Grade school offers new clubs, board learns

Lisa Hammer
Parents and prekindergarten students prepare to listen to teacher Wynne Legate explain the program Monday, Aug. 18. Prekindergarten students will start school on Tuesday, Sept. 2. Three-year-old students will attend school Monday through Thursday in the morning,while four-year-old students will attend Monday through Friday in the afternoon.

School is opening this year with new clubs at Cambridge Elementary School for students to join: a Green Club and a Book Club.

Grade school principal Shelly Logston said the school is switching to green cleaning products, buying them at the same price as large universities through a green consortium. She said the school is also trying to start a Green Club.

A book club is also being created for fourth through sixth graders, team-led by teachers in a rotation.

“All the kids want to join clubs, so it’s very cool,” she said.

She said an effort is also being renewed to have grandparents work with students in school.

Logston announced Cambridge is one of 33 schools in the entire country to receive a $5,000 grant from the American Heart Association to fund a second “Walking to the Moon” effort for students and community members. Students and others will log their walking time to reach the 238,700-mile goal.

Logston said she wrote the grant with Carrie Titus of the county health department. The project includes monthly nutrition sessions, student leadership opportunities and employee wellness initiatives. Logston said she is hoping to incorporate the space theme for the biannual grade school carnival this year.

The Heart Association grant includes a free 12-week “Heart Smart for Women” course, which Logston said will be located at the grade school. To enroll, phone Titus at 309-852-7255. The first class is Sept. 8. Logston noted

local residents are lucky to have this opportunity.

“She could have chosen anywhere in Henry County,” she said.

Logston has also written a school lunch grant to bring more fresh fruit and vegetables to the school, but she reported that school districts with more than 50 percent free and reduced-price students take first priority--and Cambridge’s free and reduced-price rate is not that high.

“If there is money left over, we’re hoping to get some of the extras,” she said.

She is also working on adding playground equipment. Logston said the playground needs swings, slides, parallel bars and climbing walls.

Kindergarten teacher Gail Hutchinson is donating her $1,000 award from Wal-Mart and Superintendent Tom Akers is seeking a $5,000 grant.

“To be able to make two phone calls and have the project start flying is a fantastic thing,” he said.

The board received the district’s tentative budget, which projects total revenue of $4,847,753 and estimates total spending at $4,773,442 for an overall surplus of $74,311. The education fund has $3,875,890 in revenue and $3,875,213 for expenses, a $677 surplus.

Akers noted a new tort fund can include expenses that involve protecting children, such as the portion of principals’ time spent supervising students. He said every other year he does a risk analysis assessing where students need to be safe, followed by a study of the percentage of the administrators’ day spent supervising.

In answer to a question from board member Mary Richter, Akers said he used a five to six percent increase in gas in the transportation budget. Cambridge locked in $2.99 per gallon for gas, $3.18 for diesel and $3.36 for winter blend until next February.

The board set a public hearing on the budget for 6:45 p.m. Sept. 18.

Akers said he would like to have Johnson Controls conduct a building analysis to try to save money on lighting and motors. He said he hoped they could come to the next board meeting.

The new superintendent said his children’s reaction to their first day in Cambridge was a clear sign to him that the school year is off to a good start.

“My three kids are very excited and ready to come back tomorrow so we’re doing something right,” he said.

Following a closed session, the board hired Stacey Carey, part-time teacher’s aide at the grade school; Angela Anderson, yearbook advisor; Kyle Morey, assistant football coach; Nicole Look, seventh grade volleyball coach and Chris Bulens, seventh/eighth grade boys’ basketball coach.

The board also:

• approved a 403 (b) retirement plan for district employees at no cost to the district

• approved a health insurance plan for this school year; rates are up five percent

• approved Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick and Kohn as legal counsel

• accepted resignations of Megan Cooper, special ed teacher’s aide and Al Steider as junior high boys’ basketball coach

• learned grade school open house is Sept. 10 with a spaghetti dinner from 5:30 to 7

• the junior/senior open house is Sept. 3 at 6:30 p.m.

• learned there were 249 K-6th and 40 pre-K the first day of school, with K-6 up seven from last year, while the junior high had 70, down seven from 77 last year and the high school had 154, down nine from 163 last year

• noted football scrimmage has been replaced by open practice from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug 22, the public is welcome; volleyball is 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 21