West Carroll Reviews Budget,
Grapples with Principal Evaluations, Faculty Dress Code
By MICHAEL MILLER | For The Prairie Advocate News
THOMSON – West Carroll Superintendent Craig Mathers summarized the 2013 Budget for the West Carroll School Board, at a Public Hearing directly preceding the regularly scheduled board meeting. He explained that the school would have a projected deficit of $831,000.00 deficit for this year, but that historically, that type of situation may not end up as bleak as it originally sounds.
Mathers noted that past budgets have also projected deficits but had ended up more positive. For instance, last year the projected budget had a 1.2 million dollar deficit, but ultimately ended up “$400,000.00 upside down.”
All board members, including President Mike Highland, Beverly Kilpatrick, John Brigham, Mark Klein, Jerry Anderson, Tim Atherton, and Dawn Rath were present for both the hearing and the regular meeting. Mathers and Principals Bob Lamb (High School), Jeannette Ashby (Intermediate/Primary), Julie Katzenberger (Middle School), Pam Delp (Special Education/Pre School), Clint Cowman (Assistant High School Principal/Athletic Director) also attended, as did Technology Director Brad Field and Recording Secretary/Business Office Manager Sandra Aude.
Delp told the Board that efforts are continuing in the search for a speech therapist for the District, but that so far, none have been secured. She said that six applicants have ultimately turned down the offer, or accepted then later recanted their acceptance, for various reasons. She also reported that she’s currently in preparation for a Timely and Meaningful Consultation, which identifies all West Carroll students who are home schooled or attend a private school, and ascertaining which of those students have a known disability. This event will be held at the Primary School on October 10th, at 4:00 pm. (See Public Notice in this week’s Prairie Advocate News).
In her Pre School report, Delp said that West Carroll is currently at full capacity, with 20 students in each class session. She also noted that all of the money owed for the Pre School grants for 2011-2012 have been paid in full by the State of Illinois.
Katzenberger said that the Meet the Teacher and Coach Night was a success, with 75 percent of the middle school students and their families attending. Also, she submitted an application for the eighth grade to be part of an ACT Illinois Field Study Test. If accepted, these students will be able to practice Common Core State Standard aligned items.
Lamb said that he was currently seeking input from parents regarding the High School graduation date. Highland congratulated Lamb and the High School for getting the Certificate of Employability program going.
Ashby reported that the Primary School has received a check from Target as part of the Take Charge of Education Program, wherein anyone using their Target card may have 1 percent of their charges donated to the school of their choice; this year’s amount donated to the Primary School was $678.51.
She also thanked Metform for their support on the project which allowed students to use IXL Math both at home and at school.
Field said that the new wireless connectivity had been operating very well, and that many staff members had told him how much they liked it. The Desktop Virtualization, however, has been somewhat of a different story, with many issues plaguing the start up of this program. Field has been working with the vendors on these issues, but until they are identified and resolved, only the High School Library and Business Lab are currently virtualized.
Mathers congratulated seven staff members for achieving a perfect attendance; Lou Holmes, Kenny Lego, Aaron Curboy, George Delp, Frank O’Malley (all in Transportation), Ron Henze (teacher) and Kathy Raymond (non certified). Highland noted that he felt there should be some sort of recognition for perfect attendance, which sparked a somewhat pointed discussion. Kilpatrick agreed with the idea, and after some discussion, Highland motioned to award a $200.00 stipend to staff members with perfect attendance, in an ongoing basis, in addition to a certificate.
Atherton objected strongly to the idea, saying that it amounted to “rewarding people for doing their job.” When asked by Kilpatrick how he would provide incentive to staff to show up for work everyday, he said he didn’t understand why people are being rewarded for coming to work, and that the certificate should be sufficient.
Ultimately, the measure passed, with only Atherton and Anderson voting in the negative.
Mathers submitted the sixth day-enrollment statistics for the District, which revealed that for the seventh consecutive year, enrollment for the District has decreased. At it’s current 1194, enrollment is down 42 students from last year, and down a total of 255 from the initial 1449 in 2006.
The superintendent offered congratulations to Emily Bressler, who has been selected as the NFHS (National Federation of High Schools) Music Association’s nominee for Outstanding Music Educator Award, and also to Janice Jones for earning funding for a classroom project dubbed “Hot off the Presses: Creating a School Newspaper.” Specifically, the project was awarded 2 digital voice recorders, valued at $62.99 a piece, and two steno pads, at $11.69 apiece, from DonorsChoose.org.
During his report, Mathers noted that the current percentage of students on “free and reduced” status in the District now stands at 59 percent.
Kathy Stines gave a lengthy and very detailed presentation of the updated District website, noting for the board all the new functionality and versatility of the site. She made particular note of the blog feature that several teachers are taking advantage of, as well as the frequently updated “Upcoming Events” feature. Mathers noted Stines’ many hours of hard work in bringing the website into it’s current incarnation, as well as the contributions of Kita Foltz and Jeff Holley.
Mrs. Delp also gave a presentation, this one quite brief, on the current state of the Early Childhood program. She focused firstly on some personnel changes that had occurred, and also presented documentation defining and explaining the goals of the Carroll County Early Childhood Consortium, those being: recruitment, professional development, community collaboration, parental instruction, Parent-Child Interaction activities, Home-School partnership, transitions, language and literacy, and developmentally appropriate environments, experiences and instruction.
Mathers briefly updated the Board on the ongoing discussions between West Carroll and The Village of Thomson regarding the “Melon Days” property and it’s likely sale to the Village. He told the Board that an update from West Carroll’s attorney had noted some matters still needed to be completed, chiefly, the numbers of the ball diamonds, adding “Melon Days Property” language to the legal documentation, and the completion of a survey.
Four board members’ terms will be up soon; Atherton’s, Brigham’s, Kilpatrick’s and Highland’s.
The Board officially, and unanimously, adopted the 2012-2013 budget.
The Board also agreed to let for bid the Workman’s Compensation Insurance coverage for the District for 2012-2013, opting to go for “A-” rated coverage.
The Board approved the agreement with the City of Savanna for lease of Savanna’s water tower for use of it’s antenna for communication purposes, with the District paying the sum of $1.00 per year.
Dress Code Language Modified?
Mathers told the Board, during discussion of the Faculty Handbook, that the teachers would like less specific language on the official dress code, which ultimately has the effect of making the decision on what is or isn’t appropriate attire more subjective and up to the individual principals. Mathers noted that in his opinion, the staff has “stepped it up” in regard to dress code this year, conforming well to the accepted standards. Atherton said he doesn’t want the language changed, and Klein said he thinks the policy should stay specific. The rest of the board seemed to agree and no further action was taken, with the current language staying put.
In discussion of the Principal Evaluation Form, related to new legislation by the State of Illinois regarding performance evaluation, Mathers recommended adopting the IESA model, with some specific changes. Under this model, the evaluations would be comprised of 60 percent Professional Practice, 10 percent Self-Evaluation, and 30 percent Student Achievement (the measurables of which are still being worked out). Mathers favored moving the date of the principals’ evaluation from February 1st to March 1st, to allow for greater time to complete evaluations.
The Board went into executive session to discuss matters relating to employee issues, collective bargaining, student discipline and special education programs, at around 7:30 pm.