NORMAL – One might call the Thursday’s Class 3A-4A semifinal contest between unbeatens Morton and Champaign Centennial at the Bloomington State Farm Holiday Classic a passive-aggressive affair.

For two quarters, the Lady Potters were passive. For four quarters, Champaign Centennial was aggressive. Playing in those states can be costly for a team, and Morton paid the price, dropping its first game of the season to the Chargers, 46-36, at Normal Community High School.

Morton (11-1) will face Park Ridge Maine South at Shirk Center on the Illinois Wesleyan University campus Friday, starting with a 9a.m. tip.

Morton trailed after one quarter, 15-5, with three buckets by junior forward Chelsea Cross and a trey by junior guard Chantal Meacham at 5:23, aiding in putting the Chargers out front early.

Morton opened the second quarter with an 11-0 barrage, which was started with back-to-back deuces by sophomore guard Kate Byrne, and a trey by senior guard Lexi Ellis. That helped cut Centennial’s lead to 22-18 at halftime.

Champaign (12-0) pulled out further in the third quarter on a 6-0 run with baskets by junior guard Stacia Simmons, junior forward Chelsea Cross, and sophomore center Jasmine Kyler. The Chargers owned a 34-23 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Baskets by Cross and Meacham, as well as a trey by Meacham at 5:04 left in the game helped push the Chargers to victory.

The Chargers had three players in double figures, with Meacham and Cross leading the way with 13 points each, followed by 12 from Stacia Simmons.

Junior guard Sarah Livingston was the only Lady Potter in double figures, netting 15 points while snatching 9 rebounds, and senior guard Cortney Allenbaugh retrieved 7.

Champaign Centennial head coach Susan Thomas said she and her squad “knew we were going to get a very disciplined team (in Morton) that was going to take care of the basketball.

“For us to force the turnovers that we wanted to force, we had to play a very disciplined defense,” Thomas said. “And, of course, we told them we have to be mindful of where Livingston is on the floor at all times. I thought our girls did a nice job, especially in the first three quarters making (Livingston) work really, really hard to receive the ball.”

“We told our girls we just have to forget this one and be ready to go tomorrow,” explained Lady Potters head coach Bob Becker.

“We had a poor start to the game, for sure,” Becker said. “We need to be in games like this against good teams to get better, and if we attack those with the right mindset, we will get better.

“Obviously, we didn’t shoot the ball real well, whether it was because we were rushed or hurried,” Becker said, adding his team was “a bit tentative” in the second half, adding to their difficulties.

“Champaign’s a good team, so I have to give them some credit,” Becker added. “I thought they were the aggressor, and that we were a little more passive than they were.

“Most of the time, the aggressor wins,” Becker concluded, later stating he wanted his team to pick up on winning beginning Friday. “Our goal is to continue to work hard and get better. Teams will either continue to get better or stay the same by the end (of the season), so, if we can learn from these experiences, I think we’re a team that has potential to be really good.”

BLOOMINGTON – The opening round contest between Morton High and Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin High at the Bloomington-Normal State Farm Holiday Tournament was a study in contrasts.

Seeming to be clicking on all cylinders, Morton led from the opening tip and never looked back while SHG struggled to find themselves near the basket or in position to score while on the court. The result was a lopsided 49-19 victory for head coach Bob Becker’s crew on the tourney’s opening day.

As a result of the victory, the sixth seeded Lady Potters (12-0) will face second seed Rock Island at U. S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington in a second round game, starting with the 9p.m. tip.

Junior standout Sarah Livingston scored the game’s first points at 7:15 in the first quarter, registering a layup, but free throws by senior guard Cortney Allenbaugh and sophomore guard Emily Schultz helped push Morton to a fast 10-1 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Livingston and Schultz helped give Morton a 14-3 lead at the beginning of the second quarter, joined by a trey by senior guard Lexi Ellis, giving Morton a 19-5 advantage at 5:15 in the period. A three-pointer by SHG senior forward Corinne Brent with 50 seconds left gave Morton a 21-10 lead at the half.

Although Livingston had been on the court for much the contest, she made her presence known in the third quarter, scoring 12 of her game-high 16 points and contributing five rebounds in the period. Morton Sophomore guard Emily Schultz followed up with 13 points. No Cyclones players reached double-figures in the contest. Such stats helped the Potters own a 43-12 lead going into the fourth quarter.

