District updates policy allowing students to use preferred name on ID badges

(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Martha Stoffel)

By Martha Stoffel

The O’Fallon District 90 school board approved an update to their Equal Educational Opportunities policy at the November board meeting. 

Policy 7:10 was one of several policy updates presented during the August board meeting. During that meeting, Policy Committee chair Rebecca Huller requested this policy be placed on the agenda for discussion because of recommended changes submitted to the district from the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB). The board policy manual shows the existing policy was adopted February 20, 2018. 

Language was added to the existing policy indicating “non-legal documents and ID badges will list preferred names as requested by student (with parental consent) and only changed once per year.” The existing policy would not allow any name to be listed other than the student’s birth name, to include shortened versions of their birth name. Clarifying wording was also added with regards to sports participation corresponding with their biological gender. It now includes the “unless otherwise approved by the Athletic Association (SIJHSAA or IESA).” 

Discussion during the meeting focused primarily on whether to board should use the recommended language from the IASB listing all protected classes, or keep the language in the existing policy that said “equal educational and extracurricular opportunities shall be available for all students as provided under the law.” Huller recommended the board adopt the IASB version that said “all students without regard to color, race, nationality, religion, sex, sexual orientation, ancestry, age, physical or mental disability, gender identity, status of being homeless, immigration status, order of protection status, actual or potential marital or parental status, including pregnancy.” 

Board member Steve Springer requested a line from the existing policy stating “extracurricular opportunities shall be available for all students as provided under the law except as provided in student handbooks for restrictions on participation due to discipline or nonpayment of fees” be added to the IASB version being submitted by the policy committee. 

President John Wagnon submitted an alternate draft that used the language from the current policy, but added the new details about ID badges and clarifying wording regarding sports activities. Wagnon and Springer both indicated they felt the original language saying “all students as provided under the law” was more direct and allowed for future additions to protected classes without the need to change the policy. They ultimately voted “no” against the updated policy, which was approved 5-2. 

Central 104 discusses options for issuing working cash bonds

O’FALLON – The Central School District 104 Board of Education discussed options for issuing working cash bonds during their regular meeting held on Tuesday, Nov. 13. 

Steve Adams, a financial advisor from PMA Financial Network, talked to District 104 about options for the issuance of working cash bonds. 

“I have been running some scenarios based on conservative numbers as in EAV (estimated assessed value) growth and what that does to your overall bond and interest levy,” Adams said.

Adams said that a scenario “that really hit home” was one in which the district would get about $1.375 million — with payback over three years. 

“It still lowers your overall levy based on a two and a half EAV increase annually,” he said. “Of course, we know if it goes up more than that, it will lower that bond and interest levy.”

Adams said that he is aware of properties that could be coming around the school district in the next year or two could “significantly impact” the district’s EAV.

“After all these decreases in the past years, to see that (EAV) ticking up is a really good sign,” Adams said. “These bonds would get you to where you need to go.”

Adams said that cash bonds carry a 30 day wait period, “so if the board decided to move forward with the bonds, you may want to pass that resolution to start that clock.”

“We need to have these to the county clerk by the end of February at the latest to be on next year’s levy.”

Adams said that he will continue to work closely with the district as they move forward with the discussion of working cash bonds. 

In other business…

• Superintendent Dawn Elser said that the school district recently received school report cards for both Central Elementary and James Arthur Middle School (JAMS). Elser said that under Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), they do it “a bit different” in that it’s recording not only just scores, it’s recording growth.

“I think the good thing that we can take out of this report card is that both schools were showing growth,” Elser said. 

• In other action, Elser confirmed that Central Elementary received the “commendable” rating while JAMS received the “under performing” rating. To be an exemplary school would mean that a district cannot have any underperforming subgroups and also must be in the top ten percent of performing school’s in the state.

“It’s really a targeted group of kids that is under performing. It’s not really a picture of the whole school and what is happening,” Elser said. 

There are expanded “subgroups” within ESSA – one subgroup must consist of at least 40 students. Elser said that the under performing designated subgroup was the Hispanic subgroup within the district.  

