School board supports switch to 7-period schedule at AHS


AMBOY – A proposed scheduling change at Amboy High School and maintenance projects at Central and Amboy Junior High were among the items discussed at the District 272 Board of Education meeting on Jan. 23. 

The number of class periods at Amboy High School is expected to drop from eight to seven next year. Principal Janet Crownhart explained the reasoning behind the change and also discussed the effect fewer class periods would have for students. 

“There’s going to be a lot of questions about this,” she told the board.

Two main reasons for proposing this change were cited: students who run out of classes to take during their senior year and extremely small class sizes. Crownhart said the seniors who do not attend Sauk or Whiteside run out of classes to take at AHS. 

“By the time they get to senior year, they already have two PE classes in their schedule, maybe a study hall and the only classes that are left might be Spanish IV and accounting and these might be kids planning to go into welding or construction,” she explained.

The other issue is that numerous classes end up with less than five students. With 40-45 juniors and seniors going to Whiteside in the afternoon and about 20-25 attending Sauk next year, there are not enough students left to fill classes. By going to seven periods, class time would increase from 42 minutes to 49 minutes, which would provide an extra 35 minutes of instruction time per class each week.

Superintendent Joshua Nichols pointed out that the Whiteside and Sauk programs are very successful and offer a great opportunity, which Amboy students are taking advantage of. 

“But it just empties out the school leaving us with classes that are very small,” he said. “In a classroom with 10-15 kids, you can have a good discussion but with four or five, it makes it more difficult.”

In the proposed seven period schedule, Sauk students would miss the first three periods of the day instead of the first four. 

“They could still come back for resource on the days they didn’t have Sauk, so we can still do our Social Emotional Learning and resource would move to the middle of the day to make sure we have those kids there,” she said. 

Those students would have a guaranteed 30 minutes of study hall time two to three days a week and the other two days for Social Emotional Learning. 

Whiteside students who are gone in the afternoon would miss four periods but still have time for resource and lunch. Juniors would still be able to take English, history and math, which are required classes. The other required class is PE and the Whiteside students would be exempt. 

Seniors would still be able to graduate early. The required number of credits would drop by one each year over the next four years from the current 28 down to 24. 

Crownhart said with a seven-period day, some students may not be able to do everything they would like. 

“Even on the eight-period schedule, sometimes kids had to choose between band and welding or between welding and Spanish IV,” she said. “We always had a problem with Sauk and physics. There are always choices they have to make. We’ll do our best but we can’t fit everything for everyone.”

With the state pushing high schools to get students on a career ready path, more and more Amboy students will likely take advantage of opportunities at Sauk and Whiteside. 

“We have 12 juniors that want to go to Sauk next year,” Crownhart noted. “They have to pass a placement test first to get in, same with the seniors, but we’re going to have more than one junior go to Sauk next year.” 

Board president Nicole Jones said the board supports the proposed move to seven periods. 

“You are the administrators, you know what our students need,” she said. “This wasn’t a decision taken lightly and it’s been in the works for years. We support you and I hope the public knows they can call you and Mr. Wissinger to talk about their individual students going forward. Education is changing and it’s a good thing that we can offer Sauk and Whiteside.”

Crownhart said she would love to announce that five Amboy students are graduating from Sauk with their associate’s degree at the same time they graduate from high school. 

“I’m glad we can make that available to them but we don’t need as many sections of classes if we don’t have as many students in our building all the time,” she said. “I know there will be questions and we are available to talk about this with anyone.” 

PRINCIPALS’ REPORTS

Amboy High School Principal Janet Crownhart congratulated January Student of the Month Alison O’Rourke.

Curriculum and School Improvement

• On Jan. 13, district staff attended the SIP day meeting at Central regarding data from the 5 Essentials Survey. The Leadership Team then met Jan. 15 to discuss that data, mainly the Supportive Environment and Ambitious Instruction components.

• Jan. 13, students took the 5 Essentials Survey during PE classes.

• Dec. 11, Mrs. Cleary took 15 students to the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.

• Freshmen orientation was held Jan. 22 to discuss scheduling for the seven period day and 4-year high school graduation plans. There was 87 percent attendance. 

School Activities

• Mrs. Hemmen and four NHS members created 20 Blessing Bags for residents at Dixon Rehab and Health Care and delivered them on Dec. 18.

• Auditions for the spring musical were held Dec. 14. The musical will be “Phantom of the Country Opera.” 

• Miss Drew took six students to the Precision Ag In Lee County Conference on Jan. 8.

Building Activities

• Miss Mills had her students write cards to veterans before Christmas and all students were able to participate during resource. A total of 275 cards were sent to the veterans and the high school received a very nice thank you note in return.

• Crownhart got a $250 donation from Thrivent Financial, which was used to purchase materials to make 12 adult-sized tie blankets. Faculty also assisted. Eight blankets are finished and when all 12 are done, they will be donated to Shining Star in Dixon.

• First semester attendance incentive winners were Val Vasquez and Autumn Norman. Second quarter attendance incentive winners were Bradley Dinwiddie, Jordan Gulley, Nicole Latta, Garrett Pertell, and Sidney Lewis.

Principal Andrew Full, Amboy Junior High 

Curriculum and School Improvement

• On Dec. 16, Stacey Dinges, Jenny Schafer, and Ashley Dunlap went to Sterling to view how “Wit and Wisdom” (ELA curriculum) was implemented.

