NORMAL – There were seven “good news” items presented by representatives of three Unit 5 Schools for district School Board members to learn about Wednesday night when the governing body held their regularly scheduled meeting in the cafeteria of Normal Community West High School.

Five of those items came from one school alone – Kingsley Junior High School, highlighting sports accomplishments, a total school effort to raise funds to fight a disease, as well as passing along some kindness in the process.

KJHS 8th Grade Volleyball Wins State Title: KJHS’ volleyball team, and their coaches, earned the title of Illinois Elementary School Association 4A State Champions, defeating Champaign Edison Junior High School, 25-23 and 25-22, Board members were informed by KJHS Principal Stacie France. In the process of doing that, France explained, the girls on this team, in effect, repeated at champions two years running having won the 7-4A title last year.

France said the girls on this team have been winning for a while, having registered a record of 51-2 since beginning playing together in 6th grade. The volleyball team is coached by Liz Heideman, along with Maxine Quakenbush. The coaches are assisted by Kerry Myers and Christine Konopasek. Team members are: Jaycee Adams, Alyssa Brown, Morgan Bunn, Anna Dunne, Sophia Feeney, Joselyn Gale, Delaney Hammons, Jenna Heaser, Elizabeth Horton, Ella Lloyd, Jeeya Patel, Kaitlyn Poehlman, Morgan Sutter, Ashley Wilcox and Katelyn Wilson.

KJHS Student Froylan Racey Wrestles His Way To The Top At State: KJHS student Froylan Racey was recognized by France before the Board as the IESA AA State Champion in the 100-pound weight class in Wrestling at State Competition. Racey went 40-2 on the season, winning the Regional and Sectional titles on his way to winning the State title. KJHS’ Wrestling team is coached by Chris Racey along with Chris Merrill.

“Mission For Max” Continues, Gets Recognized: In another “good news” report from her school, France introduced Board members to KJHS teacher Jessie Lynch, and sixth grader Madelynne Chapman, and eighth grader Tyler Chapman. Madelynne and Tyler, brother and sister, like a number of their family members are engaged in helping their cousin, Max Chapman, through “Mission For Max.” Max, is a Parkside Elementary student, and the Chapmans’ cousin. Mission for Max was created by middle school students in hopes of generating awareness of, and raising funds for fighting Peroxisome Biogenesis Disorder (PBD), a rare genetic disorder Max is afflicted with.

When Madelynne approached Kingsley administrators about if there could be a fundraiser to help fight the disorder, she noted that she and her brother had met with Chiddix Junior High School organizers of Mission for Max and had a well-developed plan to bring Mission for Max to Kingsley. The brother-sister duo have a cousin who attends CJHS who had organized fundraising effort there. The cousin, Carson Damery, an eighth grade student at Chiddix Junior High School, has been organizing fundraisers at that school, as well.

As part of their plan, Tyler and Madelynne presented to one classroom at a time to Kingsley’s 846 Cavaliers, wrote morning announcements, and created posters to promote PBD. Awareness, and organized peers to collect donations. Through a week’s worth of fundraising efforts March 11-15 at KJHS, the Chapman siblings and their friends and other students and school staff raised a total of $2,062.30.

KJHS’ NIOT Club Passes Kindness Along: France introduced Board members to news concerning KJHS’ Not In Our School (NIOS) Club, led by teachers Jennifer Ritchason and Courtney Knowles, is a small group of students who have been trying to bring a positive impact to the school’s culture. NIOS students developed an idea for hosting Kingsley’s first ever Kindness Week. Their goal on this event was that every student would spread and receive kindness from one other. As part of Kindness Week, NIOS students organized many activities and opportunities for middle schoolers to support one another through kind acts.

In addition during that week, NIOS students wrote over 1,000 positive affirmation post-it notes placing the notes throughout the building, especially on a large poster in the main hallway. Any KJHS student needing a word of encouragement could take a post-it note of their choice. NIOS members are: Carmella Anderson, Mackenzie Engel, Amaya Hursey, Lydia McIntyre, Jersey Miles, Aayushi Patel, Shachi Sharad, Gavin Warner, Kamyra Williams, Violet Jasker, Dylan Millburg and Zinnia Tobin.

