AMBOY - Crediting good fiscal responsibility and several retirements in the district last year, Superintendent Jeff Thake reported that Amboy School District 272 ended the fiscal year on a positive note. Addressing the July 26 board of education meeting, Thake also noted that the district’s audit was completed last week. “The feedback we’re getting from the auditors is also very positive,” he said.
With marching band camp underway this week at Amboy High School and school registration scheduled for Aug. 2, Principal Ron Gruber said a great deal of time and effort has gone into preparing for the new school year. Gruber commended the high school’s freshman transition team (Janet Nehring, Glenn Sauter, Amie Wiseman, Kim Sondgeroth, Erika Kelly, Jim Browne, Emily Rose, Amelia Hemmen and Sarah Landers) who will welcome incoming freshman on Friday, Aug. 17 with a new program, "Clippers, Set Sail!" The program’s focus is to provide freshmen students with the skills they need to be successful in high school. “The team has put a lot of time into this,” Gruber told the board.
The high school’s RtI and School Leadership team meetings will take place again this year. Gruber explained that these meetings help increase communication and collaboration among the staff.
Many AHS staff members attended professional development activities during the summer and Gruber said he looks forward to using the information they learned to help improve instruction. He also noted that he and Emily Rose attended the 21st Century Skills Conference at Sauk Valley Community College in June, which pertains to college and career readiness. Gruber said they plan to work on implementing some of the initiatives the state has in place through the Illinois Pathways Initiative to help get students ready to enter the workforce and be prepared for college.
Gruber also reported that as a group, the district’s three principals have been working to complete a state-mandated online evaluation training this summer. He said the training is designed to increase skills for evaluating staff in compliance with new state laws. “It’s a 32-hour training - I’ve put in 35 hours so far and I’m not done yet,” Gruber said with a laugh.
Thake noted that the teacher evaluation must be completed by Sept. 1 and as superintendent, he has to take training for both teacher evaluations and principal evaluations. “So, I have a double whammy of training,” he chuckled. “The modules are very detailed but also very relevant when it comes to looking for a preponderance of evidence and eliminating bias in making an accurate evaluation. But we are going to be able to apply these principals at a very high level when it comes to evaluating staff.”
Principal Mary Ann Redshaw, Central Elementary, said their focus next year will be on common core standards and that school improvement days will include discussion of two books, The Common Core Lesson Book K-5 by Gretchen Owocki and Best Practice-Bringing Standards to Life in America’s Classrooms by Steve Zemelman, Harvey "Smokey" Daniels and Arthur Hyde. In addition, a new reading intervention, "Fast ForWord Reading," will be given a trial run with 10 students during the coming school year.
Redshaw said kindergarten screenings will take place on Friday, Aug. 3. “We are hoping this will help with establishing class lists and making them more heterogeneous,” she noted.
A new feature at Central this year, Back Pack and Back to School Night, will take place on Thursday, Aug. 16, the day before school starts. Redshaw said Central teachers and staff came up with the idea to help “alleviate some first day jitters” by allowing parents and students to bring students’ supplies to their new classrooms prior to the first day of school. “It is difficult for K-4 graders to carry all their supplies in a backpack on a bus,” Redshaw pointed out. “We are hoping this will help ease the parents' stress of having to bring their child(ren) the first day.”
Looking further ahead, Redshaw said Family Night is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 29 hosted by the PTC and the Sauk Valley YWCA. Tim Hannig will perform his "Pro Kids Show" for Central students during the day and then host a Family Night with a different show. Both performances will be in the Amboy High School gym.
Principal Joyce Schamberger, Amboy Junior High, said math teachers Kellylyn Wood and Jason Hickman attended a week-long training on the Common Core Math Standards, and Yvonne Vicks attended training on Common Core Standards for Language Arts and English. The training took place at the Lee/Ogle Regional Office of Education. “I look forward to using what these teachers learn and bring back with them to help improve instruction at AJHS,” Schamberger said.
The junior high’s colors are being changed to red and black, although Schamberger said the switch will be implemented slowly in order to maintain fiscal responsibility. “The custodians are painting a red and black stripe down our hallways to jazz them up,” she told the board. “They needed to be painted, so why not use the new colors.”
Schamberger also commended the summer cleaning/maintenance crew for their work. “The building looks fantastic and shiny - several classrooms have been painted with a splash of color and the floors are waxed,” she said. “Special thanks to the summer crew for a great job! Awesome.”
The board approved $36,840 from Fire Prevention and Safety Funds to replace the canopy roof at Amboy High School. Thake said the work should take two to three days and it is expected to be completed prior to the start of school.
Following closed session, the board approved the agreement between Amboy and LaMoille to continue coop for football, fall cheerleading, wrestling, golf, boys and girls cross country, and boys and girls track through the 2013-14 school terms.
They approved the employment of Sarah Fisher as special education teacher at Amboy Junior High and Stephanie Wegner-Moring as half-time math teacher at Central School, both effective Aug. 16, 2012; Wendy Rissman as reading paraprofessional at Central School and Laura Hubbell as lunchroom supervisor at Central School, both effective Aug. 17, 2012; Jason Henry as custodian at Central School, effective July 27, 2012; and various extracurricular positions (coaches/sponsors).
They also approved the retirement resignation of Sharon McCoy.
The next regular board meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 30 at Amboy High School.