Highland News Leader

Longer timeout granted for sports philosophy discussion in Highland

Highland junior quarterback Garrett Marti ran for touchdowns of 18 and 17 yards while he also threw for 252 yards and one score in the Bulldogs’ narrow 25-24 season-opening loss at Cahokia on Friday night.
Highland junior quarterback Garrett Marti ran for touchdowns of 18 and 17 yards while he also threw for 252 yards and one score in the Bulldogs’ narrow 25-24 season-opening loss at Cahokia on Friday night. For the News Leader

Two major topics that took up a large portion of the July Highland Board of Education meeting were discussed at the August meeting, but with much less fanfare.

Board of Education President Rene Friedel said she and Superintendent Mike Sutton met with Highland Middle School Athletic Director Liz Weder and Highland High School Athletic Director Caleb Houchins since the July meeting to discuss the district’s athletic philosophy, but any possible changes have been sidelined for now.

The proposed policy, which called for equitable playing time for all non-varsity athletes, generated quite a bit of upset parents during the July meeting.

“We understand people’s passion when it comes to this. That document (the proposed athletic philosophy) was more for a conversation piece, and since then, we have met with Liz and Caleb,” Friedel said. “We shared our document with them, and they shared their document with us.”

Friedel said the whole intent was to brainstorm ideas.

“I just want everyone to know that we have not forgotten about this, and it’s still a work in progress,” she said. “We are going to look at this as more of a philosophy than a policy.”

The board also discussed the current use of employee satisfaction and leadership assessment surveys at its latest meeting, which also caused a lengthy discussion in July.

“Last month, this was only a discussion, but I didn’t want there to be any question about this, and wanted to give a chance for further discussion or action to be taken,” Sutton said in presenting the matter again this month.

During the July board meeting, Board Member Robert Miller asked if the board would consider researching into creating a new satisfaction survey, but since the item was discussion-only, no action was taken.

“Since the last meeting, I’ve actively researched and found results from our last survey,” Miller said. “There is one thing I’d like to note. Our district did really well on a variety of questions, but one thing we might want to look at is that 92 percent of the people surveyed said they had little to no input on discretionary spending.”

Board Member David Raymond said that issue had been addressed.

“I think part of that has been addressed within the infrastructure with our Internet usage and the usage of technology — the expansion of the Chromebooks, which I think is something the staff requested and that was something we acted upon.” Raymond said. “I feel like we spend money wisely and that we take opinions quite seriously.”

Sutton said it’s difficult to get input on discretionary spending when there is “no discretionary money.”

“It’s been a struggle these past five or six years. There has been no discretionary spending which means there isn’t a lot of opportunity for feedback,” Sutton said. “But I think we are getting over the hump, and it’s exciting to see the work we’ve been able to accomplish throughout the district.”

As far as the survey is concerned, Sutton said the district is required to participate in “Illinois 5Essentials Survey” every other year, and will participate again this year. The survey offers parents, students, and staff for their input and feedback on the school district.


Board Action

National Board Certification

The board was also given a presentation by Liza Basden, a chemistry teacher at HHS, and Sharon Schmitz, a science teacher at HMS, on the National Board Certification process.

“Now more than ever, teachers have to be proving themselves constantly to be competent,” Schmitz said. “This is one way that teachers can prove it.”

Schmitz said that research has proven again and again that teachers who are certified through the National Board will greatly impact the learning of their students.

“Because of the standards the teachers have to meet for this certification (are high), the teachers are exceeding the expectations placed on them. Therefore, students can get up to one to two months of additional learning because of this certified teacher in the classroom,” Schmitz said.

In 2003, the first group of 10 teachers from the Highland School District were certified through the National Board. Of those original 10, six are still teaching in the district.

The district has had a total of 25 teachers become certified, 17 of which are on staff now.

Personnel Updates


▪ Larry Jones, Ag teacher, Highland High School (effective the end of the 2018/2019 school year).

▪ David Giger, science teacher, Highland Middle School (effective the end of the 2019/2020 school year).


▪ Cheralee Vohlken, program assistant, Highland Middle School.

▪ Katie Wessel, program assistant, Highland School District.

▪ Krystin Parker, RtI Intervention, Highland Primary/Elementary/Middle School.

▪ Glen Sharpmack, 8th grade girls’ basketball coach, Highland Middle School.

New Staff:

▪ Courtney Taylor, grade 6 social studies teacher, Highland Middle School.

▪ Beth Clark, part-time physical education, Alhambra Primary.

▪ Morgan Burton, reading aide, Highland Primary.

▪ Matthew Langendorf, Lindenthal Supervisor, Highland Primary/Elementary.

▪ Claire Sylvies, special education, Highland High School.

▪ Rebecca Tissier, program assistant, Highland High School.

▪ Sara Wasser, program assistant, Highland Middle School.

▪ Deborah Runyon, program assistant, Highland Middle School.

▪ Mari Lewis, program assistant, Highland Primary.

▪ Kristy Pollo, parent educator, Alhambra/Highland Primary.

Change of Assignment:

▪ Katie Richter, from program assistant to part-time language arts/health and program assistant (FTE 1.0), Highland Middle School.

Budget on Display

Tim Bair was also given permission to put the school district’s budget on public display through Sept. 26. The budget has to be on public display for 30 days prior to its approval. The budget will be recommended for approval at the September board meeting.

New teacher employed for special ed

The Board of Education also approved an intergovernmental agreement between South Macoupin Association for special education and Highland CUSD No. 5 for the employment of a teacher for the visually impaired students and the deaf/hard of hearing students. The same agreement was approved for the previous school year.