By ERIN SANSON
The Carlinville School board met Monday, Nov. 14 at the Carlinville Primary School. The board meets at each school at least once a year for board members to inspect the state of each location.
The Primary School was the district spotlight at this months meeting. The library was specifically highlighted due to the recent work done in the area. New carpet was laid and the library was painted over the summer. The library staff has been busy creating a welcoming space for kids to enjoy. Art teacher for grades K-5, Melissa Suits created a mural on the back wall of the library where students enjoy their weekly story time with library aid Jodi Jamieson.
School Report Card Reviews
The board heard each school principal give their report on the State Report Cards findings that came out in late October.
Primary School Principal Danley Killam went over some of the changes made at the primary school to improve student learning. She pointed out that more interventionists were hired and had been working with kids since school began to improve reading and math skills. There has been an increase in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum. A sensory room was created this year and items are still being added to it that would benefit students. Two counselors from Carlinville Area Hospital come to the school each week to meet with students who may need additional counseling resources. Killam says they also “hang out” during recess and are available to kids as positive role models.
Board member Martha Armour asked if there as a socio-economic drive behind the increase in SEL needs, which Killam admitted was a factor to some extent. Killam answered that COVID-19 had also impacted students, especially students who had never been in a classroom setting before and students who may have fallen out of the school routine during online learning. According to Killam, many of the current first and second graders did not have preschool to help them transition to a school environment, impacting how they behave in a school setting.
Intermediate Principal Roy Kulenkamp said that the SEL programs that begin in the primary school are built to go beyond the Primary School and into the Intermediate and Middle School. The Intermediate School is focusing on English/Language Arts, math, and test preparation for standardized tests.
Through the i-Ready program, which is used in the primary, elementary and middle school, teachers and administrators can see what concepts kids are having trouble grasping or which questions kids do the worst when doing online tests to try and help better prepare their students for the online testing and increase their understandings of concepts.
For example, Kulenkamp said that the Intermediate Team looked through the most missed questions given by the i-Ready program and found one of the problems was not that students did not understand a concept but the question was a multi-step question which asked for the students to use technology, such as to highlight the appropriate text or to drag words on screen, which students had trouble doing.
Based on that report, the teachers can help students be more prepared for the next i-Ready assessment and understand some of the computer skills students will need to take the test to the best of their ability.
Principal Kyle Smith spoke to the board about Carlinville Middle School. The Middle School was the only Carlinville School to receive a targeted rating. In this case the school is considered targeted due to lower test scores in the “Children with Disabilities” sub-group.
The Middle School is focusing on math, ELA and test preparation as well. This is the second year of math intervention at the middle school, which Smith says several students have already tested out of. They are also doing ELA interventions and are using Amplify for the ELA curriculum, which aligns to Illinois State Standards.
The administration is looking at ways to improve the student growth ad test scores in the Students with Disabilities sub-group. There is a focus on student attendance, test practice and preparation, doing one on one intervention and different ways to administer tests.
High School Principal Patrick Drew gave his report on the High School students. The High School does not have any growth data because they do not use the i-Ready program, the only use the SAT to measure students. In 2019 and 2020 no PSAT was administered so the school cannot gauge how much they improve.
The High School has reworked things recently to give students their best opportunity to succeed. A Pre-Algebra course was added back to the curriculum for students who are not yet ready to jump into Algebra. The credit recovery program was moved from over the summer to the end of the semester. Students used to have to wait until the summer to recover credits for a class that was taken in the fall semester and would have to wait until the spring semester of the next year to rejoin the class. Now, credit recovery can be done once the semester ends so students can move on with the class instead of waiting to retake it.
Test prep opportunities were added for High School Students in grades 9-11. Drew reported that about 60 students participated in the prep sessions. The prep sessions led teachers to learn about another problem in the younger grades which could affect test performance as well. In the High School, standardized tests are administered via ScanTron, a format which several students had never used before because they were used to taking tests on the computer. Some of the students had to be taught how to use and fill out a ScanTron before the tests could be taken to insure the tests best reflected the students abilities.
Drew also answered several questions about the graduation rate for the High School. The four year graduation rate for Carlinville High School is 78 percent. Drew says that the fifth and sixth year graduation rates are more accurate because Carlinville has a program allowing students in the special education program to stay in high school until they have aged out at age 22. Those students then count against the graduation rate because they did not graduate in the eight semester standard set by the state. Students who have transferred to out of state schools also count against the graduation rate because the state school systems do not communicate with each other, making a student impossible to track across state lines.
