Paw Paw School Board meets May 18

PAW PAW - Rachael DeSpain, program director of the Tri-County Opportunities Council Head-Start program, presented information about the Early-Head-Start and Head-Start services for our area during the May 18 Paw Paw School Board meeting. Early Head Start (EHS) programs serve infants and toddlers under the age of 3, and pregnant women. Head-Start provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services for children ages 3-5.

DeSpain requested use of one of the school’s classrooms for a self-contained learning environment in which they would offer services for approximately 18 children, Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. during the school year. She explained that their program is federally-funded and self-insured. They would need use of a classroom, the washrooms, gym, and a kitchen facility, which they would be responsible for maintaining.

There was a renewed discussion about how our high school students’ Activity Funds should be used. It was suggested that they put it to the students involved for a vote.

An overview of the Five Essentials for Learning Survey was discussed. The Five Essentials are Ambitious Instruction, Effective Leaders, Collaborative Teachers, Supportive/Safe Environment, and Involved Families. The responses of teacher, parents and students was noted on how successful each of those responding groups felt the goals were being addressed and met.

Dr. Kim Suedback brought up the possibility of offering an after-school enrichment program for the students.

The board discussed the FY22 working budget. Dr. Epperson mentioned that the budget for next year looks good at this point.

Brooke Schoenholz and Leah Cunniff presented an idea that they provide before-and-after school activities for our students, sponsored by the non-profit Boys & Girls Club. They requested the use of a classroom, the gym, kitchen facilities, and cafeteria. They wish to offer before-and-after school snacks, art classes and other activities for the children. The board took their information under advisement, and will make a decision after a formal proposal is submitted.

A grant from the ROE IL-Empower was received for school improvement. The grant money will be used to contract professional development services for the staff, provide intervention services for students, and employ an instructional coach to provide professional development at the school.

The board briefly discussed the Illinois Association of School Board’s Return-to-Learn document that included areas for consideration as schools prepare for the 2021-22 school year. Dr. Epperson mentioned that it is very difficult to plan when the new IDPH/ISBE guidelines related to COVID have not been released yet. At Paw Paw, the plan is to return to a full school day with in-person instruction.

The board discussed options for summer school. At this time, the district is planning to provide summer school options for students who need additional work in order to be promoted.

The board discussed a learning platform called the Acellus Learning Accelerator. The platform includes a number of components including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) activities and classes that are difficult for small schools to offer. The administrators are trying to set up a demonstration for us to learn more about the platform.

The board approved a nursing services contract for the upcoming school year.

Teacher aide staffing for next year was discussed. The district will likely need two additional teacher aide positions in addition to one aide position that already exists. A large kindergarten class of 18 or more is expected for the coming school year. The administration will be posting these aide positions and seeking applications.

The Paw Paw School Board meets the third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the junior high library. The public is welcome to attend.