“She was pretty dominant the third quarter,” Becker said of his 6 foot-2 junior. “Our whole team was pretty dominant in that quarter, but we really clicked around Sarah (that quarter). I don’t even remember if I took her out (of the game) in the third quarter because I thought she was playing well enough to stay on the floor.

A single basket by sophomore forward Kelsi Dahms and back-to-back buckets as time wound down by senior forward Liz Schultz helped aid in the Lady Potters’ victory.

SHG sophomore forward Laura Brenniesen scored five of the 4-9 Cyclones’ last seven point on the afternoon in the fourth quarter.

“I thought we came out and played, really, locked down defense the third quarter, and really, the second half,” explained Lady Potters head coach Bob Becker. “That’s what we want to be and hang our hat on is (to) defend and rebound consistently at a high level.

“Shots fell in a little bit better the second half than the first half,” Becker added. “My coaches and I thought we were a little soft in the first half, maybe we weren’t as tough with the ball then.” He attributed that type of play to his players having had a few days away from the court over the first few days of the school’s holiday break before settling into a regular basketball routine again.

“Our biggest problem this year has been making shots,” Springfield Sacred Heart head coach Mario Borders admitted afterward. “Again today, our offense struggled to score. Our defense wasn’t bad. Up to now, Morton had been scoring in the 60s and we held them to 49. But, we didn’t score and we gave up to many offensive rebounds early. This is the kind of thing that will test us and we need to find a way to bounce back tomorrow.”

By Steve Robinson | December 23, 2011 - 10:11 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

The State Farm Bloomington-Normal Holiday Tournament has been known as an event that has brought area and regional teams out to get a jump on the season. Four games in four days where every game is important. After all, these teams are trying to get to a championship. Last year, both the boys and girls teams from El Paso Gridley High School went home with plenty of hardware, namely the championship trophies for their respective classes.

But El Paso Gridley is not as far as this tournament has reached to find teams to compete in this tournament. Teams from Ohio, Florida, and Missouri, to name but a few states, have come to central Illinois to test their teams’ competitiveness on the court. This year, there will be three out-of-state entrants at this year’s tourney: Mesa High School (Ariz.) in Boys’ Large Schools Class 3A-4A; Culver Military Academy, from Indiana, also in Boys’ Large Schools Class 3A-4A; and Georgetown Scott County High School, from Kentucky, competing in Girls’ Large Schools Class 3A-4A.

In the last few years, finding out-of-town opponents to participate in the tournament has not been a problem. “I would say most of them, in the last five to six years, they have been finding us,” explained Dave Oloffson, vice president of the tournament. “They would come to us, and I would give most of the credit to our website, primarily.

“When they are looking for a tournament, and they Google ‘holiday tournaments,’ ours is one of the first ones that come up,” Oloffson said. He said he believes the tourney’s website brings forth a good image for the event, thus enticing coaches who want to bring their teams to the event.

From there, Oloffson and the inquiring coach spend time on email learning more about each other. For the coach, it is learning more about the event itself, while for Oloffson, it is learning about how competitive the team will be, and if it is from a part of the country that has not yet brought a team to central Illinois.

One of the biggest factors Oloffson checks on is whether or not the prospective incoming team has on their roster any Division I recruits who would draw fans. “We also look to see if there is an Illinois State recruit or a University of Illinois recruit on their roster. With the fan base for both of those collegiate teams in our area, getting a team from in or out of state with one of those really does draw fans.”

In an e-mail to me, Steven Helton, head coach of the girls’ basketball team from Georgetown High School in Kentucky, explained that among his school’s decision for coming to play in this year’s tourney, “each year we try to plan (to play) in a quality out-of-state tournament.”

“This year we will also travel out of state for one game ‘showcase’ event. We actually have several reasons….

“We think its great exposure for our kids & program,” Helton wrote. “This gives us a chance to compete against the best of the best. We already play one of the toughest schedules in the state of Kentucky and our coaching mentality is ‘to be the best, you’ve got to play the best.’ Every game we play now, is designed to help prepare us for post season.”

Helton explained that participating in tournaments like the Holiday Classic “also gives our kids a chance to bond…we come to win but as well, we tell our kids you will not always remember every game you play, but you will remember those experiences on the road, in the hotel, and places you got to visit. For some of our kids, basketball is a way they get to see places, they would probably never get to see.”

“As far as goals for this team, we want them to be able to adjust to life on the road and ‘play hard’ in this tournament,” Helton wrote. “We’ll drive a few hours, then get off the bus and play. Our kids will have to be able to adjust to game plans quickly and on the move. We will not have 2-3 days preparation for our opponents and we’ve got to be able to adjust….Just like we do in our post season.

