District 90 continues discussion regarding school boundaries

The all-district choir sings the National Anthem prior to the start of the District 90 Board of Education meeting. The District 90 band and all-district choir were honored by the board during the meeting. (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Jeff Egbert)

The all-district choir sings the National Anthem prior to the start of the District 90 Board of Education meeting. The District 90 band and all-district choir were honored by the board during the meeting. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Jeff Egbert)

O’FALLON – No decision was made on how to update the boundaries of District 90, but more options were presented to the board and public. Superintendent Carrie Hruby spoke about how the committee took questions from the board and public when they met to look at those further options, which include making a fifth grade center, redrawing current boundaries in a number of ways, and creating a preschool center.

“Option C is something that we had begun looking at which would be to have a preschool center instead of a fifth grade center,” Hruby said. Then she spoke about B3 which is an option to keep the same grade levels at the current buildings, and would make the boundaries more contiguous, but would not balance free and reduced students. The board is examining whether or not that should be a priority in examining the boundary lines. This option also doesn’t add additional grade sections, so there’s a high probability of transfers. “With two sections of a grade level, those transfers would very likely still occur without yearly floating boundaries, which we do not want to do,” said Hruby.

Option C has concerns with whether it makes sense to put all of the preschool students in one building and dealing with noise levels and nap times, but according to Hruby seems to fit. Currently, 367 students are enrolled in preschool across various schools, and more are on the wait list and currently enrolling. If all preschool students are moved to one building, that frees up room for 350 additional students in the other grade levels, transfers would be considerably reduced, transitions for students would be reduced, starting and ending times for students would not be affected, and volunteer pools would be unaffected. One of the smaller open concept schools would likely be used for the preschool center, “and we could embrace the open space, make it almost like a children’s museum type of concept,” Hruby said.

Board member Matt Lloyd asked which options would be the longest term fix, and Hruby said that either the fifth grade center or preschool center would provide a five year fix and be the best options as far as longevity. Lloyd said he wanted to look further down the road. “I feel like what we’re looking at is a bridge, but what is it a bridge to,” Lloyd asked to audience applause.

The committee will meet this week to go over the options one more time. They will present information one final time over the option of having a fifth grade center, redrawing district boundaries to make them more contiguous, and having a preschool center. The board will hold a special meeting where they will listen to further information on December 5 at 6 p.m. at the District 90 office at 118 E. Washington Street.

In Other News:

• District 90 board member Steve Springer expressed concerns over the disabled veterans’ property tax exemptions and the $749,000 that the district lost last year along with the possibility of lost funds this year. Per the finance committee minutes, Business Manager Patty Cavins “then shared the estimates for levy increases, and recommends setting the levy at 4.99 percent, in order to capture all potential available funds. The group discussed the Tort and IMRF and how much to include the levy, based on the anticipated costs.” A 4.99 percent increase would net the district nearly an additional $12.2 million dollars.

• The board members passed a motion to add the County Schools Facility Sales Tax to the April 2017 ballot.

CSX, District 90 host seminar for area teachers to learn about executive function skills

Teachers from around the area attended the seminar hosted by CSX and District 90. (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

Teachers from around the area attended the seminar hosted by CSX and District 90. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

O’FALLON – Recently, CSX granted funds for District 90 to host a seminar for teachers about executive function skills, which took place on Friday. The seminar, which was also sponsored by South Western Illinois Speech, Language and Hearing Association, featured guest lecturer Sarah Ward, MS CCC-SLP. Ward provides consultation and expert witness testimony regarding the symptoms and functional presentation of deficits associated with brain based learning disabilities and the appropriateness of academic placement and treatment programs.

Ward became a specialist in the assessment and rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury with an emphasis on the treatment of executive functions. She then began to train graduate students in speech and language pathology, medical and special education professionals on the symptoms and treatment methods to improve the language, cognitive, executive function and social skills of brain based disorders. Ward has visited school districts across the country to help educate them about executive function skills and deficits.

Guest Lecturer Sarah Ward

Guest Lecturer Sarah Ward

Executive functioning skills include organization, time management, situational intelligence and future thinking.

