September 2023 School Board Meeting Minutes


The regular scheduled meeting of the Board of Education of School District 165 was held in the Carbondale Community High School Cafeteria, 1301 East Walnut Street, Carbondale, Illinois, on Thursday, September 21, 2023, at 6:00 p.m.

Upon roll call, the following members were present:

Rania Dababneh                     Christopher Swims 
Lana Galan                             Julie VanWinkle 
Wendell Pohlman                  

The following member were absent: 

Linda Flowers                         Francis Tsung

Also present were:

Daniel Booth                           Ryan Thomas         
ay Toliver, Jr.                       Ethan Graham

Public Hearing: 2023-24 Proposed Budget: President VanWinkle opened the public hearing to receive public comments on the 2023-24 proposed Budget. There were no comments. 

Motion by Pohlman, seconded by Swims, to close the public hearing on the 2023-24 proposed Budget. Roll call: Dababneh, Galan, Pohlman, Swims and VanWinkle voted yes. Nay, none.  Motion carried.

Approval of Minutes: Motion by Swims, seconded by Dababneh, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of August 17, 2023. Roll call:  Galan, Pohlman, Swims, VanWinkle and Dababneh voted yes. Nay, none. Motion carried.

Old Business—None

Public Comments: President VanWinkle read the following statement:  

            Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. As the President of the Carbondale Community High School Board, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all those who have come to participate in our public comments portion of the meeting. We value your input and perspectives, as they play a crucial role in shaping our educational community. 

            In the spirit of open and productive communication, I kindly request that all speakers keep their comments respectful and considerate of others' thoughts, feelings, and opinions. We believe in fostering an environment where diverse viewpoints can be shared without fear or intimidation.

            To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to speak, we kindly ask that each speaker limit their comments to a maximum of five minutes. This allows us to hear from as many individuals as possible during this time. Our hope is that if someone shares a comment that is similar to yours, that in the interest of time and allowing other questions or concerns to be shared, that comments not be duplicated.

            As a reminder, the Board listens to comments or questions during public participation; responses to comments or questions of the Board are most often managed through the District Chain of Command and not on the spot during a Board of Education meeting. 

            Prior to beginning public comments, I will share that contrary to rumors on social media, the Board will not be banning any books tonight. This has never been a practice that the Board has taken part in.  The Board puts their trust in their teachers and administrators to make decisions on curriculum that is in alignment with state standards.  The Board has a policy in place that allows parents with content objections to request an alternative assignment or reading that fits the desires of their individual family.  It is the Board’s responsibility to make our curriculum available to parents upon request and to give parents the option to request alternative assignments if desired.  This policy keeps the District from attempting to hit the moving target of offensive content that will never apply to every family in the District.  

            We may proceed with our first comment; can you please state your full name for the record and be sure to sign in on the sheet?

Sandy Pensoneau-Conway: Sandy Pensoneau-Conway said she was a proud parent of a freshman student and was very grateful for the education her child was receiving at CCHS.  She said that she heard the Board was going to ban the book Perks of Being a Wallflower from the English curriculum because of a parent complaint that the book was too graphic and not age appropriate for their child. She said this concerned her greatly.  She said yes, there were sensitive and hard themes in the book such as LGBTQ, sexual abuse, addiction and alcoholism, but that these topics must be discussed in a trusting and respectful environment, and she said the CCHS teachers are providing that learning environment. She said the teachers should not be micromanaged.

Mo Collar:  Mo Collar said she was attending the meeting because she heard that the book was going to be banned and it concerned her greatly.  She said she read the book and found it very relatable and urged the Board to not ban it.

Michelle Snyder: Michelle Snyder said she was the parent who raised concern about the book. She said that it was never her intention to have the book banned. She said that she was upset that she was not made aware of the content of the book before her daughter read it.  She said that the book contained emotional triggers that affected her daughter.  She said her social media posts were from her perspective as a concerned mother. She said the Administration and Board were very swift in addressing her issues, and she thanked them for that.

Elizabeth Ashley:  Elizabeth Ashley said that Elizabeth Ashley was not her real name.  She said that her family had just moved to Carbondale from Texas because of issues there and she did not want to use her real name.  She said she too felt the book contained triggers. She said they were sensory triggers and they could be harmful for some individuals.

Kim-Herron Titus Letter to Board: Kim Herron-Titus sent the Board the following letter and asked that it be made a part of the meeting minutes: 

September 19, 2023

CCHS Board Member and Superintendent Booth 
Carbondale Community High School 
330 South Giant City Road 
Carbondale, Il 62901

Dear Board Members and Superintendent Booth:

            Recently, I became aware of and have followed the challenge by a parent over the novel, Perks of Being A Wall Flower taught by English Department.  It is my understanding that the CCHS administration has taken action to resolve the parent’s concerns.  It is with these actions that I am concerned and have questions that I ask the board and administration to consider before the next challenge appears.  