Elser said that good news to come out of the designations is an additional $15,000 in state funding that the district can put into programs at JAMS. 

• Elser said that a “tentative” discussion for a four to six classroom addition at JAMS has begun. 

 “We’re starting to see some new growth in our district with the apartment complex that is going to open up at the end of November and the subdivision across from the fire station,” Elser said. “I just want to continue to have conversations if it ever becomes a need for possible addition of Joseph Arthur.”

Elser said that while it isn’t a firm cost, it would be an approximate $3 to $4 million project.

“Theres nothing imminent but we don’t want it to get too far away from us and then all of a sudden get tremendous growth,” she said. 

Principal of JAMS Tron Young said that all academic classroom space is being used at the school. 

There are four sections of fifth grade and three sections of sixth grade with the average classroom size approximately 23 students per class. However, Young said that numbers balance out in seventh and eighth grade classrooms with an average of 18 or 19 students. 

“Right now we have just enough space with how we are functioning,” Young said. 

• In other action, Central School District 104 is currently in search of a IT director employee. 

Central Elementary School teacher Michelle Schindler was recognized by the Board of Education as the employee of the month. She is pictured with Central Principal Jayson Baker. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

• Central Elementary School teacher Michelle Schindler was recognized by the Board of Education as the employee of the month. 

“Michelle’s classroom keeps growing and growing, she has had different aides in there,” Elser said. “She has persevered through all of that.”

Shiloh District 85 receives commendable ESSA designation, approves estimated levy

SHILOH – In the Shiloh District 85 meeting on Monday, board member Alex Herrell said in his curriculum and technology committee report that both Shiloh Elementary and Shiloh Middle School received the “commendable” designation in a report card under the newly implemented Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 

Superintendent Dale Sauer said that he is preparing to apply for an Illinois Public Safety grant within the week. The grant would equal an amount of $2,700. He said that District 85 was recently awarded a Library grant of the amount of $750.

Board members at the Nov. 19 meeting approved the resolution of the estimated levy. Sauer said that the “best news” is that the estimated assessed value (EAV) of Shiloh school property value is “trending up.” 

Sauer said of the EAV — “if that increases in general, the tax rate goes down.” 

Sauer said that the next plan for the board to put emphasis onto is the replacement of the oldest portion of the elementary school roof that dates back to 1985. 

“The 1985 roof happens to be leaking right now,” Sauer said. “After that we have a 1998 roof and beyond that our oldest roof becomes (SMS).”

The project will cost approximately $45,000 and will be outlined in the levy. The board will save the money over three years before beginning the project. 

Sauer said that parent- teacher conferences were recently conducted and that the feedback from parents and staff were “very positive.”

“I can’t underestimate the power of parents and teachers coming together for the good of the child,” he said. “I want to thank all of those parents for coming.”

• In other action,  enrollment at SMS is currently at 316 students, according to principal Darin Loepker. “That is up three from the last month,” Loepker said. 

• Loepker said that the middle school band will be participating in the O’Fallon Christmas Parade on Saturday, Nov. 24. 

Moye Elementary names November Character Education Students

(Submitted Photo)

The Character Education word of the month at Delores Moye Elementary School for the month of November is cooperation, being able to work with others to accomplish any task.  

The following are students who are being recognized for being cooperative: Aleiyah Watchha, Mariah Steer, Teagan Palmer, Parker Kovell, Caleb Fruend, Isabella Horan, Wyatt Fix, Adrian Gonzales, Sydni Faver, Caleb Hague, Kami Mayne, Dominic Flores, Savannah Turner, Issy Warren, Caden Kaiser, Olivia Ferdinandsen, David Dausman, Gianna Aiello, Kellan Gass, Olivia Zidzak, Ava Brown, Carson Nix, Sadie Robins, Audra Johnson, Jaydon Anderson, Caeden Gibson, Isaiah Harrington, Bentley Schneidewind, Liam Wheeler, Shane McDaniel, Addison Ragon, Destiny Wren.

Fulton Jr. High announces recent Students of the Month

August Students of the Month (Submitted Photo)

Fulton Junior High School recently announced their Students of the Month for August, September, and October.

