Superintendent Shannon Cheek updates school board on return to school plan

BLDD Architects present results from Arthur CUSD 305 Future Facilities Planning Study

By ARIANA R. CHERRY
Staff Writer

The most recent ALAH School District #305 School Board meeting which took place on Wednesday, July 15 was held at the Atwood Hammond Grade School cafeteria. This allowed for board members and the public to use social distancing and have access to air conditioning during the heatwave that our area has been experiencing.

Before the board meeting began that day, the attorney informed the board that everyone in attendance was to wear face coverings at all meetings beginning that evening. Mostly everyone was in compliance with new regulation aside from one board member who chose not to wear one, stating that it was his right to make a decision whether he would wear one or not.

At the opening of the meeting, Superintendent Shannon Cheek introduced two new individuals who would be joining the district. Mr. Nathan Seal was hired as the new ALAH High School Assistant Principal and Athletic Director while his wife, Mrs. Adrienne Seal was hired as the new 5th grade teacher at the Lovington Grade School.

The total of all funds for the Treasurer’s Report was $4,444,788.99. The Education fund is totaled at $1,627,968.63 and the Transportation fund sits at $280,730.20. A mower was purchased for the district at $2,200.

After the consent agenda was approved, a presentation showing the results from the Arthur CUSD #305 Future Facilities Planning Study was given by Mr. Damien Schlitt from the BLDD Architects.

The study began in the 2019-2020 school year and started with a walk-through by BLDD.

The architects looked at the physical and functional needs of each building. During those walk-throughs, they looked at the roofs of each building, its systems, security, Special-Ed rooms, common areas and the ability to work remotely.

BLDD came up with seven different plans/scenarios which then could be analyzed to see which one would best meet the function and physical needs of the district.

Another purpose of this study was to see what kinds of updates and renovations could be made to create a better learning environment for a 21st century education to the students in our district. More information about the study can be found on the district’s school website at https://www.cusd305.org and the Arthur CUSD #305 Facebook page.

Once the results from the planning study were presented, Shannon went on to present his Superintendent’s report and to give an update on the planning process for remote learning and the upcoming school year. “I am very proud of this group and the process at this point,” he stated.

The planning team consists of 21 teachers in addition to the administrative team and in addition to last Wednesday evening, they have met a total of eight times. Mark Smith and Amanda Romine developed online training for best practices for remote teaching. The committee worked together to brainstorm what school would look like for the 2020-2021 school year.

In the Restore Illinois Plan for phase 4, in-person learning is strongly encouraged although the ISBE recommends planning for a return to remote learning as well. The Illinois Department of Health is asking that all guidelines must be followed for a return to in-person learning. Some of those guidelines include the requirement of proper PPE (face coverings), prohibiting more than 50 individuals from gathering in one space, using social distancing of six feet as much as possible, that schools conduct symptom screenings and temperature checks on all individuals who enter the building and require an increase in school-wide cleaning and disinfection.

The district sent surveys to parents, teachers and the remote learning team which they have analyzed. About 600 surveys were distributed to members of the community and they had about a 50% response. About 94% of the community said they would be willing to help with the symptom and temperature screenings if asked to do so. From 230 respondents, for grades K- sixth, 53% said they wanted to return to in-person learning. Of those 230 respondents, 34% said they were in favor of a blended learning (a combination of in-person and remote learning). The rest of the responses favored remote learning only.

There were 171 responses to the high school survey which was distributed. Of those who responded, 97% said they had access to WIFI. About 7% said they had access to hot-spots and/or mobile access. The remaining 2% didn’t have any type of internet access. Within the survey, a question asking what were two of the greatest challenges that they (as a family) faced. The top answers were balancing work, home and school life and the ability to help students at home.

The district also asked for respondents’ input on the best learning environment. Scenario number one which was the most chosen required one week of in-person learning and one week of remote learning. The second most popular choice was a half day of in-person learning and the other half of the day spent in remote learning. For the third popular choice, respondents requested having a daily set schedule.

About 72% preferred a hybrid of those scenarios or a blended approach. The planning committee has been diligently working on a blended plan for the district.

Shannon mentioned that he noticed a popular theme in most areas schools for a return to school was early dismissal. He informed the board that a decision would be presented by the end of next week which could consist of remote learning, blended or in-person. The actual specifics of the plan would have to be board-approved.

Shannon ended the public portion of the board meeting by quoting, “I think it is important for us as a district to understand as we continue this journey together, all of us want to go back before May 13. I want us all to consider ideas open to the challenges we are going to be faced with.

We want to make sure we are allowing our teachers, our administrators, our board, our community, our students some grace, compassion and some thought about what this is looking like currently and what it will look like moving forward. Nobody has experienced this. I am amazed at what we have been able to get done so far. We need all of our communities to wrap their arms around each other, because this will be difficult. I am confident that we will move forward for what is best for our kids, teachers and staff. I am proud of our district, our team and what has been done.”

PERSONNEL REPORT

Certified:

Recommend Mr. Nathan Seal as the Assistant Principal/Athletic Director of ALAH HS

Recommend Mrs. Adrienne Seal as a 5th Grade Teacher at LGS

Non-Certified:

None

Extra-Curricular:

Accept resignation of Travis Wilson as the JH Baseball Coach

Leave a Comment