Search on for South School principal

Marianne Gillespie

Illinois Valley Central District officials are on the hunt for a new South School principal.

With Principal Mike Bethel retiring at the end of the school year, 34 candidates applied for the position, Superintendent Chad Allison told the school board Feb. 11 at its regular meeting at the school.

Allison said the new principal would have "big shoes to fill" and Bethel would be "greatly missed."

A committee of six — comprised of board members Garrison and Donna Uebler, administrators Allison and Brooke Geltmaker, and South School teachers Pody Goines and Cortney Angelo — interviewed nine candidates Feb. 6-7.

The second round of interviews is planned for this week with an expected recommendation at the Feb. 25 board meeting.

Parent Leann Stickel briefed the board on the changes to the Parent Teacher Associations at South School and Chilliocthe Elementary Center.

"Several of us really identified a need over the last few years of a dwindling involvement of parents at CEC. By identifying that need we felt like we could take what we had going at South and share it with CEC," Stickel said.

She credited three-year PTA president Carie McIntyre with building a strong organization at South.

"We feel like it's a good solution, and I feel very optimistic that ultimately it will be a good solution, but as you know with change we are having some growing pains ... " Stickel said.

With including CEC, which is about 400 more students, the PTA did not double its volunteers, Stickel said, even though the PTA will only have one board, budget and set of books instead of two.

She said she heard parents say they were nervous to send their children to CEC.

"It always bothered me because it's the same families. We don't change, we're here and we still want to help and then we go to CEC," Stickel said.

She added that her daughter has had a "fantastic educational experience at CEC" but that there are some "missing pieces" at the school.

Creating a stronger PTA, she said, could help with at least one of those missing pieces.

President Mike Denzer asked if there was anything the board could do to help support the new PTA structure.

Stickel said she did not have anything specifically at that time, but she would get back to him or the board.

She also said that the PTA will be using more paper, which it has the money for in their budget, because using all electronic methods for communicating with parents did not seem to be working.

In other items, the board:

• Approved the resignations of Jenny Beaulier as a RtI aide at Mossville, effective March 14 and Thomas Gross as IVCHS School Library and Information Specialist at the end of the school year.

• Approved a personnel contract for Brent Ressler to be the assistant boys soccer coach at IVCHS and a child care leave request for Monica Lynch's IVCHS Spanish teacher for the rest of the school year.

• Heard Allison say that the school district now has a Facebook page, Illinois Valley Central School District No. 321, to help keep residents better informed.

• Heard Allison say that as it stands now, the district has used all of its five emergency or snow days, so the last day of school will be May 30, which is marked on the school calendar.

• Heard Allison report on a survey sent to those who attended the State of the District Breakfast. About 27 attendees had responded, and Allison said he found the comments interesting as the "vast majority" wrote they wanted more time at the event and to be able to attend more sessions. After Allison gave an overall view of the district, then participants chose two breakout sessions to attend from a handful or more offered. For the future, he said officials may try to make it a little longer.

• Heard board member Steve Garrison report on the curriculum committee meeting Feb. 6. The committee met with the principals of the schools who updated the committee members on courses offered to students.

"It was a real good chance for us to learn about what our kids are learning in K through 12," Garrison said.

• Heard board member Dave Kinney say the finance committee met earlier that day to discuss the budget. He said they talked about how district officials have tried to reduce the deficit this year and the impact of it. They also looked at state financing.

"It's tough for us to do much on the revenue side. "We're not a revenue generating organization. We don't sell products," Denzer said.

He thanked Assistant Superintendent Patrick Hatfield for his work on preparing for that meeting.