The August Students of the Month are Christopher Bennett, TyJai Tutson, and Landon Mihalik.

September Students of the Month (Submitted Photo)

The September Students of the Month are Caroline Foster, Dominic Oldani, and Isabella Davis.

October Students of the Month (Submitted Photo)

The October Students of the Month are Jacob Barrett, Lauren Meyer, and Finley Roskos. 

JAMS names October Students of the Month

(Submitted Photo)

Joseph Arthur Middle School recently named its October Students of the Month. The word of the month for October was Cooperation. The following students showed good cooperation skills (from left): sixth grader Kaylynn Burns, fifth grader Megan Schoenher, seventh grader Erin Hanny, and eighth grader Kyle Wilyerd. 

District 203 Board of Education approves contract extentions for Benway and Bickel

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon Township High School Board of Education approved five year contract extensions for both principal Rich Bickel and superintendent Darcy Benway, effective July 1, 2019, during their October board meeting.

Under the terms of the contracts, salaries for both administrators – $185,658 for Benway and $154,462 for Bickel – would be frozen for the first few years, and then increase in the final years of their contracts.

Darcy Benway

In the fourth year of Benway’s contract, her salary will increase to $191,227 and to $196,963 in her final year of contract. In the fifth year of her contract, Benway will be 58.

In the third year of Bickel’s contract, his salary will increase to $159,095, in the fourth year to $163,867 and in his final year to $168,783. In the final year of Bickel’s contract he will be 56.

Rich Bickel

During the October 18 meeting, Bickel confirmed that he plans on submitting a letter of intention to retire before his contract would expire but did not specify when that would take place.

Before the majority of the District 203 board approved Benway’s five year contract, Board Member Laura Jacobi-VanHook said that she had an issue with the length and verbiage of a consolidation clause in the contract.

The consolidation clause in Benway’s contract stipulates that if school consolidation takes place and Benway is not picked as superintendent of a consolidated district, the school board would pay her two years compensation in a lump sum after her last paycheck: “In the event of consolidation of the School District, the Parties hereby agree that should the Superintendent not be selected and hired by the newly consolidated school district as the Superintendent of Schools, the Board shall pay to the Superintendent two years of 100 percent of the aggregate compensation and fringe benefits as set forth in the Agreement as severance pay payable after her last regular paycheck. Said amount shall be calculated using the last contract year prior to the consolidation,” the contract states.

Jacobi-VanHook said of the consolidation clause, “that bothers me.”

December high school grads can register for SWIC spring 2019 classes Nov. 6

Are you a current senior high school student graduating in December 2018? Get a head start on college courses by registering for spring 2019 classes at Southwestern Illinois College during December High School Grad Night on Tuesday, Nov. 6 from 4-8 p.m. at the SWIC Belleville Campus, 2500 Carlyle Ave.

Students will be able to:

– Take the English and Math Placement tests.

– Meet with an academic advisor to discuss degree requirements or transfer courses.

– Register for classes.

– Complete an application and get a student ID number.

– Set up SWIC student email and eSTORM accounts.

– Ask general financial aid and payment arrangement questions.

A photo ID is required. Event check-in begins at 3:45 p.m. in the Information Sciences lobby and students taking the placement tests must check-in before 6 p.m.

To register for the event visit: swic.secure.force.com/events/#/list. For more information contact admissions at 618-235-2700, ext. 5675.

District 90 and the Weekly present the October 2018 Student Service Award recipients

The following students have been named by their principals in recognition for their efforts to make their school and community a better place.

Hinchcliffe Elementary
Elizabeth Chaney & Quentin Coleman

Elizabeth Chaney and Quentin Coleman have been leaders in their school and consistently set a good example for younger students. They are 5th grade helpers and take the responsibility seriously. Each morning both of them help the first graders deal with peer relations, morning routines, supply issues, and any other situation that may arise. They are extremely respectful and supportive. One student was upset because of a haircut he received and was having a rather rough morning. Elizabeth and Quentin showed empathy and talked to him kindly. They helped calm this young student down which turned his day around.  They are constantly helping our younger students learn how to make right choices. When it is time to quiet the cafeteria down, both students walk the line reminding our first graders of our school code for voice levels. Elizabeth and Quentin are hard working and dedicated students.

