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Grant will allow Cerro Gordo Ag Students to Raise Chickens in the Elementary Building

Staff Writer

The Cerro Gordo School Board meeting began at 6:30 pm March 15, 2023, in the high school auditorium.

Principal Brandon Willard opened the meeting by introducing the students of the month: Sophie Ferguson, 6th grade; Mathis Filchak, 7th grade; Bella Escobar, 8th grade; Royce Larrick, High School.

Before going to executive session, the board listened to a representative from Clean Energy Design Group concerning renting or owning solar panels.

At the end of the discussion, the board asked for information on owning with reevaluation breaks at certain years versus a power purchase agreement.

Staff changes occupied a lengthy executive session. The board accepted the resignations of Sarah Aten, high school English/Business teacher and Victoria Hermann, library aide. Ashley Spent was hired as an elementary teacher with the grade level as yet to be determined for the school year of 2023-24.

The board then approved the hiring of Megan Shackleford, school nurse, and Trudy Vest, full-time substitute and classroom aide.

The attention was then turned to extracurricular assignments. The board approved these positions: Elizabeth Owens, high school volunteer volleyball coach; Andrew Buhr, junior high girls track; Jarod Schonert, junior high boys track; Rich Conaster, high school track; Diann Durbin, high school volleyball assistant.

After the approval of last month’s minutes, bills, financial reports, and IESA/IHSA membership renewals, Brandon Willard transitioned to the administrative reports, Principal Willard praised the initiative of his staff.

The junior high continues its commitment to have one dance each quarter with the latest success of a formal dance.

Ag teacher Megan Mead took 16 students to the Section 16 Food Science contest held in Mt. Zion. The group placed 8th out of 18 teams. The Ag classes also have been building picnic tables to enhance the outdoor classroom patio.

High school teachers Jarod Schonert, James Vogel, and Cassie McCleery took the senior class to the capitol in Springfield connecting to Resource Management and History classes.

FCCLA sponsor Cassie McCleery and her group ran a fundraising campaign raising $170.00 for the DOVE organization.

On February 27, Marissa’s Promise presented their annual message to the students in an assembly.

Since the beginning of this year, several staff members throughout the district have been conducting book studies. These studies have encouraged the communication of new ideas among the staff concerning all aspects of education.

Diann Durbin went to the Teacher Recruitment Seminar at Millikin to talk with prospective teachers.

Student Hannah Copeland has been doing an excellent job writing weekly articles for the News-Gazette. One point of concern of both parents and staff is that a shop in Mt Zion has been regularly selling vape materials to underage students including those from Cerro Gordo.

The board congratulated Brandon Willard for writing and winning his first grant. The grant written by both Willard and Megan Mead will allow the Ag students to raise chickens in the elementary building as a joint learning experience for all levels.

Continuing with administrative reports, Principal Jodi Neaveill praised her staff’s continued dedication. Several teachers attended a conference in Chicago.

The upcoming SIP day will involve a 3-hour virtual professional development.

The staff is also looking into Math and Reading curriculum, hopefully with selections made by late spring.

Mrs. Bone held an evening science fair that was a success.

The Pre-K was holding their family night during this board meeting.

The PTO group is very active and is much appreciated. The organization planned a fun Dr. Seuss day and night. The decorations were so impressive, so they may stay up for a little while longer.

Superintendent Robinson reported that HVAC supplies are arriving for hopeful installation by August.

Robinson also discussed 2 state bills that would be additional unfunded mandates.

Teachers are able to take advantage of free professional development since the district accepted an invitation from Paris schools to share a virtual conference.

In New Business, the board approved the FY2022 Annual Financial Report and the 2023-24 calendar. The only bid for tuckpointing was from Otto Baum for $119,350.00 with $50,000 of the bill being paid by a state grant.

IHSA and IESA for sports cooperative agreements with Bement were also approved.

The last item discussed was the need for board member appointments since only 3 individuals are running for the 4 available seats.

The meeting was then adjourned.

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