HOOPESTON — The Hoopeston Area school board approved the bid of $182,000 from Technology Resource Advisors, Inc. for Chromebooks for the district at Thursday’s meeting. The bid will replace 351 touchscreens at Maple Grade School and 149 elsewhere in the district.

Board member Larry Jahn said “with the recent e-learning, (we) don’t have much choice. Every student has to have a chromebook.”

Since Covid-19 closed all schools early in March, students have been studying from home and sending lessons online to instructors. The younger students have packets prepared with lessons for homeschooling by parents and returned to instructors.

Lee Cox, board member, asked if the chromebooks were paid from a grant. Superintendent Robert Richardson said the district had “some avenues that we can utilize,” including, he said, Title 1 funds and the CARES ACT (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security).

Although the state has to apply to the federal government for the CARES program, said Richardson, Illinois expects to receive $569,467,218, of which Hoopeston Area is expected to get more than $400,000 of the 90 percent that goes to the districts.

Two other bids were received in the amounts of $185,000 and $240,000 for the 500 Chromebooks.

In other school board business, learned the district received two donations. One from the windfarm, Apex Clean Energy, in the amount of $2,500 to help the district with some of the pandemic costs.

The second donation from David Eells, a local farmer, who won a $2,500 Bayer Funds Grant. This money was donated to the Hoopeston High School agriculture program. Bayer Funds sponsors the American Farmers Programs through which Eells applied. Bayer Funds Grant applications are by invitation only, according to the web page.

Action to be taken to search for a Response to Intervention (RTI) interventionist for the high school was discussed. According to Principal John Klaber, every school has an RTI and, since the high school is now considered a Title I school, one should be at the high school. He added that the school gets an additional $120,000 as a Title 1 school and he would like to use part of that money to pay for the position.

Jahn said he would vote for it this year, but “we keep adding administrative staff and adding admininstrative staff and we need to start seeing some improvements or I won’t vote for it next year.”

The RTI search was approved unanimously for this year.

Also approved unanimously was the 2020-21 Public School calendar, the first reading of the K-8 and Hoopeston Area High School handbooks for the 2020-21 school year, the destruction of the executive session minutes from June 5, 2018 – November 20, 2018 per 5 ILCS 120/2.06©, and the action to waive the first and second reading of five of the PRESS policies and the first and second reading of the Draft Updates of 11 more.

The employment contracts for the district administrators for the 2020-21 school year were approved unanimously for Emily Brown as currriculum director, principals Suzi Root – Maple, Dan Walder – John Greer, John Klaber – High School, Michelle White – middle school and for assistant principals Kim Hutzel – high school and Steven Chorak – middle school.

The board approved the retirement of Julie Stump as Title 1 teacher at Maple Grade School effective at the end of the 2019-20 school year and the intent to retire by Daphne High as math teacher at Hoopeston Area High School at the end of the 2022-23 school year.

Approved the resignations of Brian Geiss, Lindsay O’Brien, Jena Schaumburg, and Megan Weaks at the end of the 2019-20 school year and the resignation of Roberta Sue McDanial, effective May 7, 2020.

The board approved the employment of Charles Strawser as district custodian effective May 11; Tracy Zorns as library paraprofessional at Maple, Christy Etzhorn as classroom paraprofessional at John Greer, Samantha Russell as PE teacher at the middle school, Alyson Knapp – special ed teacher at John Greer and Angie Simpson as yearbook sponsor at the middle school, effective August 13, and Chris Kelnhofer as assistant high school football coach for the 2020-21 school year.

Klaber thanked everyone that helped put on the senior parade for graduating seniors to make the day special for them, adding a graduation ceremony is planned for 3 p.m., August 2 in the middle school gym and a prom tentatively set for June 13.

“If that doesn’t work out,” Klaber said, “it will not be rescheduled, but graduating seniors will be allowed to attend next year’s prom.”

Richardson thanked the cafeteria workers and the community for the lunch distribution efforts to feed the Hoopeston area school children during the pandemic closure. He said 3,600 lunches were served, about 400 a week, in Hoopeston and other communities in the district, including some rural deliveries.

“(It) was a huge success,” Richardson said, “absolutely amazing how the community came together and offered food and education packets for our kids. Countless people stepped up. Thank you for that.”

In addressing the school closing, Richardson added, “We had an opportunity to shine in a crisis and we did that.”

The next Hoopeston School board meeting will be June 18, at 6 p.m. at the high school library.

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