Evans Elementary
Josiah Tyus

Josiah is a student who enters the school with a smile on his face every day. He takes his “Serve Our School (SOS)” job seriously. As an office helper, he has a number of tasks on a daily basis. He does each one with a positive attitude and enthusiasm. In the morning when he is finished with his usual tasks, he stands in the office area and greets the students and parents as they enter the building, giving them a smile and a high five to start their day off right. Josiah’s actions are a great example of the respect, responsibility and right choices we expect and appreciate from our students.  

Estelle Kampmeyer
Grace Harris

Grace Harris is a 3rd grade student at EK School. Over the past several weeks, Grace helped prepare for the annual EK PTO Walk and Bike to School event. Grace arrived to school extra early sometimes and stayed late on other days to copy and sort fliers that were shared with the entire faculty and student body. Because of Grace’s extra work, the Bike and Walk to School event was a huge success and enjoyed by several EK students and their families. Thank you Grace for taking the extra time to help with this meaningful event!

Delores Moye Elementary
Xavier Williams

Xavier is not only a strong student academically, he is also an amazing friend to his peers. He puts others’ feelings and needs above his own. When his class celebrates birthdays, he asks to be the last student served to ensure that others get their treat of preference. Even though he recently injured his ankle, Xavier still offers to help his teacher and his peers in need. Xavier is caring, compassionate, patient, and a friend sought out by many of his classmates. 

Marie Schaefer Elementary
Sa’Niyla Box

SaNiyla Box is an exceptional fourth grade student at Marie Schaefer. SaNilya is always very respectful and polite to her teacher, her classmates and other staff members in the building. She is an outstanding role model for her classmates as she consistently follows directions, and is helpful and responsible. SaNiyla was the Student of the Month in Mrs. Murray’s 4th grade classroom for her respectful attitude. She truly stands out as an amazing student!

Carriel Junior High
Payton Hamm

Payton is a terrific student at Carriel Junior High School who demonstrates the utmost respect for peers and adults.  She is a very hard worker in all of her classes, never complains and is always willing to help others including her peers, teachers and even her former elementary school.  Recently, Mr. Dismukes, Principal at EK, sent a message praising Payton for her volunteer work at EK.  He noted his appreciation for her efforts in the EK classrooms helping teachers get ready for the school year as well as spending hours watering the new landscape areas at EK. 

Fulton Junior High
Jenna Denton

On August 25, Jenna Denton swam 1.2 miles at the 3rd Annual Swim Across America St. Louis event. Jenna swam alongside her dad, who had chemotherapy 3 days prior to the event. In total, more than 450 swimmers raised $210,000 to support cancer research at Siteman Cancer Center. This is Jenna’s 3rd year participating in the event and she not only volunteered time to help organize and inventory apparel for the event, she also raised more than $1,000. Fulton is so proud that Jenna is taking action to make a difference in her family’s life and all those affected by cancer! The picture is of her and 2016 Olympian Ryan Held, Gold Medalist.

EK students donate books, bookmarks to Food Pantry

(Submitted Photo)

Mrs. Brooks’s third grade class at Estelle Kampmeyer Elementary School recently donated gently used books to the O’Fallon Food Pantry as a community service project. The class also made bookmarks to go in each book and extras for anyone who needed a bookmark. The O’Fallon Food Pantry was very appreciative of these books as their shelves were completely empty.

April voters will shape District 90’s future growth

The property District 90 is interested in is due west of the Milburn Campus. (Submitted Photo)

By Martha Stoffel

Voters in O’Fallon District 90 will decide April 2nd on the district’s purchase of land for a future elementary school site.

During their October meeting, the District 90 school board approved a non-binding resolution to appear on the ballot during the consolidated election in April for the issuing of $2,260,000 in school bonds for the acquisition of a site for school building purposes. 

