Highland News Leader

Coach asks School Board to consider improvements to HHS football stadium

The St. Louis Rams are not the only ones looking at having stadium improvements.

On Monday, Highland High School football coach Jim Warnecke proposed to the School Board a set of improvements he’d like to see be made at Bulldogs Stadium.

But unlike the Rams, Warnecke said his plan would not cost taxpayers money. Instead, he believes his plan would create a new revenue source for the athletics department by selling advertisements.

Under Warnecke’s proposal, local businesses would be asked to sponsor two new play clocks. Also, if wind screens were placed around the outer fence of the football stadium, more ads could be placed there.

The School Board delayed taking any action on the proposal but is expected to resume conversations next month with Warnecke, who is now trying to negotiate a deal with Side Effects Inc., a Franklin, Ohio- based company.

In 1996, Side Effects president Bob Westerfield saw a need at Springboro High Schoo in Springboro, Ohio — an outdated gym scoring table. Being part of the booster club, he dreamed bigger and raised enough funds and advertisers to give Springboro High School not only a proper scoring table, but an NBA-style scrolling score table that wowed the community. So began Side Effects. Eighteen years, 33 states, and 850 projects in more than 600 schools later, communities throughout the U.S. are experiencing the same side effects Springboro High School did so many years before.

In other news:

▪ A Highland parent has asked the School Board to look at the district’s current truancy policy.

Highland School District is misusing the word ‘truancy’ in their building policies,” Mary Mueller said.

According to Illinois School Code, truancy applies to “invalid” or unexcused absences, according to Mueller, who teaches second grade in the Cahokia School District.

“Highland is applying it to all absences,” she said. “According to Illinois School Code, a parent calling in a student for a valid reason is excused. A student is not truant unless the absences are invalid.”

Mueller said there is nothing in Illinois School Code stating a doctor’s excuse is required for a student’s absence to be excused by the district.

“In fact, a district can tread a thin line of discrimination with requiring this. In some cases, districts open themselves up to being financially liable for those doctor visits,” she said.

Mueller said she earlier received “two threatening letters” from the district after her 18-year-old son missed 10 days of school this year because he was sick. She said she has contacted the school for each and every absence.

“I have the right to keep at home for health or safety reasons,” Mueller stated in a March 26 letter to school district officials.

“I understand that you are trying to solve attendance issues. However, my son is not a problem for you to spend your time on… I would suggest some administrative response.”

Mueller said she has tried to resolve her concerns through the correct channel by sharing her concerns with Superintendent Mike Sutton, High School Principal Karen Gauen, the Illinois State Board of Education, and the Regional Office of Education.

The district has since “softened” the wording in the letters asking about a child’s prolonged absence, according to Gauen.

Sutton said he has also contacted the district’s attorney regarding the matter. He said he had not heard back from the attorney as of Monday night.

▪ Highland School Board members elected on April 7 were installed during a reorganization meeting. Newly elected members Robert Miller and David Raymond were installed, along with Joe Mott, who had run for the first time since being appointed to fill a vacancy on the board. New officers were also determined. Serving as president will be René Friedel. Duane Clark was named vice president and Dena Hendricks, secretary.