By Steve Robinson | April 26, 2018 - 10:34 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – At their regularly-scheduled meeting April 25, members of Normal-based Unit 5 School Board elected officers for the next year. Barry Hitchins is the new Board president succeeding outgoing president Jim Hayek, Jr. Mike Trask is the new Board vice president, and Taunia Leffler was elected the new secretary. Hayek was not at the meeting and had announced to Board members at the governing body’s last meeting in February he would be resigning from the Board as a result of a job transfer to Phoenix, Ariz.

The new Board members were elected by acclamation.

Increased School Lunch Prices Approved: When the school year revs up again in August, parents and students, and district employees will be paying more as a result of a unanimous omnibus vote once the new officers were seated. Lunch prices will go up by five cents for both students and adults as a result of rising costs and requirements set by Federal Paid Lunch Equity rules. That would boost lunch costs to between $2.15 and $3.35. The change will not affect breakfast prices or the cost of reduced price lunches.

In addition, it will cost students more to attend sports events, with the price of a ticket going up $5, to $20. Instructional fees will not see an increase in cost this year.

Normal West High Doubles Its “Good News”: Prior to the Board elections, Board members heard a pair of “good news” reports from the district’s high schools. From Normal Community West, Associate Principal Angie Codron introduced Board members to teacher Dave Weber who was awarded a $1,000 grant which he will use to purchase additional sensors and “Go Links” which students can use in Psychics classes to conduct inquiry-based Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or STEM investigations centering on acceleration and friction.

Weber will also use the funds to upgrade a 3D printer he has been using in class. Students belonging to the school’s STEM Club have been designing a variety of objects science teachers need to replace equipment which has been misplaced or worn out.

Codron also introduced Board members to senior Andrea Irving who has won a $1,000 scholarship as one of two Outstanding STEM students in McLean County for 2018. Irving is active in the Normal West group “Girls Who Code” is a national non-profit group dedicated to helping increase and support the number of women who enter the computer science field.

Normal Community High And Normal West High Team Up For “Good News”: Normal Community West and Normal Community High School joined forces for the other item of good news as Codron and NCHS associate principal Nikki Maurer introduced Board members two top finalists, one from each school, from the 2017-2018 Celebrating High School Innovators (CHSI) competition which was held on Illinois State University’s campus on April 7 and 8. This year’s event was the third annual event which recognized ninth through 12th grade students who were eligible to apply in five areas including Arts, Media and Literature, Technology, Engineering and Math, and Health and Nutrition.

The team of Becca Nally from Normal West and Lexi Showalter from NCHS were selected as one of the competition’s five finalists for their project which involved using smart phones for communication. The pair were awarded $1,000 as well as a scholarship.

Standards-Based Grading Discussed: Carmen Bergmann, director of elementary education, and Laura O’Donnell, director of secondary education for the district, presented information to Board members concerning an update concerning how the district will assess grading students beginning over the next two school years. Unit 5 is going to introduce a concept called Standards Based Grading (SBG) to all grade levels over the next two years, the pair explained. They said a partial rollout of SBG took place during this school year with nearly 90 percent of teachers using the method. They said a full rollout of SBG will begin at all elementary grade levels next school year.

At the middle school level, Bergmann and O’Donnell explained, students have a hand in their education from the standpoint of being able to talk to their teachers about and learn about the education process. At the high school level, they explained, characteristics for learning, such as showing respect, being part of a collaborative effort, and showing responsibility are separate matters apart graded on their own merits in addition to grading the finished work for each student.

Chemical Spraying Near Fox Creek Elementary Alarms Parents: Parents of one Fox Creek student in south Bloomington addressed Board members concerned about nearby farmers having recently sprayed chemicals on farmland near the school at a time when students were playing on the school playground. The parent indicated school officials were told by the farmer the herbicide was not harmful, but Board members told the parents the matter would be investigated.

May 9 Meeting To Be At Hoose Elementary: The Board’s next meeting on Wednesday, May 9 will be held at Colene Hoose Elementary School starting at 7p.m.

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