County revises truancy ordinance to meet state standards

County revises truancy ordinance to meet state standards

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Macoupin County Board voted Tuesday night to amend the county’s truancy ordinance in order to bring it into compliance with state statutes. The county’s ordinance was first passed in 2011.

According to First Assistant State’s Attorney Jordan Garrison, the ordinance being outdated was brought to the county’s attention by a concerned parent a few months ago. However, he noted that only a couple minor changes were needed to bring it into compliance: the drop-out age was raised to 17 instead of 16, and the number of days a student can miss before being considered a “chronic truant” was reduced from 10 percent to 5 percent (from 18 school days to nine); both of those changes were made at the state level a few years ago.

Garrison said he has been in frequent contact with Truancy Officer Cody Maguire over the last several years. “The way the program works is that once a school district gets to a certain amount of absences for an individual student, they refer it to Cody, and he starts intervening with the student,” said Garrison, noting about eight percent of the county’s student population gets to that point. “Statewide, it’s at 10 percent, so we are significantly better than what it is statewide.”

He went on to explain that there are three levels of intervention – “There’s meeting with Cody, meeting with services, and then there’s an actual board where they bring them in, the parents and everything else. We get down to 0.17 percent of our student population gets to that level,” he said. “Their intervention processes are working very well right now.”

Asked if the changes made will increase the number of interventions needed, Garrison said it will not, explaining that the county’s intervention process was already in place at the time the state’s changes were made. “We went from something like five to six of our student population to eight percent where we’re at now, but the statewide study I’m referring to, the 10 percent, was after the changeover in age, so we’re still better than the statewide average, even with this five percent level in place,” he said.

Of the concerned parent who brought up the issue in the first place, board member Gary Rull said, “It seemed like she wanted the county to tell the schools what the numbers should be.”

“That’s not our role in the process,” said Garrison. “The process is once the school believes someone is chronically truant, they refer it to us, and once they refer it to us, we help with the services. It’s not for us to go into your individual towns and try to dictate how their school is going to run. It’s for them to reach out to us for assistance, and they are doing that. We are getting students that they’re asking help for. But we’re not seeing a large number of students that are chronically truant in the county.” He said there are only about nine students who make it to the last level of intervention.

Resolutions and ordinances

Five resolutions were passed. The first established the Circuit Clerk Electronic Citation Fund. State statute now requires the Circuit Clerk to assess a $5 electronic citation fee, of which the county receives $3 and the other $2 goes to the agency writing the citation. That money has to be deposited into a special fund to help offset costs associated with processing electronic traffic tickets, which will begin being issued by state police officers in July.

The second involved the transfer of $50,000 from Revolving Loan Fund II to the General Fund to pay off a transfer made in the reverse direction prior to 2010. This resolution was recommended by the auditor.

The third resolution is for the consolidation of the county’s two revolving loan funds. Duncan explained that one of the funds contains money from CDAP which placed severe restrictions on the loans, while the other contains unrestricted money from the county’s General Fund. The county was recently notified that the CDAP money is no longer restricted, so he recommended the two funds be combined, which will also help with next year’s audit.

The final two resolutions (one approving the 53111-DOAP contract and one accepting a special warranty), as well as one ordinance (approving an application of Section 5311 Rura Downstate Operating Assistance), allow Macoupin County Public Transportation to continue operating through Fiscal Year 2018.

In addition, they passed an ordinance setting the recreational park food inspection fees as discussed at the March 1 Environmental and Health Committee meeting, as well as establishing a $50 late fee for all permits issued by the county.

Other discussion

Crystal Bock of Scheffel and Boyle presented the county’s annual audit report and Duncan gave his mid-year budget review. For details about those presentations, see the Finance Committee story on page 3A.

A meeting will be held with representatives from various state agencies to discuss fly ash at 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 29, in the county board room.

An outdoor lighting project for the courthouse was approved, with the county to pay about $10,800 and the remaining $7,336 to come from DCEO. The county was approved for the funds in September, and the project must be completed by May 8 or the county loses the state funds. The project, which will involve all LED lights, will include four floodlights shining onto the dome, 12 floodlights placed around the perimeter of the courthouse, a pole light with two floodlights over the employee parking area and another light on that pole facing the courthouse; and a floodlight on the flag. Sheriff Shawn Kahl agreed to supply the labor and materials to make concrete bases for the lights to save the county some money, while an outside contractor will be used for the roof and electrical work. The county’s portion of the funds will come from the Capital Improvement Fund.

Jim Alderson, representing the board Union Miners Cemetery in Mt. Olive, informed the board that a cemetery walk event is being planned for Oct. 15 (Miners Day in Illinois), in part to tell the stories of the miners killed at the Battle of Virden, General Bradley of Mt. Olive and some of the miners buried in the cemetery. He asked the members for any assistance they might be able to give in terms of helping the cemetery board generate interest in the event and general Route 66 tourism in the county, such as advice, making connections for the board and spreading the word about the event.

Kent Tarro gave the board a quick update on the transportation program, noting that, a of March 3, a total of 4,883 people have used the service. That breaks down to 90.67 percent in-county and 9.34 percent out-of-county residents, as well as 53.88 percent using it as public transportation and 46.13 percent using it as senior transportation. He said many of the non-residents are traveling to Maple Street Clinic, as the transportation service provides transportation from within 15 miles of the county line to the clinic, which serves a total of about 7,000 patients from15 counties.

The board appointed Cathy Petrak to the Building and Grounds, Courts, Environmental and Liquor committees, as well as to be the Illinois Valley representative; re-appointed Ed Marburger and Dennis Yokley to the Mt. Olive Fire Protection District for three-year terms expiring April 30, 2020; and appointed Kristine Jarden to fill the unexpired term of Richard Johnson on the Fosterburg Water District Board, expiring May 1, 2019.

Three project petitions were approved for bridge replacements: Brighton #12 at a cost of $14,000; Western Mound #39 at a cost of $9,000 and Western Mound #40 at a cost of $4,000. The county will be responsible for half the cost of each project.

Under matters of recognition, Tony Wiggins mentioned that Macoupin TAILS recently made a $5,000 payment on their loan and will be making another after their upcoming banquet. He also commended the highway department workers for their fast response getting a tree off a road near the Madison County line early in the morning following the storm that caused extensive damage in Sawyerville.

The board also approved a contract with Unterbrink Construction for the courthouse elevator upgrade project, pending the addition of start and completion dates; agreed to have State’s Attorney Jennifer Watson hire Rick Stewart as an attorney for union negotiations and labor management issues, as the previous attorney who handled such matters has retired; approved a preliminary engineering agreement with Cummins Engineering Corporation for guardrail upgrades on various county highways; and approved the consent agenda, which included the claims and officers report, mileage and per diem, revolving loan fund report for February, county clerk report for February, animal control report for February, lease report for 2016, a fine breakdown for $60/$120/$140 tickets and the committee meeting monthly schedule calendar.

Next month’s meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 12, because of township board meetings being held on Tuesday.