By Steve Robinson | May 23, 2019 - 10:14 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – Normal-based Unit 5 School District Board members heard about students participating in a program which turned them into young authors, and about how a community business is helping students with furthering their education in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or STEM. Board members received these details during their regularly-scheduled meeting held May 22 at district headquarters.

“Good News” About Young Authors: Each year, Unit 5 is participates in the Young Authors Program. The purpose of the program is to encourage and recognize student authorship. The district program is part of the statewide effort supported and endorsed by the Illinois Reading Council. The authorship process begins in the classroom and many teachers begin the writing process with their students early in the year.

The process for the students involves brainstorming and information gathering followed by a rough draft version of their manuscript. After revision and editing, a final manuscript is published. Students write fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. In addition to their original writing, students illustrate their text to enhance their work.

Each elementary and middle school in the district is allowed to submit entries to be considered for district level judging. A panel of junior high school student judges selected the winners. The 2019 Unit 5 Young Author winners are: Lauren Brooks, Roman Felix, Joanna Gonzalez, Lacy Hefter, Ishaan Jha, Alina Johnson, Amy Kieser, Sushma Kota, Elleigh Lang, Grant Marvel, Samuel McCoy, Claudia O’Connor, McKenna Phillips, Jonathan Schuller, Justinne Walker, Amanda Warren, Avery Wodika, Mason Wood, and Khushi Singla.

“Good News” About STEM Mentors From State Farm: Board members also heard about the State Farm Enterprise Technology STEM Team. This team is a group dedicated to providing mentoring opportunities to high school students involved in Computer Science courses and the Freshman Computer Science Associate’s Degree Program at both Normal Community High School and Normal Community West High School. Students in these classes benefit from the involvement and commitment of State Farm Mentors.

STEM Engagement Coordinators from State Farm partner with teachers at each school to provide an opportunity for a STEM Challenge Project, whereby the students identify a problem in their school or community, then work throughout the school year in teams to solve the problem using technology. Each student team is assigned a State Farm mentor who volunteers their time during a class period once or twice a month for the school year, leading the students through various facets of the project such as planning, problem solving, and critical thinking.

Generally, this program typically runs mid-September through April, and is supported by State Farm Enterprise Technology leadership. The students then get an opportunity to showcase their work to State Farm leadership, parents, teachers, school administrators and the local community.

Additionally, the State Farm Enterprise Technology Leadership Team also helps to provide volunteers/mentors and subject matter experts needed to assist with STEM activities and events at Unit 5 schools and within the community. A few examples of roles include: Being an event volunteer at one or multiple STEM related events to interact with students from a variety of age groups at events such as “Stemposium” events at the middle schools. The State Farm Enterprise Technology Leadership Team members are: Kevin Reeves, Nancy Smith, Jami Becker, and Julie Smith-Marshall.

Growth At Towanda Elementary Will Require Portable Classrooms: Board members heard from Towanda Elementary Principal Scott Vogel that his school is a little cramp these days. The school, which has 191 students, is experiencing a closed-in feeling and will receive two portable classrooms to try to alleviate the crowding. Joe Adelman, operations manager for the district, explained each portable classroom unit has two classrooms divided by a wall. He added the district is leasing the units for three years at a cost of $26,000 from a company in southern Illinois and that the units will be located on the southwest corner of the property.

Adelman said the district will put out bids for contractors to have concrete laid where the portable units will go, which will be followed by the portables being put in place. Schumer said third grade classes will use one portable and fifth grade classes will use the other portable. Adelman said the new concrete foundation and portables will be in place by late July.

Infinite Campus Update Given: Board members received an update on the Infinite Campus information system the district will spend two years paying for, and will replace the system the district has used over the past decade known as Skyward.

Michelle Lamboley, director of special education for the district, informed Board members set-up took place in April allowing for Infinite Campus to be used to keep track of summer school attendance. In addition, she said, teachers and district administrators were trained that month on how to send and receive messages on the portal. In June, she said, enrollment set-up training will take place twice during the month, and later that month, a refresher on registration of students in the system and report card set-up are scheduled.

Marty Hickman, Business Manager for the district, told Board members parents received an email on May 14 about the district formally switching to Infinite Campus with a link to follow so parents could find it and set new passwords. Parents failing to do this, he said, received a note asking them to go to Infinite Campus so they would be able to reset a password. He added online registration information will be coming to parents in July.

He said parents who had difficulty setting up a password should either call the district at (309) 557-4333 or email to campusquestions@unit5.org.

