By Mike Kloppenburg
Efforts to consolidate the A-C Central and PORTA school districts are over for the time being, but hard feelings generated leading up to the March 18 vote, in which A-C voters rejected the effort, may linger for a while. A-C teacher Carrie Jo Donnan took aim at the tactics of A-C First, a group opposed to consolidation that included members of the A-C Central board, during the March 26 meeting of the board. Donnan took issue with A-C First’s claim that the A-C Central Education Association supported the consolidation effort with PORTA only because its members would get higher wages. She called these claims and others “bully tactics.”
Donnan severely criticized a statement that appeared on an A-C first mass mailer the week before the vote which read, “Promises are like babies-easy to make but hard to deliver.” Donnan called this statement “obscene,” “inappropriate,” and “distasteful.”
“I was completely offended by it,” said Donnan.
She said she hoped no one who has ever had trouble having children received that mailer.
One A-C resident, Lou Jokisch, spoke up to congratulate the board on heading off consolidation, which he saw as a terrible mistake.
Superintendent Tim Page read a letter from another resident, Bob Tice, urging residents to “set aside past differences” and move forward for the good of the district.
Middle/High School Principal Bob Sanders presented the result of a study comparing A-C Central’s current block schedule to a traditional schedule. Block schedules divide a student’s courses over two days rather than having them all on the same day as traditional schedules do. Sanders said block schedule allows for more flexibility. A-C is more familiar with it, it is expected to work better with Common Core, and adds about 16 minutes of classroom instruction time per day. Sanders said a disadvantage is that the teachers do not see their students every day. Page added that block schedules tend to be more expensive but characterized the debate over which schedule is better as a “Ford vs. Chevy argument.”
Page spoke on Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget address. He warned of further education cuts that may occur if tax increases are allowed to expire. He also commented on Quinn’s proposals for education funding increases.
“Where this money will come from remains to be seen,” said Page.
New school policies were presented including school cancellation policies. All practices on the day of a school cancellation are also cancelled. There is more flexibility with games. The superintendent can now decide not to cancel games if he believes the situation that caused the cancellation is no longer in effect. A revised school calendar was also adopted to reflect the unusually high number of snow days A-C had to use this winter.
The board adopted a strategic plan outlining long-term goals for the district. The plan has goals in academics, facilities, community partnership, extra-curricular activities, and technology. The plan also includes a mission statement.
“The mission/vision of A-C Central Schools, in partnership with its community, is to equip students for the future, providing a well-rounded education through a rigorous curriculum, using cutting edge technology, and a variety of extra-curricular opportunities to build character and creativity that inspires personal and individual success in whatever our students choose to accomplish,” reads the mission statement.
The Chandlerville school building experienced a second month of high water bills but the leak that caused them has been found and fixed.
The district received $11,900 from the Cass County sales tax in February.
A request has been made for a $25,000 grant from Monsanto for classroom equipment.
The Illinois Association of School Boards awarded A-C board member Dan Cuba a certificate of appreciation for his recent participation in an IASB conference.
PORTA school district is now a site for Lincoln Technical School vocational tech courses. Page said sending students to PORTA for vocational tech would cost half of what it currently costs to send students to Capital Area Career Center in Springfield for vocational tech courses.
The school board discussed after school activities. Board chairman Scot Atwood pushed for the district to take greater advantage of community after school resources.
The board approved the eighth grade trip to Six Flags.
Advanced Ag teacher Jennifer Smith presented on projects her class is doing. She demonstrated a model hydraulic arm made by a student.
Students-of-the-month winners for February were recognized at the meeting. Grace Danner is the middle school winner and Kaitlin Throgmorton is the high school winner.