At the Holiday Tourney, “You’ll play 4 games in 3 days……In order to win the state championship in Kentucky, you will play your semi-final game in the morning and your championship game that same evening, if you are fortunate enough to make it that far,” he wrote.

But we have to remember we are dealing with kids, not quite completely adults, but no longer kiddies, either. Young adults. Helton said there are both easy and tough adjustments to content with when you coach people that age.

“I think the hardest adjustment for our kids is hotel life,” Helton wrote. “They want to stay up all night and talk, text, Facebook, etc…as well, the financial burden is really hitting us hard now. We fundraise, fundraise, fundraise, so our kids have the chance to compete at the highest levels.”

Helton’s team has seen mostly the South and the Midwest, having been to the following tourneys in the following cities: Beach Ball Classic, Myrtle Beach SC for four years, where they were that tourney’s champion in 2004, as well as tourneys in Fort Myers Fla.; Pickerington, Ohio; Springfield, Mo.; and three tourneys in Georgia, including the Jump Off Plus Classic.

“The biggest benefit for our players and coaches is the chance to get better,” Helton added. “We are young but experienced, so this will give us a chance to measure where we are against some of the best competition in the country.”

Helton’s take on this situation is interesting. He is trying to help his players not just get better at their game, but also trying to show them parts of the country and experiences they might not have run across or experienced any other way. It is nice to know that, wherever they go, they are able to just be young people doing what other young people do at that age.

Oloffson said the Tournament tries to rotate out-of-state teams every few years. But, he said, this year, getting teams like Mesa and Georgetown Scott County to come was no problem because the tournament dates, starting two days after Christmas, allowed for traveling time for the teams.

But in 2012 and 2013, the tournament will start the day after Christmas. Oloffson said. As a result, “I’ll probably try to avoid bringing in an out-of-state team just because that means a lot of times, they’re going to have to travel on or before Christmas Day.

“That is something we don’t want to do,” Oloffson said. “The teams don’t want that. The families don’t want that. If we do bring in an out-of-town team, it would be from someplace local, or someplace like Indiana or Kentucky…someone who could drive in on the first day of the tournament.”

“It’s just the way the calendar falls,” Oloffson said. “Our tournament will start Dec. 26 both of those years.”

One out-of-town team has come away with more than just experience from this event. In one case, they drove home with their Class A championship trophy: The boys team from Keystone High School, located in LaGrange, Ohio. “They had a couple of Division I recruits on the team and a Division I football recruit. They had a great team and they were very well coached.”

The Girls’ team from Red Mountain High School in Red Mountain, Ariz. has come close behind LaGrange, coming in third place in their Class.

Will one of the three out-of-town teams drive home with a championship trophy? Will EPG’s teams repeat and win the tourney in their respective classes for a second straight year? Or will some other team seeded low come out of nowhere to win it all? At this tourney, one never knows. It should be an interesting week.

By Steve Robinson | December 19, 2011 - 10:05 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members voted unanimously to authorize an annexation agreement with Heartland Community College. HCC purchased roughly 97 acres directly west of its current property for long term campus expansion. The annexation agreement has in it a numerous provisions.

In addition and related to HCC, Council unanimously passed an ordinance annexing land bordered by Raab Rd. to the south, the interstate to the west, and the college to the east. HCC is seeking to expand its campus into the new property in future years. Council members also approved rezoning the land HCC seeks, rezoning it from Agricultural to Public Lands And Institutions.

Council members also approved a number of other resolutions regarding this transaction, including: Approving a resolution partially approving the final plat of land; Approving an amended site plan for an electronic sign and facilities for Illinois National Guard; and An ordinance requiring the Town to vacate approximately 7,900 sq. ft. of right-of-way on the far north end of what would be Parkside Rd.

Council also approved execution of a second part of to an annexation agreement between the Town and Pinehurst Development, developers of The Vineyards subdivision, located at the southeast end of Raab Rd. and Airport Rd.

Separate public hearings were held on both the HCC and Vineyards matters prior to the regular Council session, but no one spoke at those hearings.

Votes took place without Council member Sonja Reece being present. Reece was traveling and unable to attend Monday’s session.

March Ballot Question Approved: Council members unanimously approved a resolution providing for an issue concerning whether the Town should have the authority to arrange for the supply of electricity for residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such a program.

That question will appear on the March 20 primary ballot.

