School board waits to change student ranking policy

Nick Stroman

The Illinois Valley Central District 321 school board postponed an expected vote on changing its student ranking policy.

At its Feb. 10 meeting, board president Jim Hollenback said the decision to delay the vote was mainly due to late feedback from parents in the district.

“We need to fully review and address all of the parents’ concerns,” Hollenback said.

Under the proposed policy, beginning with the class of 2010, students would be recognized with honor distinction levels in regard to their cumulative grade-point average.

Class ranking would be eliminated and valedictorian and salutatorian would not recognized, starting with the Class of 2011.

Some parents got a preview of the policy changes at a special meeting with board members last month, but expressed concern about changing policy midstream while students are in the process

of applying for colleges.

“It is best to not rush into this and really give a chance for everyone to be heard,” Hollenback added.

On Tuesday, superintendent Dr. Dave Kinney said only a few more letters from parents have trickled in since last week’s meeting.

Kinney added the board plans to vote on the GPA policy change at Saturday’s 9 a.m. meeting at IVC High School.

A copy of the proposed policy was mailed to parents and is also posted on the district Web site at

In other board action and discussion:

• the board approved life/safety amendments and projects for Chillicothe Elementary Center and Junior High, IVC High School and Mossville Grade School.

At CEC, $186,450 will pay for an upgrade of the fire alarm system and a new roof for the library.

At IVC, $288,452 will cover the bulk of replacing two systems of doors near the lockers and commons area and bringing the entire fire alarm system to code.

At Mossville, $84,720 will go toward replacing gym windows, outside vents and addressing problems with the chimney.

Kinney said all the projects have to be completed within five years and will be funded by the sale of bonds.

He added the library roof project at CEC could be started this summer.

• retirements were accepted for three long-time employees of the district — Bob Howell, assistant principal at IVC High School; Elaine Snyder, third-grade teacher at CEC; and Diane Pointer, principal at CEC.

Kinney said Howell and Snyder have both been district employees for more than 30 years.

Kinney added Pointer has been principal at CEC for five years, but lived in the district for 35 years.

“It’s very hard to approve these retirements because they are three excellent people. It comes with some sadness,” board member Donna Uebler said.

• The board voted 4-1 to hire Josh Kinney as assistant girls’ volleyball coach at CEC.

Board member Greg Johnson voted nay.

• curriculum director Jennie Hawkey said IVC High School has been recognized once again as an “aspiring school of character.”

The University of Illinois Extension hands out awards annually for the Illinois State Schools of Character.

The awards recognize schools or districts that demonstrate an outstanding character education initiative that yields positive results in student behavior, school climate and academic performance.

Hawkey said well-behaved kids are commonplace across the district.

“A great example was just today when I was at CEC, and a student with a cast on her arm opened the door for me,” Hawkey said.

• Troy Webb, a sixth-grade teacher at CEC and committee member of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports for grades 5-8, gave a presentation on the program.

Webb said the program is currently operating on a intrinsic reward system and is working to include a larger representative number of the student body.

“We are looking at 40 to 50 kids in total, but being selective and using an application and questionnaire process and teacher selection,” Webb said.

Webb said the program could expand to include raffles or monthly celebrations to draw more people.

“We just want to make everyone in the building a part of the program somehow and make it a group they want to join,” Webb said.

• the board approved a request from Chillicothe Rugby Football Club for use of the old CEC athletic field for games and practices this spring.

Kinney said due to the rough nature of the sport, the district had to clear the request with its insurance company.

Kinney added another part of the agreement is the club is willing to maintain and clean up the field.

• the board approved a request from Project Graduation for use of IVC High School and its buses the evening of graduation day Sunday, May 17.

Project Graduation is an alcohol-free celebration of fun activities for graduating seniors, such as bowling, during which students turn in their car keys and spend the night at the high school.

Kinney said nearly 60 percent of the graduating class usually participates.

• Kinney announced the IVC Band has been recognized with an article in cable company Mediacom’s national magazine.