Academics, values interest school board
Both academics and values were current topics for the Cambridge school board last Thursday, Oct. 16.
The district is focusing on reading, with curriculum mapping, classroom libraries, sports teams reading the same motivational book and reading experts brought in. Every teacher is also submitting five lesson plans to include reading, for three-ring binders to share among all teachers.
Every teacher becomes a reading teacher, said junior/senior principal Robert Reagan. It basically means students are reading more than they ever have.
The board also learned the grade school is working on improving scores for longer essay questions on the ISAT test; students were taught to repeat back too much information previously.
A web-based Class Scene will give each student one megabyte for storage to be able to research at home and download it to be available at school. Completed projects will also be stored.
Kind of our pedia resource for the future, said Reagan.
Social and emotional learning (SEL) involves changing student attitude, behavior and performance with guest speakers, a new parents network, extra novels based on goals and new junior high and freshman advising that includes career development.
A superintendent from another Henry county district sent out feelers for a new sales tax which the school district would be restricted to apply to its building fund, according to Superintendent Tom Akers. Board president said as a former retailer, he was opposed to it as a headache for businesses. Steve Evans said he felt it had limited potential as the county is not a retail mecca. It was agreed Cambridge schools ought to be represented at any meeting if one is scheduled, however.
Akers said based on its population, he felt the Cambridge school district would get roughly $200,000 to $240,000 per year with the sales tax. He said seven counties in northwestern Illinois are either considering the tax or already plan to have it on the April 7 ballot.
The board is looking at alternative energy and heard a presentation from Johnson Controls on solar, wind and other means such as replacing parking lot lights with LEDs. Johnson Controls as well as at least one other firm will go through the building in the near future. The men said solar prices are dropping five percent per year right now, but due to demand, the cost of wind turbines are rising one to three percent per month. (They pointed out the 660 turbines ordered by T. Boone Pickens has tied up two GE plants for two years, and said the advantage of ordering through Johnson Controls is the firm has a spot in the queue and can get a turbine in less than a year. Most schools get 500 kilowatt turbines and up.)
The district is now looking at co-op meetings with other school districts in a three-phase process: what districts to work with, working out details and which districts are responsible for what, and identifying needs for further collegiate level courses. Two college-level English courses are now offered.
Grade school principal Shelly Logston said parents are now using the Power School site on the Internet more often and when a concerned parent calls, sxzhe herself calls up the student homework data to explain problems instantly.
The board also:
• Noted packets for candidates for the April 7 school board election are available Oct. 28 at the unit office; hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the election is April 7 and four-year terms of Ken Krueger, Alan Swanson and Dianne Jeffries are up.
• Learned the marching band will compete Oct. 25 at the state level in Champaign against seven other C and D level schools.
• Learned teacher Sara Solberg got a grant for ibooks for high school students; free the first year and at a heavy discount for the following two years.
• Learned its now law that schools can spend up to $25,000 without going through the bidding process.
• Learned high school math scores are up in terms of Adequate Yearly Progress under the No Child Left Behind Act.
• Hired Jay Wiechmann as junior high boys basketball coach.
• Heard Akers, on behalf of the board, thank Cambridge Rotary organization for sponsoring the annual Homecoming parade.
• Noted swings and parallel bars are being installed at the grade school and the project cost $1,000 to $1,100 less than anticipated.