State law requires municipalities obtain citizens’ approval via referendum to engage in an electricity aggregation program. State officials in Illinois, as well as other states, have the belief that by aggregating all the electricity load from residential and small commercial customers within a community, it is possible to obtain better prices from an alternative electricity supplier through the use of bulk purchasing.

Like Illinois, other states have, in recent years, deregulated electricity markets in hopes of increasing competition, believing doing that will benefit consumers. A handful of states that deregulated electricity markets also approved an “opt out” option, allowing municipalities and counties to package residential and small commercial customers and bid out electricity purchased in bulk, leading to larger savings. Illinois is one of the states that adopted “opt out” legislation.

Council member Adam Nielsen asked if there would be an education campaign to the public to explain how the program works. City Manager Mark Peterson explained that direct mail and other forms of advertising will be done to promote the program to voters.

As a result of this program, Council member Jeff Fritzen surmised, “it sounds like Ameren gets paid less for what they are already doing.” Ameren Illinois is an electricity provider that serves the Twin Cities.

Peterson responded to Fritzen’s comment, explaining, “Ameren will get the same amount of money. Citizens will still get an Ameren bill. There will just be a separate charge on it, based on kilowatt hours (for those who don’t opt out).”

Council OKs Tax Abatement Agreement With Bridgestone: Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the execution of a tax abatement agreement with Bridgestone America’s Tire Operations, LLC. The arrangement protects local taxing bodies like the Town by guaranteeing they will collect property taxes collected from Bridgestone in the 2010 tax year, while, at the same time, allowing the tire manufacturer to take in the benefits of their new investment for a five-year period before needing to pay the full amount in property tax on that investment.

Council, additionally, unanimously passed an ordinance conditionally and partially abating the company’s property tax. In a report to City Manager Mark Peterson, Town Corporation Counsel Steve Mahrt said the Economic Development Council will be responsible for monitoring the project and make sure Bridgestone has met all obligations under the terms of the agreement.

Town Sending Letter To State Concerning Payday Lenders: Council members voted 4-2 to pass a resolution requesting the Illinois General Assembly to enact additional consumer protection legislation concerning pay day loans and small consumer loans.

Council members Nielsen and Fritzen cast “no” votes.

Current legislation does not push legislators to make changes in the current lending system, which now has finance charges as high as 400 percent, nor is there language demanding those finance charges be frozen at 36 percent, which would bring payday lenders in line with federally mandated limits given military personnel taking out such loans.

Appointments To Committees And Commissions Announced: There were three appointments to local boards announced at the meeting. First, Melanie Ellsworth, 1824 Marina Dr., has been named to complete an unexpired term on the Normal Human Relations Commission, completing the term of Amy Endicott, who recently resigned from the Commission.

Ellsworth is currently a manager in the IT Customer Support Center at Afni and has been with the company since 2004. She is a 2008 graduate of the McLean County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program, and has been active with McLean County United Way, American Red Cross of the Heartland, and The Baby Fold.

Ellsworth will serve out the remainder of Endicott’s term on the Commission, which expires March 31, 2013.

The Bloomington-Normal Sister Cities Committee filled two vacancies by seeking Council approval of the appointments of Leticia Montesdeoca and Jenny Goldman to the Committee.

Montesdeoca, 214 Kaiser Ave., has served as a host family for and supporter of the Asahikawa Sister Cities Program, and is employed as a registered nurse at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center.

Goldman, 604 S. Fell Ave., is a senior Anthropology major at Illinois State University, and recently worked as an intern at the McLean Museum of History, where she was an intern with the assignment of organizing and studying the archival collection of the Sister Cities relationship between Asahikawa and Bloomington-Normal.

The terms on the committee for Montesdeoca and Goldman expire on March 31, 2013.

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

• Approval of minutes of the Regular Meeting held Dec. 5, 2011.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Dec. 14, 2011.

• A motion to Award a Purchase Contract to the Lowest Responsive Bidder, Altorfer Equipment of Peoria, Illinois for a Vibratory Compaction Roller in the Amount of $24,600.

• A motion to Waive the Formal Bidding Process and Accept a Proposal in an Amount Not to Exceed $14,600 from Resource Management Associates to Conduct the Police Sergeant Promotional Testing Process.

• A motion Extending Participation in the Diabetes Disease Management Program for One Year.

• A resolution Waiving the Formal Bid Process and Executing an Agreement with Redbox Workshop, Ltd. for the Design, Construction and Installation of Phase One of You’ve Got the Power Exhibit at the Children’s Discovery Museum in an Amount Not to Exceed $170,000.

