AMBOY – The Amboy Board of Education has decided against making any changes to the policy regarding weighted grades at Amboy High School. The issue of allowing grades to be weighted for dual enrollment classes was initially raised at the January board of education meeting by AHS seniors Zach Piper and Rachel Vaessen. AHS allows weighted grades for Advanced Placement (AP) classes, which are taken at the high school, but not for dual enrollment classes, which are taken at Sauk Valley Community College.
Superintendent Jeff Thake explained that originally, AP courses were weighted as a motivator to encourage more students to enroll in those courses. “Historically, there were a lot of weighted grades in the district,” Thake commented. “They were removed.
“When we originally met as a committee, we were also meeting to do away with class rank and move to a three-tiered honor system because it wasn’t fair that the student who was taking multiple study halls and more than one section of physical education was at a higher class rank than a student who was taking AP and dual enrolled courses.”
In reviewing the current policy, Thake said he also considered whether or not AHS has a shortage of students taking dual enrolled programs. “Actually, since the implementation of AP, no, we don’t,” he pointed out. “That number has actually grown.”
Finally, Thake said the district and the community have a strong desire to maintain the high school’s identity by offering challenging courses at the high school. Students still have the option to take dual enrolled classes at Sauk Valley Community College or to take classes at the vocational center. “Or they have the option to have the exact same rigorous curriculum by taking classes right here at Amboy High School,” he said. “I thank Mr. Gruber and the students who brought this to our attention because it is always worthwhile to re-evaluate what we are doing as a district, but it’s my recommendation that we leave everything as is. I believe we are acting in the best interest of all students when we do this.”
Principal Joyce Schamberger, Amboy Junior High School, reported on a decrease in student referrals and the resulting increase in students eligible at attend quarterly PBIS celebrations. The overall attendance for all grade levels at PBIS events grew from 75 percent for the 1st quarter of the school year to 81 percent for the 3rd quarter.
Schamberger said she was also pleased by the increased number of students turning in all their homework. “Students with no missing assignments were rewarded with a free homework pass,” she told the board. “We’re really working on the positive.”
In addition, Schamberger noted that office referrals are down 19 percent compared to last year at this time. “We’re very proud of that,” she said. “There were 889 referrals last year at this time and there are 635 right now. I’m not sure what’s working but we’re going to keep working on the positive and do what we can.”
In the school improvement report, Schamberger recognized teacher leaders, Betsy Jones, Deb Cleary, Stacey Dinges and Katie Setchell, who trained other staff members on Common Core Standards.
In school activities, Schamberger said track has started for grades 5-8. “Right now, we have 45 students interested in track, which creates a busing problem,” she said. “We’re working on it so we don’t have to have two buses.”
Principal Ron Gruber, Amboy High School, said the freshman transition team met on March 14 to review the "Clippers, Set Sail!" program and plan for 2013-14. “We’re going to change some things that we did and continue things we’ve seen a lot of positive results from,” Gruber said.
Eighth grade orientation was held on Feb. 28. AHS teachers met with 8th graders and their parents in small groups to help answer questions about high school and assist them in selecting classes for next year.
Gruber said freshmen students will have the opportunity to attend campus visits at Sauk Valley Community College and Aurora University in April, as a way to expose them to various post-secondary options. “Back in the fall, we took them to three different trade schools, now we are looking at two-year and four-year colleges to provide them a range of options after graduation,” he said.
In school improvement, the March meeting focused on the ELA (English Language Arts) Common Core Standards. “The staff spent time in small groups close reading and unpacking the standards to assist with implementation so everyone shares a common language when we talk about the Common Core Standards,” Gruber said.
Two teams of teachers are attending workshops at the Lee/Ogle Regional Office of Education to help lead the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The ELA team includes Liz Scriven, Arnie Wiseman, Priscilla Soto and Erika Kelly. The math teacher leader group includes Janet Nehring, Cyndi Carlson, Chris Newsome and Deb Goy.
Gruber said there will be a shift in high school math with the implementation of Common Core Standards. “It looks like the state is going to adopt an integrated math model, which means algebra, geometry and algebra II, as we know it, will cease to exist,” he said. “It will be math I, II and III that will incorporate parts of all those curriculums. That’s going to be a big shift for our teachers and how math instruction is given, so we’re trying to take every opportunity we can to find out more and how that’s going to be implemented.”
Gruber said AHS students completed the Illinois 5Essentials Survey during school on March 15 and results are expected later this spring. He thanked Amie Wiseman, Tank Jones and Kelly Whitman for their assistance with the survey.
In school activities, Gruber said the AHS prom is scheduled for Saturday, April 20. The dinner and dance will be held at the Brandywine in Dixon following the grand march in the AHS auditorium.
Gruber recognized student members of the FFA Parliamentary Procedure Team who competed at the state level on March 23 in Bloomington. The team consists of Andrew Klein, Rachel Vaessen, Julia Setchell, Bianca Fuller, Cassey Doege, Aaron Hubbell and Alyssa Hubbell. Results from the state competition will be announced in about a week. AHS agriculture teacher Sarah Landers is FFA advisor.
In addition, four individual students placed first at the FFA District Proficiency Awards Competition and will advance to the state level on April 6. They include Andrew Klein, forest management and products; Rachel Vaessen, agriculture services; Paige Gascoigne, food service; and Julia Setchell, nursery operations.
Principal Mary Ann Redshaw, Central Elementary, thanked Terry Weber for coordinating the ISAT kick-off pep assembly on March 4, as well as the homeroom teachers who made posters and other items to encourage third and fourth graders taking the test. She also expressed her appreciation to the kitchen staff for their efforts in providing encouragement along with a variety of healthy snacks for students.
Redshaw said the School Improvement Team’s March 12 discussion included keyboarding skills, math textbooks and unpacking the Common Core Standards.
In school activities, Redshaw thanked Central teachers, staff and retired staff who participated in the AEF Bowlathon on Feb. 24 and Mrs. Schnaiter, who accompanied the second graders on their annual field trip to Brookfield Zoo on Feb. 28. She said the PTC Pancake/ French Toast and Sausage Breakfast held March 10 was very successful and thanked all the volunteers including the kitchen staff and Dean Weidman, who worked extra hours and also cooked the sausage.
In closing, Redshaw said Central School welcomed five new students during the first two weeks of March.
In financial news, Thake said expenditures are consistent with those of the previous three years and the district is doing very well in sticking to its budget.
The board approved a bid of $75,565 from Larson & Larson Builders Inc. of Loves Park for fire shutter replacement at AHS. Thake explained that the current fire shutters are original to the building and are no longer in compliance with fire safety requirements. As part of a recent safety inspection, the ROE said the fire shutters had to be replaced. Thake said he was very pleased with the bid, which was less than half of the architect’s estimated cost of $160,000.
The board approved the 2013-14 school calendar and tentatively approved graduation dates and times for 2014. The tentative 2014 Amboy High School graduation will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 25 in the AHS gym. Amboy Junior High School’s 2014 graduation will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 23 in the AJHS gym.
Following closed session, the board granted contract renewals to tenured teachers and non-tenured probationary teachers, granted a tenure contract to a fourth year probationary teacher, and approved non-certified support staff contract renewals.
They approved Kellylyn Wood as boys’ track coach and Katie Setchell as girls’ track coach at Amboy Junior High for the 2012-13 school year and approved summer help.
Spring break will begin on Friday, March 29 and continue through Friday, April 5.
The next regular board meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 25 at Amboy Junior High School.