By Steve Robinson | May 10, 2018 - 10:20 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

Members of Normal-based Unit 5 School Board voted unanimously at their regularly-scheduled meeting on May 9 to approve a two-year contract with the union which represents its teaching staff. The pact with Unit Five Education Association (UFEA) members increases salaries for beginning teachers to $37,000 annually. That boosts their pay from the prior starting salary of just over $34,000, explained Dr. Mark Daniel, district superintendent, in explaining what prompted the increase. Salaries for second year teachers will start at $37,600.

Explaining the decision to make the increase, Daniel said, “We want to be competitive. We know that with the national teacher shortage, we have to be competitive, and if we’re going to bring young educators to Unit 5 and Bloomington-Normal.”

Daniel said this increase moves where the district stands on paying teachers to “at about mid-range. We’d love to do more, but, again, we do have budget constraints.” He thanked UFEA members for what he called “one of the most amicable negotiations I’ve ever been a part of.” He said that was because both sides were “like-minded and had a common goal.”

Newly-elected UFEA President Lindsey Dickenson said the teachers’ union vote on the contract “passed with flying colors.”

Hoose Expansion To Be On Docket: At their lone meeting in July, Board members will vote to decide whether to approve construction at Colene Hoose Elementary School which would expand the space used by the school’s Behavioral Emotion Support Team, or BEST. BEST provides intensive behavioral and emotional support for students who have such difficulties. The school has sought to expand the building at its eastern end to accommodate students and concentrate services toward one end of the building.

The school would hope to put a bus lane near that end once the expansion is complete so that BEST students and teachers would have of an individual entrance and exit to serve those students’ needs, explained Hoose Principal Dr. Adam Zbrozek. Colene Hoose Elementary is Unit 5’s hub for students who have such difficulties. The program was started over 30 years ago and originally served 2nd through 5th grade students. In 2011, Kindergarten and 1st grade students were added to the program.

The BEST program has grown to need to service 30 students by the beginning of next school year without there having been any changes in the size of the original space for which it was established when the program began, Zbrozek explained.

The proposed addition for the program would be at the building’s east end and be 5,200-square-foot. That would allow the school to add a quartet of 900-square-foot classrooms and a common learning area. The current space used by the BEST program will get redesigned to provide a larger student calming room, and a sensory room which offers interactive equipment. A conference room would also be added.

A current playground area outside the east side of the building would need to be moved as a result of the expansion. The total cost of the project would be $1.2 million, $725,000 of which will come from school land dedication fees developers pay when plats are recorded by the county. The remainder would come from the district’s working cash fund.

School Bus Acquisitions Approved: As part of the Board’s omnibus agenda, the governing body approved the bus replacement cost schedule, which includes purchase of 11 new 2019 model year 42-seat vehicles at a cost of $806,761. Also as part of the group of vehicles the district will purchase are 10 77-passenger buses, either 2017 or 2018 model year, and four transit vans. In all, a total of 32 vehicles will cost Unit 5 over $2.3 million.

Another omnibus agenda item approved was a five-year agreement for the lease and purchase of additional transportation vehicles in an amount not to exceed $2,325,000 at an interest rate not to exceed 3.5 percent.

New Administrators Coming To Schools In Fall: When school resumes in August, some Unit 5 schools will have new administrators in the corner office. The announcements concerning these changes were announced during the meeting. Cari Oester, a 13-year veteran educator, will be the new principal at Glenn Elementary. She taught in Naperville for two years and eight years in the Olympia School District in Stanford before joining Unit 5 in 2015. She has been an Assistant Principal with Pepper Ridge Elementary and Cedar Ridge Elementary. This summer she will be completing her Superintendent Certificate through ISU.

At Oakdale Elementary this fall, Elizabeth Holtz will become that school’s principal after having served as assistant principal there. She has also had experience as an assistant principal at Parkside Elementary.

Leslie Davenport will become principal at Fox Creek Elementary this fall. She is currently that school’s assistant principal. She spent nine years teaching Science and Language Arts at Parkside Junior High School along with coaching girls’ basketball. Previously, she taught for two years in Chicago Public Schools and three at a private school in Hinsdale, IL.

