Rockridge CUSD 300 to see change in leaders

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

Due to the retirement of Rockridge High School Principal Clayton Naylor at the end of the 2008-2009 school year, a new principal was named at Monday's Feb. 9, 2009 CUSD #300 school board meeting to replace Katie Hasson, currently the Rockridge Junior High principal, who was voted on earlier by the board to replace Naylor.

Mike Ruff, current principal at the Rutland Community Consolidated School District in Ottawa, was hired to replace her as the junior high principal. He will also be the transportation director. 

Naylor has been with the district for 23 years.

In other personnel matters the board approved a transfer request from Chrystal Weller from Reynolds Elementary fourth grade to junior high science for next school year and moved Wendy Buckrop from Andalusia Elementary third grade to Andalusia as a kindergarten teacher.

One other transfer request request was approved with Lisa Williams, transferring from Reynolds sixth grade to fourth grade.

Another administrative recommendation approved by the board was the resignation of Scott Striegel, assistant principal at high school and athletic director.

Health-Life Safety work

The Rockridge School District took out a $2.5 million bond in 2004 to complete repairs needed in the district based on the 10-year Health Life Safety (HLS) plan.

According to Superintendent Jack Bambrick the district is about $231,000 under budget on HLS and has around $91,000 worth of work left to do. So far the district has installed new plumbing, new auditorium seats and plans to finish some asbestos replacement work and changes to the junior high urinals in the summer. In addition, the membrane on the Taylor Ridge Elementary School needs to be repaired. "It was the early 90s when it was last done," said Bambrick.

Other HLS work completed in the district are high school floors, floors at Illinois City and Reynolds. "Once all that is finished, Bambrick said around $83,000 will be coming into the district annually for HLS.

Another matter relating to storm damage was discussed. Bambrick said he is working with the insurance company and has yet to receive some of the money for the repairs. It seems that the insurance company is depreciating the value of the property being repaired, which lowers the amount of money it will pay the district.

Storm damage occurred at the high school at the press box. "There was a lot of damage besides the press box," says Bambrick.

Test Scores

Board President Tim Keller asked about how the high school test scores were. The high school did not make Adequate Yearly Progress last year, based on 2008 testing.

High School principal Naylor reviewed the school improvement plan. He said that the district was generating more relevant data, due to the testing being done. Last year the ninth graders were assessed with the Explore test and the Plan test was given to 10th graders. "The plan for the coming year is to give this year's eighth graders the Explore test and the Plan test will be given to ninth graders," he said. This year's sophomores will be given a practice ACT test to help prepare them for the Prairie State Achievement exam when they are juniors.

He said the district has contracted with a company to run Goals Assessment Instruction New Strategies (GAINS) software to help crunch the data in different ways.

One problem is that you never know what is going to be tested, said Naylor.

Another problem in testing at the high school level is that "students are not (all) taking the same classes."

The board looked over statistics comparing Rockridge scores with the national averages.

"Our kids go to college and they do well in college," said Naylor.

He pointed out that colleges are looking at things other than grades -- Work ethic, perseverance and leadership are being looked at more.

He said that students who take the full spectrum of courses, such as all the mathematics classes, do better in testing than those who only take Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and geometry.

The big challenge he said: "How do we get our middle group to meet or exceed standards."

He said the student body "is such a homogenous group."

The district has a low percentage of free and reduced price students (low income), and the number of special education students is not significant. He said that a major contribution to decrease in academic achievement is mobility. Naylor said the district has a pretty stable student population, with not a lot of students moving in or out of the district. The district also has a low dropout rate.

The potential impact of the federal stimulus package was briefly touched on. Bambrick said the district should be receiving a $124,700 increase in Title 1 and an additional $163,700 from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. "As of 8:07 this morning the construction number ($91,600) is gone," he said.

He encouraged the board to contact area legislators about the stimulus package and keeping money with the schools. "There is a lot of disappointment that the construction part went away."

School board election

Bambrick also talked to the board about the "Kids First" local option sales tax that will be on the April ballot. "Tom Getz will be reaching out to talk to people about this," said Bambrick.

On April 7, 2009, voters will not only be deciding on the one percent local options tax, but also electing new school board members.

Individuals turning in petitions to run for the four school board positions that are open are Susan Neece, Tom Verschore and Bill Woods.

Woods is the only current school board member seeking reelection. Those individuals who are stepping down from the school board are Janet Flaherty, Pam Hammitt and Tracy Bayne.

After the election the board will be sworn in, seated and the board will reorganize. A vacancy will be declared and the empty seat will be filled by an appointment.

In other business the board:

• Approved spring coaches including Colin Shutt, freshman baseball; Ashley Widdop, assistant girl's track; Ted Waymack and Barry Gerischer, junior high boy's track; and Jacqy Peterson and Tom Hasson, junior high girl's track.

• Agreed to schedule a working executive session on March 16 at 5:30 p.m.

• Learned that Alexa Frakes, daughter of Steve and Lori Frakes of Illinois City, was named Milan Area Rotary student of the month.

• Approved health life safety amendments for Illinois City Elementary at a cost of $41,280 for floor tile replacement and $41,280 for Taylor Ridge Elementary's multi purpose room's room tile replacement and a $7,920 HLS project at Reynolds Elementary for replacing the west end floor tile.

• Agreed to purchase a 2009 Chevrolet Impala through the Illinois State Bid program for $16,969.

• Learned that Pam Bischoff was invited to meet with the American Diploma Project, whose purpose is to focus on "what do we believe all kids should know."