KJHS’ Dawn O’Dell Receives Recognition: KJHS’ physical education teacher Dawn O’Dell received public recognition for the job she does at the school, as well. O’Dell provided Unit 5 administrative personnel with information regarding legislation, federal guidelines and successful models for share food systems in schools. Through her informing various district personnel, the district has made changes which support the support of Unit 5 Food Service staff. Among those was the district Board’s adoption of a policy regarding share food programs in Unit 5 schools. As a result, students across the district have access to food which would have been discarded previously.

In addition, earlier this year, O’Dell created what the school calls “the Cavalier Hygiene Closet” stocked with shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, body soap and like items for students in need. This was created, France explained, because middle school students who lack basic hygiene necessities are less likely to attend school and face struggles with peer relationships. France said by creating and providing the Cavalier Hygiene Closet, O’Dell removed barriers to learning for students with the greatest need.

Benjamin Elementary’s “Good News”: Marlys Bennington, principal of Benjamin Elementary School addressed Board members, explaining that recently, the Illinois Music Educators Association (ILMEA) created an All-State Elementary Choir experience for students in 5th and 6th grade. This year, 5th grade students at Benjamin Elementary School who were involved in the chorus program were able to audition and be nominated. Fourteen Benjamin Elementary students auditioned, were nominated and out of that group, six of them were chosen by the State to be a part of the All-State Boys and Girls Elementary All-State Choirs this year.

The students then attended rehearsals after school and prepared music at home to be ready for their concert held Jan. 26 at the Illinois Music Educators Conference with students from around the State, Bennington explained. Special conductors were brought in to work with the students and they attended a rehearsal with the guest conductors in the morning, and then performed a concert together at the Illinois Music Educators Conference in Peoria.

Each group prepared three pieces, and then they performed one piece together as an ensemble. The students recognized for their participation in this experience are: Victor Fernandes, Aubrey Kalitzky, Krishi Kandury, Rylee Larson, Miguel Sanchez-Riggs, and Emerson Winn. Their music teacher from Benjamin Elementary was Lauren Romero.

Glenn Elementary’s “Good News”: Cari Oester, principal at Glenn Elementary School, reported to Board members that on February 21, the school’s Title Reading teacher, Ashley Defreese, faculty and local residents banded together to help with a recent event. Oester explained that “Literacy Across The Continents” brought in over 230 individuals. She further explained parents and students could travel from continent to continent (classroom to classroom) collecting stamps on their passports.

Some continents, Oester added, had parent support in the way of reading books, sharing knowledge of their native countries, or explaining artifacts. Continents also had literacy scavenger hunts and SMART board safaris. At a few of the continents, there were chances to make a craft or write a recipe or take a shot at hockey.

In addition, there were native dances took place in the gym. Normal Public Library staffers brought in virtual reality viewers and took the families on a trip of the Seven Wonders of the world, Oester wrote in a report to Board members. There was also a free food market available to individuals that wanted to take home treats.

“Good News” About School Resource Officers: In the final “good news” report of the evening, Curt Richardson, attorney for the district, made sure school resource officers, local police officers assigned to the schools, received public recognition for the work they do with kids on a daily basis. “Over the last few years, there have been many efforts in our state to reduce or eliminate the presence of law enforcement within schools to eliminate the ‘school to prison’ pipeline,” Richardson told Board members. “However well-intentioned some of those efforts may be, it is our experience and firm belief that the presence of police officers within Unit 5 schools has not only made our schools safer, but has had the opposite effect of a ‘school to prison’ pipeline, instead promoting a ‘school to college or career’ pipeline.”

Richardson then introduced the officers to Board members. The officers, police departments, and (schools where they serve as Resource Officers at) are: Jeremy Flood, Normal Police (Normal Community High School); Curtis Payne, NPD (Normal Community West High School); Annie Frey, NPD (Parkside Junior High School, Chiddix Junior High School, KJHS); and Shad Wagehoft, Bloomington Police (George L. Evans Junior High School).

Citizens Advisory Council Recap Presented: Board members heard from Dayna Brown, Director of Communications and Community Relations for the district, with a review of topics studied by the district’s Citizens Advisory Council during this school year. Among the subjects discussed this year, Brown told Board members, were: Food service, Finance, and what subjects students learn beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic. Brown said weather during the school year kept CAC members meeting the scheduled six times this year, having to cancel two sessions. As an interesting side note, Brown reminded that all of the current Board members had previously been CAC members.

