School board agrees to sell unused shop equipment; concern about failing grades continues


AMBOY – A request from Amboy High School ag teacher Joe Heavner regarding the sale of surplus shop equipment was approved during the Dec. 17 Amboy Board of Education meeting. Superintendent Joshua Nichols said the items to be sold will be listed in the newspaper and offers will be accepted by sealed bid. 

Nichols also updated the board on results of a recent survey of parents, saying there were strong opinions on whether school should be held in-person or remotely with about 70 percent of respondents wanting in-person. However, most of the in-person preference was among parents of elementary and middle school students, while parents of high school students were more comfortable having remote learning for the older age group. 

Some concerns and negative comments were expressed on the survey regarding cleanliness in the schools and Nichols said changes have been made as far as keeping track of what the custodians are doing to keep the school buildings clean. He also noted that the district has been trying to hire more custodians and bus drivers since August, but no one has applied.

Nichols said he is still very concerned about the number of remote students who are failing because they are not turning in work or just not showing up as required. He attributed some of the blame to lack of reliable internet connectivity for some students or other family dynamics that may prevent them from doing their work. However, he said Amboy is doing a much better job of remote learning than many other area schools. 

“There are things we’re doing very well and the teachers have been working very hard on this,” he said. 

Nichols also commended everyone for accomplishing a full semester of in person classes. 

“It has been all-hands-on-deck to navigate this year. We have been blessed and very fortunate to have in person all semester. I thank the kitchen staff for all their efforts and all the amazing work that everyone has done to make this possible.”

Board president Nicole Jones also expressed appreciation to the faculty and staff on behalf of the entire board. 

“We commend everyone on they great job they’re doing in this district,” she said.

PRINCIPALS’ REPORTS

Amboy High School Principal Janet Crownhart congratulated December Student of the Month Ethan Larson.

Curriculum and School Improvement

● During the Nov. 16 SIP day, staff participated in the annual law enforcement drill. Crownhart thanked Deputy Kellen and Lt. Frye of Lee County Sheriff’s Department and Officers Lester and Smith from the Amboy Police Department for making the event run smoothly. Teachers and staff were allowed to choose between the “normal” drill or one in which they were shot with a nerf gun. Crownhart said she received positive feedback from both groups.

● On Nov. 18, students participated in the annual law enforcement drill. The students worked with their teachers on barricading in the classroom and being ready to counter.

School Activities

● The Amboy FFA agronomy team competed virtually in the section contest as well as an invitational contest hosted by SIU-Carbondale on Nov. 18. In the SIUC event, Amboy finished 23rd out of 54 schools and individual placings ranged from 75th to 105th out of 222 students competing. In the section event, Amboy placed 2nd overall as a team. Kelton Schwamberger took 4th place as an individual in the event and Ethan Pratt and Emma Dinges tied for 9th place individually.

● Student Council hosted a canned food drive Dec. 1-11. The homeroom with the most cans (Ms. Scriven) won a pizza party.

● FFA volunteered to help with the Amboy Christmas Walk on Dec. 5. The FFA was asked to help promote the event by dressing in holiday attire outside local businesses.

● Section 2 FFA held its public speaking contest on Dec. 2. Emma Dinges placed 2nd in Creed Speaking and Kelton Schwamberger placed 1st in Extemporaneous Speaking. Both will advance to the district contest this spring.

● The Amboy volleyball team had a goal of raising money for Breast Cancer Month in October by raking and doing fall yard work for people around the community. 

They finished their last yard on Dec. 9, and Crownhart said she was proud to announce that the girls raised $705, which will go to the CGH Women’s Health Fund. The money will be used to help people battling cancer to receive complimentary hot meals during treatment, gas cards to help get to treatment, and little care packages to help with the side effects of treatment.

• Crownhart thanked the board for their purchase of a massage chair.

Amboy Junior High Principal Andrew Full was unable to attend the meeting but provided a written report.

Curriculum and School Improvement

• On Nov. 16, a brief faculty meeting was held to discuss the law enforcement training for both faculty and students. Teachers were given testing dates for STAR and EasyCBM and they discussed the 2nd quarter PBIS celebration. Full also updated the faculty and staff about the building construction.

