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 | - 10:35 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

NORMAL – With Normal Town Council’s vote to approve construction of the proposed five-story Trail East Building in January, demolition of three buildings located at 104, 106, and 108 E. Beaufort St. is slated to begin within weeks. That demolition means losing the mural at 104 E. Beaufort St., which was once headquarters to The Pod art studio.

The Pod went out of business in 2017 but a small public outcry to try to save the mural started with news of the proposed demolition of the building. On Saturday, a Heartland Community College sophomore and Normal Community West High School graduate took it upon herself to invite the community to say farewell to the mural.

Emma Henry placed posters next to the mural protesting the decision to demolish the buildings and gave residents an opportunity to take pictures of the mural one last time Saturday afternoon. She said her goal with her “Save The Mural And Other Historic Buildings” event was to raise awareness about the situation and invite others to come get a last photo before the buildings come down. She posted the invite on Facebook.

“My goal is to bring awareness to what the Normal Town Council wants to do,” Henry said of the event. She taped posters next to the mural reminding people that April 2 is Election Day, a reminder that two Town Council members were up for reelection: Kathleen Lorenz and R C. McBride. A third Council seat is also up for grabs with the decision by Council Member Jeff Fritzen last fall not to seek another term. The two incumbents, six challengers, and a man running as a write-in candidate are vying for Council seats in this election.

Henry said she wanted her event “to be a positive thing with people to have one last chance to be near the mural.” She added when she posted the invitation she asked people to come out and remember the mural.

About 15-20 people arrived, a few taking photos, others getting in one last gaze at the artwork which was subdivided by artists who put their own personal flair into the mural. A few parts of the artistry had been signed by the artists.

“I didn’t want this as a protest,” Henry admitted. “I wanted it to be more like a celebration.”

By Steve Robinson | March 18, 2019 - 10:39 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members, serving in their capacity as members of Normal Local Liquor Commission reported they had received complaints concerning an establishment which was not abiding by Town regulations concerning food service, at a regularly-scheduled session which preceded Monday’s Town Council meeting in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station.

Two gaming parlors owned by 35 Years, LLC Landmark, doing business as Marie’s Place, were found not to be serving food to patrons, which was discovered by an audit conducted by the Town in February. Jason Querliagrosca, assistant corporation counsel for the Town, told Council members locations of the business at 1520 E. College Ave. and 115 Susan Dr., Suite H, were not abiding by the regulations of their Limited Hours liquor license regarding serving food.

A third location owned by University Park, doing business as Marie’s Place, located at 1702 W. College Ave., had a liquor license granted by the Town in 2015 but has never opened, Querliagrosca told Commissioners. Commissioner Chris Koos told the meeting renewal of the licenses will be put on hold until the owner or owners of the establishments seeks a hearing before the Liquor Commission.

Commissioners also heard a $500 fine has been paid for a second offense by Bzil1, LLC, doing business as Blaze Pizza, 1601 E. College Ave., for selling alcohol to a minor. In both cases, the fines have been paid. This establishment also paid an additional $1,000 for a third consecutive offense which took place in November.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., doing business as Chipotle Mexican Grill #2731, 1601 E. College Ave., paid a $250 fine for a first offense of selling alcohol to a minor in November. Owners of the store have paid the fine.

Four other establishments settled with the Town, paying $250 fines for first-time offenses of selling alcohol to minors. Those establishments are: Portillo’s Hot Dogs, LLC, doing business as Portillo’s Hot Dogs, 202 Landmark Dr.; Budget Liquors, Inc., doing business as Budget Liquors, 200 S. Linden St.; and Meijer Great Lakes Limited Partnership, doing business as Meijer Store #207, 1900 E. College Ave. Red Robin International, Inc., doing business as Red Robin Gourmet Burgers And Brew, 107 S. Veterans Parkway, paid a $500 fine for a second consecutive offense.

CornBelters’ New Owners Granted License: Commissioners also approved a liquor license applied for by Normal CornBelters Baseball, LLC, doing business as Normal CornBelters, 1000 W. Raab Rd. The license was necessary because of a change of ownership for the team.

Renewals Granted: Commissioners also approved recommending liquor licenses for 76 various businesses ranging from convenience stores to restaurants, bars, hotels, groceries, and drug stores, Catering licenses, Outdoor garden & sidewalk café licenses, Annual tasting licenses, a Paramutuel betting parlor license, Entertainment licenses, video gaming licenses, a stadium, and a taproom.

