(Commercial-News (Danville, IL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 12--DANVILLE -- District 118 school board members on Wednesday will decide whether to accept Superintendent Mark Denman's recommendation to hire a fourth resource officer in the district.
Director of Public Safety Larry Thomason asked during a special meeting last month whether board members would be interested in having an additional school resource officer.
Denman said Friday he will recommend to the board that the district enter into an agreement with the city to contract for the additional officer who would be shared between the high school and the Kenneth D. Bailey Academy, and the officer would schedule lessons or presentations at two elementary schools each week. In addition, Denman said he will recommend the two middle school resource officers also provide a lesson or presentation at an elementary school once a week.
Denman said he is making the recommendation to help provide a secure and optimum learning environment; to provide immediate response in case of crisis; to foster positive relationships with students, staff and families; to prevent crime or delinquent behavior by juveniles; to serve as a resource for staff; to support a positive school-law enforcement partnership; and to build upon the positive results seen at Danville High School and at North Ridge and South View middle schools.
If approved, the fourth resource officer would start by December. School administrators would determine how many hours the officer would spend at each school.
Since 2003, Danville High School has had only one school resource officer, but the building is twice the size of South View and North Ridge middle schools, which have had one resource officer each since 2011.
Thomason said resource officers serve as educators, mentors, impromptu counselors and law enforcers. He believes the resource officers have made "a major, positive impact" at the middle schools, reducing the number of expulsions and disciplinary cases in a short period of time.
Thomason told the board last month that he looked at "active shooter incidents" and other statistics locally and nationwide before approaching Denman with a proposal to add a fourth resource officer in the district.
A fourth resource officer would be an additional cost to the district. The district pays $190,000 for three resource officers over a nine-month period, which amounts to approximately $65,000 per officer, according to Denman. The funding for the officers' pay comes from the district's tort fund, not its education fund, so it does not impact teacher hiring. The other three months out of the year, when school is not in session, the City of Danville pays the officers' salary and benefits.
Also on Wednesday, board members will:
--Learn about Project Lead the Way being piloted in four elementary schools -- Cannon, Garfield, Meade Park and Southwest -- this upcoming school year. A staff member has been selected at each school to pilot the program. Besides donations and grants, the Title I grant will cover supplies, materials, training and additional needs to implement the program that will enhance students' skills in math, reading and science. The district also purchased iPads for each classroom involved in the program.
"It's a very expensive initiative," Denman said. "We'll be recognizing those donors who made it possible."
--Hear an update on Camp Invention for first- through sixth-graders that will start Monday at East Park Elementary School. The national educational program fosters innovative thinking, real-world problem solving and the spirit of invention. The weeklong day camp encourages inventive young minds through hands-on problem solving, using science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The district received 206 applications for the camp's 110 spots paid for by the U.S. Army Engineer Research & Development Center. Also, the district received funding to pay for 12 high school student interns to work at the camp to earn money as well as leadership skills.
--Learn the dates of the last three Targeting Achievement through Governance training sessions next school year that the board must complete over 18 months as required to continue to receive the $6 million School Improvement Grant at DHS. The dates will be Sept. 24, Oct. 22 and Feb. 25.
--Discuss discontinuing DHS' WorkKeys and ACT testing. The new state assessment and accountability system begins this next school year, and the Illinois Standard Achievement Test and the Prairie State Achievement Exam will be replaced by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing. The state also will offer the ACT and the WorkKeys on an optional basis for school districts.
"Many of our students and families like the ACT, and it looks like the state will pay for it for one more year," Denman said.
Under PARCC, performance-based assessments will be administered at each grade level in third through eighth grades in English Language Arts/literacy and mathematics. Students also will be assessed at the end of the year. Performance-based assessments and end-of-the-year assessments will be administered at the high school level.
"We did a lot of field testing for PARCC this spring," Denman said. "There will be additional testing for students (under PARCC) this year."
--Consider approving the new Digifolio (multimedia) project-based learning curriculum that is proposed for New Tech at DHS.
--Review a first reading of a job description for a community coordinator for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV-IGROW) program, a birth-to-3 program that the district will oversee for one year, and review a first reading of a job description for a community secretary for MIECHV-IGROW.
--Consider approving recommended salaries for administrators.
--Consider approving recommended salaries for non-union flat-salaried employees.
--Consider approving the purchase of 52 promethean boards for DHS for a total cost of $230,000. Half of the boards will be installed this school year, with the other half being installed next summer.
--Consider approving the purchase of 114 network switches, two wireless controllers, network management software, 34 uninterruptable power supplies and 10 networking cabinets for a total cost of $987,731 over five years from Netech of Carmel, Ind. Scott Williams, the district's director of technology, said network switches should be replaced about every four-and-a-half years.
--Consider whether to accept the lone bid of $25,000 from Watchfire to purchase the district's surplus property to the north of East Park Elementary School. The district had set the minimum bid at $18,750, which included the appraisal and legal fees. Denman said the 4.6 acres of unimproved land on the north end of Colfax Street was donated to the school district by Jack Millikin several years ago.
--Discuss whether to hire a school administrator search firm or ask the Illinois Association of School Boards to conduct a nationwide search for a new superintendent. At a special meeting on July 9, the board heard presentations made by four search firms -- BWP and Associates; Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates; PROACT Search; and School Exec Connect -- and a representative from the IASB. The cost for the search ranges between $15,000 and $21,500.
"The board hasn't decided if it will go with a search firm," Denman said.
In July 2012, Denman agreed to extend his contract an extra year so he would continue to serve the district through the 2014-2015 school year.
COMING UP The District 118 school board will hold its next regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, at the Jackson Building, 516 N. Jackson St.
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