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Survey results reported at school board meeting

Bill Coleman resigns after 22 years

Staff Writer
Superintendent Shannon Cheek, members of the school board and Rod Wright of Creative Entourage discussed the results of the facility survey that was sent out to members of the communities of the Arthur School District at the most recent Board of Education meeting which was held at Lovington Grade School.

In the communities of Arthur, Lovington and Atwood, only 361 surveys were completed. One of the main reasons that those who voted selected no to the proposal was that they worried that the tax increase would be too much. Another big worry was that the elementary schools in Atwood and Lovington would eventually be closed down and/or torn down. Board member Ryan Nettles pointed out that since the high schools have all consolidated, both the Atwood and Lovington buildings were torn down. People could have some anxiety about their elementary buildings being torn down next. One other concern that voters chose no to the proposal was the uncertainty of the current state of the economy.

After learning some of the reasons why the proposal didn’t pass, there was some discussion about approaches to moving forward. Those ideas included renovating the high school and continuing to keep grades six through eight at the elementary schools and then making the necessary renovations that were needed. Forty-seven percent of the voters did agree, however, that it would be ideal to have a centrally located junior high. Two-thirds of the voters believed that the high school was in need of extensive renovation.

The top concern when it came to district performance was safety and security-which ranked the highest at 74.8%. Another concern was the students’ transitions from junior high to high school. Members of the communities also felt that communication was poor, as it was ranked at just 29%. With communication ranking so poorly, Superintendent Cheek felt that it was of the most importance to get a handle on the issue. Perhaps the district needed to find out what it would take to get community members to communicate since there are different ways to approach that-whether it be by mail, telephone, online, in person, etc. Members of the board and Cheek thanked Mr. Rod Wright for his services – as they were donated to the district.

Moving on to other business, the board voted to continue its Golf Cooperative with the Arcola School District. It was renewed for another two years, as it has gone well and has been beneficial for both districts.

The 2023-2024 school calendar was approved, with one of the changes being that the students would be taking off the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr for that school year – and possibly years after.

The A/C Project at Lovington Grade School would now include expanding and including the gym since the estimates came in way under budget.

The new high school football scoreboard is scheduled to ship the last part of May. The football, baseball and soccer fields are due for some much needed care and preventative maintenance in the school districts. Cheek spoke with Allen Wall with Professional Outdoor Solutions about some of the district’s options. Cheek suggested to the board that it would be best to take care of the solution and repair them now or the district would look at paying more later on. The estimate for the cost of the football field could cost anywhere between $10,000-$14,000 which would pay for an entire year of preventative services and would go beyond just fertilizing the field. “This would definitely be worth our time and consideration to work with them by looking at our fields,” said Cheek.

At the end of the public portion of the school board meeting, Cheek announced that the district had received a letter of resignation from long-time Director of Maintenance, Bill Coleman. He has been employed for 22 years. Coleman’s resignation will be effective at the end of this school year. Cheek said they would soon be celebrating his years and dedication to the district.

Personnel Report

February 15, 2023

-Accept Melissa Nichols letter of resignation as the Certified District Nurse
-Accept Wendy Wallace letter of resignation as JH Math Teacher at AHGS
-Recommend for hire, Sara Rawlins as the Math Teacher at AHGS JH

-Accept letter of resignation from Christine Giorgi as the LGS Paraprofessional/Library Aide
-Recommend for hire, Stephanie Harris as the Paraprofessional at LGS replacing Christine Giorgi
-Accept Mr. Bill Coleman’s letter of retirement as the Director of Maintenance

-Recommend Mikayla Graham as a volunteer assistant coach for JH track
-Recommend for hire, Mike Haste as the JH Assistant Track Coach
-Accept Jonathan Parsons letter of resignation from High School Boys Basketball Assistant Coach
-Accept Lyle Dorjahn letter of resignation from Cross Country Coach
-Recommend Brian Keagle as a volunteer assistant bass fishing coach

ALAH High School Principal’s Report

• Mrs. Beckmeir took 9 students to the FFA Ground Zero Workshop in Champaign on Friday February 3 and February 4. FFA held three of these workshops throughout the state and there were 440 students that attended the East Central IL workshop. Students said that they worked on life skills, took a personality test to learn their strengths and how to apply these skills as they worked in groups and as individuals. They also addressed knowing your role in group work. There was also more learned about agribusiness. Students thought that the Ground Zero workshop was a great opportunity and hope more students can participate in the future.

• Freshmen Orientation was held on Wednesday, February 8, 2023 with 94% of the Class of 2027 attending with their parents. We had nearly 40 tables set up with our faculty and extra curricular options. The gym was buzzing. Students from our leadership class, student council and NHS all helped with the set up, tours of the building, and putting the gym back together.

• Scheduling for 2023-2024 – Classes have been meeting with Mrs. Hart to start planning their schedules for next year. Students enter their requests in Skyward.

• Student Council is planning their annual Winter Follies. This will be an afternoon filled with students sharing their talents from music to comedy. The program will happen on Friday, February 17th in the afternoon.

• Two of our juniors, Evan Fowler and Sara Rogers, attended the ILMEA State Music Conference in Peoria. They were each awarded a $4,000 scholarship if they choose to attend Millikin University after graduation. They attended workshops and performed with other top vocalists from across the state.

• The ALAH Drama Club is preparing for their performance of The Three Musketeers on March 10 and 11. Drama club advisor this year is Spanish teacher Faith Rund. Performances will be at 7 p.m. on both evenings.