Project Bid Winners Announced: With Randall Middleton from the architectural firm of Middleton Associates, Inc. present, bid winners for a trio of projects the district was needing to complete this year were announced. A resurfacing project at Parkside Junior High School was awarded to H. J. Eppel and Company, Inc. That firm was one of two firms to bid on the project submitting a winning bid of $194,980. Joe Adelman, operations manager for the district, told Board members this project would be the first on behalf of the district for the Pontiac, Ill.-based firm.

The assignment of installing a geothermal bore field at Kingsley Junior High School went to Goodfield, Ill.-based TCI Geothermal which submitted a low bid of $419,000. Only two companies submitted bids for this project, Adelman told Board members.

The assignment of replacing a remote terminal unit (RTU) in the HVAC system at KJHS went to Springfield-based Henson-Robinson Co. for their bid of $384,827. Henson-Robinson Co. was among four firms which submitted bids for this project.

Harden Resignation Draws Questions: Three members of the public addressed Board members sought answers concerning the recent resignation of Dr. James Harden, the district’s former Executive Director of Human Resources and Student Services. Recent published reports indicated Unit 5 Board members approved a separation agreement with Harden in March. Since then, claims of harassment have been reported related to the resignation. Because this involves a personnel matter, district administrators and Board members have given no comment to the media.

By Steve Robinson | April 2, 2019 - 10:43 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – Campaigning for tax incentives that benefit the community rather than to be considered useful to lure big name businesses to town, Stan Nord appears to have struck a chord with Normal residents if unofficial results from Tuesday’s Town Council election was any indication. Nord placed first in balloting in the election for a seat on the Normal Town Council. Results showed Nord received 2,873 votes, or 20 percent of the vote, leading all competitors.

And he wasn’t the only newcomer now with a seat on the dais in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station. Karyn Smith finished third in the race which had two incumbents, six declared challengers, and a write-in candidate. Smith had 2,043 votes, or 14.22 percent of the vote. Incumbent Kathleen Lorenz placed second in the results with 2,087, or 14.53 percent of the vote.

Incumbent R. C. McBride placed fourth in his quest for a second term on the Council, receiving 1,849 votes, or 12.87 percent of the vote. Challenger Dave Shields placed fifth receiving 1,558 votes or 10.85 percent of the vote. Challenger Pat Turner placed sixth with 1,425 votes, or 9.92 percent of the vote; Joel Studebaker placed seventh with 902 votes, or 6.28 percent; and ISU student Alex Campbell landed eighth with 616 votes, or 4.29 percent of the vote. Write-in candidate Karl Sila received no ballots, however there were 1,011 write-in votes submitted, accounting for 7.04 percent of ballots counted, unofficially.

However, there are still 350 mailed ballots yet to be counted by the County Clerk’s Office before the race results will be declared official.

Candidates were in two camps within walking distance of each other in Uptown to await results. One camp, comprised of Normal Town Council members and supporters and Shields checked results in the banquet room on the second floor of Medici Restaurant, while Turner, Studebaker, and Campbell were in the lounge of the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center with supporters. While Smith’s whereabouts Tuesday were not known, Nord, who had attended the Normal Town Council meeting Monday, said he planned to spend the evening gathering his campaign signs that had been distributed.

“I’m really disappointed R. C. didn’t prevail,” Mayor Chris Koos said afterward. “He has been a stalwart as a supporter of the community. But we have a new council and we have to move forward, and we have to be collegial and work together.” He said it will be up to the five members currently seated on the Council to set that trend for the new members.

Jeff Fritzen, who announced last fall after three terms on the Council recently, and had three terms on the Council in the 1980s and 1990s with one four-year hiatus in-between, said afterward, “I can’t say I’m shocked. I can say I’m disappointed. So many people have loved what’s been going on in the Town of Normal for the last 20 years, and then somebody who decided to be negative was the best way to run a campaign comes out as a leading vote-getter, and that’s a disappointment to me.”

Nord and Smith will take the oath of office along with Lorenz at the Council’s May 6 meeting.

Roser, Pyle, Kalitzky Win First Terms On Unit 5 Board: The last year for Normal-based Unit 5 School Board has been one of abrupt change. Within months of each other, three Board members submitted resignations, all the result of job transfers or job changes that had those members exiting the community. Three citizens stepped into to fill the posts knowing they would have to run for elected office in this election to keep their seats. All of them would be on the Board for four years.

Amy Roser assumed a seat on the Board last July filling a seat following the resignation of Jim Hayek, Jr. Hayek, a State Farm employee, left the area due to a job transfer in Phoenix, Ariz. last spring. Unofficial results show Roser was the leading vote recipient among the five contenders for the four-year term positions. The unofficial tally she received was 3,655 votes, or 23.62 percent of the vote.

