IVC District 321 School Board hears library report, junior high softball proposal

Marianne Gillespie

The Illinois Valley Central District 321 School Board listened to a couple presentations at its Feb. 25 meeting.

Tom Gross, library information specialist at IVC High School, reported on his goals for this school year and other interesting tidbits of information about what happens in the library.

Whereas last year Gross strictly promoted reading, he told the board, this year he promoted involvement as well.

He gave book talks in some classes to encourage students to read outside the classroom. In August/September, the students checked out a high of around 400 books a month.

“I can’t promise they’re reading the books,” Gross said with a chuckle. He is sure students are reading the books, however, when they let him know if they liked it or did not.

Through interlibrary loan, Gross put in for 167 books already this school, which at an average of $14 per book, he said the district saved $2,000 but still could offer what students or faculty wanted.

“To me, that’s a big deal,” Gross said.

On the flip side, IVC has shared 130 books with other libraries. Additionally, faculty checkouts have almost doubled.

Gross also shared the top books students checked out, including “The Hate List” by Jennifer Brown as No. 1; others on the list ran the gamut of fantasy, non-fiction, teen issues, horror and more.

Several clubs also are offered, including books, research and gaming.

Gross said he also is stressing students learn how to use databases, not just using the Internet for information, and gives various technology lessons.

The library has some updated technology as well, with comfy chairs which also sport a USB port for the students to charge their electronic devices.

From academics to athletics, Charlie Rusk of the Chillicothe Summer Youth Association approached the board to allow CSYA to create a memorial scoreboard at Field No. 1 in memory of longtime CSYA volunteer Bob Leiner, who died late last year.

He was an “integral” part of the building of the three fields closest to Bradley Avenue behind the high school, Rusk said, and CSYA officials want to install a new manual scoreboard with Leiner Field displayed at the top of it.

With the board’s permission, which will have to come at a future meeting since it was not on the agenda, CSYA officials plan to install the scoreboard sometime in April and hold a dedication ceremony. Leiner’s son, Adam, was in attendance at the meeting.

Also part of athletics, IVC varsity softball coach Josh Clarke presented the board with information on possibly beginning a junior high girls softball team, which would include both Chillicothe and Mossville players.

In polling students grades fourth through seventh, about 150 girls said they would be interested if it was offered, with about 20 of those currently involved in cross country. The sport would be held in the fall.

His proposed plan included using the high school facility, including some IVC equipment and some which would be loaned by a local travel team. Parents would provide the students’ transportation and Clarke said he would forego a stipend and volunteer as the coach. Uniforms could be a low-cost option of T-shirts with numbers and not fancy jerseys, possibly with businesses, fundraisers and parents to underwrite the costs.

Clarke also suggested a condensed game schedule of 10 to 15 games instead of 20, which would give the team fewer home games to pay umpires.

In total, he estimated the cost to the district would be essentially an IESA renewal fee to add the sport and the umpires, in total $550 to $850, which could be offset by fundraising.

He said offering the sport could be evaluated annually, and if it worked out, as years went on, the team could update how it’s run.

One item that he was still checking on was Title IX as currently the both schools have the same number of boys and girls sports.

With incorporating schools, Clarke proposed a larger roster of around 17-18.  In order to accomplish having the team, one team most likely would be “co-oping” with the other team, meaning all the members would most likely wear either Chillicothe or Mossville jerseys.

On top of multiple presentations, the board also approved a lengthy personnel report, which was unanimously approved, minus Nell German who was absent.

The board approved personnel contracts for the district’s administration.

Top administration was given multi-year contracts, including Superintendent Chad Allison and Assistant Superintendent Patrick Hatfield, both five years; and Kenton Bergman, three years.

“We look to give them longer contracts to make sure there is stability a the top,” Board President Mike Denzer said.

The multi-year contracts do not mean the administrators are “locked in” for that amount of years.

“They have to meet certain objectives and goals that the Board of Education sets,” Denzer said.

Incoming South School Principal Shaun Grant also received a three-year contract, which Denzer said was to “express our confidence in him.” Once his three-year contract is up, he will have a standard practice one-year contract.

Also under one-year contracts are Mossville Assistant Principal Pat Auge, IVC High School Assistant Principal Dustin Birkel, CEC Principal Kelli Brabson, CEC Assistant Principal Jennifer Freeman, Mossville Principal Brooke Geltmaker and District Special Education Coordinator Beth Gundy.

Board members will be looking at the last 12 months to determine raises.

“There are no established raises in any contract,” Denzer said.

The new contracts take effect July 1.

Giving their intent to retire were:

• Mike Bethel, South School principal

• Charlotte Lane, CEC seventh/eighth grade math teacher

• Deneen “Deeni” Miller, Mossville eighth grade language arts teacher

• Bonnie Mullins Nave, South School special education teacher

• Elizabeth Sullivan, CEC seventh/eighth grade science teacher

• Cheryl Tillman, CEC/South Title I teacher

• Steven Watkins, IVC High School career and technical education teacher

• Sharon Dwyer, IVC High School secretary

All were effective at the end of the year except for Dwyer, whose effective date is June 30.

Resigning are Mossville teacher Katie Bielenberg, who currently is on leave, and Elly Peterson, CEC sixth-grade teacher, at the end of the school year.