By Bob Trott


MACHESNEY PARK – Following a closed session, the Harlem School Board approved appointment of Shelley Wagner  as director of secondary education and Taylor Schmit Ralston Elementary School principal at a regular meeting Monday, June 8.

Wagner moves from a student support services coordinator position, and Schmit moves from a Social Studies teaching position.

Other action following the closed session involved a grievance and student discipline.

Performance evaluation

Also at the regular meeting, the board approved a Student Growth Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) Implementation Plan, which was recommended at a meeting of the business services committee May 20.

Changes were made in the way teachers are evaluated in 2012, which resulted in development of training modules being completed by teacher evaluators.

The Harlem School District contracted with the Consortium for Educational Change (CEC) to work with the Harlem Student Growth Designed Team in 2014-15.

The Harlem District Evaluation Committee decided to use a tool, referred to on the Harlem website as “Fft,” to determine a teacher’s professional practice rating. Extensive training, using Fft, was done.

A new process and guidebook will be used by the district, starting in September, 2016. A rough draft of the guidebook is expected to be completed in August of this year.


A new store in the school district, Meijer, was recognized for opening recently and holding a groundbreaking ceremony at its new site, at Highway 173 and Perryville Road, several weeks ago.

Meijer Store DIrector Joshua Weaver presented the school district with a donation of $25,000, depicted by a picture of a large check for that amount, on a board. Weaver had his picture taken with officials of the school district, during the regular meeting.

Shy, but awesome

High School Principal Terrell Yarbrough said Stephen Clay, represented at the meeting for his design of a Young at Heart button, was “a little shy, but he’s awsome.” True to that description, Clay told the board he was honored by the recognition. Period.

The 2015 Young at Heart Festiva, held by the Parks Chamber of Commerce, was at the Loves Park City Hall Grounds, along Riverside Boulevard, May 24-25.


Board President Heather Kelley announced the following meetings, involving Harlem Schol Board membes, are acheduled: education committee, Thursday, June 25, 6 p.m., and special school board, June 25, 6:30 p.m.; regular board meeting, Monday, July 13, 6 p.m., and policy committee, Monday Aug. 17, 6 p.m.

George Russell of the board reported the next business services committee meeting is Wednesday, July 8, at 6 p.m., and Patti Lawrence of the board reported the next discipline policy review committee session is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m., and will include discussion of fourth quarter data.

Russell said bacclaureate participation this year totaled 156 of a possible 421 at this year.


Ralph Matire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, was scheduled to head a meeting titled, “Solutions for Illinois Budget” July 9, at Rock Valley College, the Harlem School Board reported June 8.


Board Member Russell reported the Harlem softball team lost to Hononegah twice during the recently-concluded season, but beat the Indians in the regional tournament. School Board members also recognized the girls’ soccer team.

Buses, drivers

During a public hearing concerning the transfer of funds, held before the start regular meeting June 8, the board discussed the school district’s usual practice of replacing 10 buses yearly, with a change to seven this year.

Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Josh Aurand said there is a modification this year, due to “flexibility in fund balance.”

Robert Lockwood, who was elected to the school board in April, said the district has been firing some bus drivers for dropping students at the wrong stop, and for students transferring to wrong buses. He said some good drivers, including at least one who had driven for the district for 13 years, have been let go, for instance.


School board members approved payment of recent bills. Expenses totaled $5,678,341.64, including two payrolls amounting to $4,908,041.09, and payables of $770,300.55.


Personnel moves, presented by Superintendent Julie Morris, included: 33 employments (plus three employments in an addendum), 16 resignations, 10 transfers within the district, eight sick leaves, and one new position, an English DIvision Chairperson for the high school.

The new position is needed because the English Department is the only one with four years of coursework required for graduation, for example. The addendum also included one resignation and one transfer within the district.

Among staff members retiring at the end of the 2014-15 school year are Barb Oles, assistant superntendent for curriculum and development; and Cathy Martin, director of stakeholder engagement.

Other business

* Possible approval of an agreement concerning an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) was stricken from the agenda for the meeting. The board was scheduled to hold a special meeting Thursday, May 28, on the issue, but the meeting was canceled.

* Board members approved a Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 proposal concerning food and nutriton services, at a cost of $7,726.10; and a measure amending a nutrition and food services position.

* An agreement with Tyler Technologies for maintenance services for $1,650; a licensing agreement of $38,185.4 and operating system database administrative support for $9,615.54 were approved.

* Vacation days are: June 18, 19 and 22, and June 29-July 3 this year, for Superintendent Julie Morris, the board decided.

* A resolution to abate the district’s Working Cash Fund, totaling $220,000, and transfer that amount to the Education Fund, was approved.

Before the regular meeting, a public hearing was held for disussion of transfer of $200,000 from the Transportation Fund to the Operations and Maintenance Fund, and $300,000 from the Transportation Fund to the Education Fund.

The board approved transfers at the regular meeting. Superintendent for Business and Operations Josh Aurand said the funds were not for designated purposes.

* A trip by the Harlem Middle School Band, to perform at the Trills and Thrills Festival in Johnsburg May 21-22, and a trip by the middle school track team to compete at the state meet in East Peoria May 22-23, were approved by the school board.

* An agreement with School Messenger, at a cost of $11,175.28 for FY 16, was approved by the board. School Messenger is designed to keep parents, staff and students informed in emergency and non-emergency situations, on different devices.

* A food and miscelllaneous supplies bid with Performance Foods and Gordon Food Service was approved for FY 16, as was a measure ascertaining the prevailing wage rates, and another resolution declaring certain property owned by the school district as surplus.

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