DANVILLE — A new Danville District 118 activity van branded with the Danville Vikings logo was unveiled at Wednesday’s school board meeting.

Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education John Hart said when the district renewed its transportation contract with First Student, Superintendent Alicia Geddis asked if an additional activity van could be added to the district’s fleet and whether that van could be wrapped with the Danville Vikings logo.

“When we signed the contract, we asked if we could get another van because we struggle to get around,” he said.

The new activity van has more seating capacity than the other two eight-passenger vans in the district’s fleet, according to Board President Bill Dobbles.

Also on Wednesday, board members:

• Learned that new state legislation that requires Illinois school districts to increase its starting salary for teachers to $40,000 by 2023 also requires student teachers to be paid.

The starting salary for District 118 teachers already is between $43,000 and $44,000, but Hart said he would like some incentives to be put into place for next semester for student teachers.

• Heard about the implementation of the district’s pre-AP (Advanced Placement) and Honors programs.

Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Beth Yacobi said all Danville High School freshmen are part of a pre-AP program that the district was selected to pilot.

Freshmen taking core classes of science, English and social studies are being taught more rigorous and challenging material.

The students will take the PSAT — a test that assesses college readiness — in the fall and again in the spring. They also will take online assessments throughout the school year to see if anything further needs to be done to help them be successful.

“We’re asking our students to do something different and more rigorous,” Yacobi said. “Students are held accountable but will not be punished (for poor performance).”

Curriculum Director Mary Ellen Bunton said a letter was sent to all freshmen parents explaining the more rigorous curriculum, and that she has received mostly positive feedback.

“Parents say they’re thankful because their kid didn’t get into the MATS (gifted) program, but this program affords them something challenging,” Yacobi said.

Data collected from the district’s program will be compared with other districts that also are participating in the pre-AP pilot program.

• Re-evaluated and accepted the district’s bullying policy and prevention plan, which includes five pages from the district’s Ownership in Education handbook and a bullying implementation form that each school uses when a bullying or retaliation incident is reported to administration.

The Illinois State Board of Education recently informed districts that their bullying policy and plan needs to be re-evaluated by their school board every two years and submitted to the state. The deadline to submit this school year’s bullying prevention policy is Sept. 30.

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