District 289 aims to offer accelerated math and reading for 6-8 grades


MENDOTA – Mendota School District 289 held a short monthly board meeting on Jan. 17. Miscellaneous maintenance items and Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) policy updates were discussed.

David Lawson was this month's Pause for Applause recognition recipient. Lawson is a paraprofessional at Northbrook School. He has worked in several areas of law enforcement and after retiring wanted a part-time job. After talking to Paula Daley, NMS principal, he was quickly put to work. "He shares his life's examples to impressionable young students. We are lucky to have him in our lives," touted Daley.

Some grant funds and categorical payments have recently been received; the State continues to owe the district $169,789.

District Superintendent Kristen School discussed changes in the law last year regarding flexibility in school calendars - days, hours, number of institute days, parent-teacher conferences, and the like. As she approaches planning next year's calendar, School noted that she expects the law will change again and is currently waiting to see what changes will be made before preparing the 2019-2020 school year calendar.

Blackstone School has two maintenance issues currently being addressed. First, the district is in the process of getting estimates to replace a broken RPZ valve (water line black flow preventer).

Also at Blackstone School, a track mechanism on the sliding door between the gym and kitchen broke. "It is not a simple fix and there are going to be code requirements involved when replacing the door," noted School.

School is in the process of getting estimates.

In action items, the board reviewed the first reading of the IASB policy updates. One of the policies addressed the minimum mandate on cursive writing. Beth Wackerlin, curriculum director shared with the board the district's current cursive writing program. "We start introducing cursive writing in second grade - the students get very excited about it. In third grade, it is continued to be taught over and over. By the end of third grade it is the expected that students use only cursive writing," she said.

Also discussed were changes in the Accelerated Placement Program requiring districts to have some sort of accelerated placement program.

Currently, the district has an accelerated math program for 7th and 8th grades. Wackerlin noted that it also might include 6th grade for next year.

She also noted that with the new curriculum, an accelerated reading program might be offered for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades, as well. "We have the tools and resources now to enable us to do that," she said.

The board then approved the semi-annual review of closed session minutes from March 2017 to August 2017. Minutes from March 3, 2017 and May 18, 2017 will be open for public inspection, and the March 16, 2017, April 20, 2017 and Sept. 21, 2017 will remain closed due to personnel items which mention a person by name.

The board approved the retirement of Dave Knottnerus effective at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

New hires include: Patti Nunez as full time Northbrook School secretary; Martha Schmitt as temporary part-time social worker for Lincoln and Blackstone schools; and Lisa Schroeder as a part-time pre-K paraprofessional pending certification and district requirements.

The next board of education meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are held in the District 289 Education Center and are open to the public.

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