“It can occur in conjunction with ADHD, traumatic brain injuries, and Aspergers, but it doesn’t have to. We’re seeing an increase of students with executive functioning disorder, and thought it would be good to get some better tools for helping them. Sarah’s research and treatment is cutting edge,” said Jami Bossart, a Speech Language Pathologist with District 90 who organized the seminar.

The seminar brought teachers, counselors and speech therapists together from all over the Metro East. They were taught various mechanisms to help boost executive functioning skills, including using apps like Skitch, Strip Design and SnapChat to have students picture map for success, and MobileNotes for older students that are able to utilize checklists. Ward also mentioned using Future Glasses, and having a model desk set up for students at the end of the day. The glasses would help students visualize what they need to do, and the model desk would show them what they need to take home or for a certain activity, rather than pointing out students who may or may not have what they need.

Bossart said that on November 8, while children are off school for a teacher in service day, the plan is for those that attended the seminar to share the knowledge they gained with the rest of the faculty.

Lex White, manager of CSX, was introduced to the group and called “the founder of the feast” by Bossart.

Lex White, manager of CSX & President of the O'Fallon Rotary Club

Lex White, manager of CSX & President of the O’Fallon Rotary Club

“I know a lot of you and I see some familiar faces. My wife and I are parents of a child with executive functioning issues, and I can’t tell you how blessed we’ve been to be a part of this community and be as well taken care of as we have been over the years. There are other people outside of the area that we’ve done therapy with and when I watch the difference, I look at my soon and think of what he was like then and what he’s like now. They told me that there’s about 200 people here, and what I’m really thinking of 20,000 or more people’s lives that you all change with what you do. The amount of people we’ve been able to touch for the amount of money we’ve been able to give makes the decision for CSX to be involved very easy. God Bless every one of you,” White said.

White also told the group to reach out to him and share success stories.

For more information on executive functioning skills and tools, visit Ward’s website at efpractice.com.

A Note from the Superintendent’s Desk – An update about proposed reconfigured school boundaries

Carrie Hruby - Superintendent District 90

Carrie Hruby – Superintendent District 90

This month’s District 90 Board of Education meeting brought many parents and community members who were interested in hearing more about the topic of redrawing school attendance boundaries.

The need to do so is a result of a growing community.  O’Fallon’s steady growth rate is a direct reflection of the fact it is a wonderful community with many amenities and strong schools. District 90 continues to grow, not a few houses at a time, but entire subdivisions at a time.  It is a very desirable school district due to its outstanding staff; strong curriculum; award-winning curricular and extracurricular programs and athletics; and positive learning environments.  All seven of our schools are high achieving and perform well above the state average every year, but most importantly our staff members are highly trained and passionate about children and learning.

Due to the fact that we are a desirable district, we have had several adjustments to our school boundaries in the past.  In 2008 a committee adjusted the boundaries but stated the topic would need to be revisited five years later.  That didn’t happen in 2013, but we are in the process again now in 2016.

Last November a committee of staff, parent and community volunteers was formed to research options and collect information on this topic.  The committee’s initial goal was to have a plan in place for the 2016-17 school year.  The committee met for several months and decided it would be best to delay a year in order to provide ample time for study and feedback.  The committee continued to meet and outlined a timeline that included presentation of an option in October with no recommended Board action for that meeting.  It recommended the Board review proposals over the next several months until the Board felt all options and questions were considered.  That timeline allows the committee to meet in between Board meetings, to further analyze or amend options that it had considered or presented.  For that reason it is not likely a decision will be made in the near future.  This is all currently a proposal and no change to the current school boundaries has been approved.

We currently have the classrooms available to meet the enrollment needs of the District, they just aren’t in the right locations for our current boundaries.  There are available classrooms in some schools while other buildings are at or near capacity. While there may be a point in the future that we need to consider additions/renovations or new construction, it isn’t currently necessary and therefore wasn’t considered as an option by the committee.  Rather, our immediate need is to balance the enrollment to match the building capacities.