• On Jan. 6, Katie Bulfer held a faculty meeting to go over discipline procedures and the School Improvement Team reported the winter benchmarking for RtI.

• On Jan. 13, faculty and staff met at Central to hear Steve Herkert talk about the 5 Essentials and the importance of taking the survey.

• A faculty meeting was held Jan. 13 to discuss morning procedures, Social Emotional Learning, communication, observations, and 5 Essentials, and time was given for RtI/Seminar teachers to meet.

• On Jan. 14, the School Improvement team met to discuss time limits to complete projects and next year’s schedule.

• On Jan. 15, the 7th/8th grade level teams met.

PBIS

• On Jan. 13, the monthly PBIS SIP Assembly was held and the following awards were presented: Clipper P.R.I.D.E., Students of the Month, Faculty/Staff Recognition, Cheerleading, Boys Basketball, and Young Authors. A friendly competition was held between grade levels.

• Clipper P.R.I.D.E. Recipients were Michael Ackert, Lane Goff, Jasmin Scott, Brooke Austin, Matthew Farrar, Wyatt Hoffman, Jadyn Whelchel, Kayden Winters, Cordia Ascencio, Jackson Lemmer, Addison Pertell, Michael Shoemaker, Caleb Yanos, Brennan Blaine, Caleb Donna, Sarah McCulloh-Ossey, Andrew Hummel, Callan Christoffersen, Lluvia De La Cruz, Aaron Costner, and Lily Drew.

• Students of the Month

5th grade- Jason Dickinson and Haylee Albee

6th grade- Micah Miller and Bella Yanos

7th grade- Quinn Leffelman and Sydney Thomas

8th grade- Madison Thomas and Austin Shugars

P.E.- Bentley Wiley and Madisyn Heath

Faculty/Staff Recognition winners were Kaylee Jones and Katie Henkel.

School Activities

• On Dec. 19, 7th grade students were treated to “Foods Around the World” put together by Mrs. Foster.

• On Jan. 13, students met with their new Social Emotional Learning groups to go over conflict resolution.

• Girls basketball has started with 14 players on the team (four 8th graders, eight 7th graders, and two 6th graders). The coaches are Shauna Dinges and Adri Whitney.

Principal Joyce Schamberger, Central Elementary 

School Improvement

• The School Improvement team met with Anji Garza several times and has been going through the indicators.

• Central School’s RTI team will attend training at Sauk Valley College on Jan. 31.

• The January SIP day was at Central with Steve Herkert explaining the 5 Essentials Survey. Teachers and paraprofessionals will take the survey. Parents of all students are also encouraged to take the survey.

PBIS

• The grade level teams re-trained students on the expectations for PBIS by watching a video that was made by Central’s current fourth graders. 

• Student of the Month awards were handed out during an all school assembly on Jan. 13. Students were reminded to continue reading their library books and taking tests to earn points. Central is halfway to the goal of 20,000 points for the Book-It celebration.

School Activities

• On Jan. 8, a Parent Learning Session was held on “Being Mindful in a Busy World.” Schamberger said turnout was low but they will continue holding monthly sessions to see if they can get more parents to attend.

• Central PTC met on Jan. 6. Plans are underway for the annual Pancake Breakfast and for the Muffins with Mom event on April 17.

• First grade won best attendance for December with 96.7 percent. 

• The Book-It activity for January will be held Jan. 28 with a balloon event planned by the fourth grade team. Students who meet their reading goals for the month will participate.

• There will be a Story Walk on Thursday, March 5 from 6-7:30 p.m. This event is free to everyone and is being planned by Michelle Potthoff, the Family Parent Coordinator.

• A free dental clinic will take place at Central on Wednesday, Feb.12.

• Two preschool screenings will be held this spring for 3- and 4-year-olds. The first will be on Thursday, Feb. 6 at Central and the second will be on Thursday, April 16. Parents must call the school for an appointment.

• Central School will celebrate the 101st day of school on Jan. 29. Students will be able to dress up like 101 Dalmatians, to keep in line with the Disney theme this year.

• Central School will host a Block Fest on Monday, Feb. 10 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the gym. This event is free and open to the public. Schamberger said this is a STEAM project done by Northern Illinois University. 

OTHER BUSINESS

• The board approved the 2020 School Maintenance Project Grant Application to replace five unit ventilators with high-efficiency unit ventilators at the high school. The District pledged $50,000 in local funds to fulfill its matching obligation in the grant.

• Nichols said almost all of the work on Central’s HVAC is done with only about a half-day of work left. “Everything is in and functioning, it looks nice and it’s a nice upgrade,” he said. 

• Nichols said there has been quite a bit of work done repairing steam leaks at the junior high. “You fix one thing, and then it’s the next thing, over and over,” he commented. “We’re just playing catch up.”

PERSONNEL

Following closed session, the board accepted the resignation of Sarah Feith as a part-time cook at Amboy High School, effective Jan. 20, and hired Shelli Bump as a part-time cook at Central School, effective Jan. 21.

They also approved Sandy Thorne as an hourly bus driver, effective Jan. 14.

The next regular board meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20 at Central School. 

All meetings are open to the public.

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