Social Emotional Learning Discussed: Board members heard from members of a district committee working to help staff as they help students with social-emotional learning skills. Board members heard from three teams of educators working with students, parents, and teachers on this matter.

Schedule B Committee Reports To Board: Until before this meeting, an internal group within the district, known as the Schedule B Committee, which looked at processes within the district, hadn’t met since 2014. But with teacher Gina Tenuta, an 8th grade language arts teacher, and Julie Hagler, vice president of Unit Five Education Association, or UFEA, spearheading its revival, the group is looking to get back to work to help the district.

Among the group’s recommendations were: Add 11 elementary school music teachers to the district payroll. In addition, the group would like to see a consolidation of 22 district chair positions into 11. Hagler said such a move would save the district money. Hagler and Tenuta also recommended the district consider a track coach at each of the district’s four junior high schools. They said there would be a savings in doing both of those for the district.

Board Votes To Abate Fund: Board members unanimously voted to adopt a resolution to abate the district’s working cash fund.

Executive Session Held: Roughly midway through the 3 ½ hour meeting, Board members adjourned to executive session for an administrative matter. That meeting lasted 27 minutes.

By Steve Robinson | May 9, 2019 - 10:53 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

Longer days and impatience on the part of students itching to get their summers started are but two signs the school year is coming to a close. For Normal-based Unit 5 School Board members, hearing an update on the current school year budget from the district’s budget manager can qualify as a sign summer and the end of another school year is fast approaching.

Marty Hickman, business manager for the district, explained earned assessed value of area real estate is being projected to increase .5 percent for levy year 2018. He added the anticipated three fiscal year payments for transportation from the State have been received. However, Hickman said when anticipated Federal starts to come in, it likely will be slightly less than what the district is accustomed to receiving.

The district’s education budget, however, is nearly $6 million overdrawn, Hickman said. The district anticipated spending around $100 million in fiscal year 2019 only to find they spent close to $106 million.

Hickman said the district’s education fund has a structural deficit of nearly $6.5 million. That, he indicated, was the result of a number of factors including increases in salary and benefits to be more competitive with other districts; adding positions to meet multiple needs; and an increase by the school board to the district’s insurance fund.

Hickman did say he anticipated a balanced budget of roughly $12.7 million to the district’s operations and maintenance budget.

First Student Introduces New Location Manager: A new person will be overseeing to it that buses operated by Cincinnati-based First Student Bus Co. will run on time to the satisfaction of the district. Robert Pawlik was introduced as the new location manager for the company, replacing Mark Bohl, who recently resigned. Chris Coyle, area general manager for First Student, introduced Pawlik to Board members.

Like Bohl, Pawlik has a military background. As a member of the United States Air Force while serving in Afghanistan, part of his job being in charge of logistics was to help shuttle Department of Defense personnel to various locations.

With 200 sq. miles to work with, Board Member Mike Trask told Pawlik during the meeting, the communication between First Student, district personnel, and the families whose children attend school in the district and are served by First Student needed to be “rock solid.”

NCHS & Normal West Combined “Good News”: From time to time, Normal Community High School and Normal Community West High School, although rivals in many competitions normally, get to find themselves honored for each contributing to the community in some small way. Board members were informed by NCHS Principal Trevor Chapman and Normal West Principal Dave Johnson that the schools have received national recognition for excellence in global education from Boston-based Education First High School Exchange. The schools each received EF High School Exchange Year Global Education Excellence Award. The award is presented annually to high schools that demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to international understanding and global awareness.

Jayme Corcoran, a representative for EF High School Exchange, explained 15 students from Europe and parts of Asia are currently participating in the exchange this year. Corcoran said a total of 1,600 schools nationwide were nominated to receive the award. NCHS and Normal West were among 370 schools who are being awarded the honor as a result of the nomination, Corcoran explained. She further explained the program has students from France, Japan, Austria, Sweden, and Norway, Thailand, and South Korea.

NCHS Reports “Good News” About Student Reporters: Chapman informed Board members that NCHS junior Evie Snoeyink was named to the All-State Journalism Team by Illinois High School Association – a distinction that placing her among the top 17 student journalists in the state. The All-State Team is the highest recognition for Scholastic Journalism in the State of Illinois, Chapman explained. Snoeyink serves as editor-in-chief of The Inkspot, NCHS’ student newspaper. This is the second consecutive year that the Inkspot has had a writer on the All-State team. Chapman told Board members the majority of students on the All-State are seniors making the honor noteworthy. He added Snoeyink was also awarded Honorable Mention for her reporting at the National Journalism Convention earlier this year.