Agreement With Lawn Service Passes: During the regular Town Council session, at the request of Council Member Kevin McCarthy, Council members discussed a resolution approving an agreement with Carlock-based Boitnott Lawn And Landscaping for mowing and abatement services effective April 1, 2019 through March 31, 2022. The resolution was part of the meeting’s omnibus agenda. Under the terms of the agreement, the cost of the contract “could result in a minimal increase in the Town’s budget,” explained Greg Tremel, director of inspections for the Town, in a memo to City Manager Pam Reece.

Specifically, Reece said in answering a question from McCarthy, the company would be called in to mow properties where complaints are filed with the Town. Over the last six years, Reece pointed out, the Town has spent a total of $10,851 on such service from Boitnott over the past six years. Offenders have reimbursed the Town so far to the tune of $4,052 during that same period.

McCarthy asked if the Town’s Parks and Recreation Department, under whose umbrella the mowing service comes under, couldn’t absorb some of the cost of doing the mowing, thus saving money for paying a contractor. Reece said no, because of the type of equipment used for mowing by the Town. The equipment is larger than a typical mower, she explained.

Numerous Appointments, Reappointments To Boards And Commissions Announced: Town Boards and Commissions will see new appointees and reappointments as a result of unanimous approval from the Council. Nick Moran was reappointed to the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority with his term running through April 30, 2020.

Marty Behrens, Rick Boser, Guy DiCiaula, Fred Hahn, and Brian Redd have all been reappointed to the Town’s Building Board of Appeals. Each of their terms expires March 30, 2022.

Todd Bugg, Kathy Burgess, and Anne Matter have all been reappointed to the Town’s Historic Preservation Commission, each for terms expiring March 31, 2022.

William Brown and Janae Henson have been reappointed to the Town’s Human Relations Commission. Each of their terms expires March 31, 2023.

Dave Shields and A. J. Zimmerman have been reappointed to the Normal Planning Commission for terms that will expire March 31, 2023. Barbara Fuller has been reappointed to the Uptown Design Review Commission for a three-year term expiring March 31, 2023, and Randy Schaab has been reappointed for a three-year term expiring March 31, 2023 on the Normal Zoning Board of Appeals.

Newly appointed to the Town’s Building Board of Appeals was Jason Coffman, filling a vacancy on that board. A licensed mechanical engineer for 17 years, Coffman’s term on the Board will run through March 31, 2022.

Zachary Boerger was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Town’s Historic Preservation Commission. Boerger is a realtor with Coldwell Banker in Bloomington. His term with the Commission expires March 31, 2023.

Elise Albers was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation Board. Albers is manager of population health for OSF HealthCare/Children’s Hospital of Illinois. Her term runs through June 30, 2020.

Town’s First “Officer Of The Year” Introduced: Between the Liquor Commission session and the Council meeting, Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner introduced those attending the meeting to the department’s first “Officer Of The Year,” Officer Evan Easter. In remarks introducing Easter, Bleichner explained the officer was named for the honor by both his supervisor and his peers “because of his strong work ethic, tireless dedication to removing illegal guns and drugs from the street, and his commitment to community service, volunteerism, and willingness to mentor other officers.”

Bleichner said that mentoring is the result of “working in a variety of assignments, including working on vice crimes.” Easter is a 15-year veteran of the police force.

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

• Approval of minutes of the public hearing held on March 4, 2019.

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting held on March 4, 2019.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of March 13, 2019.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an intergovernmental agreement with McLean County for animal shelter services.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an intergovernmental agreement with McLean County for animal warden services.

• A resolution to award the bid for water main and service line materials to Bloomington-based Water Products Co.

• A resolution to accept bids and award a contract to Bloomington-based Rowe Construction Co., a division of United Contractors Midwest, Inc., in the amount of $2,455,519.77 for the Motor Fuels Tax Resurfacing Project.

• A resolution authorizing a change to the Robert G. Bone Historic Preservation Grant Program.

By Steve Robinson | March 17, 2019 - 10:52 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

Over the years, I have covered a number of Special Olympics Illinois annual State Basketball Tournaments. At the majority of these, I meet athletes who are happy to be playing on a team and parents and other family members who cheer on their relative knowing the goal of inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities is what is to be highlighted when telling their stories and not so much the sports aspect of the story.

