AMBOY - The Amboy Board of Education approved the 2012 tax levy following a public hearing at the board's Dec. 20 meeting. The estimated total property taxes to be levied for 2012 are $6,382,521, which represents a 9.4577 percent increase over last year.
As District 272 Superintendent Jeff Thake explained during the November board meeting, the higher levy is mainly due to a combination of declining enrollment in the district and decreased funding from the state year after year. Meanwhile, the cost of maintaining the quality of education offered in Amboy continues to rise.
Principal Joyce Schamberger, Amboy Junior High, reported that teachers are continuing to align their teaching to the Common Core Standards. She also said a team of teachers was sent to the Raising Student Achievement Conference in St. Charles and they reported to the staff on Dec. 13.
In PBIS, students will be retrained after Christmas vacation on proper procedures and expectations. The PBIS teacher team is in the process of revising "cool tool" lessons and will incorporate the Six Pillars of Character.
Student of month awards were presented during an all school assembly on Dec. 13 and pins and letters were handed out for boys basketball and cheerleading.
The AJHS band and choral Christmas Concert was held Dec. 5 in the high school auditorium. Prior to Christmas break, the fifth grade classes also visited the nursing home to sing songs, play games and give gifts.
Schamberger said the student council's canned food drive was very successful. The collected items were given to the Amboy Fire Department for distribution.
Principal Ron Gruber, Amboy High School, reported on an analysis of the Sauk Valley Community College dual enrollment program, which was compiled by Glenn Sauter. Some highlights of the report included:
* 70 percent of students earned an A or B in dual credit courses in 2011-2012
* 70 total courses were taken by AHS students in 2011-12; 96 percent were successfully completed for credit
Gruber said AP courses in English (12th grade) and U.S. History (11th grade) were offered this year and 11 students are currently enrolled in the two courses. Last year's total enrollment was seven students (AP English was not offered.) He said the AP test scores have continued to improve with 20.8 percent of students earning a score of 3 or better in 2008 compared to 42.9 percent of students achieving that mark in 2012.
The high school's SIP meetings on Dec. 13 focused on evaluating student test data from the 9th grade EXPLORE and the 10th grade PLAN testing that was completed in November. An RtI meeting was also held to help develop and monitor interventions for students who are struggling. Gruber thanked Amy Wittenauer and the AHS student council for providing lunch for the faculty and staff that day.
Gruber explained that the EXPLORE and PLAN tests are used to help identify areas of strength and weakness for students and to help faculty determine appropriate interventions and course selections. Preliminary analysis of the scores shows students as a whole are performing at or above national averages in all four tested areas (English, math, reading and science). He said faculty members continue to work with students to help them reach college readiness benchmarks.
AHS science teachers Jim Browne and Emily Rose along with AJHS teachers Jessica Nauman and Kellylyn Wood met with Amy Jo Clemens from the Lee-Ogle Regional Office of Education (ROE) to discuss a competitive grant targeting science instruction in grades 6-12. Amboy and other area schools partnered with the ROE to apply for the grant, which will be awarded in 2013.
Principal Mary Ann Redshaw, Central Elementary, reported on a project in which fourth grade students and teachers shared their knowledge of cultures (Chinese, Egyptian and Roman) with the third grade classes. The older students researched various aspects of these cultures and shared their findings with the younger students.
Mrs. Schnaiter and the Central School third graders made wreaths from recycled materials for the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. On Dec. 15, the third grade students and three guests visited the aquarium with free admission.
The Dec. 13 School Improvement Day focused on some state required training and the Common Core Standards. Special education staff visited Ashton/Franklin Center to observe their service delivery model.
The Problem Solving Team will meet on Tuesday, March 18. Redshaw said data from last year has helped the team proceed with the RtI process.
The PBIS Committee planned the second quarter incentive, which was held on Dec. 20. Students chose one of six movies and had the opportunity to purchase hot chocolate and popcorn. Kindergarten students viewed "The Polar Express."
Redshaw said kindergarten students held their Thanksgiving feast on Nov. 20. Parents were invited to join the festivities.
The Winter Concert was held on Dec. 18 at Amboy Junior High School for grades K-2. Redshaw thanked Mrs. Weber for her work and Ms. Melin who helped with the second grade "dance." Guest reader was Kristi Boehle.
Classroom parties were held on Dec. 20.
Redshaw said work was completed on Central's fire alarm system and the new gym mats were installed during the recent School Improvement Day.
Following closed session, the board approved Eileen Quest as technology assistant effective Jan. 3 and they accepted the retirement resignation of Velma Quest as a bus driver effective Dec. 14.
The board also approved a resolution to include the question of imposing a 1-cent school facility sales tax in Lee County on the April 9, 2013 ballot.
The next regular board meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24 at Amboy High School.