• On Nov. 16, the faculty and staff held their annual Law Enforcement Drill presented by Officer Kellen from Lee County, assisted by Chief Smith and Officer Lester from the Amboy Police Department and Officer Frye from Lee County.

• On Nov. 19 a faculty meeting was held to discuss new school furniture.

• On Dec. 1, the School Improvement Team met with Anji Garza from the ROE to discuss Implementation Data, Social Emotional Goals (Significant 24), Data Wall, and re-assess IQF.

• On Dec. 7 during the SIP day, teachers were given time to work on remote learning, mandated trainings, and curriculum. As a district, they attended a training on the importance of mental health and steps to taking care of oneself presented by Karla Belzer from the U of I Extension Office. 

PBIS

• The monthly PBIS celebration/assembly took place over Google Meets on Dec. 7 and the following awards were handed out (November):

Students of the Month

5th Grade- Addie Blaine and Landon Carter

6th Grade- Hope Lauzon and Tanner Welch

7th Grade- Chase Montavon and Molly Hassler

8th Grade- Jarrett Althaus and Ava Cline

P.E.- Alexa McKendry and Alex Wittenauer

Clipper P.R.I.D.E.- Morgan Kreiser, Stephanie Nave, Tyler Mahar, Channing Bellows, Joe VanLoo, Myla Davis, Brenna Fields, Ryan Garcia, Kahne Skibbe, Faith Fenwick, Gloria Parker, Jasper Oury, Carson Barlow, Hunter Rasmussen, Jace McCallister, Caleb Yanos, Cordia Ascencio, Samantha Nauman, Lluvie De La Cruz, Lilly Drew, Lilly Leffelman, and Michael Shoemaker.

Faculty and Staff Recognition Winners- Betsy Jones and Ben Schott.

• During December, the PBIS team held a “December to Remember” which included daily dress up days, a virtual door decorating contest, lip sync/karaoke competition, rock/paper/scissors competition, and ended with the quarter celebration of hot chocolate and cookie decorating.

School Activities

• On Nov. 11, the AJHS held a virtual Veterans Day program. Hunter Rasmussen and Jackie Owensby played Taps, the history of Taps was explained, the history of Veterans Day was explained, and district employees who are Veterans were honored.

• On Nov. 13, the AJHS Speech Team competed at the IESA Speech Contest. Natalie Pratt received a 1 and a Judges Choice, Morgan Kreiser received a 1, and Brooklyn Strub received a 2 rating. All the participants did an amazing job.

• On Nov. 18, students took part in the annual Law Enforcement Drill with local authorities. Full thanked Chief Smith and Office Lester from the Amboy Police Department and Officers Kellen and Frye from Lee County for helping. After the drill, officers spent time in all the classrooms answering questions and going over plans.

• Student Council sponsored a food drive from Nov. 23 to Dec. 11. The cohort that brought in the most cans/non-perishable food items won a prize.

• As of Dec. 7, Full reported having 46 full time remote learners out of 241 students (19.1 percent).

• The AJHS faculty and staff thanked the board for their purchase of a massage chair.

Principal Joyce Schamberger, Central Elementary 

PBIS

• On Dec. 2, Central handed out “Mystery Student of the Week” Awards to students who were students of the week.

• Central School had movies, donuts, and hot chocolate for their 2nd Quarter Incentive Celebration for PBIS on Dec. 17. They also held their class parties in the afternoon. Students who met their December reading goals were able to earn an ink pen that writes invisible ink. (This is the next clue to the school wide mystery!)

RTI

• The RTI committee met with each grade level to discuss the data points that have been collected. Three data points have been collected after the winter benchmarking and the team looked at each individual’s scores for proper placement into tiers.

School Activities

• The Central Christmas Concert was held Dec. 10 in each classroom. Student in grades K through 4 performed songs. These were recorded and posted on the school’s Facebook page. Schamberger thanked Amy Schwamberger for doing this project.

OTHER BUSINESS

• The board approved the tax levy, which was presented at the November meeting.  

• Building construction on the new junior high and high school gym is continuing. Nichols said the roof on the gym side is nearly complete and they hope to have it done within a few days. In addition, the masons are working and underground plumbing is going in. “It’s all about the weather now,” he said. “As long as the temperature is above 30 degrees during the day, they can keep working outside.”

The next regular board meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21 at Central School. All meetings are open to the public.

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