Audiologist Dr. Kelly Pyle assumed a seat on the Board in August, filling a vacancy left by Joe Cleary, who departed for a job in California last summer. Pyle placed second among the four contenders seeking a Board seat. She got 3,319 votes, or 21.45 percent of the vote.

Barry Hitchins currently serves as Board President and came in third in the balloting to win his four-year term, with 3,004 votes, or 19.42 percent of the vote.

Alan Kalitzky is running for a first full term, coming in after applying for the position after David W. Fortner resigned last spring to take a job in Chicago. As a result of Tuesday’s balloting, Kalitzky placed fourth with 2,867 votes, or 18.53 percent of the vote.

LaNell Greenberg, prior to establishing a career as a consultant, worked for Unit 5 for 12 years. In Tuesday’s balloting, unofficial totals show she came in fifth registering 2,627 votes, or 16.98 percent of the vote.

Board members Mike Trask and Meta Mickens-Baker were up for reelection this time around for two-year stints on the Board, Mickens-Baker garnered 4,146 votes, or 50.05 percent of the vote while Trask garnered 41.38, or 49.95 percent of the vote.

By Steve Robinson | April 1, 2019 - 10:40 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council

NORMAL – A Normal resident’s attempt to expedite having Normal Town Council members approve a final plat of property he owns in a subdivision evolved into a disagreement over a fee the Town charges for sewer rates which, the resident and the Town admit should have been paid by the property’s prior owner.

The matter was further complicated by the fact that the resident lodging the complaint is also currently a candidate for an open seat on the Normal Town Council.

Stan Nord, one of nine candidates seeking to take a seat on the Council, accompanied by his attorney, Ryan Powers, addressed Council members during Monday’s regular Council session in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station, informed Council members he refuses to pay a sanitary sewer tap-in activation fee of $6,700 for land he owns at 2012 W. College Ave. Nord bought the property in 2017 and contends he won’t pay a fee that otherwise would have already been for before now when sewer service was activated for that area.

Brian Day, Corporation Counsel for the Town, explained fees stay in place and don’t “go away” even when the Town doesn’t collect such fees from previous owners of the property. He added Nord was aware of the cost of the fees because Nord exchanged emails with the Town about them.

Nord said if he were to take the situation into the courts, it would set a precedent for Normal being accused of charging “ghost charges.” Koos countered that, calling that notion “ridiculous” and “a wild accusation.”

With a 6-1 vote, Council members voted to send the matter to the Normal Planning Commission to review. Council Member Chemberly Cummings cast the lone opposing vote. Following the meeting, Nord told reporters the fact this matter came before the Council now was a coincidence. He added had it come up were he to be seated on the Council as a result of winning election, he would excuse himself from any Council discussion about it.

Nord is one of six residents who were running for an open seat on the Council with Council Member Jeff Fritzen’s decision last fall not to seek another term. Incumbents R. C. McBride and Kathleen Lorenz were also running each for a second term on the Council.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting held on March 18, 2019.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of March 27, 2019.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of a three-year agreement with St. Louis, Mo.-based Gateway Fireworks Displays for the annual Fourth of July fireworks display.

• A resolution to accept bids and award a contract to Bloomington-based Stark Excavating, Inc. in the amount of $330,973.02 for the Underwood Park and Maxwell Park parking lots project, including the base bid, alternate 1 and alternate 2, and a related budget adjustment of $16,827.02.

• A resolution to award the bid for the Bryan Street water main replacement project to Bloomington-based George Gildner, Inc. at a total cost of $184,487 plus up to a potential $15,000 bonus for early completion.

By Steve Robinson | March 24, 2019 - 10:39 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – When voters go to the polls to vote to choose their selection for who should sit on the Normal-based Unit 5 School Board on April 2, they will find seven candidates running for six open seats. The only Board member not running this time around is Taunia Leffler, who won election to her seat in 2017 and is in the middle of a four-year term.

Board Members Mike Trask and Meta Mickens-Baker are running for reelection for two-year terms. Board Member Barry Hitchins, the Board’s current president is running to seek a four-year term. Board Members Alan Kalitzky, Amy Roser, and Dr. Kelly Pyle, applied to join the Board to replace three members who left the Board because of job transfers out of the community. Kalitzky, Roser, and Pyle, by law, must run for election to stay in the Board.

