Hawkey presents plans for mandated intervention program

Christina Smith

During the April 22 Illinois Valley Central District 321 school  board meeting, the board heard curriculum director Jennie Hawkey present plans for a district-wide Response to Intervention Program, a new Illinois State Board of Education mandated program.

Hawkey said the RTI program is similar to the district’s OPTIONS program for kindergarten through eighth-grade students who are at risk of failing.

The goal of the program is to identify students who need extra help and then give them the help they need to succeed in school.

Universal screening for all students, targeted group intervention and individualized student plans, based on assessment of a student’s progress, all are included in the program.

Hawkey said staff at each of the district’s elementary and junior high schools already screen kindergarten through eighth-grade students on reading and will add math and language arts as well.

“Students who don’t respond or who need significant time or services over an extended period of time would be placed into special education classes,” Hawkey said.

By the end of next month, district officials must complete a self-assessment about what an RTI program could look like for the district.

Hawkey said a team of teachers, specialists and administrators have completed a first draft of the district’s RTI plan. Once the district-wide plan is completed, administrators from each school will create their own plan about what the program could look like at their school.

Title I staff, teacher’s aides and reading aides responsibilities will also change with the addition of the new requirements.

Hawkey said the program will begin with kindergarten through third-grade students before adding fourth-through sixth-grade, and eventually, including pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

Superintendent Dr. Dave Kinney said a potential increase in federal aid funding and reading aid funding will help with some of the program’s cost, along with the responsibility changes for some staff.

Hawkey said the program is a team effort that teams parents, staff and a teacher together for each student.

During a curriculum meeting prior to the board meeting, the board also heard South School principal Mike Bethel present his idea of creating a first-grade intensive classroom for students who are struggling with math, reading and language arts.

Bethel said some kindergarten students are coming in unable to identify letters, while others are able to read, adding the program would help the students succeed beyond second grade.

In other business, the board:

• approved hiring Ashley Coleman as a life skills teacher at Chillicothe Elementary Center

• approved a final version of the district’s 2008-09 calendar. Kinney said the district used one scheduled snow day and added an extra day of school because of the snow day

• approved allowing Chillicothe Summer Youth Activities to use IVC High School baseball and softball fields.

 • heard member Steve Nalley say work has already started at CEC to block in the fire escape, and the school’s science labs will be remodeled next year

• heard Kinney say the district owns a 30-by-400-foot piece of property on the northwest corner of the high school’s track and field area, which could be traded for part of a homeowner’s property that is 94-by-137-feet, located near the school’s football fields. Kinney said the homeowner wants a wider lot and the district would be able to expand its track and field area if the properties are traded.

• heard Kinney say district officials are looking into building a 54-by-120-foot facility south of the high school’s football and soccer fields that would be used for additional storage and a place for visiting teams to use during home games

• and heard Kinney say plans for additional growth at South are on schedule, with the board seeking bids in about a year. The addition would be built in phases and would include a kitchen, a new primary gymnasium for physical education classes and classrooms for five classes in each grade level, along with moving CEC third-grade classes to South.