EHS Teachers Turn Out for Board Meeting in Support of Discipline Policy

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Published on April 29 2014 1:34 am
Last Updated on April 30 2014 11:47 am
Written by Greg Sapp

Following criticism of the discipline policy and its administration at Effingham High School at last month's school board meeting, a number of EHS teachers turned out for Monday night's board meeting to voice their support for the way the school is operated.

Teacher Jim Hammer read a prepared statement signed by more than 70 teachers and support staff members.  Hammer said the group "collectively, fully supports the discipline."  The statement read that the policies "consistently have let us work at the highest level of our ability", have "maintained a safe and constructive working environment" and have "prevented things from escalating" when incidents have occurred.

Dave Campbell, a parent who also serves on the Effingham County Board also spoke last night, saying of the EHS administrators, "These guys have shown they like to exercise their power."  Campbell said he thinks the high school has too many suspensions and expulsions and feels the administrators are "too aggressive".  

Campbell shared figures on the number of in-school and out-of-school suspensions over the last seven years and thinks there are too many.  He noted the school dropout rate is good and the expulsion rate this past year is the same as the previous year.

Campbell also voiced concern over the Board's pending vote to adopt the Right to Privacy in a School Setting Act.  Among the provisions is allowing an administrator, under certain circumstances, to seek a student's password to their phone in an effort to obtain information.  There was discussion over amending the wording of the legislation to include "an imminent issue" to help define when the request for a password could occur.  The Board decided to delay a vote on the measure until a future meeting in an attempt to agree on satisfactory wording.

In other business, the Board recognized EHS senior Jessica Forbes, who is a member of the 2014 class of the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program, a group of 175 students who have chosen to work in "schools of need" throughout the state.  We'll have more on the honor in future stories.

Unit 40 Foundation Board President and school board member Laurie King reported the Foundation Board honored 11 teacher grant requests totaling $10,000.  King said iPADS were purchased, a Smartboard was replaced, and textbooks and other books were acquired.  The Foundation Banquet is scheduled for May 15.  30 scholarships are to be awarded.

Superintendent Mark Doan reported district enrollment is at 2,606, 40 fewer students than at this point last year and 23 fewer than one month earlier.  

There was discussion of the effect of declining enrollment on district revenue and the impact expected if the temporary state income tax increase is allowed to expire.  Doan said the trend is toward less and less help from the State.  He said he's going to stop using the State's phrase that they are pro-rating funding toward local districts and instead state that the State is cutting their funding.

The Board approved a project to add a set of entrance doors at Central Grade School and a window allowing access to the school office.  Doan said the action would eliminate much of the need for people to be inside the building during the school day.  The work is estimated to cost around $60,000 and the cost is expected to be covered by a grant.  The Board also approved $9,200 in work to the floor in the main gym at Effingham High School; renewed catastrophic injury insurance renewal for $1,264; and renewed membership in the Illinois Elementary School Association for next year for $740.  

Doan asked the Board to consider whether to allow signage that could bring the District some revenue, similar to the signs you see on outfield fences at some ball diamonds.  They were also asked to consider a proposal that all senior photos to be included in the EHS yearbook be taken at the high school with the same background at no cost to the senior.  

Doan also sought approval for a hike in the driver's ed fee for next year, and reminded of the 10-cent annual increase in meal prices to satisfy federal guidelines.

In personnel moves, the Unit 40 board hired Judy Ruffner as a summer food program cook; Mike McCollum as a part time driver's ed instructor; Jennifer Kirk as a high school PE and Health teacher; and Maci Zerrusen as a fourth grade teacher.  Maci Zerrusen was also named junior high cheerleading coach and Mindy McCollum-Boswell was named head high school volleyball coach.

Melissa Fehrenbacher's resignation was accepted as junior high Mustang Outreach program coordinator, Nancy Baker's retirement as a cook was accepted, and Rebecca Eskew's leave of absence was approved.

These individuals were hired as summer help: Diane Arnold, Linda Baker, Deb Blankenship, Liz Budde, Sharon Chesnut, Carrie Clasby, Pat Clough, Leah Colclasure, Jordan Colclasure, Courtney Cook, Teresa Fuesting, Jackie Genaust, Pam Hiatt, Patty Keck, Sue Kinkelaar, Kim Knierim, Darlene Krietemeyer, Kerri Krischel, Pansy Limes, Peggy Manley, Cindy Matteson, Nate McDonald, Megan McDonald, Mitch Meinhart, Derek Minor, Michelle Morrissey, Kathy Peters, Lori Saunders, Steve Shillings, Ray Thompson, Diane Tieffel and Branden Bushue.

Doan reminded the public of "Celebrate Edgewood", the event set for Saturday, May 10 from 1-3pm at Edgewood School to mark the building's closing and to remember the school's contributions to the Edgewood community.  Those who have remembrances are invited to phone the school this week.