There is a seventh candidate running for a Board seat who is very familiar with the workings of the district and the Board because of her prior association with Unit 5. She is LaNell Greenberg, who once served as executive assistant to District Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel, as well as clerk to the Board. Now working as a private consultant, Greenberg is seeking to fill a Board seat.

A new funding equation for determining money owed to the district by the State was brought up by some of the candidates, as well. Under the school funding reform plan, schools would continue to get the same state assistance previously due to them. An additional $395 million in K-12 education spending was to be distributed through a new school funding formula, which was proposed and approved last year.

Mike Trask Seeks Reelection To A Two-Year Term: First elected to the Board in 2011 and reelected in 2015, Mike Trask is seeking a third term on the Board which would last for two years. Trask has two daughters, one a senior at Normal Community High School, and one who’s a sophomore at Heartland Community College. Finding stability within the district’s education fund is the priority Trask said he believes needs attention currently. The education fund pays for things such as salaries and benefits for teachers, administrators, and staff. “That fund has been the hardest to maintain since we’ve been prorated by the State over the years,” Trask said. “We’ve tried to make ourselves as competitive with surrounding districts in terms of hiring.”

People understand Unit 5’s budget quandary is part of State issue related to finances, he said.

Meta Mickens-Baker Seeks Reelection To A Two-Year Term: Mickens-Baker, seeking her fifth term on the Board, having first been seated after being appointed to the Board in 2004. Her two sons have both graduated from Normal Community High School in 2012 and 2016, respectfully. To Mickens-Baker’s thinking, “our most pressing problem remains our budget, specifically revenue,” she said, explaining local property taxes “have been pretty flat” recently as opposed to showing a previous increase. She said that, on top of the State of Illinois continuing to send reduced payments to the district for transportation and special education funding, have become concerns for the district. “Some years, the State didn’t send all of what they prorated,” she added.

“We’ve done all we can to reduce budgetary expenses,” Mickens-Baker reminded. “We changed how we do professional development for our staff and handle textbook resources for students.” On that last item, she pointed to the district using less costly online internet book access versus in-hand materials. She said many online materials are available free of charge.

Dr. Kelly Pyle Seeks Election To A Four-Year Term: Audiologist Dr. Kelly Pyle assumed a seat on the Board in August, filling a vacancy left by Joe Cleary, who departed for a new job in California last summer. She has two children, a 3rd grader and a 5th grader in district schools. Pyle said she sees the budget as the most pressing matter for the district.

“Currently, we’ve had to sell bonds to cover our expenses for the next two years,” Dr. Pyle reminded, referring to Board members unanimously approving the sale of $16.5 million in working cash fund bonds which would be put to work in the district’s working cash fund. “But we need to look at a long-term solution to making sure our budget is balanced.”

With the change in the funding model, Pyle explained, Springfield would owe Unit 5 close to $32 million to have complete funding. “We’re not going to get anywhere close to that,” Pyle said. She added she doesn’t believe the State has enough revenue to back up the proposal for putting the new funding model into use.

Amy Roser Seeks Election To A Four-Year Term: Amy Roser assumed a seat on the Board last July filling a seat following the resignation of Jim Hayek, Jr. Hayek, a State Farm employee, left the area due to a job transfer in Phoenix, Ariz. last spring. Roser works in the office of Illinois State University’s University College division. She has two children, one in 3rd grade and one in 5th grade. “Securing funding for the long term,” is the top priority the district must address, she said. Doing that, she said, would help Unit 5 “continue to have the stability and quality of education we can continue to provide.”

She said she doesn’t believe Unit 5 will ever get to receive the $32 million which the State said the district needs to be considered fully funded, but, she added, “We need to provide some stability so that we can continue to fund the quality of things that are a part of our educational experience.”

Roser said the bonding measure helped balance the district’s budget and cover expenses. She said other sources for helping the district to have money incoming must be continued to be sought.

LaNell Greenberg Seeks Election To A Four-Year Term: Prior to establishing a career as a consultant, LaNell Greenberg worked for Unit 5 for 12 years. She is the mother of a son and a daughter who saw her children graduate from Normal Community West High School. Greenberg, too, said she wants to see the district fill in the budget gap in the deficit of at least $6 million. “I think the new Board is going to have to dig through and really look at the budget line by line.” Unit 5 has a budget of over $172 million.

