O'Fallon Progress

School board round-up: Central School Board fills vacant seat, District 90 gives awards

From left, O’Fallon School District 90 Board of Education president John Wagnon; October O’Fallon District 90 Staff Member of the Month Terri Gunter, Hinchcliffe aid; and, O’Fallon Fraternal Order of Police representatives Kathleen Effan and Mark Berry.
From left, O’Fallon School District 90 Board of Education president John Wagnon; October O’Fallon District 90 Staff Member of the Month Terri Gunter, Hinchcliffe aid; and, O’Fallon Fraternal Order of Police representatives Kathleen Effan and Mark Berry. Courtesy photo

O’Fallon Central School District 104 Board of Education has filled the vacant seat left by Chris Monroe, who stepped down from the board.

David Swaney was approved by the board at it September meeting to take Monroe’s place. Swaney has triplets in first grade at Central Elementary.

“My motivation for serving on the board obviously starts there,” he said.

Swaney said he heard of the open seat through the district website, expressed interest and was interviewed.

Swaney said being on the board is “an opportunity to have a voice in the decision-making processes that affect my son, my daughters, our amazing elementary and middle school personnel, as well as our community, is one of which I’m very fortunate to be a part.”

Swaney said there are several topics that have surfaced over the past couple years that he’s interested in.

“I just look forward to educating myself on those subjects and making fully-informed decisions that are going to better our District and serve our community in a positive manner,” he said.

In other business:

▪ Central 104 will be sending six BOE members, along with Superintendent Dawn Elser and her secretary, Clare Rodenberg, to the Illinois Association of School Administrators Joint Conference Nov. 17-19 in Chicago, costing the district in the ballpark of $7,000 to $9,000.

“The IASA Joint Conference is important for us to attend because as a district we have so many new faces this year, including a new superintendent, a new district secretary and four new board members. The conference will provide a wide variety of training, innovative ideas and networking, while giving our board the opportunity to collaborate and learn and share,” Elser said.

▪ Elser said she will be receiving Principal Evaluation Training online so she is “qualified to evaluate principals.”

▪ New coaches for the 2017-18 school year are: Charles Berry, fifth/sixth grade boys basketball, and Courtney Marsh and Jenn Cooper, co-cheerleading coaches.

OTHS 203

O’Fallon Township High School District 203 administrators and board of education members continue to meet with church and community leaders in an ongoing effort to increase diversity and improve race and cultural relations at OTHS.

Darcy Benway, OTHS superintendent, updated the district board on the district’s community outreach initiative since last month’s town hall meeting at New Life In Christ Church. Martha Weld, assistant superintendent, and Benway met with the Apostolic Assembly, Belleville Mosque, and again with NLICC, since.

In other business:

▪ Benway gave presentations during the Oct. 19 meeting on Wellness, SAT exam scores and the Evidence Based Funding For Student Success Act (aka SB1947).

▪ OTHS has been invited to participate in the IL-EMPOWER pilot of the next generation of the Illinois differentiated system of support for schools under the newly approved Illinois ESSA plan through the Illinois State Board of Education, according to Benway.

Identified schools will complete the Illinois Balanced Accountability Measures rubric and determine one or two areas to focus school improvement efforts. Pilot schools will be offered the opportunity to share with the ISBE its experiences in the pilot to help guide further direction.

Benway told the board, she “believes this is a great opportunity for OTHS to participate in educational leadership at the state level and to lead the way to implementing the new accountability system.”

▪ The 85th Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards 2017 Delegate Assembly will be held Nov. 17-19 in Chicago, IL.

“The OTHS Board of Education has decided not to attend the conference this November in an effort to save money,” Benway said.

However, board member Mark Christ will attend the conference as the Southwestern Division Director for the Illinois Association of School Boards, Benway said.

“IASB pays for Mr. Christ’s conference registration and one night’s hotel accommodations,” she said.

▪ On Oct. 19, the BOE unanimously approved the audit for the school year ended June 30, 2017 Schorb & Schmersahl LLC with no action or changes needed.

O’Fallon 90

O’Fallon School District 90 Board of Education has announced the recipients for its October Teacher and Staff of the Month Awards. Both are from Hinchcliffe Elementary this month with Terri Gunter, an aide, and Mel Haerr, a first-grade teacher. The October award sponsor was the O’Fallon Fraternal Order of Police.

Gunter has been with the district for 20 years and is described as “a very fun-loving person who is patient, kind, honest and dedicated,” Kristie Belobrajdic, Hinchcliffe principal, said.

“Terri has worked with a wide variety of teachers at all grade levels. She has always gotten along well with everyone, worked to make their jobs easier, and provided quality service to the students,” Belobrajdic said.

For 14 years, Haerr has consistently challenged herself and grown into a master teacher, according to Carrie Hruby, superintendent.

Hruby said Haerr is “an energetic and passionate teacher who dedicates much of her own time to improving her classroom environment and developing lessons that are specific to the needs of her students.”

Belobrajdic said, “Mel will always do what is best for each and every student, even with the most difficult students who don’t always fit inside the box, come from emotionally torn families, or who struggle academically, socially or physically. Mel always has a smile on her face, a good idea, a positive solution, or a way to resolve conflict. Mel is a team player who has taken on many new teachers and staff members to help show them the ropes, make them feel comfortable, and welcome them into the Hinchcliffe family. She is truly an amazing teacher who deserves special recognition.”

Carriel Junior High science teacher Amanda Mellenthin and Marie Schaefer Elementary reading interventionist Nancy Binder were the honorees for September by the district.

▪ The BOE approved the hiring contracts for Lora Handy, certified school psychologist, and Karen Mason, physical therapy assistant services.

▪ All agenda items during the Sept. 19 and Oct. 17 BOE meeting passed, with the exception of the recommendation to upgrade to BoardDocs Pro on Oct. 17.

“The board said they were interested in the upgraded features, but did not feel they could justify the additional $7,000 per year in cost to upgrade. BoardDocs LT is an outstanding product, and we will continue to use it,” Hruby said.

Currently the BOE uses BoardDocs LT, which costs about $3,000 annually.

Shiloh 85

Shiloh School District 85 Board of Education is working on its strategic plan, according to Dale Sauer, superintendent.

“We have completed community engagement in the spring, the board finalized the goals, and administration and staff are forming action plans right now. This will be the basis of our strategic plan,” Sauer said.

In other business:

▪ Sauer said the district held its first Coffee Chat of the school year in September.

“Though lightly attended, the conversation was once again open and interesting. The topics discussed included the school finance and the levy, textbook fees, electronic textbooks, district boundaries, demographic changes through the years, and the establishment of a district foundation. I will plan our next Coffee Chat for a morning time to support attendance by others who cannot make evening,” Sauer said.

▪ The district conducted testing of potable water sources at Shiloh Elementary School in September of 2016. The report shows that all samples taken were well below the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Action Level, according to Sauer.

▪ Four Board members recently attended a IASB conference in Columbia on School Safety. Leslie Tesluk-Ecker, BOE president, was recognized for attaining Illinois School Board Leadershop Academy Fellow status for her commitment to professional development, according to Sauer.