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.

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