“I would also like to see the district bring someone on who specializes in writing grants,” Greenberg added. She said doing that would bring grant money into classrooms. She said there are already people working in the district who have that skill to help accomplish that.

She said her other main concern is to look for ways for the district to help its staff feel valued. “It’s a priority of mine because I feel we need to do a better job of keeping the great staff we have and not letting them leave the district,” she explained.

Alan Kalitzky Seeks Election To A Four-Year Term: Kalitzky is running for a first full term, coming in after applying for the position after David W. Fortner resigned last spring to take a job in Chicago. Kalitzky and his wife have four children, all of them attend Benjamin Elementary School in kindergarten, 1st grade, 3rd grade, and 5th grade. “Finding alternate revenue sources to offset fiscal deficiencies for the long term” is what Kalitzky said is the Board’s top priority. “I think we can continue to find short-term strategies that doesn’t put the burden back on our local taxpayers. I think it’s our responsibility to find an alternative path, either through State funds or increased grant revenue, or become a little more creative in terms of finding other options that may exist.”

He added using grants can help offset some costs, such as in paying for some of the district’s early childhood education program. He said the district should start looking for funding sources in time to have them ready when the bond money currently in use starts to be totally spent.

“I do feel our expenses within the district are acceptable and I feel they are doing a fantastic job of managing those operational controls, and that our educators are being paid a fair salary with adequate staff in the district,” Kalitzky added. But even with that feeling, Kalitzky said that position should not keep the district from continuing an oversight posture over such expenses. He also said going back to area State legislators to see what opportunities are available through the State would be another way to discover potential revenue streams.

Barry Hitchins Seeks Election To A Four-Year Term: Current Board President Barry Hitchins is seeking his second four-year term on the Board having been elected in 2015. He has a daughter who is a student at George L. Evans Junior High School. Hitchins said his top priority is “the long-term financial stability of the district.” Like Greenberg, he mentioned the district must find a way to proceed financially after using the money from the bonds cashed is spent.

Like Mickens-Baker, Hitchins pegged part of Unit 5’s money problems on what he called “stagnant” property tax income, and increases of earned assessed value of local property. “It’s been just kind of a perfect storm that has hit the district over multiple years.”

All those factors have resulted “in a perfect storm we have to come up with a long-term solution to resolve,” he said.

The new evidence-based funding model Mickens-Baker mentioned has “increased how much money we’re getting from the State,” Hitchins said, but he quickly reminded the model shows Unit 5 being underfunded by over $32 million. “We need to figure out, based on that model, which aspects of it are important to us, and we need to have discussions with the community about what are the important pieces of the funding model.” Once that’s done, he said, determining how the district pays for those pieces is the next step. He said the model said an ideal kindergarten class size is 15-20 kids and Unit 5 exceeds that. He said adding teachers to those classes would help that situation.

By Steve Robinson | March 12, 2019 - 10:39 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – The improving weather temperatures apparently aren’t the only indication spring is close at hand. Members of Normal-based Unit 5 School Board voted unanimously to approve bids on six construction projects at their regularly-scheduled meeting at district headquarters March 13.

Life-Safety matters were addressed when Board members awarded a tennis court resurfacing project at Normal Community High School was awarded to Bloomington-based McLean County Asphalt Co., Inc. which submitted the only bid for the project. The company submitted a bid of $293,254 for the project. In previous sessions, Board members had been shown photos of cracked and crevassed concrete at those courts.

A reroofing and wall repair project to the athletic buildings at Normal Community West High School was awarded to Springfield-based Henson-Robinson Co. for the lowest of five bids submitted for the project, $153,370.

A partial reroof project at Parkside Junior High School was awarded to Mt. Zion, Ill.-based Top Quality Roofing for the lowest of three bids submitted for the project, $545,400. Adelman verified Top Quality Roofing has done previous work for the district in the past.

A reroofing project at Colene Hoose Elementary School on the section of the building constructed in 1968 was awarded to Henson-Robinson Co. for $194,532, the lowest bid among five companies which submitted bids.

A reroofing project at Fox Creek Elementary School was awarded to Henson-Robinson Co. for their bid of $433,488. Henson Robinson’s bid was the lowest of seven companies which submitted bids.

The bid for an electrical subcontracting project at Northpoint Elementary School was awarded to Normal-based Wilcox Electrical And Services. The company submitted a bid of $53,250 and that bid was the lowest among five companies which submitted bids for the project.