• A resolution Requesting the General Assembly of the State of Illinois to Enact Additional Consumer Protection Legislation Regarding Pay Day Loans and Small Consumer Loans.

• A resolution Authorizing Execution of a Collocation Agreement and a Three WayParticipant Agreement with Illinois State University Related to the Central Illinois Regional Broadband Network Project (CIRBN).

• A resolution Approving a Waiver from the Uptown Design Review Code, Chapter 15, Division 17 for Second Floor Lighting at 108 North Street (American Legion).

• A supplemental resolution to Appropriate an Additional $41,145 of Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) funds for the Bituminous Resurfacing of Various Streets for the 2010 MFT Street Resurfacing Project.

• A resolution Conditionally Approving an Easement Vacation – Calvary Subdivision.

• An ordinance Amending Chapter 18 of the Municipal Code – Personnel.

By Steve Robinson | December 15, 2011 - 11:00 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – Board members of Normal-based Unit 5 School Board voted unanimously to bids for a contractor for its busing operations, despite continuing objections from current drivers and the newly-formed Union local representing them.

District officials have reported Unit 5 has had problems this year with a number of drivers being absent and need to find some way to fill gaps in staffing of drivers.

District Superintendent Dr. Gary Niehaus told Board members the district is still experiencing absenteeism at the district garage in terms of drivers reporting for work, but that the absentee rate is dropping. He said the district received a bill from Channahon, Ill.-based Illinois Central Bus Co. for services the company performed in transporting students in November. That bill was $84,000.

Once bids for bus service are submitted to the district by interested firms, Niehaus said, it will be the Board’s March 14 meeting before the governing body will approve any agreement.

Prior to the action taken on seeking bids, Board members heard from drivers and their Union representative concerning the measures the district was taking.

Unit 5 drivers recently became members of American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. Seven drivers and a representative from AFSCME Council 31 spoke to Board members before they approved seeking to find additional drivers.

Michael Shank, 3010 Hyacinth, stated to the Board that he was a new member of the union and that the reason some drivers “were sitting home was because Unit 5 dismissed them. It only makes sense to bring back drivers who were dismissed…”

“Many of the drivers work hard – regardless of their own pains,” said another driver, Vicki McCauley, 308 Felmley Dr. “It is very disheartening (to see the jobs outsourced). We love these kids. I just thought you should know just how much we, as bus drivers, care.”

“Last month, no new drivers were being trained,” driver Tom Dixon, 1212 Timber Ridge Ct., told Board members. “It’s hard to keep drivers when the hours are low and the wages are stuck in the 1960s.”

Kent Beacham, representing AFSCME Council 31, told Board members, “We know Unit 5 teaches responsibility, but contracting out seems like ducking out.”

After the vote on seeking bids was taken, Niehaus addressed the roughly 25 drivers who were in attendance at the meeting. ”I appreciate the comments,” he told them. “I think what the Board is asking for is to see what’s out there, and to see the differences between what we have and what options are out there.”

New Principals Named For Grove Elementary And NCHS: Niehaus announced the names of two people who will be principals at two of its schools next year. Tina Fogal has been named principal at Grove Elementary School, effective July 1. She replaces John Lutes, who is retiring in June. Fogal comes from Bloomington District 87, where she is currently principal at Stevenson Elementary School, a post she has held for four years. Fogal earned her bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University, and is currently working on her Superintendent’s certification. She is married and has three children attending Unit 5 Schools.

David Bollman has been named principal at Normal Community High School, effective July 1. He replaces Dr. Jeanette Nuckolls, who is retiring in June. An educator for 27 years, Bollman currently serves as associate principal at NCHS, where he has been since 2009. prior to his stint at NCHS, Bollman spent 13 years as associate principal at Chiddix Junior High School and Parkside Junior High School. He spent 11 years as a classroom teacher and coach at both schools.

Bollman graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History Education. He received his superintendent’s certificate at ISU where, currently, he is a Doctoral student. He is married to Brooke Bollman, a CJHS guidance counselor. They have five adult children, and grandfather of three.

Board Approves Tax Break For Bridgestone: Board members unanimously approved a five-year tax break plan for the Bloomington-Normal Plant of Bridgestone Tire operation The tax break would be for five years, and a total of local nine taxing bodies must agree with the measure before it would go into effect. Bridgestone is looking to add jobs and invest $20 million to improve the plant, and adding 40 full time employees over the next three years.

