The late Don Dobrino’s career and contributions to Community Unit School District 7 were recognized by the Board of Education Monday night during the board’s regular monthly meeting. The legendary football coach and long-serving school board member died July 4 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
In addition to a 29-year career as head football coach at Gillespie High School, Dobrino was a teacher for 24 years, served 25 years as a member of the school board and even served as a bus driver.
“Mr. Dobrino literally did everything for the district,” said Supt. Shane Owsley before Board President Mark Hayes presented a memorial plaque to Dobrino’s widow, Cyrelda “Cookie” Dobrino. “He touched the lives of thousands of students and athletes.”
Owsley said he coached football in a small community in northwestern Illinois before moving to Macoupin County. “I knew who Don Dobrino was long before I even knew where Gillespie was,” he recalled. “It was an honor to have known him.”
During his tenure as football coach, Dobrino led the Miners to 169 wins and established a record as the 14th winningest high school coach in Illinois. He was inducted into the Illinois High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2019, the Gillespie High School football field was renamed in his honor.
In other action Monday night, the board voted to place a proposed fiscal 2022 budget on file for public inspection for a period of 30 days and hired two full-route bus drivers and a cafeteria worker.
Board members voted unanimously to place on public display the fiscal 2022 proposed budget for a period of 30 days. The budget, developed by Owsley, will govern spending for the fiscal year that started July 1 and will end June 30, 2022. Formal adoption is expected during the board’s regular monthly meeting in September at which time Owsley said he will present a detailed summary of the spending plan.
The 30-day review period is required by law as is a public hearing during which interested persons may comment or ask questions. The hearing is set for 6 p.m., Monday, Sept. 27, prior to the regular monthly meeting of the board.
In the meantime, members of the public may examine the document at the District Office, 510 West Elm St., Gillespie.
On a motion by Bill Carter, seconded by Becky Hatlee, the board voted unanimously to hire Brad Snyder and Alicia Landreth as full-route bus drivers. Both individuals had previously been hired as substitute bus drivers and completed certification and background checks. The board did not formally post vacancies for substitute drivers but Owsley said the district continues to accept applications for substitute drivers.
The board also voted unanimously to hire Cora Schalk as a three-hour cafeteria worker.
The resignation of John VanDoren, who recently was hired as a half-route bus driver, also was unanimously accepted.
During a brief District Focus segment, High School Principal Jill Rosentreter introduced to the board members of the girls softball team and boys soccer team, both of whom recently completed successful seasons.
Rosentreter presented the girls with the regional championship plaque and a nameplate recognizing their conference championship designation and presented the boys soccer team with a conference championship nameplate.
The softball team, she said, compiled a 27-7 record, were regional champs and were conference champs with a 9-0 record.
“Several girls were named to all-conference: Sydney Bires, pitcher; Hannah Barrett, catcher; Keaton Link and Shelby Taylor, outfield; Megan Rife, utility player; Regan Bussmann, Mikala Hayes and Chloe Segarra for infield,” Rosentreter noted.
Additionally, Bires was the Alton Telegraph’s small schools softball player of the year, was named to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s all-metro team and the Springfield State Journal-Register’s Capital Region High School softball team.
Barrett was the Illinois Coaches Association’s choice for all-state second team.
Rosentreter noted that several of the girls, including Birds, were embarking on college careers after graduating last spring.
Coached by Jono Verticchio, the boys soccer team were co-conference champs with a 6-1 record and were undefeated at home.
The team started the season 0-2, being outscored 9-0. They went on, however, to win six conference games, outscoring opponents 17-2, winning two games that went double overtime and a shootout.
Five team members were selected for all-conference teams: Jeremiah Yakana, Camron Crowe, Camden Quarton, Spense Hoehl and Nate Fetter.
In other action, the board approved job descriptions for the District Maintenance Director and District Transportation Director. Both positions remain vacant at this time and apparently no formal job description was written for them in the past.
The board also approved an EIS (Education Information System) Administrative and Teacher Salary and Benefits report. The report is required by law and will be placed on file for public review.
Owsley reported that total enrollment at the end of six days of the school year stood at 1,179, which is 28 more students than were enrolled at the same time last year. The enrollment, however, is below a five-year average of 1,278. Owsley attributed the downward trend to population loss, noting the latest census showed 500 fewer individuals living in the district than 10 years earlier.
He also extended thanks to building administrators and other personnel for their work in ensuring a school opening that was as smooth as possible under difficult circumstances.
“On behalf of the Board of Education, we want to thank everyone for all they do,” Board President Hayes added.
Michelle Smith, representing the teachers union, thanked the board for completing successful negotiations on the teachers’ contract and recognized the board’s current work on completing a contract for non-certificated personnel.
Hayes said work on the non-certificated contract is essentially done, pending legal review by a district attorney. “We’ve already signed off on our part of it,” he said.