Morrison School Board Considers Superintendent Search Firm
By LYNNETTE FORTH | For The Prairie Advocate News
MORRISON – The November 25th meeting of the Morrison School Board included many action items, including the selection of a search firm to help locate a replacement for Suellen Girard upon her upcoming retirement.
Approval was granted for the previously held meeting minutes of the Regular Board Meeting of October 28, 2013; Finance Committee Meeting of October 28, 2013; Citizens’ Advisory Meeting of October 28, 2013; and the Crisis Planning Meeting of November 18, 2013
A report of the Technology Committee informed the board that a consensus had been developed on computers that “the exact machine is not as important as how the machine is used.” After visiting schools and continuing to review machines, a new release from Google has made the Chrome an option that the teachers support.
A goal is to have student machines in the hands of teachers as soon as possible because of the updating of the curriculum to the Common Core requirements.
Superintendent Girard reported that the ISAT and PSAE report cards are now available for review on the District website. Planning is continuing for the February 14th institute day, which will provide technology support, and time for teachers to continue to work toward aligning instruction to the Common Core standards.
“Superintendents in the area had a long meeting with ten heads of manufacturing from the region,” Girard informed. “Caterpillar, Wahl Clipper, and many others attended the meeting. The focus was a discussion on needed skills for the workforce.
“Only 10-12% of the jobs at these companies require a four year college degree. What all agreed upon was that students need communication skills (written and speaking), collaboration skills, character qualities (dependability, drive, punctuality, willingness to learn), and technical skills such as technical reading and comprehension, math-including reading rulers and even higher math. They also need to be able to pass drug-screening tests.”
Continuing with her report to board members, the Superintendent also noted that the Regional Board of Directors will be convened December 4th to hear from both sides and make a decision on the request of Sterling to withdraw from Bi-County.
“We were just informed by the State of Illinois that our reimbursement for Special Education students who are institutionalized will drop form 90% to less than 50%. This is very expensive. Currently, we have one student but will most likely have two students in the near future.”
Board members also learned that the Strategic Planning Committee has started preparations for the process this year. A consultant has been contacted to see if his leadership could benefit the District. Members of the public are invited to contact members of the board that may be interested in being on the committee.
A meeting of the Safety Committee was held at Super Wash with a large group representing many different first responders as well as District staff. The updated safety plan is being prepared, and will be presented to the Board of Education in December.
The wellness committee met in the High School library to review the current state of student curriculum on Health and Wellness as well as review of the Physical Education program, meals provided by food service, and the policies on foods brought into the schools for special events, or served at other times during the school day, as well as before and after school hours. The policy will be updated and then brought to the policy committee for review.
Superintendent search firm
Continuing, school board members learned of the School Exec. Connect program which will aide in the search for a new Superintendent for the District, resulting from the future retirement of Suellen Girard. The service will provide many services to the District, some of which include planning and tailoring the process and timelines with the board, working closely with District staff members who assist the board, preparing and providing all written materials needed for the search process, conducting focus groups with the board, staff, and community, creating a customized community-wide on-line survey, preparing the board for interviews, assisting with news releases announcing the new superintendent, and more.
Reports from Principals were heard, beginning with Joe Robbins. He reported that Parent/Teacher conferences went well, with many teachers working extra hours to accommodate parent schedules. Students celebrated their annual Thanksgiving Feast, with donations being used to provide food, supplies, and money.
“Mr. Bielema donates his time to smoke three turkeys the day before. Students have been learning about the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving,” Robbins reported.
Board members learned that Amy Payne and Cathy Benoit are both leaving the district. Robbins explained that both women will be greatly missed.
Robbins also noted that the Candlelight Inn donated 200 buns for the Title 1 family reading nights, Deer Valley Collectors donated 12 books about farming and tractors to both elementary schools, and the Elementary schools are collecting supplies for animals that have been left homeless after the tornadoes in Washington, Illinois.
Junior High Principal Darryl Hogue also gave a report to board members notifying them that teachers from each building attended the November Race To The Top workshop along with Scott Vance and himself at Kishwaukee College.
Parent/Teacher conferences were well attended by parents. Robbins proudly stated that members of the 7th grade girls physical education program have been selected by the Whiteside County Health Department to receive free heart smart training.
Scott Vance reported that Sauk Valley Community College has designated classes to be offered at the High School during the evening second semester. The annual Winter Meet the players was held last week. Morrison High School has been approached about hosting an Alumni Football game versus Fulton this summer. The tentative date has been set as June 27, 2014 at 6 p.m.
Superintendent Girard informed the board that a Freedom of Information Act request had been received.
Action items included approval of van purchase (2014 Ford E-150 8 passenger van through the Illinois State of Illinois joint purchasing agreement.
The Board approved placing the 1% sales tax on the spring ballot. If approved, the 1% sales tax would be anticipated to raise approximately $561,040 annually. Half would be used to reduce property taxes by paying on current bonds. The remainder of these funds would be used for facility maintenance.
Approval to accept Morrison Area Foundation Grant ($2000.00); Approval to hire Superintendent search firm; Approval of board policies; Approval of Technology job description; Approval to purchase Technology to implement 1 to 1 technology; Approval of school continuous improvement plans; and Approval to add music technology class.
A closed session was held to discuss collective bargaining negotiating matters.
The next meeting of the Morrison Board of Education is scheduled for December 16, 2013.