Oakdale Elementary’s “Good News”: Darrin Cooper, Principal at Oakdale would like to publicly recognize and thank Dr. David Kopsell and Mrs. Jessica Chambers from the Horticulture Department at Illinois State University for their work to renovate the school’s front landscaping. Earlier last year, Mrs. Chambers, a former Oakdale parent introduced the idea of having Dr. KopselI’s class design andimplement a new landscape plan.

Students in Dr. Kopsell’s Landscape Design class came to Oakdale and surveyed the area. As part of the class, each student submitted a design for the area. The designs were hung in our workroom where teachers voted and submitted feedback. The top 3 designs were scanned so that teachers could bring them up on their SMARTBoards and allow students to vote.

This fall, Dr. Kopsell’s class came to Oakdale and completed the landscape renovation based on the winning design. Oakdale’s Parent-Teacher Organization had a budget to cover the cost of materials for the project from a designated memorial.

In addition, Chambers was able to secure one plant donations from various nurseries. Dr. Kopsell and the ISU Horticulture Club removed and refinished the school’s sign in front of the building.

Vocational Center’s “Good News”: Steve Knuth, retired Vice President of Quality Assurance at Electrolux, was recognized by Board members for his on-going support and coordination of donation of office furniture to Unit 5 Vocational Training Center, also known as Decker Industries . The company’s decision to relocate to Charlotte, N.C. provided the opportunity for Electrolux to donate office equipment, supplies and furniture.

Dawn Sheppelman, Normal Community West High School Vocational Coordinator, became aware of the Electrolux move in May. It was brought to her attention that Electrolux had office furniture, equipment and supplies that would go down with the building if a place could not be found for the items. Sheppelman made arrangements to visit Electrolux and was introduced to Knuth. He embraced the idea and generously tagged items with Sheppelman’s assistance throughout the building for Unit 5. In fact, several walk-throughs were granted during the summer before the final move took place. Steve not only tagged items for us but he personally moved several of the items to a central location in the building to make our move a smooth process.

During the week of August 8, Kauth and Sheppelman met with Hilary Ruyle, Normal Community High School VTAP Coordinator and district 5summer maintenance workers to transport the donated items to the Vocational Training Center. At least four trips were made to get all the donations delivered. Kauth kept in contact with VTAP until the final day of operation. In addition, Kauth and his wife took time out of their day to personally deliver supplies to the Training Center.

Knuth and his wife attended the Vocational Center’s Open House on Nov. 3. Unit 5 staff, including maintenance crews made four trips to get all the donations transported to the VTAP.

VTAP has also entered into a partnership with Towanda-based Alexander Manufacturing Company. With an arrangement with Mike Bell, vice president of operations at Alexander, the company is able to provide enough work for VTAP students to maintain a full day of programming and, potentially, allow for other school districts to work with the company in the near future.

Fairview Elementary’s “Good News”: James W. Shaw, Jr., principal at Fairview Elementary School, told Board members about the “Family Reading Night” events the school recently held. under the guidance of teacher Jane Legner and the Title staff, two events were organized and implemented: “Camp Read-A-Lot,” with reading as the primary focus) and “Welcome to Falcon Land,” using a reading and math focus.

“The family participation and attendance for both nights was huge,” Shaw wrote in his memo to Board members. “The combination of students, parents, family members, student teachers, staff, and PDS students elevated the attendance for both events to over 400 participants. This was a result of the countless hours put into the planning and organization of these two events by our staff and student teachers.”

Normal Community West High’s “Good News”: Board members were introduced to five teachers from Normal Community West High School who were recently honored with an honorable mention award by the Illinois Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). The association awarded the recognition as part of its “It Takes A Village Award” to West teachers Tom Parton, Mary Walker, Peg Modglin, Laura Stephenson, Kristi Probst, Deann Collins, and Karen Highland. The teachers received the award at IDA’s National Conference in Chicago on Nov. 10.

ITAV Award was established in 2000 to recognize schools who are meeting the needs of students with dyslexia and reading deficits. It focuses on schools who are implementing exemplary programs through the use of best practice approaches and curriculum and innovative curriculum. For many years, these Normal West teachers have been implementing a reading program that has achieved clear, measurable improvement in student reading skills.

No Second December Meeting: With the District on Christmas break later this month, there will be no December 28 meeting. The Board’s next meeting will be on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at District Headquarters, 1809 W. Hovey Ave. That meeting will begin at 7p.m.