Terry Gliege will be a new assistant principal at Normal Community West High School this fall. He’s currently teaching there. Gliege has been an educator for 14 years, 10 of those in Unit 5. He started his career in the Chicago Public Schools and has served on building and district leadership teams in Unit 5, and has worked as n Academic Assistance Program Co-coordinator, Credit Recovery Teacher, Assistant Speech Team Coach, and previously served as the JV Soccer coach at West.

Glenn Elementary’s “Good News”: Maureen Backe, principal of Glenn Elementary School, reported to Board members that The students of the 3W Unit at Glenn held an all-school talent show on the evening of April 4 to support St. Jude Children’s Hospital, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and Home Sweet Home Ministries. In total, the talent show raised over $280 for the charities, Backe reported.

The idea for the talent show began when their teacher challenged a small group of the kids to come up with an idea for a community service project in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Earlier in the year, the class read an article in their Scholastic News magazines explaining that events would be held across the country in recognition of the 50th anniversary of King’s death. The team began organizing tryouts and developing a rubric that the adult judges could use to select the talent for the show. Soon the entire class was involved planning various activities for each of the selected charity organizations. The activities the children took part in included a clothing/food/book drive which was organized for Home Sweet Home Ministries. Also, Origami and drawing lessons were planned to support PETA, and friendship bracelets were crafted to be sold in support St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Students also spent time publicizing the event by making posters and writing announcements. Members of the school’s third grade hosts for the event developed the order of the acts and wrote their own scripts. Students also made up the stage crew for the show. A total of 20 acts ranging from dancers to roller skaters to instrumentalists performed for a crowd of well over 200 people.

District’s “Good News”: Academic Cultural Technological Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) Program is a yearlong enrichment program designed to recruit, stimulate, improve and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among high school students. It was developed in 1978 to enhance and showcase the academic and artistic achievement of primarily African-American high school students by mobilizing the adult community to serve as mentors and coaches for students in the areas of the STEM, humanities, performing arts, visual arts and business.

The 8th Annual Bloomington-Normal ACT-SO “Olympics of the Mind” Competition was on Saturday, April 28 consisting of 19 students. A total of 25 medals were awarded during the awards ceremony Sunday, April 29, at Illinois State University’s Bone Student Center. All medalists also receive a small scholarship. The gold medalists will travel to San Antonio, Texas, to compete in the National NAACP ACT-SO Competition on July 12 – 15 for national medals and scholarship awards. Unit 5’s gold medalists and their school and event they qualified in are: Jessica Bynum, Normal Community High School – Filmmaking (2017 National Gold Medalist – Filmmaking); Keajia “Keke” Hardin – NCHS and Bloomington Area Career Center, Culinary Arts; Alexis Starks, NCHS – Photography (2017 National Gold Medalist – Photography). Silver Medalists named are: Ambria Maddox, NCHS and BACC – Sculpture. Bronze Medalists and their category: Faith Jones, NCHS – Dramatics; and Rebekah Nielsen, Normal Community West High School and, BACC – Culinary.

Bloomington Area Career Center’s “Good News”: SkillsUSA is a national partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA helps each student excel. We provide educational programs, events and competitions that support career and technical education (CTE) in the nation’s classrooms.

Each year SkillsUSA Illinois heads to Springfield, IL in April for the annual State Leadership and Skills Conference (SLSC), a showcase of career and technical education students. More than 2,000 people — including students, teachers, and business partners — attended the multi-day event. At the event students compete hands-on in 100 different trade, technical and leadership fields. Students work against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations such as electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, medical assisting and culinary arts.

This year’s winners from within Unit 5 include: From NCHS, Health Knowledge Bowl participants Taylor Whetsell, Chloe Wright, Jade Carlock who finished with a silver medal;·in Job Interview Skills, Chloe Wright, who earned a Silver medal; In Nurse Assisting, Elizabeth Richards who finished with a silver medal; In Job Demo, Bailey Branham, who finished with a Silver medal. From Normal Community West High School, Matthew Manzella earned a gold medal in TeamWorks competition; Kayla Jones earned a gold medal in Medical Terminology competition; and Rebekah Hagberg earned a gold medal in the Cosmetology competition.

In addition, the district’s speech language pathologists were recognized for the work they do with students at all grade levels throughout the year.

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