The district has a contingency offer to acquire 81 acres of land located at 734 Milburn School Road. The parcel is currently bordered by Skyline Church and the residential development Augusta Green on the west and a 56-acre farmland parcel and the OTHS Milburn campus on the east.

During the 2016-2017 school year, the board reviewed school boundary lines and received data from the City of O’Fallon regarding current and future residential development. A majority of the residential growth has been in the northwest corner of the city, an area currently without an elementary school. Feedback from the community during the boundary lines discussions requested the board and administration develop a long-term plan to accommodate future growth.

District 90’s enrollment figures were presented at the meeting, with growth from 3,490 students in 2014 to 3,717 in 2018. Based on residential development projects, enrollment is expected to continue to grow. The current facilities are not at capacity, but Superintendent Carrie Hruby mentioned the timeline for planning and constructing a new school takes many years. “We’re probably talking about a 10-year project into the future,” said Hruby. Building an elementary school can take 5-6 years, with the needed voter approval, bond sales, architectural and engineering processes and construction. “Without land, you have to back up even further.” 

As the district continues to grow, they can only adjust boundaries so much before getting to a point where they can no longer offer tuition preschool (a revenue generator for the district), transportation costs become too high and the number of transfer students increases too much. 

The board has a desire to be ahead of the growth and the district’s facility needs, and the first step of that process is acquiring land. The board believes this parcel will meet the district’s future needs and the timing of the purchase will allow the best price in a growing part of the city. 

The board is not required to seek voter approval for the issuance of bonds for the purchase of land. The resolution for the April election will be non-binding, but the board has indicated they will issue bonds based on the election results. Voter approval is legally required for new school construction, so the board feels the results for the purchase of land will be a good indicator whether the voters will approve of the concept that someday an elementary school would be there.

The parcel is currently used as farm land, and the district will plan to allow farming to continue after purchase as a means of revenue while waiting for the time to construct a new school. The largest elementary parcel of land currently owned by the district is Moye Elementary, at 32.25 acres. The parcel proposed for purchase is 81 acres, so not all of the acquired land will be needed to construct an elementary school. The portion of the land not needed could be sold to provide an offset revenue or continue to be farmed. 

The district’s financial auditor, Steve Tripi from Schorb & Schmersahl LLC, presented the FY2018 annual audit to the board at the same meeting. The firm’s analysis showed all revenue funds for the district were up from the previous year, primarily due to the levy. Expenses were held relatively consistent over the last year which, with increased revenues, allowed the district to end the year with a surplus. 

Board president John Wagnon pointed out the levy has gone up because the equalized assessed valuation (EAV) for the district has increased. The audit showed a $19 million increase for 2017 over 2016 in EAV. Tripi indicated that, in comparison to other district’s they audit, O’Fallon is “within the top 10 percent of maintaining control of your budget, and continuing to raise sufficient revenues in spite of some cuts here and there.” 

Superintendent Hruby followed the auditor’s review by explaining a favorable audit can increase the district’s financial profile score with the state board, and also impacts the district’s credit rating. A favorable credit rating will allow the district to have lower bond rates. The better the district’s bond rating, the lower the interest rate they will receive when issuing bonds, like the board will do with approval to purchase the land. 

Moye names October Character Students

(Submitted Photo)

Delores Moye Elementary School recently named their Character Education students for the month of October. The Character Education word of the month at Moye for October is responsibility, being accountable for your words and actions without blaming others. 

The following are students who are being recognized for showing responsibility: Charlotte Mulch, Liam Smorol, Caroline Wise, Lila Schwierjohn, Ella McLean, Drew Seipp, Brooklyn Emmons, Monika Miyasaki, Mack Schwierjohn, Eddy Davis, Nora Stoffel, Kenley Joggerst, Jackie Edwards, Ryder Burgmeier, Jace Mitchell, Jakob Hendricks, Penelope Leymeister , James McCollum, Waverly Milligan, Lilly Smith, Jillian Craig, Alex Bradley, Owen Stoffel, Wyatt Orloski, Kyndall Sandler, Derek Holle, Bryson Cruz, Caleb Holloway, Shane Bettlach, Christian Long, Daniel Clark 

Shiloh superintendent presents new Illinois education act

(O’Fallon Weekly Photo)

SHILOH – At Monday’s Shiloh District 85 meeting, Superintendent Dale Sauer presented the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which has replaced the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in the state of Illinois. 

