AMBOY – The Amboy Board of Education approved the sale of $2,293,160 in bonds for Health/Life/Safety work at the district’s three buildings, Central Elementary, Amboy Junior High and Amboy High School. Addressing the April 25 board of education meeting, Superintendent Jeff Thake also requested and received permission to seek proposals on an Energy Performance Contracting project.
Thake explained that much of District 272’s Health/Life/Safety work has been contracted since 2009-10. “They are finding ways for us to increase our energy efficiency and at the same time addressing our Health/Life/Safety needs,” Thake said.
Thake said later that the bond issue and grant money will be used to replace the roof at Amboy Junior High School, finish the roof at Amboy High School, replace an obsolete heating system under the floor and unit vents at Central Elementary, replace windows at AHS and retrofit new smoke doors around the cafeteria at AHS. “All of these tasks are Health/Life/Safety related and are tied to improving energy efficiency,” Thake noted.
In addition, the board gave approval to pursue a State of Illinois school maintenance grant for health/life/safety work. Although the grant is capped at $50,000, it will help pay for a small amount of the project.
A public hearing will be held during the next regular board meeting on May 23 to receive public comments on the $2,293,160 bond proposal.
Principal Mary Ann Redshaw, Central Elementary, said the School Improvement Team’s April 8 meeting included a discussion about typing for elementary students and possible locations for a computer lab.
Redshaw attended a Regional Office of Education principals’ meeting on April 11. “These meetings are very informative and help us keep up with the ongoing changes in education,” she told the board.
The Problem Solving Team met on April 16. Redshaw said many parents have been involved in the process and Central has provided many successful interventions this year.
During the April 18 School Improvement Day, district paraprofessionals were trained on Google applications and basic iPad use, care and applications, while teachers worked on unpacking the Common Core State Standards.
Reporting on school activities, Redshaw said the grade 3 and 4 Spring Concert was held March 26 at Amboy High School. She thanked Mrs. Weber for an "All-Star" winning program.
The 4th grade After School Art Club, under the direction of Deb Cleary, completed a four-panel mural that will be displayed in the library.
The Lee County Soil and Water Conservation District recently presented programs to students on watersheds and spoke to them about an upcoming poster contest. Lee County Ag in the Classroom has visited the science classroom.
In building improvement, Redshaw said the Amboy Fire Department returned to Central to run a drill incorporating changes that were recommended earlier in the year.
Principal Joyce Schamberger, Amboy Junior High, who hosted the April meeting, began by welcoming everyone to the junior high.
Schamberger said PBIS advisory teachers focused on “fairness” during April. Student of the Month awards were handed out at an all school assembly on April 18. Schamberger congratulated Clayton Kemp, who played piano; Kaitlyn Ortgiessen, who played a flute solo; and Lucas Blake, who performed a choral solo. Free homework passes were given to students who had no missing assignments.
Schamberger noted that the overall number of students with no missing assignments in April increased 12 percent. “I’m proud to say that 67 percent of our student body received a free homework pass as a reward for their efforts!” she told the board. “Congratulations to the 5th grade class for having 100 percent of their students with no missing assignments - an increase of 27 percent from March!”
In school activities, Schamberger said Candy Ridlbauer of the Northern Illinois Raptor Rehab & Education Center brought her raptor program to the school in honor of Earth Day, April 22. On April 26, 7th grade students participated in a cross curricular Iditarod activity.
On May 8, the junior high band and chorus will present a Spring Concert at Amboy High School beginning at 7 p.m.
Fifth grade orientation for students who will attend AJHS next year and their parents will take place from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15 at the junior high.
Schamberger said the 5th grade class attended the Lee County Ag Expo on April 19 and afterward, she received a very complimentary e-mail from the hosts congratulating AJHS on the behavior of their students.
The school’s recent spaghetti dinner/silent and live auction fundraiser was very successful, raising $18,265.25 as of April 25. Schamberger recognized and thanked several parent volunteers who put forth an exceptional effort. The proceeds will enable the junior high to purchase new gym mats and add some red paint to hall lockers and the gym floor, as they change their school colors from blue to red. “Thank you for all the hard work and to everyone who participated,” she said, noting that 782 tickets were sold prior to the dinner.