“Good News” From NCHS’ “Not In Our School” Program: Chapman finished up with a report about progress made in the school’s “Not In Our School” program which is used to combat hate and address bullying, while build safe, inclusive communities within the schools. It is based on the Not In Our Town program. He spoke to Board members about NCHS seniors Ajitesh Muppuru and Kavya Sudhir. Muppuru and Sudhir are the co-founders and co-presidents NCHS’ Not In Our School program.

“I have worked with Aji and Kavya on various projects and am continually impressed by their maturity and dedication to fellow classmates and to the building,” Chapman told Board members. Recently, Chapman explained, among many projects Muppuru and Sudhir have taken on as part of their effort, they and other NOIS members worked to recognize 43 school employees from across Unit 5, District 87 and U-High for their work in making their schools more inclusive during an event held at Illinois Wesleyan University.

“Good News” From NAACP’s ACT-SO Program: Board members were informed by Chapman about the winners in the Bloomington-Normal NAACP’s Academic Cultural Technological Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) Program. ACT-SO is a yearlong enrichment program designed to recruit, stimulate, improve and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among high school students, which was developed in 1978. The 9th Annual Bloomington-Normal ACT-SO Competition took place Saturday, April 27 at Illinois State University’s Schroeder Hall. Eleven medals were awarded during the awards ceremony April 28. Five gold medalists will travel to Detroit, Michigan, to compete in the 41st National NAACP ACT-SO Competition July 18 – 21.

Students named Unit 5 2019 Bloomington-Normal NAACP ACT-SO Olympians (The categories they were entered in and how they placed) are: Jess Bynum, NCHS Gold medal in Filmmaking); Aniya Thompson, NCHS (Gold medal in Music Vocal Contemporary); Keajia Hardin, NCHS and BACC (Bronze in Culinary Arts); and Aniya Thompson, NCHS (Bronze in Dramatic Arts: Acting).

“Good News” From Bloomington Area Career Center: Board members were introduced to a group of students from the Bloomington Area Career Center (BACC) who recently participated in the SkillsUSA Conference in Springfield. A total of 80 BACC students participated in 22 different competition categories, some of the students taking part in more than one kind of competition.

Nicole Meyer, Business Community Coordinator for BACC, introduced Board members to students who placed in their respective categories. The students (and the schools they attend), their competitions, and how they finished are: Nalley Ortiz (Normal Community High School), Silver medal in Cosmetology; Matthew Kennedy (NCHS), Brooke Porter (Normal Community West High School), and Macie McGinnis (Bloomington High School), Silver medal in Crime Scene Investigation. In that same competition, Haylee Jones (Normal West) and Claire Martens (Heyworth High School) earned a Bronze medal.

In the Health Knowledge Bowl, a team of students from a mix of area schools took home the Bronze medal. Those students (and their schools) are: Matty Wenger (El Paso Gridley), Kylie Cox and Anthony Mason (Bloomington Central Catholic), and Christian Shaffer (Bloomington High School). A quartet of Bloomington High School students teamed up to claim the Gold medal in this event, as well. Those students were Madeline Novotny, Faith Wieland, Piper Seglem and McKenna Groth.

In the T-Shirt Design category, LeRoy High School student Hadley McKenzie took the Gold medal while BHS’ Cindy Phung took the Bronze medal. In the Teamworks competition, a team comprised of Caleb Jacob (NCHS), Zac Nichols (El Paso Gridley), and Chase Ditchen and Wyatt Cotton (both Heyworth High School) won the Silver medal.

In the Technical Computer Applications competition, Normal West student Ethan Ficek claim the Gold medal with EPG student Aiden Mann claiming the Bronze medal. In the Promotional Bulletin Board competition, LeRoy High students Hadley McKenzie, Sarah Welander, and Eli Carroll earned a Silver medal. BHS students Rowan Dzik, Mattea Fry and Grace Marcy took the Gold medal in that same competition.

Two BHS students – Maimoonah Bush and Christian Shaffer – finished earning Gold and Bronze, respectfully, in the Medical Terminology competition.

“Those Who Excel” Award Nominees Announced: In his comments to the Board, Dr. Mark Daniel, district superintendent, announced Unit 5’s “Those Who Excel” Award nominees. The “Those Who Excel” awards are presented in October at a dinner at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Carol A. Reitan Conference Center in Uptown. The award recognizes both educators and non-educators who have made contributions to public and non-public secondary education.

