By CHRISTY JANKOWSKI
The bills for September came to an amount of $161,936.36 during the regularly scheduled Cerro Gordo School Board meeting for September. Board Member Todd Henricks asked, “Are we about done paying for that building?” To which Superintendent Brett Robinson replied, “This is the last amount of money held back.”
The district began the addition and renovation with a voter referendum a little over 3 years ago. Everyone seemed pleased to put the financial side of it aside.
Elementary Principal Jodi Neaveill delivered her report, stating the school year is off to a great start. “So we are off to a wonderful start the students are wearing their masks, practicing social distancing, sanitizing throughout the school day; love being back in session.”
The Elementary completed their STARR testing, a universal screener required through the State for grades 1st-6th. The LTR (learning to read) program has been put on hold, states Neaveill, “We have put the program on hold due to Covid not wanting to move the students from class to class.” However their reading and math recovery groups are continuing.
On October 6 the Elementary will be receiving a Health, Life, and Safety inspection from the regional office. Parent teacher conferences will be held virtually on October 8 from 4:30-7pm.
The district sent out a letter detailing how to change students from remote learning to in person learning during the second quarter. The district must know by October 13. Neaviell thanked Small Hand J from Monticello for school supplies. “we are very appreciative of that organization and delivered to our students that needed those supplies.”
As for self certification that a child is symptom free, if the parent has not completed it by 7:15 am the students are assessed and temperatures are taken with two teachers aiding with bus students and Neaviell aiding with students walking to school or riding bikes.
Todd Henricks asked if the district has been impacted by parents choosing to homeschool during this different age of education. “Do we have a ballpark guess of how many families we are not getting because they are homeschooled? Reason I ask is I was up at Judy’s and there was a mother in there and she had a table of about six kids…and at least two or three more were not hers, she said they were friends. Denise asked her what she was doing up there. And she said I am homeschool this year because I don’t want to deal with this covid crap and I didn’t want to do remote.”
Neveill added that she knows of two families that are homeschooling. One with three children, and the other with one child. Piriano added that there was a family that recently moved into the area with kids that were homeschooled prior to anything COVID. High School Principal Jeremy Rodebaugh added that he believes there are 5 on the list for Junior-Senior High.
Board member Debbie Greenwood asked, “what are the requirements for homeschooling?They do it for this year and then come back?” To which Neaveill replied, “The State of Illinois the requirements are very loose for Elementary.” Rodebuagh added for high school, “they have to show evidence of credit from accredited homeschool programs.” Adding those transcripts are evaluated the same as any other transcripts for a new student and that Counselor and Coach Brandon Willard would know more about the subject.
Cerro Gordo Bement has started practices for football, but the season is still yet to start in February. Rodebaugh is hopeful for some sort of normalcy with that in the spring, albeit different. “Hopefully things are better so we can have some school activities and possibly a parade working with the community if we are at a better solution. It is only a month from Prom, so doubt we would look at a dance with those being so close together, but I think hopefully some time of coronation at a football game, some school activities, and a parade are potentially possible.”
Board Secretary Karen Freese asked Rodebaugh how remote is going from his side. “As far as the high school this week, much better than in the spring…don’t get me wrong I think it went well in the spring. Our teachers did a tremendous job spur of the moment in the spring.
And our families, but I think they have done an even better job this year which I had no doubt they would.”
“I have been very happy with the accomplishments of staff and the students, there is still we still have to make some contacts here and there to get some motivation for students, but we have to do that when they are here. I think it is going well.”
There was discussion about poor internet connections in the more rural areas of the Cerro Gordo district, mainly Oakley and La Place. Neaveill mentioned that “We also have to think about multiple learners in the home as far as if you chose remote to say everybody has to get on at 9 o’ clock for a zoom meeting that can be impossible if we are only looking at one device and we have distributed devices in the junior and senior high and elementary.”
As for remote attendance Rodebaugh is leaving it to each individual teacher. “To me leaving that check in to the teacher is the right way to go, because…They know the students, they know the families, they know the best medium to connect with families, because it is not one size fits all.”
Board Member Angela Miller added, “They have to balance all these different formats, it is just a challenging part of the way we are living right now.”
Neaveil added that some parents have requested paper copies or other accommodations. “You see elementary boxes outside labeled and you know they distribute things on the table, they return things in the boxes. We have tried to meet every single request and I think our teachers have done an incredible, incredible job.” Adding. “We have the elementary teachers recording lessons so they can watch when they can, because we understand they might have a high school sibling that has to be in that zoom meeting at that particular time. We are trying to understand the structures of the family.”
When asked about the possibility of hotspots for families if necessary, Robinson replied, “we received the CARES grant money and it is not something used just for that purpose, but it is something that we could do with that.” The district received almost $80,000 in CARES funding and has a plan formed for the usage of that funding.
In addition to the CARES funding, Robinson mentioned Kirby Medical Center will be offering free and expedited COVID tests for students and faculty that may require quarantine. The results will be in as little as 24 hours and the hope is for it to be accessible in October.
Teacher evaluations will be put on hold for this year.
The board approved a payment of $89,100 to Bryne and Jones for the all weather track structural spray that comes with a three year warranty. “We thought if we are going to have all all weather track we have to maintain it, so time to maintain it.”
•All minutes recorded from January closed sessions to remain closed, and all verbatim recordings 18 months older destroyed
•Rex Colgrove was approved as NHS Sponsor
• Sarah Bone approved as Scholastic Bowl Coach
•Resignation from Norma Martinez part time cook accepted