Unit 40 Board to Consider Closing Edgewood School

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Published on January 28 2014 3:54 am
Last Updated on January 28 2014 3:57 am
Written by Greg Sapp

The Effingham Unit 40 Board of Education Monday was asked to consider closing the last outlying school in the district.

Edgewood Grade School has 59 students this year with class sizes of anywhere from eight to 15 students.  Unit 40 Superintendent Mark Doan said closing the building and moving those students into Effingham for next school year would save an estimated $440,000.

Doan said Grades K-5 class sizes this year average 22.6 students.  If the Edgewood students are moved into Effingham next year, the average class size would increase to 22.9 students.

Cheri Marten is serving as Edgewood principal this year so that position would be eliminated, but Dean Manuel is retiring as Central School principal after this year so an administrative position would be available for next year.

Doan said no certified staff members would lose their jobs since teacher retirements would open up spots in Effingham.  He said there are up to three non-certified staff members who might not be retained if the building closes, but said that decision is up to the Board.

There are currently 55 total sections of Grades K-5 in Unit 40; the number would be reduced to 51 if Edgewood School is closed.  Doan said the District is deficit spending by $990,000 this year and $550,000 of that amount is from the Education Fund.

Doan said the Board will hold a special meeting at 6pm on February 10 at the Unit Office to share more in-depth information on the proposed closing of Edgewood School and to take comments and answer questions from the public.  He hopes the matter would be up for a vote at the Board's regular February meeting on the 24th, but said it could be delayed until the March meeting.

The Board also voted to approve curriculum changes at Effingham High School next year.  One change would affect next year's freshman class and would involve offering Social Science all four high school years instead of only junior and senior years.  One consideration is instituting reading standards for Social Science.  Doan said the way things are currently set up, students have Social Science in eighth grade and then don't have it again until junior year.

The other change institutes a Manufacturing Skills I class.  The class would be offered in co-operation with Lake Land College and local manufacturers.  Doan said the course will offer Dual Credit opportunities where students could earn up to 16 hours from Lake Land.  They could use the hours toward a Lake Land associate's degree or be certified as having completed the course as a step toward getting a manufacturing job in Effingham.  Doan said a local training center is to be established in Effingham to facilitate the class, which he said is being promoted by all five public school districts in the county.  The course would be offered to high school seniors first.

A group of Unit 40 teachers attended Monday night's meeting.  Effingham Classroom Teachers Association President Rene Green read a statement regarding ongoing contract talks.  Teachers are currently working under terms of a contract that expired at the end of the previous school year.

Doan said the negotiating teams for the Board and for the teachers will meet with a Federal mediator at 6pm on February 19.

The Board amended the school year calendar to reflect the days lost to the winter storm.  The final day of student attendance was moved to May 30, with high school graduation at 1:30pm on Sunday, June 1 and a teacher's institute on Monday, June 2.  There was also discussion of next year's calendar, but no vote.

Board members heard from Cathy Nava-Sifuentes of the Unit 40 Mentoring Program and local businessman Mark Steppe, who is a member of the Mentoring Program Advisory Board.  Nava-Sifuentes reported that there are over 30 new mentors in this year's program and that the program has been expanded into Effingham High School.  The two thanked the Board for their support of the mentoring program.

The Board hired Carrie Collier as a cafeteria monitor at Effingham Junior High School, and approved Family and Medical Leave Act leaves for David Worman, Christine Killion, Natalie Brummer, Lisa Pals and Janice Flack and a leave for Holly Borton.