Upcoming Dates:
February 27 – All School Assembly – We All Rise Together sponsored by Marisa’s Purpose
March 1 – PSAT 8
March 2 – Student Council Blood Drive
March 10 – HS Play @ 7 p.m.
March 11 – NHS to Polar Plunge
March 11 – HS Play @ 7p.m.
March 12 – NHS Induction

Arthur Grade School Principal’s Report

Spelling Bee: February 15, our AGS sent our spelling champions to the Douglas County Spelling Bee. Competing in the bee were Ella Oye, Trinity Schrock, Cameron McGill (Laila Sanchez was alternate). We are so proud of our students participating in the event.

District-Wide Book Study- Shifting the Balance: Beginning this past week, 17 teachers from across the district joined together in the study of a book, Shifting the Balance (6 ways to Bring the Science of Reading into a Balanced Calendar classroom). 28 people have signed up and have read the books, which focus on how to add research-based practices to what we are already doing and the importance of phonemic awareness and phonics in learning the read. This event is being led by 5 teachers in our district: Rochelle Luttrell, Vanessa Davis, Jenny Rau, Emily Crossman, and Denise Strack. We have been really pleased by the response and thank the teachers for taking time out of their busy days to push themselves professionally and move us forward as a district.

100 Day Party time hit our younger grades at AGS with the celebration of our 100th day of school. Students keep close track of the dates with their daily calendars. In the cold of winter, it was wonderful to have our celebrations throughout the building.

Committee work updates
a.) Reading Committee: The committee is examining our school-wide STAR Scores, along with our diagnostic data to determine trends that we are seeing among our students. Michaela Ponstein leads this group and helping to lead discussions on our next steps.
b.) Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS) Committee: Our most recent PBIS Meeting included Ami Flammini, from Midwest PBIS, who help to coach us through our systems and give us some ideas of how we can tighten up some areas. This will include some work with the displaying and implementation of school rules, along with the Check In/Check out the system that pairs students with teachers to help promote positive behavior days. This work will continue to provide mental health professionals into the building to support students in need. Jessica Clarkson chairs our committee and we are lucky to have her leading the process.
c.) Math Committee: Currently, our Math Committee is examining and supporting the possible adoption and piloting
of math materials. This includes the use of assessments, manipulatives, and other components of these curricula and how they fit together. A big thank you to Melissa Hopkins, Rhonda Rhodes, Roger Punches, and Brianne Eads for their work on this important project.
d.) School Improvement Team: Along with an examination of our most recent STAR data that was presented in the last report, our school improvement team is working hard to examine the overall direction of all of our committees and the distribution of our state grant. They are also revisiting our school improvement goals that were delivered early this year to the board to make sure we are following through on our action steps.

5.) 2nd Grade Valentines: AGS Second graders will be partnering with a local nursing home to give residents valentines for the holiday. Our students showed kindness and made the day for our neighbors. Great job to Ms. Davis and Ms. Cohan.

6.) Scholastic Bowl: The AGS Scholastic bowl has begun with 15 students who are studying hard. We have students working to master Algebra 2, Geography, History, and anything under the sun. We look forward to seeing their success.

Atwood-Hammond Grade School Principal’s Report

Piatt County Spelling Bee held at AHGS: Atwood-Hammond is honored to host this year’s spelling bee for Piatt County. We will host students, staff members and families from Monticello, Deland-Weldon, Cerro Gordo and Bement-Ivesdale. We will hold a brief reception prior to the Bee for all attendees complete with beverages and treats. The Bee will be held in the gym starting at 9 am. Board members are welcome to attend as well. Our three finalists were Carter Fleming (4th-grade), Ava Jacot (6th-grade), and Bella Romine (7th-grade). Bella Romine was our top finalist for our school Bee this year. She won on the word: Cottonwood. Congratulations Bella!

Atwood-Hammond Knights School Sign: Our sign insert is finally in and complete. Brad DeHart was instrumental in so many ways for this process, and I would like to take this opportunity to recognize him and his efforts. From the start Brad was the one that recommended a local sign maker in Arthur, when I was unfamiliar with the area and didn’t know that company did signs. He was helpful in introducing me to the workers there as well as the manager getting them measurements and details for the installation. He was then, with the help of three student council members, Solomon Binion, Mace Stirret and Anden Berry, able to insert the new sign, where it looks great both day and night. It is fitting and appropriate in unifying our communities and the district to have the new sign in and the old one taken out. We want to celebrate and honor our heritage and will do that by using the old Charger inserts in a display case dedicated to trophies from that era.

Mr. Farmer Honored with Official Proclamation: Mr. Farmer, our esteemed retiring Girls Basketball Coach was honored by State Senator Chapin Rose with an official State of Illinois Proclamation. Senator Rose sent Mr. Farmer the official proclamation and certificate for him to share with the school and community. Congratulations again to Coach Farmer for his many years of service to the school, sports teams and communities of the Atwood-Hammond Grade School.

Lovington Grade School Principal’s Report

• 100th Day: We celebrated the 100th day of school on January 27.

• Spelling bee winners- Congratulations to all of our students for their hard work and preparations for the spelling bee. Our grand champion was Macy Boddy. Leland Willoughby and Ryan Mgawi are our alternates. We will also be sending the following students to represent us in the Moultrie County Bee: Makenna Liming, Landon Willoughby, Max Boddy, John Williams, and Alexis Chism. The spelling bee was held February 16. We are hosting and the bee will take place at Little Theater on the Square in Sullivan.

• Parent’s Night Out-Our Student council hosted a Parent’s Night Out and had a great turn out! Their leadership in our school continues to be a shining example of what it means to be a Knight!

• Glow In The Dark Bowling: Mr. Kirkwood and his classes enjoyed their annual Glow In The Dark Bowling on February 3. There is always fun and learning happening in our PE classes!

• Oregon Trail: Our 3rd graders have set out on their annual journey on the Oregon Trail! They are traveling in three different wagon groups: Tickin Crusaders, Shark Bite, and Team Mrs. Ingam.

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