Ball-Chatham CUSD No. holds special meeting on school improvement plans
Ball-Chatham Community Unified School District No. 5 Board of Education met Monday, Nov. 7.
The Ball-Chatham Board of Education consists of seven board members elected to serve, without compensation, for overlapping terms of four years each. The board elects a president, vice-president and secretary to serve for one-year terms.
Here are the minutes as provided by Ball-Chatham CUSD No. 5:
The special meeting (School Improvement Plans) of the Board of Education of Community Unit District
Number Five was held November 7, 2016 at the Ball-Chatham District Office which place is within the boundaries of said district.
President Steve Copp called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. The Board clerk noted that Board mem-bers Carter, Copp, Maddox, Sieren, Worley, and Yurevich were present. Mrs. Weitzel was absent.
Administrators present: Tricia Burke, Jennifer Farnsworth, Elizabeth Gregurich, Tammi Kuhn, Jim Lee, Tina
Root, Betsy Schroeder, Kim Sepich, and Dr. Doug Wood.
Media present: None
Approval of Agenda
President Copp called for a vote to approve the evening’s agenda.
Yurevich moved to approve the agenda for the Board of Education’s special meeting (School Improvement Plans) of November 7, 2016. Upon said motion being seconded by Maddox, the Board president called for a vote. All Board members voted “yes.”
Citizens – None noted.
School Improvement Plans – The conversation began with Supt. Dr. Wood stating that he looks forward to this meeting – this conversation – every year. Glenwood Elementary School Principal Tammi Kuhn stated that the principals look forward to it as well, and was appreciative of the “round-robin” format for the evening. Each principal took turns at reviewing the academic trend data and identified areas for improvement and areas of progression. Glenwood Intermediate School Principal, Elizabeth Gregurich reflected on the Board’s Achievement Vision, which states: The District will develop and maintain rigorous programs that challenge students’ individual abilities and promote academic, emotional, and extracurricular growth in preparation for their life journey. She noted that all school improvement plans begin with those guiding principles. Chatham Elementary School Principal Kim Sepich then explained that multiple assessments take place throughout the school year in order to help guide instruction. They noted that, with the available data that these assessments provide, instruction can be tailored to each student individually. The assessments used in the District include:
MAP - Reading and Math - Grades 3-8
AIMSWEB - Fluency and Comprehension
DRA - K-2 and those receiving interventions
SWIS - K-12
PARCC - 3-9
Board Vice-President Sieren stated that he was struggling with the number of assessments given to students each year. He added that the Iowa Basic Skills Test has been in use since 1939 and schools (both public and private) still use it. Principals also detailed for the Board the specifics of each test, but much discussion centered around the number, and length, of tests given. Supt. Dr. Wood again reiterated that, though we do test often, we do so to help guide and individualize instruction. Also Illinois mandates that districts give the PARCC test, and there are still three years left on the contract with PARCC that the State of Illinois signed. Nonetheless, he is concerned with the drop in PARCC test scores, and suggested that his team delve into the curriculum. It was also noted that the technology skills that are expected of our young students may account for much of the lower test scores. [Ball-Chatham used all online tests for the PARCC administration, as opposed to paper/pencil tests since the State is requiring all Illinois public schools to move to online tests.]
Glenwood Middle School Principal Tina Root led the discussion on curriculum alignment between grade levels and schools, as well as professional development opportunities for teachers at each level to work together to achieve vertical alignment. The group praised the work of instructional coaches and noted how important they are.
Next, Glenwood High School Principal Jim Lee discussed the changing demographics of our students. He said that the needs of students are increasing every year, and the work of school counselors cannot be understated. Asst. Supt. Farnsworth noted that the District also has a number of supports for struggling learners – from “Check-in/Check-out” to intensive “wrap-around” supports that involve the student, his or her family, and community members. Mr. Lee said as the demographics of our student body changes, we need to change and improve in order to support all our students.
Further discussion ensued specific to the PARCC test. Supt. Dr. Wood explained the differences in PARCC levels of achievement for Ball-Chatham students. Mr. Lee explained the struggle with PARCC that high schools in Illinois have experienced – from administering it to 11th grade students, then changing the test and giving it only to 9th graders, and now it’s been removed from the high school altogether. Also of significance, Illinois has signed a contract wit the College Board to give the SAT test to juniors this year instead of the ACT. Board members asked Principal Lee how his staff evaluates high school test score data, and how they help students who are struggling. Board member Worley also wondered why there hasn’t been more improvement in student achievement. Mr. Lee responded that student demographics are changing, teacher RIFs, and the increase in class sizes are to blame for the lack of significant improvement. However, Board President Copp noted that there has not been a significant downward trend among the classes of high school students over the last five years.
Board member Yurevich stated that he admires the German model of education, but did not elaborate on those details. He also asked how students (at lower grade levels) were placed, or grouped, in classes each year. Principals responded that data is looked at for each child by a team of professionals. They look at academic abilities - as well as behaviors – of each student, and try to balance classrooms with a broad base of students at every level and ability.
A great amount of discussion took place on providing vocational/technical education to students who may not be interested in going on to get a bachelor’s degree or beyond. Mr. Sieren asked if counselors are able to meet with and assess each student individually to help them find their niche. Asst. Supt. Jen Farnsworth noted that counselors meet with as many students as possible, but may not be possible to meet with each one individually. Principals also noted that inventory studies and career path exploration is done through classroom teachers at each building. Board member Carter agreed and said that we need to support all students to help them achieve their fullest potential. Mr. Copp asked how we determine what success is for each student. What’s our definition of success? Mrs. Carter wondered if it might be time to start hiring back teachers, given that the economic outlook for the District has improved.
In conclusion, Asst. Supt. Farnsworth stated that data scores are just one factor of success, and that - as Supt. Dr. Wood has said repeatedly - we need to create an environment where people aren’t afraid to take risks.
Employment of GHS Secretary – Board of Education members were then asked to vote on one personnel item, the employment of a GHS secretary.
Maddox moved to employ Mrs. Valorie Wake as Office I Secretary and the salary shall be $12.00 per hour for the remainder of the 2016/17 school year. Upon said motion being seconded by Worley, the president called for a vote. All Board members present voted, “yes.”
With there being no further business, Board President Copp called for a motion to adjourn.
Maddox moved to adjourn the regular session at 8 p.m. Upon said motion being seconded by Yurevich, the president called for a vote. All Board members present voted, “yes.”
Betsy Schroeder, Board Clerk
Steve Copp, President Greg Yurevich, Secretary