By Bob Trott


MACHESNEY PARK – High School Junior Emily Davie was recognized at the Monday, Sept. 28, Harlem School Board regular meeting, for making great contributions, including financial, to the effort to curb autism.

Harlem Director of Stakeholder Engagement Jason Blume said Davie is a great supporter of the community in general, and in particular, was instrumental at the 3rd Annual Autism Awareness Night, last March 22, at a Rockford Icehogs American Hockey League (AHL) game.

On the awareness night, Davie handed out and posted material, said Blume, who just replaced Cathy Martin as stakeholder director this school year.

The financial part was the raising of $79,000, plus $40,000 to the Autism Program Service Center. That effort showed what a “dynamic person Emily is, and I’m proud to have her on my team,” Blume told the school board.

A news item on the Harlem website said that, in 2002, Davie was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, and has worked very hard to get to where she is today. Much of her progress has come from her attendance at Rockford IceHog games, and the support she receives from everyone at the arena. It referred to people at the games as her “hockey family.”

The news item on the website said, “Emily’s greatest wish is that people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder are treated kindly and included, which is why she volunteers and wants to make a difference. She not only wants this for herself but everyone who has this diagnosis.”

It said that, on March 22, Davie participated in the 3rd Annual Autism Awareness Night with the Icehogs. It added that she helped prepare all the materials weeks prior to the event, and sold tickets to many teachers and staff at Harlem.

Her support continued to the day of the game, as she arrived early to help decorate the arena with facts about Autism Spectrum Disorder. During the game, she handed out information about the disorder and “greeted everyone with her contagious smile,” the story added.

After the game, she escorted players to the ice to have their autism-themed jerseys auctioned off. The overall auction raised over $79,000.00, with $40,000.00 of that coming to The Autism Program (TAP) Service Center, a program of Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago/Rockford Region.

The money donated will go towards screening, diagnostics, training, consultations and keep the doors open until the state budget is approved.

Budget FInalized

The 2015-16 school district budget was approved, following changes that were presented by Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Josh Aurand.

Education Fund Expenditures in the finalized budget are $86,300,086, up 9 percent from the final amended total of $79,123,471 for 2014-15. The Education Fund is by far the largest section of the school district budget.

No input from the public was received at a budget public hearing prior to the regular session Sept. 28. The final budget included the following changes:

* a $5,432,061 increase in Education Fund revenues, and an increase of $5,536,333 in expenditures, for a deficit of $104,272.

* a decrease of $45,000 in the Operations and Maintenance Fund, and no change in the Capital Projects Fund.

Former Coach, Player

Board Member George Russell said he learned a lot about life by coaching football, and one of his players was Assistant Superintendent Aurand.

Russell talked about the success, so far, of this year’s Harlem Huskie varsity football squad. The squad rallied late Friday, Sept. 25, to overtake Belvidere North, 34-31, and stay unbeaten in the NIC-10 Conference this season.

The board member said this year’s Harlem team was predicted to finish second, third or fourth in the conference, and is now on top of the NIC-10 and unbeaten. He compared the team’s efforts to what is talked about in the book, Outliers, which examines contributing factors to high levels of success.

New position

At its next regular meeting Thursday, Oct. 15, the school board will consider a resolution to change an assessment and records secretary position to director of elementary education/records secretary.

The board normally does not hold regular meetings on Thursday, but this one comes after the Monday, Oct. 12 Columbus Day holiday, on which there will be no school, and the board does not meet those days.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Michelle Erb has proposed the changes because:

* The assessment and records secretary has been acting as the director of elementary education’s secretary since the new director has been hired.

* If the district does not make this change, the Director of Elementary Education would be the only director position without a secretary.

The base wage would increase from $9.50 hourly to $10.40, or $1,656 for FY 16 and $1,872 for a full year.

Scary Night

Evelyn Meeks of the school board gave people at the meeting an idea of what was to come in the news, as she told of her experiences working at the Crusader Community Health clinic on Broadway Street, in Rockford, when a man started firing a gun there the same date as the meeting.

“I never saw so many police in my life,” she said when she got to the board session, after first saying, “I’m glad to be here.”

Her other reflections on the moment included, “I felt like I was in a sardine can.” She said she works at the clinic, and people had a gun pulled on them there. The Rockford media reported the gunman was Steven Dummer, 36, of Rochelle, and that he underwent testing concerning his mental state, and was taken into custody by law enforcement in Winnebago County.

Other business

* The board approved the appointment of Jim Miglin as district substitute hearings officer.

* Payment of bills was approved. Total recent expenditures, reported by Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Aurand, were $5,757,339.71.

* Also approved was a trip to the IHSA Sectional Cross Country meet in Montgomery, with departure Oct. 30, and event Oct. 31, and a trip to the IHSA State Cross Country Meet at Detweiler Park in Peoria, with departure Friday, Nov. 6, and meet and return the next day.

* The board approved a request from the Harlem Dance Competition Team to use the Harlem High School Main Gym and Fieldhouse for choreography practice Sunday, Nov. 8, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* Board members voted to declare Harlem School District property surplus, and heard from Board President Heather Kelley that she received five satisfactories from board members, about the business they conducted at the Sept. 14 regular meeting. The satisfactories are called a board self-monitoring report.

* Upcoming meetings, besides the Oct. 15 regular session, are: policy committee, Tuesday, Nov. 10; business services committee, Wednesday, Oct. 7; discipline policy review committee, Thursday, Nov. 12, for 2015-16 first-quarter data, all at 6 p.m.

* Superintendent Julie Morris reported the district responded to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request dated Sept. 11, regarding accounts payable records.

* Scot Rollinson, assistant superintendent for Human Resources, reported the following recent personnel moves for the district: eight employments, eight resignations, one leave-of-absence, one sick leave request and two transfers within the district.

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