By Steve Robinson | November 14, 2019 - 10:48 pm
Posted in Category: Unit 5

NORMAL – There was plenty of recognition to go around when Normal-based Unit 5 Board members held their regularly-scheduled meeting at district headquarters Nov. 13. Veterans, the girls’ cross country team from Kingsley Junior High School, an honor bestowed onto Parkside Elementary School, and even Board members themselves received honors at this meeting.

Veterans Day Remembered: In the first of four “good news” reports presented to Board members, district superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel informed Board members and an audience of about 20 people that throughout the day, district schools hosted “dinners, assemblies, classroom visits and parades” to recognize veterans. At the meeting, Daniel added, “Tonight we want to honor all of our employees who are veterans, past and present, whose service and sacrifice enable us to enjoy peace and freedom every day.”

At this meeting, Daniel honored Shane Hill, associate principal at KJHS who had just returned from a recent tour of duty at Bagram AFB, Afghanistan. There, Hill served as with the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing as chief of public affairs. “Capt. Hill is representative of our many employees who selflessly serve our country,” Daniel told the gathering. “We want to thank you for all your service.”

Hill responded by saying, “On behalf of all my family, Unit 5 is an extension of my family and while I was gone, I received over 500 letters from grade schoolers, and junior high and high schoolers. That was awesome.” He presented Daniel with an American flag which was flown over Bagram AFB to recognize all those at Unit 5 who showed support for his family.

Kingsley Junior High’s “Good News”: Dennis Larson, assistant principal at Kingsley Junior High School, introduced the next “good news” report which featured members of the school’s Cross Country team. On Saturday, October 19, the team, aided by the guidance of their coaches, finished 4th in the Illinois Education State Association Girls’ 3A State Meet. The Cross Country Team is coached by Amanda Robison and Shelby Wall. Runners on the team are: Ali Ince, Addie Snoeyink, Maya Lanier, Kaitlyn Ringler, Makayla Jackson, Ryann Bossard, Carly Gorman, Lana Alcorn, Maddie Chapman, and Lydia Plattner.

Parkside Elementary’s “Good News”: Board members next heard about Parkside Elementary School having been named one of just four National Unified Champion Schools in the State of Illinois, celebrating the honor at an assembly in the school gym on Oct. 24. Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program is an all-ages based program supported by the Federal Department of Education. A primary goal of the program is to motivate young people and give them tools, skills, and opportunities to help change their schools to have a genuine culture of inclusiveness, according to the national office of Special Olympics.

Unified schools have three main goals as set by Special Olympics: Inclusive sports; Youth leadership and advocacy; And Engagement in the program on the part of the whole school. At this assembly, Parkside Elementary was awarded a banner signifying the school’s commitment toward those goals.

Parkside Principal Chris Ellis introduced Kathy O’Connell, the school’s adaptive physical education teacher and Nancy Wojtanowski, a special education teacher whose students, many of them, are part of Special Olympics. “Together, these two ladies, honestly, have pulled this program together and made it one that is respected in our building and in our district.”

Board Members Honored On Their Day: The State has set aside a day to honor school board members for the work do and hours they put in. Illinois Association of School Boards designated Friday, Nov. 15 as Illinois School Board Members Day. Honored this year were Board President Barry Hitchins, Vice President Amy Roser, Secretary Alan Kalitzky, and Board members Dr. Kelly Pyle, Mike Trask, Meta Mickens-Baker, and Taunia Leffler.

Hitchins and Leffler were recognized for having completed IASB courses related to Board membership. Hitchins completed work related to earning a Board Member Level II designation while Leffler completed work related to earning a Board Member Level I designation and Leadershop member designation.

Curriculum Update Presented: Board members heard a presentation from Dan Lamboley, director of secondary education concerning curriculum updates planned to start in the 2020-21 school year. A new course in cybersecurity for high school students is among new offerings planned by the district, Lamboley said. The one credit course would be available to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Another course dealing with the subject is Project Lead The Way, which he explained offers students benefits to students such as fostering interest in the subject, and acts as a springboard for students to have more opportunities to interact in computer sciences.

Also being planned in an internship in education for seniors for either one or two credits building on knowledge and skills learned in another course, Introduction To Education. As part of this course, Illinois Professional Teaching Standards will be used to guide course curriculum. Necessary career skills will be correlated with soft skills and academic skills in a project-based format. The student will participate in an unpaid internship with a mentor teacher in a community school. Students are required to provide their own transportation for this component.

These two classes are among eight the district is adding to help spark students’ interest. The others are Transitional Math, Pre-Advanced Placement World History and Geography, Transitional Math which includes Statistics, Robotics and Engineering, taught through Bloomington Area Career Center, and AMPED 1 Algebra. AMPED stands for Algebra 1 in Manufacturing Processes, Entrepreneurship and Design). Dual credit courses conducted in conjunction with Heartland Community College are also part of the new offerings.

Tax Levy Filing Deadline Approaches: Board members heard from District Business Manager Marty Hickman concerning filing the tax levy by the Dec. 31 deadline. Board members will consider adopting the levy at their next meeting Dec. 11. The County Clerk’s office will verify the levy in March or April and collecting the tax will begin in May or June.

Hickman said tax levy dollars account for nearly 65 percent of money used by the district, with State and Federal revenue, as well as other sources making up the rest of the money used by the district. The percentage taken in using property taxes for Unit 5 is $71.4 million. Federal revenue accounts for 7.54 percent, or over $8.3 million; State revenue accounts for 21.52 percent of what the district gets, or over $23.9 million, and 6.64 percent comes from other local sources, or over $7.3 million.

Next Board Meeting Dec. 11: Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no second Board meeting in November. The Board’s next meeting will be on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at district headquarters, 1809 W. Hovey Ave., beginning at 7p.m.

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