Sauer said that ESSA is a “new system of accountability” and was formed in 2015 but it has taken over two years to manifest in Illinois schools’. 

According to Sauer, the idea behind ESSA is to focus on the whole education of a child and less about just one test score. 

Whereas NCLB was performance driven and consisted of a single test score, ESSA consists of different categories – of which 75 percent pertains to academic indicators. 50 percent of the overall score would pertain to student growth – which compares an individual student’s PARCC testing in respective years and would also compare to other students scores in Illinois schools’. 

Twenty-five percent of the overall score is “different student success and school quality indicators” and has nothing to do with testing. Within the 25 percent, chronic absenteeism is a factor, as are school climate surveys. 

“We have always focused on performance and test scores,” Sauer said. “Arguably, this is a better system, but we will have to get acquainted with it and understand it better.”

Goals of the new system are that by 2032, the state of Illinois would like to see 90 percent or more of third graders to be at reading level or above, 90 percent of fifth grade students to meet or exceed expectations in math, 90 percent of 9th grade students on track to graduate and 90 percent of high schoolers to be prepared for college or a career. 

Sauer said that there are expanded “subgroups” within ESSA – of which Shiloh has four subgroups: Caucasian, African American, Economic Disadvantaged and IEP students. A subgroup must consist of at least 40 students. 

Sauer said that beginning next year, school districts will be assigned an A through F designation on Illinois school report cards. There are also district designation rankings such as “exemplary,” “commendable,” “under performing” and “lowest performing” which Shiloh District 85 will receive on Oct. 30. 

“Theoretically, everybody could be an exemplary or commendable school,” Sauer said. “By math, that cant be.”

To be an exemplary school would mean that a district cannot have any underperforming subgroups and also must be in the top ten percent of performing school’s in the state. 

Sauer expressed uncertainty of Shiloh existing in the top five to 10 percent of school’s because of other competitive Illinois “magnet” schools. 

“I would think the top five percent is already eaten up. Its really can we squeeze into that next five percent,” he said. “We’ll do some analysis and see where we are at.”

In other action, SES principal Tiana Montgomery said elementary students are exhibiting “great behavior” this school year. 

“I’m truly impressed and proud of my students here at Shiloh Elementary – we have had several student expressing great character each and every day by being responsible, respectful and kind,” Montgomery said. 

SMS principal Darin Loepker said that the character word of the month is “responsibility” for October and will be “fairness” for November. 

Loepker said that parent- teacher conferences are Wednesday, Oct. 24 and Thursday, Oct. 25. 

“These are wonderful avenues for our staff to get together with parents. It’s not only important to be able to share stories of kids that are struggling and may not be able to make the grades like other kids – it’s also nice to meet with parents to share successes as well.”

“Its one of my favorite times because we get the parent in and get to see smiles and share things with parents that they wouldn’t get to hear on a day to day basis,” Loepker said. 

Loepker said that Shiloh winter sports season – which consist of girls and boys basketball and cheerleading, began Monday evening, Oct. 15. 

On Oct. 22 through Oct. 25 there will be a public book fair at the middle school which will coincide with parent- teacher conference hours. 

Fire Department educates Shiloh elementary students on fire safety

(Submitted Photo)

SHILOH – The O’Fallon Fire Department visited Shiloh Elementary School on Wednesday morning, October 10, to educate students with a fire safety assembly. 

Shiloh Elementary School Principal Tiana Montgomery said that the school’s character trait of the month is “safety” and it happened to coincide with this week being National Fire Safety Prevention Week. 

“During my morning meetings, we have been discussing what it means to be safe,” Montgomery said. 

Montgomery said that the fire safety assembly went very well. “My students were attentive during the assembly and respectful of the presenters,” she said. “They especially liked when I dressed in the Firefighter uniform and the visit from Sparky the Dog.”

(Submitted Photo)

(Submitted Photo)

(Submitted Photo)