Joe Adelman, operations director for the district, told Board members all of these projects are paid for using bonds the district has sold and were budgeted for. With regard to the Hoose reroofing project, he said this last phase will help make sure it would be good for at least 30 years.

With regard to the NCHS Tennis Court project, Board Member Dr. Kelly Pyle asked Adelman how long the court’s surface, which had not been treated for a number of years, will last once the repair is completed. Adelman said after the repair is completed, a maintenance checkup will be performed on the court every three years.

Adelman said all projects would begin right after school ends for the year and he anticipates completion by sometime this fall. As part of the meeting’s omnibus agenda, with numerous items being handled with one Board vote, Board members unanimously approved all bids submitted for boilers for Kingsley Junior High School the district received March 7 due to an error in bidding documents.

Last Day Of School Announced: In comments to the meeting, Dr. Mark Daniel, district superintendent, told the meeting, “I want to thank everyone for their support during this unusual winter we’ve had. Our amazing staff has gone out of its way to ensure the schools were ready for everyone. We are especially grateful to the Town of Normal for loaning us salt to get through the winter.” Daniel explained that became necessary because the shipment the district was expecting got held up on a barge on the Illinois River which had frozen over.

Daniel said the district’s anticipated last day of school will be Friday, May 31, adding Board members will make that official at their next meeting in April.

Parkside Junior High School’s “Good News”: Darrin Cooper, principal at Parkside Junior High School, used a “good news report to recognize a group of students who have been selected to be part of the All-Illinois Junior Band. Cooper explained that all junior high band students in Illinois were encouraged to audition for this State Band, but only the top 84 musicians were chosen for this honor. Six of the 84 selected are attending PJHS, as well as one alternate. These PJHS band members also serve as the only representatives not just from Unit 5, but from all Twin City junior high schools selected for this honor.

“This is the highest accomplishment that any junior high band member can receive,” Cooper explained, adding much of the credit goes to the band’s director, Jennifer Greif Bolton. Illinois State University student teacher Chuck Willard was also acknowledged for his work with the students, as well.

The seven musicians (and the instruments they play) are: Ethan Snyder (trombone), Rolen Schlipmann (euphonium), Jonas Techmanski (percussion), Sam Albertson (percussion), Jenna Klokkenga (Clarinet), Ernst Nkangu (contra clarinet), with Jake Kellermann (trumpet) serving as the alternate.

New Food Service And Nutrition Director Introduced: The district has known for roughly over a year that Pat Powers, director of Food Service and Nutrition will be retiring next year after a 28 year career with the district. At this meeting, Board members were introduced to her successor. Daniel introduced Hudson resident Joanna Rewerts would succeed Powers. Although Rewerts will begin working for Unit 5 July 1, she will be learning the ropes from Powers until then. A registered dietician, Rewerts has worked as a nursing home administrator, as well.

“If you think about it, when we are feeding over 13,000 students a day, this is a major position,” Daniel said about the work Rewerts will be stepping into. “The time needed to understand the duties, responsibilities, the management processes that Joanna will be involved in means we want for there to be an absolutely seamless transition, and I think we’ll have that.” Rewerts said she is “excited for the opportunity to work with Pat over the next year.”

Infinite Campus Update: Board members were provided with updates concerning new information systems which are soon to be implemented by the district. The two new systems are known as Infinite Campus and Tyler iVisions. Infinite Campus would replace the current information system the district has used over the past decade, known as Skyward. Tyler iVisions relates to software for human resources and payroll functions for the district.

Michelle Lamboley, Unit 5’s director of director of special education gave a presentation concerning next steps in the implementation of these new systems.

Lamboley explained the district is putting some of its teachers in the role of trainers to help fellow employees with the training. She said those trainers would receive 300 hours of training to best do their jobs. That training will be a mix of in-person and using web-accessible programs. In February, she explained, district teachers received an overview of Infinite Campus. Another such overview was given to Parent-Teacher Organization leaders last month.

She added it’s hoped the portal for Infinite Campus will be available by spring break giving staff time to get used to working with in prior to using it next school year. District families will get their first look at the system in May so that they can review information relevant to them just prior to participating in registration in July.

A series of trainings for human resources, payroll, and related departments are scheduled to take place later this month and on varying dates throughout April.

Next Board Meeting April 10: Because the district’s spring break will start March 24, this is the only Board meeting scheduled for this month. The next scheduled Board meeting will be Wednesday, April 10 at district headquarters, beginning at 7p.m.