            If posting notification regarding graphic content is employed as a policy, exactly what does “graphic content” mean?  Would reading about a slaves’ tree of scars on their backs be too graphic to read?  Would reading about the image of a child of the holocaust hanging on the gallows qualify as too graphic?  Should we not show or read about the images of war?   Should an image of a teenager in a car accident not be described? So who decides what is graphic content—the teachers, the board, the administration, the parents?  What a quagmire this creates for all! 

            In the past, we have had parents challenge texts for a variety of reasons.  We did not challenge their reasoning, we offered them an alternative selection.  Offering an alternative selection allows the parents' concerns to be met and takes the onus off the teachers, administration, or Board to define “graphic content” which exemplified earlier could be any idea, image, thought or opinion existing in a text. The procedural policy, 6:260 Complaints About Curriculum, Instructional Materials, and Programs can be followed and an alternative selection be offered.

            Hopefully, my questions open a dialogue among you all about this issue.  

Sincerely yours, 
Kim Herron-Titus 
Kim Herron-Titus 
Retired CCHS English Teacher 
Former Department Chairperson

Introduction of New 2023-24 Faculty: Mr. Thomas introduced Joseph Williams, Assistant Principal, to the Board.

2023-24 FOIA Requests: The Board received a listing of the FOIA requests received to date.

Payment of Bills: Motion by Swims, seconded by Dababneh, to pay the remaining bills for the month of August 2023; and, those available for payment for the month of September 2023. Roll call:  Pohlman, Swims, VanWinkle, Dababneh and Galan voted yes.  Nay, none.  Motion carried.

ESSER III Grant Expenditures: The Board received an update on the ESSER III Grant expenditures.

Principal’s Report: Mr. Thomas reported on: 

·9th Grade Support Update 
--Terrier 101 
--Freshmen Orientation 
--Freshmen Mentors in Terrier Time 
--Freshmen Class Meetings

·1st Quarter will end October 13, 2023.

·Homecoming Week: October 10-13, 2023 
--Dress up days 
--Hall decorating 
--Powderpuff Football Game 

·CCHS Band placed 1st and received Outstanding Drum Majors, Color Guard, and Percussion at the Sage City Invitational in Monticello.

Superintendent’s Report: Mr. Booth reviewed his Superintendent’s Report for the Board:

Construction Updates
The Walnut street entry project interior is 90% complete. 
The C-Wing Staircase project will be completed in the coming weeks. 
The CTE addition project was bid in September. Once the project is in progress, the Building and Grounds Committee will meet to share future project possibilities with the Board of Education.

Solar Panel Discussion
At the June Board meeting GRP Performance Contracting presented on the addition of solar panels and a representative from Stifel Public Finance presented on how the District could pay for the project using a combination of debt certificates and state and federal rebates. The Board discussed additional questions and had discussion at the July Board meeting.  Mr. Booth provided answers from the questions asked at the July Board meeting.  In August some Board members visited Carbondale Middle School and viewed the solar panels on their roof. Carbondale Elementary School District 95 will also be adding solar panels at Thomas and Lewis Schools in the future.

Mr. Booth said he would bring a solar panel recommendation to the October Board meeting.

Black and White Ball
The Education Foundation Black and White Ball was held on August 26, 2023 and raised over $50,000 to go towards Foundation Grants and Scholarships. The next event is scheduled for August 23, 2025.

Strategic Planning Progress
The Board will receive the following updates on the Strategic Plan:

October: Board approves updated KPI’s and Targets 
November: Report Review 
February: Update the Board on progress of KPI’s and Targets 
June: Share End of Year Report on Strategic Plan Progress 
July: Superintendent Evaluation

Awarding of CTE Addition Bid: Motion by Pohlman, seconded by Swims, to acknowledge receipt of the bids received for the Career and Technical Education Department addition; and, to award the General Construction Contract to Fager-McGee Commercial Construction of Murphysboro, Illinois, in the amount of $2,778,000.00; and, the Alternate Bid submitted by Fager-McGee Commercial Construction for the connection of new CTE addition HVAC system to the existing Building Automation System in the amount of $38,000.00, as presented by District Architect Paul Lunsford.  Roll call: Swims, VanWinkle, Dababneh, Galan and Pohlman voted yes. Nay, none. Motion carried.

