Dixon Public Schools makes progress on new therapeutic day school – Shaw Local

Dixon Public Schools makes progress on new therapeutic day school – Shaw Local
Dixon Public Schools makes progress on new therapeutic day school – Shaw Local

DIXON – Dixon Public Schools is preparing to unveil the newest addition to its district: Dempsey Therapeutic Day School.

On the agenda for the Dixon School Board meeting on Wednesday, June 27, were three bids for work in the Dempsey gymnasium – painting, new flooring and a new ceiling. Last week, the district held a public bid and received a bid for each project.

On the district’s recommendation, the board approved a $15,300 bid from Builders Sales and Service Company of Moline for the gymnasium painting work and deferred the other two bids until November.

DPS Executive Director Marc Campbell said the district will have grant funds available in fiscal year 2025 that could cover the cost of the floor and ceiling renovations. He said the painting work would have to be completed first anyway.

Deferring bids is beneficial to both the district and the contractor. Aside from using grant funds, the bidder cannot change their bid and the district is not responsible for any increases in material costs. The contractor benefits from guaranteed contracts.

The district received a $62,000 bid from Boss Carpet for the new flooring and a $72,000 bid from Bertel Peterson for the new ceiling. The district has worked with both companies in the past and has a positive relationship with them, Campbell said.

Painting the gym will take about a week and the gym will be usable before other renovations are completed, Campbell said.

Dempsey is scheduled to open for the first day of school on August 14, said principal Margo Empen. The school is almost at full capacity and only one position needs to be filled, she said.

The district plans to host an open house and dedication ceremony for the school before classes begin.

Discussions about introducing therapeutic day programs in the district have been ongoing for several years. Students in need are currently sent to places like the Quad-Cities, Rockford and Loves Park.

Other tasks of the Board of Directors on Wednesday:

  • Approved the amended budget for fiscal year 2024. The board approved the fiscal year 2024 budget at its regular meeting in September 2023. In June, it is standard practice for the board to amend the budget to more accurately reflect the district’s revenues and expenses for that year. Campbell said it was a balanced budget, meaning the district had more revenues than expenses, which is always the goal. The amended budget will be sent to and filed with Regional Office of Education 47, the Illinois State Board of Education and the offices of the Lee and Ogle counties’ county clerks.
  • Approved a resolution to confirm continued dangerous crosswalk markings for 14 crosswalks. The state allows school districts to identify dangerous crossings by conducting traffic studies with the Illinois Department of Transportation. The state then gives the district the option to bus students affected by those crossings and is reimbursed for doing so. Campbell recalled a conversation with Linda LeBlanc-Parks, a board member who was absent from Wednesday’s meeting, in which she stressed that that list needed to be updated. The last time IDOT approved adding a dangerous crosswalk location was in 1998, according to information provided by the board. Campbell said if the board does not approve the existing list each year before school starts, the district will lose all previously identified crossings and have to start over. But it can add to the list at any time, he said. The district’s plan is to begin a process to identify other potentially dangerous crosswalks, Campbell said. He added that the current list includes the “most important ones,” many of which are located in downtown Dixon.
  • Approved an agreement to share facilities on Brinton Avenue and at the Nachusa Campus with the alumni and supporters of the Dixon FFA. This agreement comes as the district introduces three new agriculture courses to the Dixon High School curriculum at the beginning of the 2024-25 school year.
  • Savvas Learning Company has been approved as a learning partner for Jefferson and Madison elementary schools for the 2024-25 school year. Savvas is approved by ISBE as a learning partner and is already working with the district on its K-5 math program. Savvas will educate school staff with materials proven to increase student achievement and “make the teachers better teachers and the kids better learners,” Empen said. The learning partner is mandated by the School Improvement Grant 1003 program the district received and Jefferson and Madison’s comprehensive status, which means they are low-performing schools. Board member Linda Wegner noted it was nice that the learning partner was the company “we use, rather than another company.”
  • Approved the finance and payroll agreement with the Lee County Special Education Association in the amount of $2,295.50 per month for fiscal year 2025, the same amount as last year; approved the lease agreement with the LCSEA in the amount of $18,300 for fiscal year 2025; and authorized the district to sign a letter of intent for $3,647 per classroom, a total of $25,529, for fiscal year 2025.
  • The district treasurer has been authorized to make a permanent transfer of $121,000 from the working capital fund, plus any additional interest accrued through June 30, to the operations and maintenance fund. It is the district’s standard practice to transfer the interest from this fund to the fund that most urgently needs additional revenue. In recent years, this has been the operations and maintenance fund. Campbell again recommended using this fund because it is in the negative $114,600.
  • Authorized the expenditure of funds prior to adoption of the fiscal year 2025 budget. Illinois school law does not require a budget to be approved by the board until September. This allows the district to manage contracts, spend monies owed, and make necessary purchases before the budget is officially adopted.
  • Approved the renewal of the employee health insurance plan for fiscal year 2025. The district notified the board last month that the premium charged to employees for health insurance will increase by 20%. Campbell mentioned some positive aspects of the insurance plan, including the addition of an employee plus-one option. Those who previously had a family plan could choose the new third option at a lower monthly cost, saving the district money. However, health insurance costs for the district continue to rise.
  • Approved the elementary student handbooks, approved the Reagan Middle School student handbook, approved the DHS student handbook, and approved the DPS athletic handbook. The athletic handbook was previously split into one for the high school and one for the middle school. This year, the district merged them so that middle school students would have a better understanding of high school athletic expectations.
  • Approved lunch prices for the 2024–25 school year. In May, the board approved a contract with Arbor Management to be the district’s food service provider.
  • Matt Zilm and Corena Steinmeyer have been endorsed as candidates for the Northwestern Illinois Association Board of Directors. Zilm, representing Ogle County, and Steinmeyer, representing Lee County, are running for two-year terms to represent their respective counties’ school districts.
  • Approved the annual renewal of the District’s agreement with the Dixon Booster Club.

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