School heating repairs mount up during January cold snap

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AMBOY – A stretch of bitterly cold weather in January tested not only the human spirit but also caused a variety of problems for local school buildings.

Reporting at the Jan. 25 board of education meeting, Amboy Superintendent Jeff Thake said all three of the district’s school buildings were challenged by the weather but the junior high was hardest hit. “The intense cold is finding all of the weak spots in our heating system,” he told the board. “Our maintenance director and assistant director have been scrambling since we got back from break.”

Thake read a list of emergency repairs needed at the junior high due to an aging furnace and pipes including replacing leaking coils, unit ventilator leaks, a leaking zone valve, a split line in the heating coil, and repair to the thermostat. “So, turning the heat up for the deep freeze is wreaking havoc in our junior high school,” he told the board. “We’ve also have some maintenance at Central and at the high school but the junior high is the most widespread - all we did was turn up the temperature so it would be warm.”

Thake also discussed a meeting on the state’s new evidence based funding formula for schools that he and AHS Principal Joshua Nichols attended. The meeting gave information detailing how the calculations for funding will be made. This includes recognizing the amount each district levies, then calculating exactly what the state should kick in each year. “The state will look at that and annually by 5 percent, they will start closing that gap to where we don’t levy as much,” he said. “The main question, is the state going to honor that commitment? Should we plan on that?”

Board member Katie Pratt commented that Gov. Rauner this month again vetoed part of the funding bill. Thake explained that this most recent veto had to do with money the governor wants to go toward school choice (state funding of private schools) but said he expected the law to move forward once language in the bill was changed to accommodate that issue.

PRINCIPALS’ REPORTS

Principal Joshua Nichols, Amboy High School, congratulated the January Student of the Month Cassidy Corcoran.

Curriculum and School Improvement

* The Clippers, Set Sail! team gave out 2nd quarter incentives. Nick Tarr won the grand prize, a pair of Beats Headphones. “For the first time in five years, I received a hand-written thank you note from Nick Tarr,” Nichols said.

Other winners were Emma Weber, Mallory Powers and Chloe Welch, who won Casey’s gift cards, and Logan Wood, Trevor Vaessen and Eden Lindenmeyer, Subway gift cards. Thirty-six students earned an ice cream party for having a 3.0 GPA or higher.

* ISBE finally sent the results of a  Biology/Science assessment, which was given to freshmen in 2016. The test was the first of it’s kind in Illinois and Nichols said the AHS freshmen that year did well with an average score of 314 compared to the state average score of 300.

* The high school administered the 5Essentials survey during the week of Jan. 16.

School Activities

* Nichols said rehearsals for the spring musical, “Annie” are in full swing with the cast and pit orchestra working very hard Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. on and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.

* Amboy hosted a Girls Basketball Tournament Dec. 26-29. Nichols congratulated the Spring Valley Hall girls’ varsity team who won 1st place over eight other teams and the Amboy freshmen team who won 1st place over four other teams.

* Wrestling hosted a JV tournament on Jan. 6 with 14 teams competing and a varsity tournament on Jan. 13 with 13 teams competing.

FFA Report

* The FFA Alumni Machine Shed Masters on Sunday, Feb. 18 will be focused in the Sublette area with a dinner to follow at the Sublette Community Building.

* On Jan. 16, 12 FFA members attended an acquaintance night with the Lee County Farm Bureau. They met the young leaders and learned about Farm Bureau, the young leaders group, and scholarships offered by Farm Bureau. They also heard Dr. Anderson of Sauk Valley discuss pointers on how to figure out life after high school.

* Ms. Drew has been working with Lincoln Electric to develop plans to revamp the welding area in the metals shop. Preliminary plans include 4-8 welding booths with proper ventilation to support MIG/SMAW/Cutting/etc.

* The 2017 record books are now getting polished up in preparation for competition and IL FFA State Degree Interviews. Students have been staying after school and working with Ms. Drew to get them finished.

* Seven students attended the Mendota Ag Conference at the Mendota Civic Center on Jan. 23.

* CDEs (Career Development Events) on Vet Science and Food Science were held Jan. 24 at Prophetstown.

Principal Joyce Schamberger, Amboy Junior High and Central Elementary, said after returning to school this month, students at both schools were re-trained by grade level teams on the expectations for PBIS. Student of the month awards were handed out during an all school assembly on Jan. 8. At Central School, Yoda of the Month Awards were presented to students. Kindness was the character trait for January, and all junior high staff members gave awards to students they felt exemplified this trait.

School Activities

* Academic Team is beginning with Ms. Vicks and Mr. Fassler as sponsors.

* The Whiteside Dental Clinic was held Jan. 23 at Central School for K-8.

* The sixth grade class won the best attendance contest for December with a 96.62 percent attendance rate. They earned a snack sponsored by the junior high PTC. At Central School, first grade won best attendance for December with 97.04 percent. They also earned a snack paid for by Central PTC.

* Stacy Dinges organized the junior high spelling bee. Students will compete in their language arts classes and then an all school spelling bee will be held Feb. 2. The regional spelling bee is Feb. 22.

* AJHS students began selling candy bars on Jan. 25. Schamberger said this will be the last fundraiser for the year.

* The AJHS Honors Dinner will be held on Monday, Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. in the gym. Soup and sandwiches will be served. Parents and grandparents are invited to attend. The guest speakers will be Dr. Brandon Klein, DDS and Dr. Kelly Klein, OD, who will talk to students about goal setting and leadership skills.

OTHER BUSINESS

* Amboy hosted K-5 teachers, directors of professional development, and assistant principals from Kaneland Unit School District 302 on Jan. 25. Thake said the group saw classrooms at Central and visited with a panel of teachers and a panel of students. “They were absolutely floored when they left, that’s a common theme,” he commented. “It’s always fun and a good reminder that we are on course. It’s good that we invested in 21st Century learning and in technology - it’s been an amazing transformation. I couldn’t be more pleased with what’s happening and I hope everybody feels the same way.”

* The board approved a student activity account for the new Amboy Leo’s Club at AHS. Kaitlyn Ortgiesen, club president, and Danielle Benesh, social studies teacher/club sponsor, said the new club is a division of the Amboy Lion’s Club and currently has 33 members. The club is geared toward community service and getting students actively involved in their community.

* AHS alumnus Ed Morris, spoke to the board during open forum, saying he thought it “might be interesting to see how I turned out.” Born Tonica, Morris said his father was the school board president there before the family moved to a farm near Harmon. In his senior year at AHS, Morris won letters in football and track and awards in music, drama and journalism, was president of FFA and was awarded the degree of State Farmer. He studied ag education at the University of Illinois for three years, then volunteered for the draft and was called to active duty for two years. He returned to U of I, got a Master’s degree and joined the Air Force Reserves, where he was promoted to major and retired. After college, Morris said he farmed so his father could retire. He was also a substitute teacher at area schools. When special education became required, very few teachers were qualified, so he quit farming and became qualified. After a dozen years teaching special ed in Amboy, he moved to Wheaton and spent 20 years working for a publisher. After retiring, he returned to the Amboy area and did some more teaching.

PERSONNEL

Following closed session, the board accepted the retirement resignation of Beth Becker as home economics/horticulture teacher, effective at the conclusion of the 2017-18 school year and approved Brad Metz as head custodian at Amboy High School, effective Jan. 8.

The next regular meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22 at Amboy High School.