MENDOTA – The days of 600-650 students at Mendota High School are over in the opinion of Superintendent Jeff Prusator.
Reporting at the Jan. 20 District 280 Board of Education meeting, Prusator said he knew there was going to be a steady, but small, decline in enrollment, and then it would start to level off again. “I didn’t do this to alarm you, but it’s a little bit more of a decline than I first anticipated,” he told the board.
Using current enrollment numbers from District 289 and Holy Cross School, Prusator gave the probable enrollment numbers at MHS for the next decade. “Just a few years ago, we were pushing 650 students at MHS. Next school year, 2020-21, we’re going to start with 517 students,” he said. “We have to come to terms that we’re going to be a high school with anywhere from 520-530 students on average.”
In some years, enrollment will drop even lower, particularly the 2023-24 school year with a projected enrollment of only 494 students. “And this is assuming every Holy Cross student comes to MHS but typically, 2-4 of their students go St. Bede,” he noted.
Prusator said he did an enrollment projection two years ago using actual numbers and at that time, he was expecting 580 students at MHS next school year. “So somehow, 63 students have left the district, probably left the community,” he said. “Hopefully that attrition is over but numbers are definitely in a downward trend. We’ll keep an eye on it.”
Tentative calendar 2020-21
A tentative 2020-2021 school calendar was presented by Prusator. A teacher institute will be held Aug. 12-13 and the first day for students will be Friday, Aug. 14. “This is the same as we’ve done the last 10 years or so,” he said.
Christmas break will be two full weeks starting Monday, Dec. 21. Teacher institute will be on Jan. 4, 2021 and students return Jan. 5. Lincoln’s Birthday will be observed as a school holiday on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Spring break will be April 2 through April 9.
Graduation will be held May 15, 2021. The latest possible day of school will be May 27, and the earliest will be May 20. “We’ll work with District 289 on early dismissals,” Prusator said. “But I believe these are pretty firm numbers and not going to change.”
The school calendar will be brought back to the board next month for official approval.
School Resource Officer
Prusator said the high school has been very pleased with Officer Hochstatter and the School Resource Officer program and he recommended continuing it next year. “He’s been a nice addition to our staff and it has worked out as well as we thought it would,” Prusator said.
After receiving the cost of the program for next year from Mendota Police Chief Greg Kellen, Prusator will present it to the board next month for approval.
Big Northern Conference Music Festival and Augustana Honor Band
On Jan. 20, 26 MHS music students attended the BNC Music Festival. The BNC is organized with 11 high schools, Genoa-Kingston, North Boone, Rockford Christian, Byron, Dixon, Oregon, Rock Falls, Rockford Lutheran, Stillman Valley, Winnebago and Mendota.
Directors nominate up to 10 percent of the total band and up to 20 percent of the total choir to participate in this honor festival. Principal Denise Aughenbaugh said students were there all day to rehearse until the concert at 7 p.m. Lori Schrock, choir director, traveled with the BNC Honor Band.
Although MHS usually sends students to the Augustana Honor Band during the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, Augustana made a scheduling change so MHS will not be able to attend this event in the future. Aughenbaugh said they will look for another opportunity for the band.
The board approved a request from the Athletic Committee for the purchase of boys track uniforms and warmups costing $3523.95. They also accepted a recommendation from athletic director Steve Hanson to hire Steve Villegas as assistant boys track coach.
IL 5 Essentials Student Surveys
Aughenbaugh thanked the parents who completed the IL 5 Essentials Survey. MHS has now met the threshold number of responses (20 percent) to have its results printed on the school report card.
PACE Framework Committee
The MHS PACE Framework Committee met for the first time on Jan. 15. The committee will work on developing postsecondary and career expectations that can be individualized for students as they progress from grades 8 through 12. Aughenbaugh said they hope to provide more assistance to students in making decisions about career and post-secondary education or training, to plan a course of study, and to make financial aid assessments with family.
* Spanish Honor Society inductions (5:30 p.m.) and National Honor Society inductions (7 p.m.) will both be on Monday, Feb. 3 in the cafeteria.
* Freshman Welcome Night for the Class of 2024 will be Thursday, Feb. 13 from 5 to 7 p.m. at MHS. Parents and students will confirm the registration process and receive informational items on activities and events.
* Sadies Dance is Saturday, Feb. 15.
* Symphony Band Concert is Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2:30 p.m. in the auditorium.
The board approved minutes from the Building Committee’s Jan. 7 meeting. Discussions included several large-scale projects including the parking lot, the connection of the vocational and main buildings and the roof. Prusator said he hopes the Building Committee will have a recommendation on the projects to present to the entire board for possible approval at next month’s meeting.
The next regular board of education meeting will be held at the high school on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 6 p.m.