Thursday, November 17, 2011
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District 27 board forms consensus on crossing guard agreement

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[November 17, 2011]  Saving the most controversial issue for the last agenda item, District 27 board members agreed to a consensus on the Lincoln City Council's proposed agreement on how to proceed with the crossing guard situation.

District 27 board president Stephen Rohrer told those in attendance that he and board member Robert Kidd attended a meeting with the city council on Tuesday night and discussed the crossing guard issue. Rohrer referred to the mood of the meeting as "thorny."

"I just have to say this," Rohrer said. "They stated we had an agreement and broke it. That is not true. We did not have an agreement."

Rohrer went on to say that some of the city council members kept "hammering" the school board and district about the crossing guard issue, and he didn't take it personally, but he felt it went beyond what was necessary to get their point across.

The two board representatives asked Mayor Keith Snyder for a proposal to maintain the crossing guard program, and the mayor delivered a proposal to the district office on Wednesday. The school board meeting agenda was amended to make room for discussion of the crossing guard issue.

Rohrer read some of the points in the agreement, including the statement that crossing guards will be employees of the city, and the district and the city will share administrative duties. In addition, the school district is required to pay the city $7,000 to cover the cost of the crossing guards through the remainder of the 2011-2012 school year. The agreement is for one year.

Superintendent Mary Ahillen thanked Rohrer and Kidd for attending the city council meeting and for speaking for the school district. She was out of town and unable to attend.

"We want the children to be safe, and the proposed agreement addresses the issues," Dr. Ahillen said. "This is a workable solution." She said the city does not want police called if a crossing guard is not available for an assigned location. And staff cannot replace them and perform duties outside their job description and assigned responsibilities. Administrators would be required to substitute.


"I'll go out there if I need to," she said, "because if it is a high-risk location, you can't let the children take care of themselves." She reminded the board the city had controlled the crossing guard program since 1974.

Kidd told the board he believes there needs to be an ad hoc committee with representatives from District 27 and the city council to rethink the number of crossing guards and where they need to be stationed. "But you need players at the table who are going to play nice," he said.

A new traffic control light at the corner of Fifth Street and College makes it easier to cross that intersection; and the light at Woodlawn and College is the same situation, but it is a busier place with more lanes of traffic.

"We need to look at the high-risk areas and take into consideration where we need to place the crossing guards," Kidd said, "instead of locating them at sites where there are only a few children and a light can create a safe crossing.

"In the summer these kids run across the street and get around town," he continued. "They know how to cross a street. I don't think it would be wrong if some of the locations didn't have a crossing guard."

In opening the meeting, Ahillen presented the board with certificates in honor of School Board Day on Tuesday. District 27 custodians were in attendance to receive acknowledgement for their dedication to the district, especially during the move from the old office on Maple Street to the new location at 304 Eighth St. The district office staff was recognized for volunteering to paint and clean in order to ready the building for the move and for their willingness to work extra hours during the move.

Superintendent's report: All the Promethean boards have been installed and teachers will receive additional training. The current amount owed to District 27 from the state of Illinois is $438,010.01. A joint committee will meet with the teachers' union on Nov. 29.

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Zoning officer's report: Will D'Andrea, Logan County zoning officer and GIS coordinator, presented the district office with a hard copy of the District 27 map and gave a short presentation on the digital version he has shared with the district. D'Andrea created the map by using the tax codes to determine boundaries for each school's area within the district, and those areas are ready to be added to each school's website for viewing. By February 2012, D'Andrea will have the maps ready for public access.

Using the Promethean board for displaying the district map, he explained the process of using tax codes to find boundaries and properties attached to districts. He noted an isolated site the same color as Jefferson School's area.

"That piece hanging out there by itself is Memorial Park," D'Andrea pointed out. "We found that it is actually within Jefferson's taxing district, so it is color-coded to match."

Principals' reports:

Kent Froebe, Lincoln Junior High School (In Mr. Froebe's absence, special education director Annie Evers gave his report): The school year's first "Trojan Pride" party, an incentive program to encourage good behavior and good grades, was on Oct. 28. The program began in 2007 with 63 percent of the student body participating. The most recent event included 75 percent of the students. Froebe believes it is making a difference and reflects on the school's culture for the students to take pride in themselves and the way they interact.

Also, 64 percent of the junior high students are on the honor roll, and 50 percent are board scholars. Rohrer asked that those names be entered into the official board minutes.

Tammy Martin, Northwest and Jefferson: After early dismissal, teachers shared strategies for reading activities and encouraging students to improve their reading skills. Martin stressed that she likes to have teachers mix so they hear new ideas. A group that attended a recent conference presented lessons from that experience, in order to take advantage of what was learned and make use of the information.

Christa Healey, Adams and Central: During the afternoon session, the teachers discussed the school improvement goals. Teachers are excited about students' progress in literacy. "Table Talk" is strategic conversation, with teachers grouped from mixed grade levels and schools in order to share and create strategies that work for everyone.

Ginger Yeazle, Washington-Monroe: Yeazle presented her school's improvement plan for the board in a PowerPoint on the Promethean board. The school's strength is that it met AYP in reading and math in both control groups -- white students and economically disadvantaged. She compared attendance rate, truancy, mobility and percentage of low-income students between 2007 and 2011. Weaknesses include a test result gap between economically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students. The school's teachers are discussing ways to address the gap. Also, math and reading scores dipped in 2011, and discussion is reviewing possible causes for the change. Yeazle stressed that the staff is focused on trends and not incidental dips that can occur due to a number of factors.

The board approved: Illinois Public Risk Fund for workers' compensation insurance; a resolution to abate the school bond tax; adoption of final board policies; tentative tax levy as presented by Ahillen; student suspensions as presented in the board packet; resignation of Rebecca Thoms as special education aide at LJHS effective Nov. 10; transfer of Mario Bonaparte from evening custodian at Northwest and Washington-Monroe to evening custodian at Central; hiring John Skelton as evening custodian at Washington-Monroe and Northwest; a maternity leave request.


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