West Carroll Considers
‘Weighted Grading’ System, Leaves Wrestling Meets at High School
By MICHAEL MILLER | For The Prairie Advocate News
THOMSON – The West Carroll School Board listened to High School Principal Bob Lamb talk about the pros and cons (but mostly pros) of a new system that would change the way grade point averages are calculated, at the June 20th, 2012 meeting of that body at the West Carroll Intermediate School in Thomson.
The meeting was attended by Board members Mark Klein, Jerry Anderson, Beverly Kilpatrick, Tim Atherton, John Brigham, Dawn Rath and President Mike Highland. Also in attendance were District Superintendent Craig Mathers, High School Principal Bob Lamb, Middle School Principal Julie Katzenberger, Primary/Intermediate School Principal Jeannette Ashby, Special Education/Preschool Principal Pam Delp, Assistant High School Principal/Athletic Director Clint Cowman, Technology Director Brad Field and Recording Secretary/Business Office Manager Sandra Aude.
Lamb summarized the dynamics of the weighted grading program, which was studied as part of next year’s Strategic Action Plan. Basically, under this system, certain selected classes would receive a higher point value for their grade. For example, an “A” would be given a higher score than the typical “4” points, usually 5 points. Getting a “B” in a weighted class would be the same as getting an “A” in a regular class.
Lamb said that there is currently a movement to go toward this system among high schools that offer dual credit classes. He said he feels the most compelling argument for going with this idea is that it “creates an environment that encourages kids to take challenging classes.”
Some of the other advantages to this would be that it would be a way for the students to increase their GPA, and also their class rank. It would also offer up more scholarship opportunities for the students involved, and give them a greater sense of accomplishment.
Lamb did list some disadvantages as well, including the fact that it is not fair to students that some schools currently have this and others don’t. Lamb also said that as a result of this system, some students might shun fine arts or elective courses because they could potentially lower their GPA, thus they might end up not taking a class that interests them. Also, students who do not take the weighted courses might think that their work is less important, while others might just take some of the easier classes out of fear of getting a lower grade in the weighted ones.
Mathers said that this is an idea that has been discussed for a couple of years and that the District had six months to put a plan in place. He cited “great information” from Lamb, and Highland pledged to “take a look” at the proposal. This plan would not be in place for the coming school year, but rather for the 2013-2014 year.
Field led off the administrative reports, with the news that work has begun on what will be the new district website, “Schoolwires,” and that the district’s displaced computers are now being either rebuilt or reconfigured to use in the labs to replace those that no longer function.
Katzenberger announced that the Middle School has been awarded two grants; a $3,700.00 grant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers, and an e-reader grant for $6,000.00 from the Mt. Carroll and Savanna Rotary clubs. Current plans are to buy 30 E-readers with library check-out access for the middle school. The principal thanked Mike Risko of Mt. Carroll for his assistance in this endeavor. Ms. Katzenberger also reported that Erickson Paving has finished work on the entrance of the blacktop road at the school, and thanked both the custodians and the secretaries for their end of the year work at the school.
Ashby told the Board that the Primary School is developing a procedure handbook for the faculty, both old and new, which will detail protocols for lunch/milk money collection, student assistance referrals, end of day dismissals and much more. Ashby also explained a “What’s in Your Backpack?” initiative that she and the other instructors are working on for the upcoming year, designed to promote reading at every grade level with a take home reading program for the K-5 students. She said this program is a component of their overall goal to have all students reading at or above grade level, and that it will require parental involvement.
Delp said that two preschool grants have been submitted: the Preschool for all Grant and the Prevention Initiative 0-3 early Childhood Grant. The budgeted amount for these grants will be the same as last year; $676,950.00 for the Preschool grant and $120,235.00 for the 0-3 Grant.
In Special Education, Delp’s chart revealed that there are currently 224 students enrolled in this program; 105 at the preschool level, 50 at the middle school level and 69 at the high school level. She also noted that she is working on a Special Education Handbook for the staff and estimates that it should be ready by this fall.
Lamb said that High School registration will be held on July 25th and 26th at the High School, and listed three recommendations he’s made for new staff hires for the upcoming school year; Bryant Suess for Social Studies, Leah Larson for English, and Jessica Ellis for Special Education, with the shared Science position and the Special Education position to be named at a later date.
Cowman announced that a new site for athletics, www.athletics2000.com, will be used by the district.
Mathers congratulated the teachers, secretaries and students of West Carroll for achieving a new school attendance record, 95.16 percent for the just completed school year. Kudos also went out to the FFA for their Gold Chapter rating from the Illinois FFA.
He also noted that a report recently out from ISBE that revealed that of the over 900 districts in the state of Illinois, over 50 percent have more than one year of operational funds sitting in reserve, a fact that Mathers opined would not help chances of opposing current plans for pension reform (the costs of which would be passed onto the local school districts if the plan is put into action).
Preliminary ISAT reports were out, with Mathers commenting that to him it was important to see how the 4th graders did last year and how the fifth graders did this year, and that these percentages were not “solid” yet; when they become so, he said he would make them public. He did say that the scores demonstrated the growth he’d hoped for.
Mathers also discussed West Carroll’s possible participation in REMS (Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools) grant for $300,000.00, with no matching funds.,with the condition that all three Carroll County school districts would have to work together to obtain the grant. These funds would be allocated for safety purposes, i.e. security cameras on buses or in hallways or other items. Unfortunately it was later announced that the funding for this grant wasn’t appropriated this year, though the districts have agreed to fill out the grant application in the hope that some funding will eventually be made available to the county.
Wrestling Meets to Remain At High School
At the previous board meeting, a proposal by Cowman to relocate the Wrestling team’s meets to the Primary School was discussed, with Klein noting that the team was itself not in favor of this move. Currently the team practices at the primary school and has their meets at the high school.
At the June meeting, Cowman said that in light of the opposition to this potential move from both the team and Coach McIntyre, he had no problem with leaving things as they were, and the Board presented no opposition to this. One exception to this rule will be that the larger meets will be hosted at the Middle School due to different time requirements.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield was once again selected by the Board as the District’s health insurance provider, and Delta Dental and BSB Vision were selected to provide dental and vision coverage for the district as well.
Board meeting dates for the 2012-2013 school year will remain the same, falling on the third Wednesday of each month, at 5:30 pm, at the Intermediate School. One exception will be that the November meeting will be on the second Wednesday.
The Board also elected to let for bids the District’s transportation fuel bids for the coming school year, and passed a Prevailing Wage Resolution.
Mathers presented some interesting and surprising stats at the conclusion of the meeting, drawn from a survey of West Carroll students. Less than 1 percent of the students surveyed were interested in a career involving mathematics, and 40 percent would be the first person from their family to attend college. A full 72 percent had no plans to serve in the military.