Approval of 2023-24 Budget: Motion by Swims, seconded by Pohlman, to approve the proposed Budget for the 2023-24 school year as presented. Roll call:  VanWinkle, Dababneh, Galan, Pohlman and Swims voted yes. Nay, none. Motion carried.

2023-24 Field Trips: Motion by Swims, seconded by Pohlman, to approve the following 2023-24 field trips that are out-of-state/over $500:

Music on the Meramec: Arnold, MO 
Model United Nations: Chicago, IL

Roll call: Dababneh, Galan, Pohlman, Swims and VanWinkle voted yes. Nay, none. Motion carried.

FY23 ROE #21 Distributive Report for CCHS District 165: The Board received the FY23 Regional Office of Education #21 Distributive Report for CCHS District 165 for their information, per Illinois School Code 105ILCS 5/3-14.17.


Employment of Personnel

2023-24 Extra-Duty Personnel: Motion by Swims, seconded by Pohlman, to employ the following 2023-24 extra-duty personnel:

Play I Theatre Director: Josh Vargas $2,438.00

Play 1 Assistant Theatre Director:  Seth Kohlhaus $542.50, Josh Taylor $542.50, David Croteau $542.50 and TeeKae Kelly $542.50

Play II Theatre Director:  Justin Dennis $2,438.00

Play II Assistant Theatre Director: Seth Kohlhaas $542.50, Josh Taylor $542.50, Josh Vargas $542.50 and TeeKae Kelly $542.50

Assistant Football Coach: Obadiah Mims $2,505.00

Assistant Boys Basketball Coach: Lafiet McDade $3,745.00

Assistant Girls Tennis Coach: Lena Dierks $1,000.00, Ellen Burton $335.00 and Ashley Boan $1,000.00

Roll call:  Galan, Pohlman, Swims, VanWinkle and Dababneh voted yes. Nay, none. Motion carried.

Secretarial Personnel: Motion by Swims, seconded by Dababneh, to retroactively employ effective September 4, 2023, the following secretarial personnel:

Westerly Loyd, Faculty Secretary, at the rate of $15.11 per hour for the 2023-24 school year. 
Fatima Calmese, Counseling Department Secretary, at the rate of $14.61 per hour for the 2023-24 school year.

Roll call: Pohlman, Swims, VanWinkle, Dababneh and Galan voted yes. Nay, none. Motion carried.

Cafeteria Personnel: Motion by Swims, seconded by Pohlman, to retroactively employ the following full-time cooks at the rate of $14.70 per hour for the 2023-24 school year:

Sabrina Gordon—employment effective September 6, 2023. 
Zipporah Gibbs—employment effective September 7, 2023.

Roll call: Swims, VanWinkle, Dababneh, Galan and Pohlman voted yes. Nay, none.  Motion carried.

Aide Personnel: Motion by Pohlman, seconded by Swims, to employ the following aide personnel at the rate of $14.61 per hour for the 2023-24 school year:

Margaret Biederman, Teacher Aide 
Toni Carter, Counseling Department Aide

Roll call: VanWinkle, Dababneh, Galan, Pohlman and Swims voted yes. Nay, none. Motion carried.

2023-24 Volunteers: Motion by Swims, seconded by Pohlman, to approve the following 2023-24 volunteers as presented:

Blake DeRocher: Volunteer Boys Basketball Coach 
Travis Walczynski: Volunteer Girls Gymnastic Coach

Roll call: Dababneh, Galan, Pohlman, Swims and VanWinkle voted yes. Nay, none. Motion carried.

For Your Information Items
Next Board of Education Meeting: Thursday, October 19, 2023

NAACP 46th Annual Freedom Fund Program: Sunday, October 22, 2023, at 4:00 p.m. at the Carbondale Civic Center

November Board of Education: Thursday, November 9, 2023

2023 IASB Joint Annual Conference: November 17-19, 2023

Feeder School Articulation: President VanWinkle said she participated in the Feeder School Articulation on September 15, 2023, and it was really good and invigorating this year.

Black and White Ball: President VanWinkle commended Mr. Booth on the success of the Black and White Ball and the show of community support for the event.

Executive Session: Motion by Swims, seconded by Galan, to go into executive session to discuss information regarding the appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of specific employees (5 ILCS 120/2(c)(1)). Roll call: Galan, Pohlman, Swims, VanWinkle and Dababneh voted yes. Nay, none. Motion carried.

The public portion of the meeting recessed at 7:11 p.m. The executive session convened at 7:30 p.m.  The executive session adjourned at 8:11 p.m. The public portion of the meeting reconvened at 8:12 p.m. 

Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 8:12 p.m.

Minutes Approved: October 19, 2023