NORMAL – Everyone knows teachers do not do their job for the money, although many people believe they should be paid more for what they do for kids every day. And they certainly do not do it for any type of glory or recognition. Yet, at the regularly-scheduled meeting of Normal-based Unit 5 School District Board members held June 12 at District headquarters, one teacher from Colene Hoose Elementary, was recognized for an honor he received from Illinois Education Association.

Colene Hoose Elementary School teacher Shawn Mann received the Bob Haisman Teacher of the Year Award. Mann has been a special education teacher at Hoose for four years. IEA award recipients were nominated and chosen for their awards by their peers. Shawn’s nomination came from UFEA President Lindsey Dickinson. Mann is part of the school’s Behavioral Emotion Support Team, or BEST. BEST provides intensive behavioral and emotional support for students who have such difficulties.

The school sought recently to expand the building at its eastern end to accommodate students and concentrate services toward one end of the building. That expansion of the building, including an additional driveway leading to the area where BEST students are educated, was completed last fall.

Hearing On Approving Amended 2018-19 Budget Held: By a unanimous vote, Board members approved adopting amending the budget for the remainder of fiscal year 2018-19. Marty Hickman, business manager for the district, said the Board does this annually, reviewing the remaining budget in May and approving in June. In addition, following the meeting, Hickman said it was his understanding the state legislature has added more money for Pre-K through 12th grade education going into the next school year. However, Hickman said, the extra money “will help our budget going into next year, but the new funds will not move the needle on what is our structural deficit in our education fund.”

The structural deficit the district faces is roughly $6.4 million. The district will use working cash bonds to cover some of the deficit for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1, Hickman added. He said the district has received three categorical payments from the State for the current fiscal year with one still due to the district for the current fiscal year. “We’re not sure if the last categorical payment will come before the fiscal year ends at the end of June,” Hickman said.

Infinite Campus Coming In July: In his “Superintendent Comments” section of the meeting, Dr. Mark Daniel reminded that the district will be transitioning from Skyward information system to the Infinite Campus information system. Parents will be able to use Infinite Campus in July to register their children for the fall doing so online.

Enrollment For 2018-19 Broken Down: Dr. Ray Epperson, assistant superintendent, presented a breakdown of students per grade level throughout the district to Board members. As of the end of school year 2018-19, the district had 13,034 students attending classes in Pre-K through 12th grade. Board Member Mike Trask, after looking over the graphic showing class sizes, said he could only find one class size of 30 students and asked the district to continue to find ways to continue to keep class sizes low.

“We want to keep these sizes low, and we’re at a very good spot where we’re at, but I want to keep them there,” he said. “But it’s a conversation we’ll have to continue to have to impact what we do going forward.”

Trask brought forward his concern that the district needs to keep an eye on incoming numbers of students going from junior high school to high school, stating the district just graduated 834 students but that Normal Community High School and Normal Community West High School will be seeing incoming freshmen numbering 975 students. Trask added those numbers don’t moderate much in coming years.

“I would call this a tsunami effect,” Trask said when looking at the numbers. “We just have to keep monitoring our population and keep an eye on it.” Such high numbers will have an effect on facilities, Trask added.

Epperson said school principals are already monitoring numbers in terms of incoming kindergarten students because the numbers of those students are “already at the top range of where we want them to be.”

Update On Dual Credit For Students Given: A discussion about dual credit classes for students followed. Dan Lamboley, director of secondary education, introduced Board members to Alauna Akins, associate director of secondary education partnerships at Heartland Community College.

Akins said HCC’s goal is to provide early access to college for high school students within the education district of the state HCC serves, District 540. HCC took its first steps to become part of District 540 in the early 1990s.

Akins said the dual credit program has four primary goals for serving high schools: Increase access to college; Develop pathways to completing college; enhance partnerships and faculty connections; and increase curricular alignment.

Lamboley said Unit 5 high schools entry in dual credit classes is based on work done by national initiative launched by the National School Superintendents Association to introduce new benchmarks to more appropriately assess that students are prepared for college and careers.

Next Board Meeting Scheduled For July 10: There will be no second meeting of the Board in June. The next scheduled Board meeting will be on Wednesday, July 10 at district headquarters, 1809 W. Hovey Ave., starting at 7p.m.

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