Panhandle Leaders To Meet With Morrisonville

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The Panhandle School Board had seven personnel items to complete, along with two discussion items, as they met on Tuesday, Aug. 6, for a special meeting.

The meeting started with a discussion regarding a request from the Morrisonville school district, who reached out to request a meeting with the Panhandle board regarding academic and extra-curricular opportunities between the two schools. 

Board President Terri Payne asked what specifically Morrisonville was looking for with the talks.

Superintendent Aaron Hopper said that the two districts already co-op for some things, including basketball, baseball and soccer, but the request didn't specify what other programs, academic or athletic, Morrisonville was looking at with Panhandle.

Hopper added that one of the district's goals is to improve its curriculum, including offering more dual credit and college type courses and while there have been athletic co-ops with Morrisonville, there has not been much discussion about curriculum. 

Lincolnwood Principal Ken Schuster suggested that partnering with another school looking at similar programs could result in  more success in attracting community colleges or other sources for these programs.

Board member Scott Cowdrey asked about reimbursement to schools in regards to shared academic programs. Hopper said that it depends on the situation, but usually it's more of a shared situation than one school reimbursing another.

Both Payne and board member Brett Slightom suggested that Hopper and Schuster meet with Morrisonville first, to determine what their district was interested in. Schuster said that would give the administrators time to research the possibilities from the meeting and report back to the board. 

Hopper added that they both use the same online program at the high school level, so there is some commonality between the two schools.

In regards to extra-curricular opportunities, Slightom said that he did not believe there was a need at this time, but there might be in the future. 

Payne asked Athletic Director Josh Stone if there were any Lincolnwood teams that were in need of the co-op. Stone said the only one he could think of was girls basketball, because it is in its first year and he is unsure of the numbers since the season has not started.

Payne said that she is never opposed to a co-op that would bring Morrisonville players to Lincolnwood, with board member Linda Brown agreeing. Slightom said that he doubts that's what Morrisonville would want, in regards to an athletic co-op between the two schools.

In the other discussion item, the board agreed to allow Principal Schuster to develop guidelines for the credit recovery process at Lincolnwood. Schuster said that there have been some concerns that students might blow off a course in order to take the credit recovery option, usually an online course, and he would like to have a procedure in place for the program.

Schuster said that he has been in contact with other area schools to see what they do and that costs are one of the factors that needs to be looked at. 

Hopper said that most schools have the family pay for the costs for the credit recovery program, which is sometimes done at the school, either before or after class time.

Cowdrey asked if this has been a recent problem at the school. Hopper said that it hasn't been much of an issue, but Lincolnwood has not had a formal program in place. He added that he felt like the program needs to be more rigorous and responsive in identifying issues earlier.

Schuster said that there is nothing wrong with what the district is currently doing, but having structures in place for the process would be beneficial.

Schuster said that he will also be working with his teacher leadership team in improving the learning culture at Lincolnwood and plans to have a student leadership team that will meet once a month as well.

After the 57-minute closed session, the board approved seven other items, including the contract with the Panhandle Teachers Association, which passed by a 3-2 margin, with Rick Bormida and Brett Slightom voting no, Terri Payne, Linda Brown and Scott Cowdrey voting yes and Dana Pitchford absent. Board member Gabe Pope, whose wife Lindsay is a kindergarten teacher at Farmersville Grade School, abstained from the vote.

The board also approved the 2019 Lincolnwood Principal contract and the hiring of Elisha Love as the district's head cook, Bridgett Presnell as Lincolnwood High School special education paraprofessional. The resignations of Robin Brockmeyer as district cook and Kim Greenwood as special education teacher were also approved, along with the special education job descriptions as presented. All six motions passed 6-0.

The meeting would adjourn at 8:20 p.m. The board will meet next on Monday, Aug. 19, for their regular meeting. Prior to that, on Monday, Aug. 12, the board will be at the Lincoln Land Community College auditorium in Litchfield for the presentation of the Montgomery County School Study Commission's reorganization study, presented by Midwest School Consultants at 7 p.m.

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