The October meeting was the first time the Board was presented with proposal.  It included creating a fifth grade center at Marie Schaefer and dividing the current Schaefer boundaries to feed into the other elementary schools.  The Boundaries Committee is open to constructive feedback and will thoroughly consider every reasonable option.

We will continue to communicate with the community in the following ways:

  • ·District Board Meetings: As noted, we plan to present additional information and provide answers to questions at the next scheduled Board meetings on November 15 and December 20.  These meetings will allow for presentation, questions from the Board, and public comment.  Board meeting agendas and packets are uploaded to the D90 website the Friday before the Tuesday meeting. See www.of90.net and click on School Board, then click on Boardbook-Agendas and Minutes.  (The PowerPoint presentation from Tuesday can be found there as well).
  • ·Frequently Asked Questions: We are committed to supplementing these FAQs on an ongoing basis as we continue to hear from the community. The FAQs will be available on the District website and will be sent to staff and parents.
  • ·District Office: Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have at chruby@of90.net or (618)632-3666.

Have a question for the Superintendent? Send your comments and questions to CHruby@OF90.net

District 90 Board of Education to consider plan to realign school boundaries

A map of the proposed boundary changes.

A map of the proposed boundary changes.

O’FALLON – Parents received notice Friday afternoon that a District 90 committee had finalized a proposed plan for realigning the school boundaries.

The plan which was presented to the Board of Education at Tuesday’s meeting would place all fifth grade students at Marie Schaefer, effectively making Hinchcliffe, Evans, Estelle Kampmeyer, and Moye kindergarten through fourth grade schools.

Superintendent Carrie Hruby stressed to the O’Fallon Weekly on Friday afternoon that this was a proposal from the Boundary Committee and that the Board of Education would be given ample time to review it before making any decisions.

The need to realign school boundary lines isn’t a new problem. As Hruby states in the letter sent to parents, “For several years District 90 has been aware of the need to make some decisions regarding changes to our current school boundary lines. This is due to residential growth as well as the fact that some students must be transferred to another school each year to balance enrollment. In January 2016 the Boundary Committee began the detailed process of reviewing and considering possible changes to each school’s boundaries.”

The committee is made up of 28 parents, principals, staff, administrators, and a school board member. The goal of the committee was to review data, analyze all possible options, and make recommendations to the Board for their consideration.

According to the Boundary Committee, the plan put forth not only helps to equalize the number of students at each school, but also addresses current inequities in the socioeconomic makeup of each school.

From there the committee began working with the City of O’Fallon, which assisted with data collection by providing information about future housing developments, growth expected in current subdivisions, and by helping create maps that illustrated the houses of every District 90 student. Additionally the group collected data from each school’s principal about building capacities, program needs, special education, and the age appropriateness of school facilities.

After reviewing the data, the committee has recommended that beginning with the 2017-18 school year, fifth grade will be housed at Marie Schaefer and preschool students, while the other four schools will contain the lower grades. Boundaries for Fulton and Carriel will remain unchanged.

If the Board does decide to accept the plan, work would begin immediately sending out information to families about what school their child will attend, changes in bus routes, and a readjustment of staff and resources.

The committee did acknowledge that some may find this proposal difficult.

“The committee understands the initial difficulty associated with any change to the makeup of each of the elementary schools, but feels this option meets our goal of making a recommendation to the Board that is best for all District 90 families and the future of our community.”

The Board of Education is expected to make a decision at either their November or December meeting.

Moye Elementary names October Character Students of the Month

oct-responsibility-resizedThe Character Education word of the month at Delores Moye Elementary School for the month of October is responsibility ~ being accountable for your words and actions without blaming others.  The following are students who are being recognized for showing responsibility: Kierstin Vahle, Jack Kinney, Kennedy Brown, Hank Schmitt, Claire Twenhafel, Xavier Williams, Lydia Mulch, Alaina Fields, Sofia Randhawa, Taylor Rains, Evie Johnson, Joey Nguyen, Charlie Bauer,  Alex Bradley, Kylie Guetterman, Colby Lehde, Molly Dorgan, Claire Nieroda, Conlan Albers, Bryce Black, Carmen Mason, Camden Kimmel, Jack Twenhafel, Maddie Fields, Tommy James, Calveion Peltier, Baylor Kingston, Tyler Northcutt, Trent Ganger, Taj Johnson, Jayla Howe   

