HOOPESTON —Hoopeston AREA school board members on Thursday unanimously approved the first reading of a resolution for the high school to be identified as a Title 1 school and to list the entire Hoopeston Area School District as a Title 1 District.

Previously only K-8 was listed as Title 1 in the District, according to Principal Susie Root, and had been since 1965. The high school was already qualified, she said, and approved as Title 1 through the Illinois State Board of Education. By including the high school as Title 1, it would make the high school eligible for more funding, be compliant for special education and eligible for representation.

Extra funding would help the school hire an interventionist, access professional development funding that the district does not have, more intervention resources, interventions at every grade level, expanded Cornjerker Cafe hours, more incentives for testing and more support for the students.

Root, Hoopeston’s intervention specialist, and representatives from other schools in the district use RTI or Response to Intervention as a method to determine whether a child has a specific learning disability and is eligible for special education under Title 1.

In other school board business, members unanimously approved hiring Mason Layden as transportation and grounds supervisor effective Dec. 20.

Also approved was the action to waive first and second readings of the student threat assessment procedures. The procedures had to be approved by the end of December. By the middle of February, said Richardson, the threat assessment team has to be established and the list kept on file at the school.

The first and second readings for the Hoopeston Area High School 1920-21 course catalog and graduation requirements were waived in order to get both into the hands of the students early. Both were approved with one addition, to add World History to the graduation requirements.

School board members waived the first and second readings of the Hoopeston Area Middle School retention policy, the multi-tiered system of support of $42,528 for the middle school teachers, the middle school improvement plan and the pay increase for the athletic director stipend of $15,791.50 effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Also approved was the first reading of the PRESS plus policy 5:20-E Exhibit, a new policy, dealing with sexual harassment, PRESS policies draft updates, and the search for a girls’ physical education teacher for school year 2020-2021.

“We really need some female coaches,” said high school principal John Klaber. “It’s a high need for us.”

Physical education is co-ed at the high school with a male teacher taking time from his duties as driver’s ed teacher. During the course of the day in PE, a paraprofessional must be called from a classroom, according to Klaber, to monitor girls changing out of PE clothes into regular clothes.

The John Greer ladder policy was approved unanimously. Principal Dan Walder brought the ladder policy for the upstairs windows before the safety committee. Walder had to write a policy for the ladders’ usage as a possible extra exit in case of a dangerous situation in the school in an emergency.

“It gives peace of mind for upstairs teachers,” said Walder, “that they have another way out of the classroom.”

Eight ladders will be purchased for upstairs classrooms at $45 each, said Walder.

Superintendent Robert Richardson attended the school board conference in November along with other school board members. During the legislative session, he said, one of the lecturers said that “schools should rely on the state rather than property tax” for school funds.

“That scares me to death!” he stated and added Hoopeston would continue to use property tax.

Richardson also spoke of the governor’s plans to increase teachers’ pay, the teacher shortage, legalizing cannabis and combining all pension funds for police and fire departments into one statewide fund.

“We’re at the mercy of those clowns in Springfield,” Richardson said of the changes without government thinking of the consequences in the future.

Discussed by the school board and superintendent was an education foundation and the Jan. 11, 2020, school board strategic planning retreat. Richardson added the 1 percent sales tax resolution had passed and would be on the March ballot.

Walder’s students donated 5,113 items for the Multi-Agency food cupboard and raised $10,500 earmarked for school playground equipment. Walder invited the school board and superintendent to the D.A.R.E. graduation on Jan. 7 at John Greer Grade School.

The next Hoopeston school board meeting will be Jan. 16 in the high school library.

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