun – because there are other items you can purchase there (at Accuracy Firearms),” said Kathleen Smith.
Superintendent Mark Doan said the request could be resubmitted for further review.
In other matters, the board heard that board member Patty Russell has resigned after moving out of state. The board will be seeking a replacement to fill her unexpired term, which will end April 2021.
At that point, the seat will be open to a four-year term, along with Kathleen Smith's and Angie Byers' seats. The three were seated and took their oaths of office in May 2017.
Russell, who is now living in Sebring, Florida, said the situation of moving came from “one of those life changes” that she didn't see coming when she sought election to the board.
“I thought I was making a difference,” said Russell. “I was doing what I was elected to do by watching over the school district. I think they have a good board set up and they will continue the work that has been started.”
Her husband, Wayne, moved to Florida several months ago. She remained in Effingham and visited Florida – and continued serving until their Effingham home sold.
“I will miss it,” said Russell.
Anyone interested in seeking to be appointed to the Unit 40 school board should file a letter of interest to the superintendent's office before June 7.
In other business, the board:
• Held a lengthy discussion about how EHS class valedictorians are selected. This year the class had 12 valedictorians. EHS Principal Kurt Roberts provided some data for the past several years, but some board members believe more work should be done and more discussion was needed before any changes could be considered. Several ideas were tossed about, and further discussions are expected. Board members want each student to be rewarded for their achievements and they don't want to diminish efforts by any student.
• Held a lengthy discussion about use of school board member email accounts and how each one is subject to Freedom of Information Act and also Open Meetings Act.
• Heard the Effingham Foundation awarded 47 student scholarships, but 93 applicants were received. There is an opening on the foundation board, as Chad Chojnicki, recently resigned. Anyone interested in serving should also contact the superintendent's office or anyone on the foundation board.
• Rejected the single bid for work at the Sports Complex at the high school, which was much higher than expected. Assistant Superintendent Jason Fox said they would go back to the drawing board and rebid the project.
• Accepted a bid from Grunloh Construction for work at the Early Learning Center to include roof work, sprinkler head replacements, and ceiling tile work, at the cost of $790,000.
• Approved the purchase of a 2019 Ford F-250 from NorthSide Ford at the cost of $35,550, which will replace the 1996 truck the district owned.
• Approved relocation of EIASE and ROE education programs within the district.
• Employed Jodi Anders, as a nurse paraprofessional, next school year; Becky Daugherty, Melissa Armstrong, Lisa Miller and Shari Long, as extended school year paraprofessionals; Angela Strohl, social studies at EJHS next school year; Abby Kinkelaar, as library clerk at EJHS next school year; Jill Lobb and Kelsey Appelt as cafeteria monitors at Central School; and Haley Brown as family and consumer science teacher at EJHS, next school year.
• Transferred Wayne Mapes and Nancy McClelland as bus drivers, 4 Hour; and Lana Adams, as a morning bus aide.
• Appointed Laurie Bohnhoff head volleyball coach at EHS; Theresa Vogt assistant volleyball coach at EHS; Becky Wilson and Mendi Pals co-student council sponsors at EJHS.
• Approved retirements for Toni Chisler as a cook effective end of this school year; and Karen Littleford a teacher effective 2022-2023.
• Accepted the resignations of Abby Kreke, paraprofessional; Ruth Eirhart cafeteria monitor at South Side; Jackie Haarmann, EHS Pep Club sponsor; Katrina Bauer and Mildred Cowger, end of this school year; and Aron Spicer, speech pathologist.
• Approved two leaves of absence for Allison Bowen and Greg Lankford.
Dawn Schabbing can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-347-7151, ext. 138