As the reporter, that is sometimes tough to explain to editors who are used to a certain set of facts that go, normally, hand-in-hand with a particular story. But when you cover Special Olympics sporting events, the team’s record or other sorts of facts commonly found within sports stories aren’t what the organization wants readers to take note of first and foremost.

They want you to see that sports is the leading component to helping include people with intellectual disabilities into being able to function in society. That’s because the athletes go from learning the ins and outs of sports to the ins and outs of holding down a job and being able to add contributions to society. The athletic part helps the athletes stay active and gain friends and new relationships and the ability to belong to society.

And usually, it is young people, age 8 and up, or young adults who participate in these events. I would tell you I have never encountered a family where a parent and child were both part of Special Olympics. And I could have told you that up until this past weekend. Then I met father and son, John Gordon, Sr. and John Gordon, Jr., from the Village of McLean.

John Sr., 37, has been involved in Special Olympics for a number of years but basketball is the only sport he has ever played in Special Olympics, he explained. He works for a contractor when he isn’t involved with the organization. John Jr., who I will identify by his nickname, J. T. from here going forward, is a freshman at Stanford Olympia High School. J. T. is the youngest player on the Falcons team representing Special Opportunities Available in Recreation, also known as SOAR, which is jointly funded by the Parks and Recreation Departments of the Town of Normal and the City of Bloomington.

J. T. said his friends at school “know I’m on a Special Olympics team and they know I’m on the team with my dad, so that’s even better. Some people give me compliments about it and I love that.” John Sr. knows it has been “over five years since he laced up his sneakers and this season has been interesting as a result. When he isn’t playing basketball, John Sr. works as a roofer.

Players on the SOAR Falcons squad range in age from J. T. at age 15 to the oldest player, Dennis Stanley, who is age 54. Head coach Doug Dowell and assistant coach Joe Heaser are at the controls of trying to continue what has been a rocky season for the Falcons. They were 4-4 during this season and got into the State Tournament literally by the luck of the draw.

“Special Olympics requires a minimum of three games played to qualify for the ability to compete at regional basketball in January, explained Maggie Rutenbeck, program manager for SOAR. And there would have been a district competition this year, but poor winter weather forced Special Olympics Illinois’ home office in Normal to cancel the district competition. Since SOAR has four basketball squads with players of varying skill levels, the team selected to go to State Finals was drawn out of a hat, Rutenbeck said. Dowell’s team received the lucky pick.

“They’re quite the duo,” Rutenbeck said of John and J. T. “J. T. has the skill but doesn’t have the experience his dad does. John has turned into the fine example of sportsmanship on and off the court, and his son gets to see that firsthand. Leading by example is what John is showing his son.”

Dowell, who has been coaching the Falcons for six years, added, “John understands the importance of getting everybody on the team involved.” Of J. T., Dowell said, “He’s a good ballplayer, so he has a lot of confidence in his ability. He also knows several of the players so that really helps him on the court. He takes direction well, so he’s easy to coach.”

As it turns out, John and J. T. aren’t the only kin on the team. John’s sister, Patty Gordon, is also on this squad, although she did not play here because of a broken arm she suffered a month ago.

Dowell said the whole family has “basketball savvy.” He added having the skills the trio brings is “just that much more beneficial to the team. It’s not just where to dribble and where to shoot. It’s learning to see the open guy, where you should be going next. They really picked up on those concepts of basketball.”

They have picked up on the concepts to the point that, once a year, Dowell’s team scrimmages with the teams from El Paso High School.

In school, J. T. said his favorite subject is “math, easily. I love math.” He’s also a big fan of gymnastics.

As for how SOAR Falcons did during the tournament, they beat the Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association team from Crystal Lake, 54-37 on Saturday, and followed that up Sunday with a 48-42 win over Loyola Park Scorpions to earn a gold medal in their four-team division.

Talking to them in Horton Field House on Illinois State University’s campus, John said he would “come out here every day” to play basketball. J. T. said now that basketball has wound down, he’s giving some thought to taking up another Special Olympics sport, Track, specifically, he said, “long jump, for sure.” He was quick to add the 40 meter dash to the list of competitions he’d like to enter once spring sports practice starts. You get the feeling that since things went well for him his first time out that once he takes to the track, even if his dad will be sitting in the bleachers for those events, that J. T. will continue to grow in his sports knowledge and the maturity that comes with it.

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.