Schamberger also pointed out that there was never any waiting because of the hard work of the kitchen crew. “We also collected money at the door,” she said. “People were generous and we appreciate it.”
Principal Ron Gruber, Amboy High School was absent for the meeting. In a written report, Gruber said the April SIP meeting continued the staff’s effort in implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in all courses. During SIP time, Mr. Hubbard instructed the paraprofessional staff in the use of district technology tools including iPads and Google Apps for Education.
Gruber said AHS continues sending two teams of teachers to workshops at the Lee/Ogle ROE to lead the implementation of the CCSS. Helping to lead the staff in ELA are Liz Scriven, Arnie Wiseman, Priscilla Soto and Erika Kelly. The math teacher leader group includes Janet Nehring, Cyndi Carlson, Chris Newsome and Deb Goy. “I hope to continue to send these teams to the ROE next year as we continue the process of implementing the CCSS,” Gruber said.
AHS faculty members, Sarah Landers, Arnie Wiseman and Joe Drover, attended the Google Apps for Education Summit in Northbrook before spring break.
In school activities, Gruber reported on recent FFA competitions at the district and state levels. He congratulated Renee Vaessen for advancing to district and placing 4th in public speaking for creed and the Parliamentary Procedure Team for winning 1st place in state competition. Andrew Klein placed 3rd overall for chairman, Rachel Vaessen earned 2nd place secretary and 1st place floor member, Aaron Hubbell received 2nd place floor member and Cassey Doege got 14th place floor member. The team now advances to compete at the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Ky.
In addition, four FFA students, Julia Setchell, Paige Gascoigne, Rachel Vaessen and Andrew Klein, advanced to the state level for SAE Proficiency Awards at U of I in Champaign-Urbana. Andrew Klein won the state competition in forest management and products and will also advance to the national level competition.
Gruber also recognized AHS students, Matt Contreras, Danielle Corcoran, Julia Daskiewicz, Lindsey Dewey, Briahna Erbes, Lauren Foster and Amber Hartman, who were selected to attend the TRAC 9 Art Festival on April 18.
Thake said Amboy has done many things to adjust to the large number of educational reforms, which have significantly changed public education over the past few years. He said students will be using Chromebooks and iPads, so keyboarding skills will be critical as early as 5th grade. He also noted that a new assessment, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), will take the place of ACT, PSAE and ISAT. “It’s all online, so it’s going to be very different than what we were used to just a few short years ago,” he explained. “Our principals are doing a great job of making sure the staff is ready . . . There’s a sense of urgency with the educators in our district to want to be as up to speed on the Common Core and PARCC assessments as we possibly can. I applaud our teachers for jumping on board and putting us in the position we need to be, which is one of the highest academic achieving districts in the area. Thank you to all the contributors to the successes we’ve recently experienced.”
Approval was given for a municipal lease program with Sovereign Leasing for financing of two 2012, 14-passenger, multi-function school activity buses for two years at a cost of $14,574 per year. Thake said use of the smaller buses for practices and sporting events will save a significant amount of money for the district.
Approval was given to AJHS for use of the Rising Star Program in their School Improvement Plan. Schamberger said the junior high started using the program this year and she has been impressed so far. She explained that the team leaders discuss a topic such as study halls, then go back to their grade level teams and talk about the expectations of study halls. “That way, we’re all getting the same message,” she said. “It’s just one more way of staying organized.”
Schamberger introduced the team’s five leaders, two of whom spoke during the meeting, for their work on the program. “We did not have to do a presentation but next year it will be mandatory so I jumped in,” she noted. “I knew it was training and I wanted to take advantage of that. So, we are blazing a trail and I wanted our team to get the recognition that they worked so hard to earn.”
Schamberger said they have organized a Back to School night, which will be held Thursday, Aug. 15. The school will be open, so students can find their classes, bring backpacks and put supplies in their lockers. “We’re inviting the board of education to come and help us do a cookout,” she said. “We want to keep it family oriented. We’re inviting the board so the kids know who you are. [We want to] keep it a school family, a community family.”
Following closed session, the board accepted the resignation of Amy Frey as playground supervisor at Central School effective April 9.
The next regular meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 23 at Amboy High School.