(Submitted Photo)

EK holds 11th annual Walk and Bike to School Day

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Estelle Kampmeyer Elementary School held its 11th annual Walk and Bike to School Day event on Wednesday, October 5. O’Fallon Police Officer Bill Barlock was on hand to talk to students about bike safety. Students were able to register for a chance to win prizes. The students, pictured above, won prizes: Katelyn Ferguson, Reyna Clayton-Wolf, Landon Dippel, Michael Summers, Jesse Pinkerton, and Katie Breaux. (Submitted Photos)

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District 90 addressing high lead levels in fixtures at Carriel, Evans, Moye, EK

All contaminated fixtures have been closed off for inspection and cleaning

Carrie Hruby - Superintendent District 90

Carrie Hruby – Superintendent District 90

O’FALLON – District 90 officials received a report detailing high lead test results in various fixtures within four school buildings at a special meeting held on October 3.

The testing, which was performed voluntarily by the district, found that some fixtures in Carriel Junior High School, Laverna Evans Elementary School, Delores Moye Elementary School, and Estelle Kampmeyer Elementary School tested above the cap of 20 parts per billion. According to a report issued to the Board of Education members at the meeting, the fixtures were immediately shut down and put out of service until further testing, cleaning, and retesting could take place.

“The water source the children and staff are drinking from is safe. That to me was the biggest plus,” Superintendent Carrie Hruby said. “To look at it, it looks alarming. But once you realize some of the fixtures that tested high aren’t even used at all, and that we took all of the fixtures out of service immediately, we’re trying to be very proactive.”

Jeffery Faust from Environmental Consultants gave a presentation to the Board of Education, detailing his company’s findings. Faust explained that low levels of lead are allowed for by law. The water that comes from the city to the buildings must test at less than 15 parts per billion. Once inside the school, the water coming out of the fixtures must test at less than 20 parts per billion, allowing for only a five parts per billion increase.

As part of their testing, Environmental Consultants take the approach of an abundance of caution, meaning they flag any fixture that tests at higher than 10 parts per billion as a potential future concern. Those fixtures were also taken out of service so they could be cleaned and retested.

None of the fixtures within the four buildings that tested high are used for water consumption by the public and are primarily hand washing stations. The fixtures were all referred to as low-use fixtures that aren’t generally used by anyone.

At Carriel, one kitchen sink tested out at 28.9 parts per billion, while at Moye, two kitchen sinks tested at or near the level of concern. A sink in the nurse’s office at Evans tested at 10.4, which while under the level of concern, the District wanted to exercise caution and took the fixture out of service for maintenance and cleaning.

The biggest area of concern was found to be at EK, where sinks in the north and south pod rooms tested with elevated levels. The worst was a sink in North Pod Room 5, which tested at 228 parts per billion.

“The worst one was at EK, which scored at 228. That sink is in a storage room and hasn’t really been used for three and a half years. So that may have a large part to do with it,” Hruby said.

Upon receiving the test results, the District and Environmental Consultants took the fixtures out of service and turned the water off to those areas. According to the report, the pipes leading to those classrooms in EK are lead pipes. Additionally, Environmental Consultants believes the construction during the summer may have dislodged some lead in the pipes leading to the classroom sinks. The high levels may also be a result of very infrequent use. The District has elected to take the sinks out of service indefinitely and keep the water shut off going forward.

“Because its just a connivance to have water coming into those classrooms, and because we know there are lead pipes there, we have determined there’s no good point in turning that water back on right now,” Hruby said.

Board of Education members asked Faust how there could be any lead in the fixtures at Carriel and Moye, given how new the two schools are. Faust explained there is a certain level of lead allowed for in fixtures, even though it is known to be hazardous.

“For all intents and purposes, fixtures had to be lead-free by 1986. But lead-free means that pipe or that fixture can’t have more than eight percent lead in it,” Faust said.

