By Bob Trott


MACHESNEY PARK – Program changes designed to bring the Harlem School District back to pre-2007 levels were approved at a regular school board meeting Monday, Feb. 23, with the exception of a restructuring of the human resources department, which was tabled.

Prior to the vote on the changes, Board Member Patti Lawrence said she needed more time to read the human resources restructuring part of the program changes, and Board Member George Russell concurred.

Board President Heather Kelley asked for a consensus vote, different then a regular yes-no vote, on the issue, and all board members except Kelley, said yes.

The board later took a regular vote on the other four parts of the program changes, and unanimously approved them.

The program changes are:

* Increase breakfast and lunch prices, per federally-mandated guidelines, by 10 cents per meal for secondary students and five cents per meal for elementary students, for the 2015-2016 school year, with revenue of $22,097. This requirement will be reviewed yearly.

* Add a district web specialist position to support a user-friendly, web-based communications presence that engages stakeholders toward student achievement, with an expenditure of $7,896.

* Restructure Human Resources (the tabled item) by adding an assistant superintendent for human resources position and reinstate a .2 full-time-equivalent (FTE) to a payroll specialist position, making it 1.0 FTE, and restructure the remaining positions (expenditure of $2,072).

* Add a truancy interventionist partner with the Regional Office of Education to employ a .6

FTE truancy interventionist to focus on interviewing with chronic truant students at the secondary level (expenditure of $15,705).

* Adjust the high school restructuring plan-adjust intervention classes, credit recovery options, transition planning and department chair duties with appropriate professional development included; add a 1.4 FTE ($63,216) of teacher time to necessary departments to allow each department chair a period dedicated to supporting teacher professional growth.

Professional development and curriculum planning time will be provided to department chairs and intervention class teachers. Title II will pay $14,473 for professional development. The Education Fund will pay the remaining amount. This is a $72,720 expenditure.

Total revenue for the changes is $22,097, and total expenditures $98,393, for a net expenditure of $76,296.

$2.5 Million in Bonds

Board members approved a resolution calling for issuance and sale of $2.5 million in General Obligation Limited Bonds for alteration and reconstruction of school buildings and installation of equiment for fire preventions, energy conservation and security.

According to the approved resolution, the bonds are designated, “General Obligation Limited School Bonds, Series 2015,” and will be due and payable Jan 1, 2018, with an interest rate of 1.31 percent.

Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Josh Aurand said projects funded through the bond issuance include replacement of part of the roof at the high school, and the complete roof at Windsor Elementary School.

Dance Team Recognized

The Harlem Varsity Dance Team was recognized for winning two straight NIC-10 Conference Championships in 2014-15. Coach Summer Henderson and the following team members were recognized: Kaylee Shaw, Madison Moore, Taylor Nuelle, Sydney Larue, Brianna Grable, Lauryn Johnson, Sara Holjan, Kurstin Frey, Shayla Conrad, Allyson Broshous, Brooke Kudzma and Jade Gough, most of whom were at the meeting.

Bowling Team

Members of the varsity boys’ bowling team were on the agenda for Feb. 23, to be recognized for placing second at the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) State Championships in O’Fallon Jan. 30-31.

They were unable to attend the Feb. 23 board meeting, so they will be recognized at the regular March 9 meeting.

Head Coach is Nick Whitmire, and Assistant Coach Zach Kerby. Players are: Cole Damon, sophomore; Kyler Gerl, freshman; Nick Howard, freshman; Collin Day, sophomore; Austin Bull, junior; Dawson Jones, sophomore; Jack Nimtz, sophomore and state champion; and Joey Heathscott, senior.

The team was NIC-10 Champion at both the varsity and junior varsity levels, and it placed second or higher in all tournaments during the season. Day and Nimtz bowled perfect games, and Nimtz and Jones tossed 800 series’.  In addition to being individual state champion and setting a new state record, Nimtz was sectional champion and NIC-10 Conference Most Valuable Player (MVP). The team claimed the conference title, as well.

District Calendar

Barb Oles, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, presented calendar amendments for the 2015-16 Harlem School District calendar, which was approved by the board Jan. 26.

A memorandum from Oles said the changes were: to follow the language in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) pertaining to the teacher work year, and to include a change to the grading periods for kindergarten through sixth grade.

Oles reported the CBA calls for 181 work days for teachers, and the previously-approved calendar had 180, so she called for an additional Professional Development (PD) Day, to make the total 181.

On the K-6 change, Oles included that It is the recommendation of Elementary Harlem Assessment Team (HAT) members and teachers, who are piloting standards-based grading at the elementary level this year, that Harlem move to three grading periods per year, instead of four.

Three 12-week grading periods will provide more time for students to demonstrate proficiency of the standards and for teachers to instruct, assess and gather evidence of student learning.

Many elementary-age students need more time to grow and develop, and the longer grading period will give students that time.

The change will also provide teachers with additional opportunities to meet the needs of individual students, based on their demonstrated abilities, the memo from Oles said.

For the 2015-2016 school year, the end dates for each grading period will be: Oct.30, Feb. 12 and May 19.

The amended calendar was approved unanimously by the school board Feb. 23.

Other Business

*Superintendent Julie Morris reported the following recent personnel moves for the school district: eight employments, nine leaves-of-absence, 10 resignations, no transfers within the district and four sick leaves. An additional move calls for employment of six credit recovery teachers at the ninth grade campus.

* Board President Heather Kelley announced the following upcoming meetings: Regular board, Monday, March 9; policy committee, Monday, March 16; special board, Wednesday, March 18, with superintendent evaluation instrument and process with Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) Facilitator Laura Martinez; and education committee, Thursday, March 26, all at 6 p.m.

The March 18 meeting will replace a quarterly board meeting. Board Member Russell announced the next business services committee meeting is set for Wednesday, March 4, and Board Member Lawrence said the next discipline policy review committee session is scheduled for Thursday, April 29, both at 6 p.m.

The discpline policy review committee meeting is for discussion of third quarter data.

* Kelley said a candidates’ forum was set for 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday, March 2, at Harlem, at the Harlem Township building.

* Russell and Kelley said they attended a recent career lunch meeting. Travis Turner of the board said he is contributing to the career lunch program by telling that group about his career.

He has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, Master of Business Administration and Certificate in  Financial Analysis.

* An April 29-May 1 trip to Atwood Outdoor Education Center, for Olson Park Elementary sixth graders, was approved by the school board.

* Two requests from the Harlem Varsity Cheerleaders, for use of school district facilities, were approved. One was for use of the ninth grade campus gym Sunday, April 25, from noon to 3 p.m. for fall cheer tryouts, and the other was for use of the same gym for choreography camp Sunday, Nov. 8, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* The board approved the rental of property at 6441 Swanson Road to Curtis Greenlee of Caledonia, for Calendar Year 2015, for $4,000, and the school district will send Greenlee an invoice, if he chooses to farm the land.

Also approved was a resolution amending prior continuing disclosure undertakings of the district.

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