MENDOTA -- Mendota High School cares, really they do according to a report by principal Denise Aughenbaugh during the regular board meeting this week.
The school implemented a new program this year that includes student mentors for freshmen. The older students will meet with freshmen on a regular basis and encourage them to meet academic and extracurricular goals.
Prusator earlier said the program is about more than bullying, and should help students feel safer in all areas of their academic careers.
Last year an anonymous system for reporting bullying or other unsafe situations was added, but students reporting to that system could be seen by their bullies.
This year Mitch Landgraf and Rachel Henkel-Tarr, guidance counselors, now offer students, parents and community members at large an anonymous e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for reporting possible dangers, mistreated, at-risk students or safety hazards, Aughenbaugh said.
Landgraf sent an e-mail to students and parents to introduce the new email along with examples of how it can be used. MHS asks people to refrain from using it for general complaints since it is meant to help assist with specific problems.
Wohrley returns to coach cross country
Former cross country coach Kevin Wohrley agreed to step in and coach the team one more year following the unexpected resignation of new coach Bree Brevitt. Prusator said she resigned to accept a position closer to her hometown which left the position open on very short notice.
Board members also hired John Hansen as the freshmen girls basketball coach and retained Illinois Valley Community Hospital to provide athletic trainer services.
The board also accepted the resignation of Christina Barnickle, cafeteria worker and hired Kim Scheppers.
Deb Phalen and Lupe Perez were hired as junior class sponsors; and June Bartotto, Tim Gibbard and Heidi McKee were hired as bus drivers.
Budget looks worse this year than last at MHS
Superintendent Jeff Prusator said Mendota High School ended the fiscal year in the black, but warned board members that it probably wouldn't be the case this budget year.
He said the state caught up on payments owed to the district which contributed to the overall budget. Yet, those payments most likely won't be coming, as he predicts a deficit of $240,364.
The biggest budget hit last year was the heating and electrical bills which put the operations and maintenance fund more than $100,000 in the red. Prusator said the long, harsh winter combined with the sudden spring heat put the district over budget in that fund.
This school year, he expects a $229,474 deficit in the education fund due to reduced state aid payments.
Bus fleet aging
The budget prompted Prusator to recommend purchasing one bus this year. The district's fleet is aging and while more buses need replacing, it would further lower fund balances. Board member Jason Stewart's motion to bid for two buses was approved, with the board reserving the right to purchase one based on prices.
Tamara Abbey can be reached at (815) 539-5200 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @NT_Mendota.