Faust did say the testing is done in a way to replicate a worst case scenario. The testing takes place at around 4 a.m. so that the pipes are dormant and the water is as still as possible. All drinking fountains, kitchen sinks, nurses sinks, and faucets are tested.

Going forward, the District has been cleaning and replacing fixtures, and performing retesting. Faust and his company plan on presenting final results at the Board of Education’s meeting on October 18, which will be held at Fulton Junior High School.

Click here to review full Lead Testing Report.

Large crowd of kids and adults take part in EK Color Run

(O'Fallon Weekly Photos by Angela Simmons)

(O’Fallon Weekly Photos by Angela Simmons)

O’FALLON – Estelle Kampmeyer Elementary School hosted their annual Color Run this past weekend. It’s the school’s primary fundraiser, and over 300 families registered for the 5k run. Registrants were given a white shirt and colorful sunglasses, and sprayed with non-toxic color at various stations along the route. This year, there was an optional powdered color available for families at the finish line. Honor students from Carriel Junior High School served as volunteers along the route. After the 5k was completed, children participated in a fun run around the EK school track.

Estelle Kampmeyer school announces Character Builder students of the month

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Estelle Kampmeyer Elementary School has announced their Character Builder winners. The word of the month is Respect and the following students have exemplified that trait. Front row, from left: Annie Johnson, Peyton Swan, Sibu Memani, Connor Malloy, David Smith. Second row, from left: Ryan Bollinger, Emma Woolsey, Jaydon Anderson, Dylan Leveling, Matthew Chaplin. Back row, from left: Lorenzo Lewis, Kaili Thomas, Amani Barker, Ashlyn Rama, Kamrynn Bugger, Gloria Parker

(Submitted Photo)

Junior High students, staff take part in prayer event

More than 40 students at Fulton Junior High School

More than 40 students at Fulton Junior High School

O’FALLON – Students and staff gathered together Wednesday morning outside of Amelia V. Carriel Junior High and Edward Fulton Junior High School to join hands for “See You at the Pole 2016”, a national moment of prayer for youth. Students around the globe gathered at their schools’ flagpoles, praying for their school, friends, families, churches, and communities.

(Photos by Stephanie Watkins and Kelly Walker)

Students and staff at Carriel.

Students and staff at Carriel.

Carriel Girls Cross Country place first in Benton pre-state event

Sophia Parker, Kelser Stutzman, Peyton Mutters, Julia Monson, Mr Williams, Peyton Shieppe, Maddy Vorce.  Not pictured, Aubrey Mister. (Photo by Jennifer Monson)

Sophia Parker, Kelser Stutzman, Peyton Mutters, Julia Monson, Mr Williams, Peyton Shieppe, Maddy Vorce. Not pictured, Aubrey Mister. (Photo by Jennifer Monson)

 

Pictured, from left: Maddy Vorce, Aubrey Mister, Peyton Shieppe, Sophia Parker, Julia Monson. (Photo by Jennifer Monson)

Pictured, from left: Maddy Vorce, Aubrey Mister, Peyton Shieppe, Sophia Parker, Julia Monson. (Photo by Jennifer Monson)

The Carriel Junior High School girls cross country team placed first at the Benton pre state meet Saturday morning.

Reports of clowns in O’Fallon are online rumors

clown-resizedO’FALLON – The O’Fallon Police Department say reports of a clown skulking around Carriel Junior High School and the Milburn Freshman Campus are rumors and untrue.

Captain Jim Cavins stated the rumored school lockdown did not take place and that students were safe all day.

“The clown did not exist. This is a social media issue,” Cavins said.

The department did say they received a report at around 1 a.m. on Wednesday in the Castle Acres mobile home park. A resident reported that he saw a person in a clown mask run into the mobile home park from near the Aldi grocery store. The police did not find anybody during a search and have not received any other reports of sightings.

District 203 Superintendent Darcy Benway issued an email to parents, students, and employees. She wrote that OTHS has not received any threats against its buildings or students.

