Morrison Jr. High Students Achieve ‘Academic Excellence Award’
By LYNNETTE FORTH | For The Prairie Advocate News
MORRISON – A regularly scheduled meeting of the Morrison Community School District was held on February 26, 2013. Following the approval of previous meeting minutes, the board moved on to Communications and Public Comment.
Superintendent Suellen Girard reported that in the month of February, the teacher institute focused on assessment tools that will measure student progress in reading, English, math, and science.
“There is a need for a more robust assessment system to help measure student progress and to measure the effectiveness of interventions for struggling students,” Girard stated. Also, each school is continuing to align curricula to the common core standards. Science standards are anticipated to be released sometime this spring. The challenge, especially at the upper grades, is to build in supports for students so that they are successful in making the transition to higher standards.
Morrison Junior High again earned an Academic Excellence Award. “Congratulations to the students and staff,” said Girrard. In response to the 5essential survey, Girard reported that the District has met the threshold for needed student and teacher participants. More response is still needed from parents.
Nearly 240 individuals submitted budget surveys. There are many similarities in the priorities listed by each of the different groups.
“Financial news continues to be disappointing,” Girard noted. Combining the drop in General State Aid for next year with the decline in student attendance, the projections show more than a $350,000.00 decrease just in General State Aid.
Girard is working with Bob Vegter to look at the feasibility of putting in a well to water the athletic fields at the High School. This could result in a $5,000.00 savings per year.
David Bean has written grant requests to a number of organizations, resulting in replacement of the light board for the gymnasium at little or no cost to the school. Staff members continue to be pro-active in finding additional sources for funding of needed materials.
“I have met with a variety of staff members or groups of staff members to make sure that I am listening to all of the concerns expressed for some of the budget reduction options,” said Girard. “I have additional meetings scheduled with the PE department, JH science, and Kindergarten. I have worked directly with the Morrison Education Association to look at a retirement incentive. This incentive could help reduce expenses for next year, as well as save the employment of some Morrison teachers.”
Elementary School Principal Joe Robbins reported to the board that preparations for the upcoming ISAT tests are underway. “We have had almost sixty students who are taking advantage of the after school homework/tutoring club,” Robbins said.
A meeting focusing on handling behavior issues in children was held at the Southside School on February 18th, titled “Because Children are Special.”
Dr. Suess night will be March 8th at Northside School from 6:00-7:30. Members of the faculty and staff dress up as Dr. Seuss characters and entertain the kids. “This is one of the Title 1 nights we have every year, and is enjoyed by many,” Robbins stated.
Junior High Principal Darryl Hogue presented his report, including that the English Department recently met with the Science Department to review the common core curriculum that each department is completing.
Victoria Carlson and Jarin Schmidt will represent Morrison Junior High at the Whiteside County Spelling Bee on March 4th. ISAT exams will be the week of March 4-8. Currently, about 20-25 swimmers are planning to begin the season on February 19th. Morrison will be hosting the IESA Regional wrestling tournament, to be held at the High School. Wrestlers that do well at the event will move on to a sectional and state meet. The BEST group is bringing back the variety show on Friday, March 1st at the High School at 7:00 p.m.
During the High School report, Scott Vance spoke to the board about many different topics. Registration for the 2013-2014 year recently began, with students meeting in the library to do online registering. The High School is beginning to send out reminders that all dues and fees must be paid to attend Prom and Graduation.
Chelsea Eads, a junior recently qualified for the IHSA 3 point shootout state tournament. The Morrison High School Key Club is holding its annual blood drive on March 6th. Spring sports began on February 25th. Ben Sondgeroth, high school teacher, recently spoke to the faculty of the Milledgeville School District about the implementation of technology into the classroom. “This was a nice honor for Ben and some nice recognition for our district,” Vance said.
Board members moved on to discussion items which included the Financial Report and Treasurer’s Report as of January 31, 2013; Financial Comparisons FY11,FY12,FY13; Cash Flow Projections; Bills as of February 26, 2013; January Enrollment Report (showing a decrease of 10 students compared to 2012); Budget Reduction Survey Report and Budget Reduction Discussion (responses from 97 staff members, 84 from parents, 35 from community members); Early Retirement Option (it would make sense financially to offer proposed incentives incentives); Shared Technology Support Position with Prophetstown; Certified School Nurse Regulations; Morrison Junior High School Academic Excellence Award; Northwest Region School Board Spring Meeting; Well to water football field; Teacher Institute Evaluations; and School Safety meeting with Chief Melton.
Action Items that were approved consisted of closed session minutes remaining closed; annual Health and Dental insurance plans beginning April 1; early Retirement option; Retirements; Gorenz and Associates as Auditors for 2013-2014; and Bus contract extension (RC Smith with no cost changes).
The next meeting of the Morrison Board of Education is scheduled for March 19th.