Members of the Community Unit School District 7 Board of Education on Monday night recognized members of the Gillespie Middle School girls volleyball team for their efforts to raise money to aid needy local families during the Christmas holidays. The board applauded the girls for raising $700 in 2018 and $1,000 for 2019.
With three members absent, the board barely mustered a quorum for the relatively brief monthly meeting. Board President Mark Hayes and members Weye Schmidt, Jenni Alepra and Don Dobrino took action on routine matters, personnel issues and discussed a new program to accelerate certification training for high school teachers.
Supt. Joe Tieman lauded the volleyball team members for generating $1,000 to help struggling families at Christmas.
“Do you know what $1,000 can mean to a family living in a camper with no running water, a single mother with seven children, a family where both parents have been laid off in the past month, a single dad who says I can fix my car to get to work and feed my family or I can buy Christmas for my children, I can’t do both?” Tieman said. “I can’t thank you enough. The lesson you’ve learned from your coaches and parents is a lifelong lesson that you will never forget—that there are people out there who are less fortunate than you and a lot of the time, they are too proud to ask for help.”
Tieman said administrators and staff decided several years ago that buying gift cards to exchange with one another at Christmas was a “waste of money.”
“We decided to take our money and try to make a positive impact on as many families as possible,” he said.
In 2018, he said the school identified three or four families who were “good families and good parents” who had fallen on hard times and were struggling financially during the holidays. He said he distributed money to those families in time for them to use the cash to buy Christmas dinner or Christmas gifts. Many times, he said the families emotionally accepted the donation, saying they were surprised to know someone cared enough to seek them out.
Upon returning home, he said he received a call from one of the volleyball coaches who told him the team had raised $700 to add to the fund. “I called Mrs. (Jill) Rosentreter and told her ‘Hey, we’ve got another $700’,” he recalled, “‘We can do a couple more families’.”
Including the team’s $1,000 donation, the school district distributed $2,500.
“You raised about 40 percent of that total,” Tieman told the girls.
GOLDEN APPLE ACCELERATED TEACHING CERTIFICATION
Tieman asked the board to take under advisement the possibility of participating in a Golden Apple Foundation program designed to accelerate the educational process to certify new teachers. Formal action is expected in February.
Tieman said the Golden Apple Foundation is known for providing scholarships for college students pursuing teaching degrees. Part of the scholarship program requires students to teach four years in a school district in need of teachers in their chosen field of specialization. Many schools have trouble hiring teachers for math, science and Spanish classes, he said.
Under the Foundation’s new program, a paraprofessional interested in pursuing a teaching degree can apply for a $30,000 tuition stipend to participate in an accelerated teaching degree program. Participants will complete much of the coursework online but would need to be on campus one day a week. Both Blackburn College and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville are partnering with Golden Apple to implement the program.
To participate in the program, the school district would be required to release the person seeking a degree one day a week, which would require the district to hire a substitute paraprofessional for that day. Tieman said the cost to the district for one participant for one year would be about $4,000.
Additionally, if the district hired the newly certificated teacher, it would commit to spending about $5,000 for professional mentoring.
Tieman said at least one district paraprofessional has expressed an interest in participating in the program.
He said he will ask the board to vote on whether or not to participate during the board’s regular monthly meeting in February.
“It’s not a big financial investment and I think it’s a good investment,” Tieman said.
MACOUPIN CONSORTIUM GRANT
Tieman said he also will ask the board to vote on whether or not approve a project to improve vocational education facilities using matching grant money available to the district through a $399,000 state grant recently awarded to the Macoupin County Vocational Education Consortium. The consortium includes six county school districts. Tieman noted that State Sen. Andy Manar was instrumental in securing the grant.
Tieman said the existing vocational building needs a new roof with a preliminary estimated price tag of $100,000 to $125,000. For that project, if approved, the district would apply for a matching grant of $50,000. The Carlinville school district is the fiscal agent for administering the grant and would reimburse the Gillespie district the $50,000 after completion of the project.
Tieman said the board may also be asked to consider building an addition to the vocational building and/or reconfiguring the interior floor plan to make better use of the space.
Tieman also reported that the Schmidt Family Foundation recently donated $25,000 to the district’s technology needs for educational purposes, and the Mustang Football program donated $1,500 earmarked for updating the school’s weight training room.
On a motion by Schmidt, seconded by Alepra, the board voted unanimously to extend Tieman’s contract by one year.
The board also voted unanimously to hire Jessica Kelly as a high school volunteer track coach, and Jim Matesa as a middle school assistant softball coach.
Board members voted unanimously to post vacancies for a Title I teacher and a district custodian.
The board approved a packet of school policies recommended by the Illinois Association of School Boards, but upon Tieman’s recommendation excluded a section dealing with the administration of medical marijuana to students by parents or staff. Under current law, Tieman said, including that particular policy could jeopardize the district’s access to federal funds which account for a sizable percentage of the district’s budget.
The board also accepted the lower of two bids to supply motor vehicle fuel for the calendar year. The successful bidder, M & M Services, offered a fixed bid of $2.343 for gasoline and $2.677 for biodiesel.