The nominees for classroom teacher is April Schuermann, Normal Community West High School; Administrator nominee is Leslie Davenport, Fox Creek Elementary; Early Educator nominee is Brock Keller, NCHS; Education Service Personnel – Unlicensed nominee is Beth Kelly, Brigham Elementary. The volunteer nominee for Unit 5 is the late Charlie Crabtree.

Other Topics Covered: A first phase of a consolidated district plan and a few public comments surrounding the issue of disciplining children of color were also part of the session.

By Steve Robinson | April 27, 2019 - 10:45 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – Three members of Normal-based Unit 5 School Board who were appointed to their seats to replace three members who had left the community took their oaths of office to begin the Board’s regularly-scheduled session on April 24. Alan Kalitzky, Amy Roser, and Dr. Kelly Pyle recited their oaths to begin the session, although Pyle did so from home via phone due to being ill. State law allows for Board members to participate remotely provided prior approval is granted by the district.

Following the swearing-in, officer elections took place, with Barry Hitchins being elected Board President. He had been vice president when Jim Hayek, Jr. resigned from the Board last year due his employer, State Farm, transferring him to Phoenix, Ariz. last spring. Roser was elected Board vice president, and Kalitzky was elected Board secretary. All three were elected by acclamation. All three will serve four year terms.

Roser assumed a seat on the Board last July filling a seat following Hayek’s exit. Roser works in the office of Illinois State University’s University College division. Kalitzky assumed a seat on the Board replacing David W. Fortner resigned last spring to take a job in Chicago. Pyle assumed a seat on the Board last August, filling a vacancy left by Joe Cleary, who departed for a new job in California last summer.

Two other Board members, Meta Mickens-Baker and Mike Trask, were sworn in to serve two-year terms. Mickens-Baker has been a Board member since being appointed to the Board in 2004 and winning election in 2005. Trask has been a Board member since winning election in 2011. Board Member Taunia Leffler in the midst of a four-year term which began in 2017.

Lunch Price Increases Approved: Using an unanimous vote concerning an omnibus agenda item, Board members approved increases in lunch prices beginning this next school year. Elementary and middle school breakfast and lunches will cost a nickel more, going up to $2.20 at the elementary schools and $2.25 at the middle schools. High School breakfast and lunches will go from $2.20 to $2.25. Adult lunches at the schools will all go up a nickel, too at the schools, to $2.70 at the elementary school, $2.75 at the middle school, and ranging between $2.75 and $3.40 at the high schools.

Board Receives Updates On Infinite Campus And Tyler Visions: Board members received updates on how the district’s new district-wide student information system, known as Infinite Campus, and new financial, human resources, payroll, and reporting system, Tyler Visions, were working out since the district began using them. Michelle Lamboley, executive director for special services for the district, and Marty Hickman, business manager and treasurer for the district presented the brief overview.

Lamboley said training for teachers began on Infinite Campus just before spring break in March. She said the online registration components of the program are being worked on currently so they will be ready for online registration which takes place in July. She said parents will be receiving information in May with details on how they will be able to log into the system.

Lamboley added certified staff were trained by the District coaches on basic navigation, attendance, and grade books. She said more training from coaches will occur at the end of May. Training for special education teachers and district administrators will take place in May and June.

“I think we have seen from both companies that heavily invested in their product,” Hickman said. “It’s in their best interest for us to be successful.”

Heather Rogers Named Assistant Principal At Cedar Ridge Elementary: Heather Rogers was introduced as the new assistant principal at Cedar Ridge Elementary School by Dr. Ray Epperson, deputy district superintendent. She started her career with the district as a 2nd grade teacher at Cedar Ridge in 2012. At the end of the spring semester, she will earn her Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Illinois State University. Rogers has served as interim assistant principal at the school this semester.

Melinda Miethe Named Associate Principal At EJHS: Epperson also introduced Board members to Melinda Miethe, who will become associate principal at George L. Evans Junior High School where she had been serving in that post on an interim basis.

Public Hearing Held: Board members held a public hearing to determine the need to undertake repairs to the bus lane and parking lot at Hudson Elementary School. No members of the public addressed the hearing.

Energy Efficiency Project For Kingsley Jr. High Approved: Board members unanimously approved awarding a contract to Urbana-based A & R Mechanical for work to be done on an energy efficiency project at Kingsley Junior High School. A & R Mechanical was one of three companies which bid to do the project, and submitted a winning bid of $792,000.

Video Highlighting Technology Lab Shown: For his comments section of the meeting, Dr. Mark Daniel, district superintendent, showed a video produced by Sean Mullins, technology coach at Normal Community West High School, highlighting uses of the school’s video technology lab.

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.