AMBOY – A decision regarding the future of Amboy Junior High School was made by the Amboy District 272 Board of Education during the Dec. 14 regular board meeting. Following closed session, board members voted to place a bond resolution for $15,800,000 on the general primary election ballot next spring.
The decision follows many months of research, as well as responses from a community survey and comments/questions presented during town hall meetings. After carefully weighing the pros and cons of construction vs. renovation, the board decided on construction and took the next step in that process.
If voters approve the bond resolution, which will be on the March 20 ballot, the district will be able to move forward with construction of a new junior high addition and gym at Amboy High School. Although the new structure will be adjoining to the high school, the younger students will have their own cafeteria and classrooms and have virtually no interaction with the high schoolers.
The separation of the junior high and high school students was one of the main concerns expressed in surveys and was also discussed at town hall meetings. Parents have repeatedly been assured that the addition is being designed so the junior high students will not share space with the high school students. In addition, comments expressed by people who had experienced similar situations in other districts all agreed that there were never any problems even when the age groups were in contact with each other. In fact, some said behavior among all students actually improved.
Superintendent Dr. Jeff Thake noted that the $15,800,000 bond is only for construction of a new addition at AHS. He explained that by law, the board had to choose either to renovate the old junior high building or build the new addition when approving the bond resolution.
Thake added that he strongly encourages the community to attend the next town hall meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. in the Amboy Junior High School cafeteria. “I would be happy to discuss why we believe the extension is the correct course of action,” he said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Principal Joshua Nichols, Amboy High School, congratulated December Student of the Month Kallie Appleman.
* Sophomores, accompanied by Mr. Wissinger and Mrs. Zinke, toured the Whiteside Area Career Center (WACC) on Nov. 25. The tour was held earlier this year to give students plenty of time to decide if they want to attend WACC their junior year, which is expected to help speed up the registration process.
* Nichols attended the Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center webinar on Nov. 26 and Dec. 6.
* Deb Cleary gave a presentation at the Illinois Art Education Association Conference on Dec. 1. This was Cleary’s sixth time at the state conference and she also attended the national conference for the past three years.
* Students in Cleary’s art classes accompanied her for a tour of the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa on Dec. 13. In addition to viewing exhibits, the group saw a movie on Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and attended an art workshop.
* Nichols reported that Beth Becker’s foods class had made 600 dozen cookies as of Dec. 14. They also made dog treats as part of their fundraiser and got help from Ms. Drew’s vet tech class, which made paw balm to go with the dog treats.
* Another collaboration was formed between Becker’s floral design class and Drew’s intro to ag classes, which joined to make wreaths. Nichols said this provided the floral design students with an opportunity to teach and mentor the ag students in learning to make wreaths.
* School librarian Mary Jo Zinke held her 10th Annual Barnes & Noble Bookfair on Nov. 19 and raised $5,295 toward the purchase of books for the school libraries.
* Nichols reported the results of the girls’ basketball shootout on Dec. 2. The Amboy frosh/soph team defeated Clinton frosh/soph, Clinton defeated Indian Creek, Warren defeated LaMoille, Putnam County defeated Warren, Amboy defeated Newark, and AFC defeated Newman.
* Auditions were held Dec. 2 for the spring musical “Annie.” Nichols said both Mrs. Burke and Kathy Mekeel were impressed by the talent and feel this show is on its way to be “one to remember.”
Principal Joyce Schamberger, Amboy Junior High and Central Elementary, said Central School held a short assembly on Dec. 11 to present “Yoda Student of the Week” Awards. Central students will enjoy movies, donuts and hot chocolate on Dec. 20 for their 2nd Quarter PBIS Incentive Celebration. They will also hold class parties that day.
* At Amboy Junior High, an all school assembly was held Dec. 19 to hand out Student of the Month and Character Trait awards for Positive Attitude. A friendly Academic Meet was also held to help spark interest in the activity that starts after winter break. In addition, students went to Plum Hollow for bowling and video games as their 2nd Quarter Incentive Celebration. PTC paid for this trip.
* Schamberger said the PBIS teams from Central and AJHS will retrain students on proper procedures and expectations after winter break.
* The Band and Choral Christmas Concert was held Dec. 6 at the AHS auditorium and the Central Christmas Concert took place Dec. 12 at the AJHS gym.
* Fifth grade classes planned to visit the nursing home to sing songs, play games and hand out gifts.
* The 7th and 8th grade boys’ basketball team and cheerleaders season is coming to a close. All players will receive their letters and pins at the next SIP assembly in January.
* The 7th and 8th grade girls’ basketball team will begin practicing soon.
* The 6th grade class won Best Attendance for November with 96.03 percent. At Central, 3rd grade won Best Attendance for the second month in a row with 97.14 percent.
Thake expressed his appreciation to Janet Crownhart and Amie Wiseman, who presented with him at the Raising Student Achievement Conference on Dec. 4. Thake noted that Amboy was one of only six districts in the state chosen as a Featured School District for innovation that has taken place over the last two years.
Thake said their presentation at the conference drew a standing room only crowd. “People like hearing our story - what we’re doing as a district and they want to learn more,” he told the board. “It was really a tremendous honor for our district and we were thrilled.”
Thake said as a Featured School District, they were presented with a certificate, which will be framed and displayed in the district office.
The board approved the 2017 tax levy, following a public hearing. There were no questions or comments from the public. The motion to accept the levy was approved unanimously.
A public hearing to discuss an interfund transfer was approved. The hearing will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 11 at AHS, Room 105. The transfer is due to a new state law that allows school districts to move funds from Tort into Operations & Maintenance. Thake said over the years, the district has developed a sizeable fund balance in Tort, which they believe would be better served in O&M. He noted that the recommendation is for a transfer of $500,000, not the entire fund.
Following closed session, the board accepted the resignation of Jennifer Gazza as bus driver (effective Nov. 17) and the retirement resignation of Christina Shaw as head custodian (effective Dec. 29).
They approved the employment of Julie Plut as a health aide at Amboy High School (effective Nov. 27) and Patricia Kuper as a paraprofessional at Amboy Junior High School (effective Dec. 11).
The next regular meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25 at Amboy High School.