“OTHS keeps buildings secure at all times and restricts public access to interior areas of the schools while classes are in session.  In addition, student parking lots are monitored before and after school to provide security for our students who drive to campus.  OTHS will continue to be diligent in following all safety protocols,” Benway wrote.

Evans students learn about The Dot

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On Wednesday, September 14, approximately 125 first and fifth grade students at LaVerna Evans Elementary School participated in International Dot Day festivities. The Dot Day celebration was the culminating activity for the students after their homeroom teacher each read the book titled The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.

The Dot is a powerful story about a girl named Vashti who is encouraged by her teacher to take a risk. Vashti does not believe she can draw. She is filled with self-doubt until her teacher gently persuades her to, “just make a mark and see where it takes you.” The inspirational story shows how one reluctant learner gains self-esteem with just one dot. Once Vashti sees her artwork signed and framed, she is inspired to experiment more with dots. The simple support of her teacher gives Vashti the confidence to take risks and to grow. Vashti then passes on her teacher’s words of wisdom to another student who does not believe he can draw a straight line. She hands him a paper and pencil and asks him to draw. She then insists he sign his artwork. The author reminds us of the powerful influence of teachers. Teachers all share the responsibility to challenge a child’s preconceived notions and to encourage children to dream.

The kids at LaVerna Evans played Bingo using smarties (dots) to cover their card, played Dominoes (the pips are dotted), and created their own framed art work using various dot-like materials.  Pictured is a group of students taken outside on the playground in “Dot” formation and holding up spherical objects (dots).  (Submitted photo) 

Carriel students gather school supplies to send to Louisiana flooding victims

Boxes filled with school supplies are being prepared to be sent to children in Louisiana who lost everything in the recent flooding.  (Submitted Photo)

Boxes filled with school supplies are being prepared to be sent to children in Louisiana who lost everything in the recent flooding.
(Submitted Photo)

O’FALLON – In mid-August, record flooding ravaged the state of Louisiana, destroying hundreds of homes and claiming 13 lives. Following the floods, a school year was about to begin. Angela Piening, teacher and student council sponsor at Amelia V. Carriel Junior High, spoke with a friend who had once attended O’Fallon Township High School that is now teaching in Louisiana. Her friend said that the kids needed help, because schools were underwater, the students had lost everything and school supplies were taking a backseat to basic needs like shelter and clothing. Piening wanted to know how she could help, and the reply was “We would love help with supplies.”

Piening banded together with student council sponsor and teacher Lindsey Vander Pol and NJHS sponsors and teachers Jenna Klier and Brittany Meredith to make gathering school supplies the group’s first service project of the year.

“It was heartbreaking,” said Piening. “We had an assembly coming, and so we asked everyone to just bring in anything that they had available, new or used. Some of the local elementary schools got involved- Moye, Evans and Marie Schaeffer- and we all put boxes in the offices and collected things.”

The teachers were unprepared for the amount they received.

“Eighteen full stuffed boxes of school supplies- brand new backpacks and lunch boxes, backpacks stuffed full of supplies, everything you can imagine. We were completely overwhelmed and we weren’t prepared for the perils of shipping,” Piening said.

The teachers held a hat day to pay for shipping. UPS donated free shipping for two boxes and Cope Marine donated a palette to ship the rest of the boxes.

“In total, we gathered 1,500-1,600 pounds of supplies in just eight days,” said Piening. The supplies were sent to Team Comeback Kids, a charity that, according to it’s website, has raised donations of 5,202 stuffed backpacks and $49,995 dollars for kids in the Louisiana schools.

The charity’s mission says “The incredibly devastating flood waters that descended on Louisiana have been met with an equally incredible flood of support. From across America, donations of medicine, food, and shelter are making their way to those who so desperately need it. But as the flood waters recede, a school year approaches. When you’re trying to locate loved ones and piece your life back together, even something as simple as gathering school supplies can seem impossible. Our vision is that each time a school affected by flooding opens there are supplies there waiting for kids.”

For anyone who wishes to donate and missed sending supplies to the schools, go to teamcomeback.org for more information.