Churches want a night off

Robert Blackford/Editor

Pastor Lukas Dunn of the First Baptist Church of Aledo appeared before the Mercer County School Board at its April 15 meeting and proposed the district set aside a night during the school week where extracurricular events were not scheduled.

The proposal is dubbed "Family Night." Dunn spoke on behalf of nine churches in the area who would be committed to offering family activities that evening.

Dunn said he has spoken with Aledo Athletic Director Brian Dennison. Dennison said he could clear the activity schedule for Thursday nights since that is the lightest night of the week for him scheduling wise.

Board member Kay Forret told the board that the Rockridge school district is looking to do this as well.

Board Chairman Dwight Shoemaker reminded the board about his beliefs that early dismissals are having an adverse effect on performance.

Interim Board Superintendent Bill Rees suggested that Dunn approach the conference to make sure games were not scheduled around the conference on certain nights. "This is not impossible if the conference gets behind it."

Aledo Junior High Principal Doug Nelson told the board that Dennison has taken the proposal to the Prairieland Conference and they are taking it under advisement.

Rees said all the churches in all the conferences need to come together to support this. "The conference is the key to getting this done."

The board agreed to purchase the WebSIS system for approximately $21,000. The system will assist the district in several different areas and came highly recommended by Aledo technology coordinator Kim Sheese. Sheese spoke with several school systems about the system.

Sheese said it would allow parents to register all of their children and pay all of their fees at one school this year instead of going through the registration process at several different schools. It will also make it easier for parents to track their student's grades even on a daily basis.

Health records are also stored on the system and they will be accessible only to the nurse.

It will also make life easier for the secretaries of the district actually streamlining the process by which progress reports are sent out to parents. 

It should be installed this spring and be up and running by the beginning of the school year.

Aledo Superintendent Alan Boucher asked the board to consider adding a gifted program for its students. He noted that it was something the Committee of Ten asked the new district to consider.

Apollo Principal Bill Fleuette called it a challenge program and said it was needed to address the kids at the highest level of the learning spectrum.

The food service committee has started meeting and discussing where meals should be prepared for the individual schools. A member of the audience asked why food should be transported to Apollo when there is a good cafeteria there.

Boucher told the board that Aledo lost $50,000 in its food service program last year but noted that district's food service programs are supposed to lose money. "There is a federal law that states food service programs have to lose money."

An audience member reminded the board that 51 percent of the students at New Boston Elementary qualify for free or reduced lunches.

Aledo Band Director Rusty Ruggles spoke the board about choosing a new school song. Ruggles said Go Northwestern and On Wisconsin were the two tunes used by Aledo and Westmer. He said for the new district's fight song he looked for something peppy that would be easy for the band to play. He started looking through college fight songs and narrowed it down to two choices. From those he chose the fight song from the University of Auburn.

Ruggles called the song an important part of the school's spirit. "We are the pep and the spirit," said Ruggles about the band. Ruggled played the song as played by the band at Auburn then played the version he rehearsed with the Aledo High School band which included a chant "Go Eagles" which the students inserted.

In other business:

* Boucher asked the board to consider whether or not it wants a Curriculum Director and suggested it establish a curriculum council.

* The board agreed to give a total of $1,500 to High Roads. The program assists individuals who have dropped out of public school but who are still interested in attaining the GEDs. High Roads meets the needs of these individuals.

*The board agreed to continue to provide the busing needs of students enrolled in College For Kids during the summer. In the past Aledo and Westmer school districts have supplied transportation.

*The board agreed to pay for hepatitis shots for staff members.

*The board hired Trisha Carlberg to be its transportation secretary and substitute caller.

*The board hired Mike Chausse as its vocational director.

Thirty-two people were in attendance at the meeting.