AMBOY - With most Amboy students back in their classrooms for the second week of the school year, on Aug. 26 Superintendent Joshua Nichols said everyone was adapting well to the new safety requirements.
“We require everyone to wear a mask, social distance, and we take everyone’s temperature each day - everything we need to do to keep the kids in school,” Nichols said. “I know everyone’s situation is different but I believe it is important for kids to be in school rather than having remote learning, if possible. Everyone is adapting well to wearing masks, it’s not ideal but we’re soldiering on.”
During the first week of school, he said most of the day was spent reconnecting students and explaining the new processes for safety but by week two, the focus shifted to regular schoolwork.
“We want to be able to keep the kids in school as long as we can and do it safely,” Nichols emphasized. “I understand that every town has a different situation - whether it’s class sizes, local COVID outbreaks, and many other factors. I closely monitor the numbers every day and things can change but for now, we’re doing well.”
Currently, about 25 percent of Amboy students have chosen to do remote learning only. Nichols said he realizes that some families have circumstances that caused them to make that choice and the district has worked hard to accommodate both methods of teaching.
“It’s a little rough doing remote only, but it’s much better than it was in the spring - it’s good,” he said.
School board meeting
The tentative budget was presented by Nichols during the Aug. 20 board of education meeting. Nichols said later that he is currently working on the final budget but it is difficult to plan because schools have not yet received final numbers from the state. In addition, the number of people taking health insurance is also unknown at this time.
On a positive note, he said the district got another of its transportation payments for last year, which was not expected, so now they are only one payment behind. Additionally, sales tax was predicted to be down by 20 percent but is only down 9 percent.
“So, our reserves are good now but if the sales tax stays down, they won’t last forever,” Nichols noted.
Construction on the new junior high/high school addition is progressing. Nichols said once Nicor finally showed up they brought “a small army” and in one day their work was completed.
“The biggest thing now is getting the roof on before winter,” he added. “We’re hoping we can get that done.”
Amboy High School Principal Janet Crownhart congratulated Ashley Althaus who was named Student of the Year for 2019-20.
Curriculum and School Improvement
• Seven seniors and six juniors are attending Sauk Valley Community College (SVCC) and then AHS for four classes; two are attending SVCC then Whiteside Area Career Center (WACC); two are attending one class at AHS and the rest of the day at SVCC; two are co-op students; 43 attending AHS in the morning then WACC in the afternoon.
• Freshmen and new students were able to tours the building on Aug. 12, 13, and 14 with help from student council members who gave individual tours.
• Remote learning students were able to pick up Chromebooks on Aug. 13 and 14.
• Limited fall sports are underway with golf and cross-country maintaining their co-op agreements from last year.
• Crownhart commended Mr. Metz, Mrs. Challand and the summer custodial crew for again doing a fantastic job preparing the school for the students’ return.
• On the first day of school Aug. 17, schedules were handed out to each student, they then were able to attend each of their classes, and picked up their Chromebooks in their first hour class.
Principal Andrew Full,
Amboy Junior High
Curriculum and School Improvement
• The School Improvement Team met all summer to prepare for the upcoming school year, discussing schedules, procedures, RtI, SEL, E-Learning, among others.
• AJHS teachers met during Teacher Institute days Aug. 13 and 14 to discuss math and ELA curriculum, RtI, SEL, technology, review fall opening plans, and remote learning. Full gave a presentation on “The Happiness Advantage.”
• The PBIS team met numerous times over the summer to look at revamping the PBIS program and came up with some great ideas/celebrations. The junior high still plans to have monthly SIP Day Assemblies but they will be done remotely. Basic Training was done during the first three days of school.
• Volleyball has been cancelled for now due to restrictions established by IESA and IHSA. Full will continue connecting with other schools to discuss their plans.
• On Aug.13 and 14, remote learners (56 students) were able to come and pick up Chromebooks/materials for the start of school.
• Full gave student tours to 10-15 students/families.
• During the first three days of school, AJHS did the Significant 72.
• Student pictures were scheduled for Aug. 20.
• Full thanked Kirsten Donna for organizing School Tool Box kits and PTC members Kirsten Donna, Tina Eller, and Nicole Jones for making sunshine bags for all the teachers.
• Full thanked Arly, Karen and their crew, Kallie A., Emma L., Kyleigh D., Haley V., and Angie D. for their hard work and making the junior high look great. He also thanked the school board for their support over the summer while planning for the fall.
Principal Joyce Schamberger, Central Elementary
• Schamberger thanked the summer crew and custodians for getting the building “in top shape with clean shiny new floors.”
• Preschool classes were scheduled to begin Aug. 24. There were 40 preschoolers enrolled and there is a waiting list.
• Central held Boot Camp for two weeks from 8:30-11 a.m. with over 70 students participating. Camp Leaders were Aubrey Burke, Joanie Zimmerly, Emilie Henkel, Jamie Rodriguez, Ashley Dunlap, and Jim Murphy. Schamberger thanked Eileen Piper, Mary Jo Zinke and all of the Teen Turf students who helped. “This camp could not have happened without all of their help!” she said.
• Beginning in September, each month activities will be planned for students who meet their monthly Book-It reading goals. The theme this year is Scooby Doo, A Year Full of Mystery!
• Schamberger thanked Heenan Thier for the use of his large tent, which allows teachers to take their classes outside under the tent for a mask break!
• During Teachers’ Institute Days, staff members met and continued their work with technology trainings and expectations.
• This year, the focus K-4 will be on student growth. Grade level teams will meet daily to collaborate and plan. Guided reading will continue got K-4 and RTI will continue to help close the gap for students who are not at grade level.
• At Central, Clipper Cash will be used to reward positive behaviors. The yearlong theme for Central School is Scooby Doo.
• The PBIS team will meet and make plans for the upcoming year.
The next regular board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17 at the Central School gym.