The Illinois Valley Central District 321 Board of Education met Aug. 22, at South Elementary School and the night began with a presentation from South School’s principal.

Shaun Grant reported on his school’s exciting updates, upgrades and new initiatives for the new school year.

Starting the presentation, Grant highlighted the “minimal” building upgrades that included, the boys bathroom being redone and the exterior of the building and some classrooms being repainted.

Grant then discussed South’s Positive Behavior Intervention System.

“It’s something we grow on every year,” Grant said. “It’s led into students doing announcements. This one, they create the message and they also do all the students birthdays in the building. It’s kind of my big push, and it’s pretty simple, but it’s just kids teaching kids in that little window every morning. The third graders love it and I really didn’t anticipate how much it would help them with public speaking because they are so nervous every morning.”

Grant also pointed out the school’s new additions in technology and physical education. One of those additions is Mystery Science, which is an online platform for teachers to use that incorporates movies tied to events like the solar eclipse.

For physical education, additions include a more specialized focus for South’s life skills and instructional students.

“We’ve brought them to specialized PE rooms and we are providing the education they need for what their needs are,” Grant said.

Third and second grade students are now 1:1, Grant reported, and kindergarten and first grades are about 1:2. The 1:1 Initiative puts Google Chromebooks in the hands of District students.

Something new Grant has started on South’s website are his principal videos. Grant unveiled his first video during the week of Aug. 21, and they are aimed at what a first-time South School parent would need to know.

Grant was also happy to report that the viewing of the eclipse on Aug. 21, went well.

“As stressed as we were, it all went very smooth. The kids were very appropriate and all were looking down and followed the rules. They did a great job,” Grant said.

Following Grant’s presentation, IVC Superintendent Dr. Chad Allison reported the District’s enrollment.

“We were very close to where we were the last two years. Some grades were down a little and some grades were up a little, but there has been no significant drop,” Allison said.

As of Aug. 18, the District’s enrollment was 2,146. Around the same time last year, the District’s enrollment was 2,133.

Senate Bill 1 and school funding were also on the Board’s agenda for the night. As of the time this article was written, no evidence-based funding formula had been voted on or passed. 

The House had until Aug. 29, to pass some kind of evidence-based funding formula. Allison pointed out that the District has yet to receive its first two General State Aid payments.

“This is the first time that General State Aid payments haven’t been received. It’s unprecedented territory. The first one was (to be) on Aug. 10 and Aug. 20 was the second, so we will start to see that cycle,” Allison said. “That’s the piece that for most school districts and school districts that are dependent on the state for assistance, it’s General State Aid that it comes through. So, when we start talking about school districts not being able to keep their doors open it will be because of these General State Aid payments.”

The two General State Aid payments District 321 has yet to receive amount to $345,000 or $172,000 a piece.

Later in the meeting, during the Superintendent’s Report, Allison reported on the status of the District’s school funding lawsuit filed earlier this year with several other districts throughout the state.

“We are still in the middle of the lawsuit with the state over funding or the lack thereof,” Allison said.

Allison said the next step in the legal process is to set up a hearing date and the District’s representatives said that date should come within the next four weeks.

“At this point, the hearing will be to determine if the judge will act on their motion for dismissal,” Allison said. “Our attorney is of the opinion that if that does not occur then that is a huge win for us. If he is willing to hear our claim because it is a very philosophical claim then that is a very good sign for us.”

Allison also reported that they were asked if they were interested in filling an injunction due to the current status of funding in Illinois.

“Some of the school districts are concerned that our goal is to get a new funding bill going and that by filling the injunction we are okay with the status quo, which is not what we are trying to get,” Allison said.

He said, the District will wait and see what happens on Aug. 23 or Aug. 29 and move forward from there.

Other highlights in his report is the return of Peoriapalooza — or Googlepalooza as it was called last year — to the District, and the Learning Center.

Peoriapalooza will be held at IVC High School Sept. 1, and the District expects around 1,200 teachers from Peoria County to attend.

As for the Learning Center, Allison said, IVC Learning Center Director Bridgette Lynch reported that everything was going well and the Center is currently at 21 students.

Something new and different for the District Allison highlighted at the meeting is the District’s plans to live broadcast future District events.

Allison said, himself and IVC Public Relation Director Nick McMillion had been “working out the kinks” and are very close to being able to live broadcast.

The live broadcasts, which will be streamed live on the website would focus on District sporting events, but could include assemblies, concerts and programs. Allison noted he has reached out to the athletic boosters and they are interested in helping fund the initial cost of the equipment.

In other business, the Board approved contracts with Tim Cech as a social studies, a physical education and APEX teacher at the Illinois Valley Central Learning Center for the 2017-2018 school year; Tim Cech as a senior class sponsor at IVC High School for the 2017-2018 school year; Joshua Clarke as a senior class sponsor at IVC High School for the 2017-2018 school year; Aubrey Smigel as the drama director (Fall Play) at IVC High School for the 2017-2018 school year; Laura Davis as a JOOI Club Sponsor at IVC High School for the 2017-2018 school year and Mikayla Vail as an assistant girls’ basketball coach at Mossville Junior High for the 2017-2018 school year.

The Board also accepted retirement notices from Laura Kolb as a physical education teacher at Mossville Grade School, following the 2017-2018 school year and Yvonne Hurckes as a physical education teacher at Chillicothe Elementary Center and Junior High School, following the 2017-2018 school year.

The next public meeting of the IVC Board of Education will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, at Chillicothe Elementary Center.

— Submitted by IVC