School Board-NOV21

Quincy School Board members Carol Nichols, left, and Rachael Petty prepare for the start of Tuesday night's meeting. Board members reviewed a hate speech policy and adopted an estimated tax levy.

QUINCY — Quincy Public Schools staff and students might be giving thanks for three days off from classes this week — and for the return of the full Thanksgiving Tournament.

The tournament returns Thursday night with pep band, the Blue Devil, poms, cheerleaders, a student section and a full crowd to cheer on the basketball team.

“It’s exciting for the community. I know it’s exciting for our Blue Devil fans,” Superintendent Roy Webb said after his update report Tuesday night to the School Board.

After modifications to the tournament last year due to COVID-19, “the whole pageantry of Blue Devil tradition will be on display again,” Webb said. “We missed it last year.”

It’s another sign of normalcy in a school year that has seen all students return to the classroom every day, without the remote learning and A Day/B Day high school schedule followed last year.

Returning to school has meant challenges for students and staff, and the Thanksgiving break from classes offers a mental health break.

“I hope they use it,” Webb said. “Our staff have worked hard. They need that little bit of a break.”

Classes resume Monday, Nov. 29, continue for three weeks, then the district will take a two-week break for the holidays.

In other action, the Quincy School Board:

• Approved bass fishing as a new Illinois High School Association activity at Quincy High School at no cost to QPS.

• Heard details of a District Improvement Team recommendation to allow this year’s seniors to waive two elective credits required for graduation.

The plan is designed to help seniors who saw their sophomore year cut short due to COVID-19 with summer school nearly nonexistent and a junior year with classes every other day with a lot of credit recovery options available only to last year’s seniors.

The board expects to act on the waiver in December.

• Reviewed a hate speech policy developed by the district’s Diversity and Inclusion Team and recommended by the Policy Committee.

Under the new policy, QPS will not tolerate words, language or actions that lessen the dignity of any individual, and anyone using offensive or demeaning words or actions must be met with “swift and caring education, learning, re-direction and discipline.”

The board expects to adopt the policy in December, and it will be effective and included in online versions of the student handbook in January.

• Adopted an estimated tax levy expected to mean little change for taxpayers.

The levy totals $33,356,649 for tax year 2021, payable in 2022, compared to $31,879,279 for tax year 2020. With bond and interest payments included, the levy rises to $41,157,951, up from $39,521,024.

The estimated tax rate is $3.95 per $100 in assessed value, but it may increase to about $3.99, last year’s rate, when the county sets the final equalized assessed value.

Board members will finalize the levy in December.

• Learned the Policy Committee reviewed updates to 59 policies from the Police Reference Education Subscription Service. The updates targeted policies covering students, operational services, School Board, instruction and school administration and a new policy tied to awareness and prevention of child sexual abuse and grooming behavior. The board expects to adopt the changes in December.

• Heard highlights of the annual audit report, which listed no findings for the third year in a row. The report showed the district’s financial profile score increased — to 3.7, up from 3.15 two years ago and 3.25 last year — along with its fund balances.

• Agreed to sell 350 surplus laptop computers to Teksavers for $78,750 as the district wraps up its third cycle of teacher laptop purchases.

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