Board member Molly Rosentreter asked Drew if the students who stay in the special education program were excluded from the data what the graduation rate would be. Drew replied that they would be in line with the other schools. Rosentreter also asked if Drew saw any specific reason students were not finishing school. Drew could not point to any new or specific reasons for not finishing and said that the graduation rate was pretty normal.
The board had several concerns about the chronic absenteeism rate reported by the State Report Card and brought up the issue multiple times during the meeting. Chronic Absenteeism in the State of Illinois is absences that total 10 percent or more of school days of the school year, including excused or unexcused absences and any out-of-school suspensions. For the Carlinville District, someone chronically absent has missed 10 or more school days. The district report card shows an average between the four schools of 24 percent of students are chronically absent. The state average is 29 percent.
The Primary School has a chronic absentee rate of 12 percent. The Intermediate has a rate of 15 percent. Of the Middle School Students 29 percent are considered chronically absent. At the High School the chronic absentee rate is 33 percent.
By grade level, seniors are the most absent students in the Carlinville District. It was pointed out by staff that any college visit would be counted against the allowed number of absent days.
Only 6.8 percent of students in the district this year are considered “chronically truant” compared to 13 percent last year. Truancy counts only the unexcused absences from school and chronic truancy is any student who misses 5 percent or more of the school year without a valid excuse.
Rosentreter also asked about the i-Ready tests, saying she has heard from students that the tests ask questions the students have not learned yet. Several of the teachers and administrators responded explaining that after a certain point the i-Ready assessment will add in harder questions to see at what level students can perform before the questions are too hard. Once the questions become too difficult for students the test will adapt to the students level.
The school board discussed the preliminary tax levy for 2022, which will be collected in 2023. The preliminary levy is estimated to be a 7.5 percent tax rate based on a 5 percent base with 2.75 percent growth because of the new construction. There will be a truth in taxation hearing on Dec. 12 at 5:15 p.m. at the High School Media Center. The motion was made and approved to accept the preliminary tax levy.
The board approved Ethan Klaffer as the English Academic Challenge Coach and Stacey Steiner as the Junior Magazine Sale Co-Sponsor. They also approved Daniel Card as the volunteer Assistant High School Wrestling Coach and Matthew Murphy as the volunteer Assistant Boy’s High School Basketball Coach.
Carlinville Superintendent Dr. Becky Schuchman went over the amendments to the Health Life Safety Plan. The Health Life Safety Plan is the ten year plan of projects to be done to a school or in a district to keep the buildings up to the Health Life Safety Code set by the Board of Education. The Carlinville School board had to approve the addition of replacing the High School gym roof and some of the windows and doors at the Primary School to the plan. The amended plan will be sent to the State Board of Education for their approval.
The board approved the Intergovernmental Agreement for the South Central Innovation Center (SCI Center) in Litchfield. The SCI Center will hold vocational classes which are open to students in Macoupin and Montgomery County. The Litchfield School District, which put the center together, is asking school districts who could use the facility to become part of the board that would set curriculum for the center. Last month, Schuchman advised the board to wait before agreeing to join the board because there could be unknown expenses or obligations. At Monday’s meeting, Schuchman told the board that there does not seem to be any obligation to join the SCI Center board and suggested the Carlinville board approve the agreement.
Schuchman went over the status of several of the projects currently going on in the district. The driveway at Carlinville Intermediate School is complete and the roof at CIS is close to completion. The remaining windows and windowsills for the Middle/High School complex have come in and will be installed in the next two weeks. Also within the next few weeks, the back wall of High School Gym locker room will be dug out and waterproofed due issues with the wall leaking.
Soil samples are being taken for the storage building, Schuchman hopes to have more information on the project after thanksgiving. The appraisal for the North School building has yet to come in but there are several interested parties. Schuchman believes the appraisal will be in before the next board meeting.
The intercom system has been having issues with being not loud enough or too loud in certain places. Synergy, who provides the speaker and video system, put together a bid to improve and replace some of the speakers and adding speakers in some areas. The bid for the project came in at $8,330, the board approved the changes to the intercom system.
The board approved the bid from Marcus Davis Lawncare for the snow removal contract for $90 per hour.