AMBOY – A moment of silence was held in memory of Amboy High School teacher Michael Pasley prior to the March 27 board of education meeting. Superintendent Jeff Thake said the unexpected death of the popular social studies teacher on March 23 was very difficult for everyone. “We’re going to remember Mr. Pasley for all of the lives he touched,” Thake said. “We’re very appreciative of everything he did for Amboy students.”
Thake said the latest news from Springfield indicates that the General State Aid proration for schools will be at 85 percent. “A lot of that depends on what Gov. Quinn is discussing right now at the state level with the permanent income tax,” he said. “It could lead to cuts of $1 billion in state funding and it’s something that we are watching closely. It could have catastrophic effects on public education and the Amboy School District and just about every school district in the state.”
Thake added that potential changes or elimination of funding for transportation is causing him the most concern especially since the district has a large number of busses that have over 100,000 miles. “We would like to move forward in leasing versus owning school busses but I’m holding off on that,” he told the board. “I need more information about what direction funding will go.”
Principal Josh Nichols, Amboy High School, said due to the sudden death of Mr. Pasley, he decided not to administer the new PARCC test last week as originally planned. “We spent a lot of time setting it up but it was a volunteer test and I didn’t think it would be appropriate this week,” Nichols explained. “We can still give one towards the end of school and get some experience with the PARCC.”
The Clippers Set Sail Team continues to work on the Northern Illinois University visit, which will take place in April. They are also trying to make the best use of resource time and address individual student concerns.
Nichols said teacher evaluations have been completed and classroom walk-throughs have started. He explained that he uses an iPad, which immediately sends a report of what he observed. The process is very informal and lasts only about five minutes. “I pop in and see what’s going on, which is great for me because I get to see the students actually in the classroom,” he said.
Nichols said Amboy hosted both the boys’ and the girls’ IHSA regional basketball tournaments in February. He congratulated the girls’ basketball team on their impressive run at the sectional.
With FFA advisor Sarah Landers on temporary leave, Nichols said he served as a driver for some recent FFA trips. On Feb. 27, the group took third place in their district at the Blackhawk East Parliamentary Procedure. Nichols thanked Andrew Klein who also accompanied them to the competition and helped during the event.
In the FFA speech contest at Prophetstown on March 5, Amboy took second and third, which means one student will move on to the next level and one will be an alternate. March 12 was the individual record book competition, which Nichols said was very eye-opening for him. “So much work goes into keeping those record books,” he said. “It was a good experience for me, gives me a better understanding of the FFA and what these kids go through.”
Nichols thanked directors, Kathy Mekeel and Aubrey Becker, and the cast and crew of the “Wizard of Oz” musical, which was performed March 14, 15 and l6. “They did a fantastic job,” he said.
A report from Principal Joyce Schamberger, Amboy Junior High School, was presented by Andrew Full in her absence. In school improvement, the report stated that teachers met with the other grade level teachers to share their completed work with the Common Core State Standards. This included their Scope and Sequence, Curriculum Maps, and Universal by Design. “This was a good activity,” Schamberger wrote. “I received positive remarks from staff members.”
Full said the PBIS character trait for the month was “Having a Positive Attitude.” At the all school assembly on March 13, grade level teams handed out student of the month awards. In addition, girls’ basketball and wrestling pins were given out, Spelling Bee winners were recognized and the Academic Team was presented a trophy for their sportsmanship. Finally, a friendly competition of games between the grade levels and teachers was held.
In school activities, the track season has started and is being coached by Miss Setchell, Miss Nauman and Mr. Dieterle. Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart was held during PE classes and students roller skated during the last two weeks of March.
Principal Mary Ann Redshaw, Central Elementary, was also absent but submitted a written report. In school improvement, Redshaw wrote that the Problem Solving Team met on March 18 and found many success stories with the plans that have been put in place. Additionally, all special education teachers met after school with OCEC staff.
In school activities, ISAT testing was held March 3-7. Redshaw thanked the students and teachers for their efforts and the kitchen staff for providing a variety of snacks and goodies for students taking the tests. She also thanked the teachers whose classes made posters and signs of encouragement and Mrs. Weber who had classes sing “Motivate.”
National Breakfast Week was March 3-7 and the cafeteria featured “Breakfast for Lunch” the entire week. Redshaw said the event was quite popular with increased lunch counts.
The Pancake/French Toast and Sausage Breakfast on March 9 was very successful serving close to 700 people. Redshaw noted a very impressive staff turnout both working at the event and supporting the breakfast by attending.
Central students were treated to a dress rehearsal of “The Wizard of Oz” at Amboy High School on March 12. Redshaw said the students and staff enjoyed watching their fellow classmates as Munchkins as well as the high school students’ performance.
Thake reminded the board that there are three large-scale educational initiatives the district has been working on this year: Common Core, PARCC and Rising Star. He said he recently heard an appropriate analogy of these educational reforms. “They said it’s like trying to fly an airplane while building it at the same time,” he chuckled. “We are a district that has consistently gotten results in the eight years I’ve been here and I believe we will continue to get results. Even with Common Core, we are still above state average regionally with our neighboring districts.”
The board approved graduation dates for 2015. Amboy Junior High School graduation will be Friday, May 29, 2015 at 7 p.m. in the junior high gym. Amboy High School graduation will take place Sunday, May 31, 2015 at 2 p.m. in high school gym.
Following closed session, the board approved the contracts of Superintendent Jeff Thake and Amboy High School Principal Joshua Nichols. They also approved the contract of Joyce Schamberger, who will serve as principal of kindergarten through eighth grade, and Andrew Full, who will be assistant principal for kindergarten through eighth grade.
Thake explained later that the decision to eliminate the position of principal at Central Elementary was made due to declining enrollment. The resignation of current Central Principal Mary Ann Redshaw was accepted on Feb. 6 and becomes effective at the end of this school year. “We believe we can remain administratively efficient and augment continuity from kindergarten through eighth grade at the same time,” Thake said of the change.
The next regular meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 24 at Amboy Junior High School.