Unit 40 Board Hears About Common Core at ELC; Summer Food Program

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Published on September 24 2012 9:31 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 12:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

A group of Unit 40 Early Learning Center teachers taught the school board Monday about the work they and their students have done on Common Core standards.

Five ELC teachers...Deb Spence, Jeanne Patterson, Jeni Phillips, Angie Moeller and Cheri Marten...were on hand to discuss the six-week process that they developed by meeting weekly. 

Some goals included teacher collaboration, development of teaching units, and a push to be results-oriented.  The work also involved making the common core standards adaptable to different teaching styles.

The plan was to focus on non-fiction as their unit, but that was too broad, so they honed it down to...rabbits.  The students learned a lot about rabbits, got to hold rabbits, learned the difference between bucks and does and kits...baby rabbits...and wrote about the difference between wild and pet rabbits.

The teachers pointed out that what kids are learning in kindergarten used to be taught in first grade.  It was also noted that the students help teach one another, and they are asking questions rather than just absorbing as teachers pour in the information.  The goal is that the students will learn for a lifetime, not just find out enough to pass the next test.

Board members also heard from Kathy Nava-Sifuentes about Summer Food Program operated by Unit 40 in cooperation with the Sisters of St. Francis, Helen Matthes Library, the Effingham Park District, and a number of other public and private supporters.

The program averaged about 54 meals served per day between June 4 and July 20.  There were recreational activities each day and the organization One Hope United offered instruction for adults there with their children.

This was also the first year the program was offered at Edgewood and Nava-Sifuentes said the numbers were steady, leading her to believe that the program will grow if offered again next year.

The Board heard a brief presentation from Effingham High School Band Boosters President Steve Sager on a proposed change of the name of the high school marching band.  Changes in the curriculum led to a decision to offer more classroom time to Concert Band and the Marching Band became a volunteer undertaking.  With the change in the Marching Band came a change in name to The Red Regiment.  The change was proposed by band director Brad Wallace and Sager said the students have been enthusiastic about the idea.  Close to 90 students agreed to the change and clothing for band members and parents and other boosters has been ordered, even the trailer used to haul equipment to competitions has been redesigned.

The problem, though, is that the change in name was never cleared with the district administration or the school board.  There is also some belief that the band should carry the Hearts nickname.

Unit 40 Superintendent Mark Doan said they're gathering information.  Doan said the timing is not good, "but we'll get through it."

Wallace pointed out that bands at some other schools have their own distinctive nickname and that the students' increased level of commitment to the program is noticeable.

Doan reported on the work that's been done to rid the Early Learning Center of mold that was discovered when crews were working to repair a water leak.  The building was open for classes Monday after being closed last Thursday and Friday. 

Doan said there are no State standards for mold, but said they'd rather "err on the side of caution."

The Board approved the budget for the fiscal year.  Business Manager Rem Woodruff said there is a $1.3 million deficit in the Education Fund, largely because the State is only giving the District 89% of the funding it promised.  Woodruff said the $2.5 million in cuts the Board has made in recent years is enabling the District to stay on a good financial footing.  Doan said the District maintains fund balances for times such as this.

The Board accepted a $150,000 contribution of TIF dollars from the City of Effingham to help with vocational education costs for the year.  Future allocations are uncertain as the City's share of sales tax into the TIF district from the State ends in 2013.

Unit 40 Foundation Director Todd Schuette reported that work is underway to beef up the Foundation's website, that eight recently retired Unit 40 teachers will be recognized by the Foundation during the Homecoming Parade this Wednesday night at 6pm and that recently retired EHS Principal Mike McCollum will serve as parade marshal, and that the EHS Class of 1962 plans to make a contribution to the Foundation at the October 12 football game.

In personnel matters, the Unit 40 board recalled several employees that were RIFd last spring.  They include bus aides, Rita Bushue, Charlotte West, Lillie Stevens and Terri Buening, as well as bus drivers April Wall, Ron Wall, David Hoesli, Dorothy Depoister, and Larry Micenheimer.  Also recalled were midday bus drivers Rhonda Tweedle, Donna Niemann, Kim Knierim, and Denise Willenborg, as well as special route bus drivers Denise Willenborg, Tammy Birch, Diane Claar and Sue Kinkelaar.

Others hired were Karen McArthur as South Side cafeteria monitor...Jackie Genaust as Early Learning Center cafeteria monitor and half-hour secretary...Rhonda Haythorne as high school three hour cashier...Sheryl Ingram-Conder as a paraprofessional...Dana Koester as high school head cheerleading coach...Angie Lark as volunteer high school cheerleading coach...Tiffany Gould as junior high school cheerleading coach...and Andrew Glosser as student teacher coach in boys high school basketball.  A resignation was accepted from Mandy Storm as a high school three-hour cashier...and leaves of absence were granted Holly Dust and Tim Bloemker for Family and Medical Leave Act absences.