AMBOY – With the state’s new Evidence-Based Funding for schools now in place, Amboy Superintendent Joshua Nichols is hopeful that schools will have more consistency in managing their finances.
Reporting at the Sept. 13 school board meeting/budget hearing, Nichols said Amboy will only get $15,000 more in revenue from Evidence-Based Funding in fiscal year 19 but the state has guaranteed that districts will receive the full amount they are promised without being prorated as happened in past years.
“The biggest benefit in Evidence-Based Funding is the guarantee,” Nichols pointed out. “I know $15,000 does not sound like a significant amount of money but it’s extra money and we know it’s going to be there and won’t go below what we had last year, so we can plan.”
Nichols said he had to base the FY19 budget on the information he had as of Sept. 4 because some state numbers have not been released. Fortunately, he noted, Amboy receives over 80 percent of its funding from property tax and those numbers were available. Comparing FY18 to FY19, he said the budget represents a 5 percent increase but that includes the addition of a preschool program and another 2nd grade teacher at Central.
Student enrollment is currently at 736, which includes 34 preschoolers. Even without the new program, Nichols said enrollment held steady at 702 students in K-12 compared to 701 last year.
Following the hearing, the FY19 budget was approved by the board.
In the absence of Amboy High School Principal Janet Crownhart, Nichols gave the high school report.
Curriculum and School Improvement
• The Building Leadership Team met on Sept. 4. The meeting focused on grade, department, building level data and students of concern.
• The Clippers, Set Sail! Team and 9th grade students met Aug. 16-20 during resource for team building activities and to provide information about clubs available at AHS.
• Crownhart and Katie Bulfer, dean of students, attended the Student Behavioral Threat Assessment held at Sauk Valley Community College on Aug. 31.
• Mr. Browne purchased a 3-D printer for use in his physics class to build a prototype of a catapult.
• Ashley Winters and Amy Wittenauer attended the Region 5 Illinois Association of Student Councils (IASC) Summit Aug. 17-19 in Rock Island. This annual leadership event is held for the current year’s state officers from each state in the region. Students from West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska engaged in various leadership activities and community service projects. These included packing over 1,800 buddy bags at the Riverbend Food Bank, which provide needy children with meals for the weekends. The students said they found the experience very informative and humbling knowing that the small bags they packed could possibly be the only food some students would have over an entire weekend when not in school.
• Crownhart and George Schwamberger, athletic director, attended a NUIC (Northwest Upstate Illini Conference) meeting on Sept. 5.
• Deb Cleary, art teacher, held tryouts for the fall play, “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Rehearsals started Sept. 4 and performances will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 16-18.
• The FFA’s blood drive on Sept. 4 collected 23 units of blood.
• The volleyball team had themes for each of their home games. Aug. 8 was Blackout, Aug. 30-Camo, Sept. 6-Neon, Sept. 10-Favorite Jersey, and Sept. 13-Beach.
Principal Andrew Full, Amboy Junior High, thanked the Board of Education for pitching in to cook during their “Back to School Night” Aug. 15. Full estimated that 96 percent of the junior high students attended that evening to get their schedules and Chromebooks.
Curriculum and School Improvement
• A faculty meeting on Sept. 4 included discussions on SLO’s, Evaluations, Leave Times, CPI Training, Extra Credit and Faculty/Staff Recognition.
• Full, Becky Walter, Shauna Dinges and Katie Bulfer have been working on the new schedule with TeacherEase.
• Full attended a Regional Office of Education (ROE) principal’s meeting held at SVCC on Sept. 13.
• Katie Bulfer attended Student Threat Assessment Training at the ROE.
• Faculty and staff were trained on Student Threat Assessment on Sept. 10.
• The junior high’s monthly PBIS assembly will be held on Monday, Sept. 24. This month’s character traits are “Sharing and Cooperation.”
• The AJHS PTC met on Aug. 29.
• A representative from Fannie May Candy talked to students on Sept. 12 for the candy sale kick off. Full noted that the price of the candy went up $1 per box this year.
• A videographer from CTS came filmed parts of the school and interviewed staff members.
• School and volleyball pictures were taken on Aug. 30.
Principal Joyce Schamberger, Central Elementary, said Central School’s teachers also participated in Threat Assessment Training.
• Second Step presentations on Social Emotional Learning began Sept. 12 for grades 1-4. Schamberger noted that kindergarten will not be included this year because the YWCA does not have enough staff. Program presenters, Edie Peterson and Liz Spaulding, discuss with students topics such as self-regulation skills, emotion management, problem solving skills and bullying prevention.
• Schamberger thanked the guest readers and guest speakers who took part in Central’s Book It kick off. A goal of 20,000 points was revealed by the Cat In the Hat. If the goal is met, Schamberger, Mrs. Bailey, Mrs. Finelly and Mrs. Lideman will dress up as Dr. Seuss characters and ride through town on the fire truck. “So, the kids are all fired up,” she laughed.
• Student of the Month awards were presented during a PBIS assembly on Sept. 11.
• The Prize Closet for students to use their Clipper Cash is being stocked by suggestions from students and teachers. Central’s PTC supports the PBIS program.
• The new preschool program currently has 18 students enrolled in the morning class and 17 students in the afternoon session. Schamberger said with the additional classes, storage space has become an issue and she is looking into the purchase of a 10 by 12 storage building to house the excess equipment. The estimated cost for a building is $1,969 delivered.
• Nichols said the district will also have to install a fenced in area with playground equipment at Central so the preschool students can safely go outside to play. He said they are now weighing cost versus durability of the equipment and noted that the playgrounds are also used by the public after school hours. Schamberger said she is looking at the possibility of a grant to help offset the cost.
• The original order for Lenovo Chromebooks that was placed on backorder last month has now been delivered. Nichols said the devices have started to arrive and are going into classrooms.
* Some small leaks in the roof at Central were patched by Ken Willey, maintenance director. Nichols said the leaks were caused by a tree limb.
• The board approved the purchase of a 2018 John Deere Gator from Holland & Sons, Inc. costing $6,021. Nichols said the district is getting a government discounted rate from John Deere and will also use admission from home football games to help offset the cost. In addition, the baseball, softball and track teams each offered to give $500 of their team’s funds toward the purchase. “The Gator is definitely needed,” Nichols noted. “Now we either have to borrow one from a coach or from a parent.”
• A contract with NRG Media, 101.7 River Country, to continue broadcasting Amboy’s home football games and other events was approved.
* An agreement with Vanguard Energy to lock in natural gas prices through June 2021 and electric prices through June 2023 was approved. Nichols said this will help the district with budgeting for these expenses.
* A resolution authorizing the sale of a 2006 school bus was approved. Nichols said the bus has been stripped of the exhaust, brakes and anything useful. He explained that he worked with the district’s attorney on this resolution so that other surplus material owned by the district can be sold using the same resolution with only the name of the item changed.
Following closed session, the board approved the contract of Katie Bulfer as dean of students for grades 5-12 and as student council advisor at Amboy Junior High, and Colleen Phillips as paraprofessional at Central School.
They hired Lisa Barnes as an hourly bus driver, Mary Tunk as a bus aide, and Cecilia Seier as playground supervisor at Central School.
Resignations were accepted from Lindsay Christoffersen as freshman volleyball coach, Andrew Full as 7th grade boys basketball coach, Faith Sachs as cheerleading sponsor at AJHS, and Chris Delimata as student council advisor at AJHS.
The next regular meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at Amboy High School.