PAXTON AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: PBL board reaches tentative agreement with teachers' union
Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce issued the following announcement on Aug. 13.
PAXTON — Paxton-Buckley-Loda school district faculty members have reached a tentative collective-bargaining agreement with the district’s board of education.
During last Wednesday night’s school board meeting, Superintendent Cliff McClure said the board reached a tentative agreement with Amy Johnson, president of the PBL Education Association, which bargains on behalf of district faculty.
McClure said the union would take a formal vote on the proposed three-year contract during a faculty kickoff event on Wednesday, Aug. 15. At 5:30 p.m. that same day, the board will meet to ratify and approve the contract, including a proposed increase in substitute pay for educational support personnel for the 2018-19 school year.
“There’s not a problem, but they would like to have that (voting) opportunity,” McClure told the school board last week.
The proposed contract would run from this school year through the 2020-21 school year.
The previous three-year contract was ratified in 2015 and expired at the end of June. That contract granted educational support staff a 9 percent increase in pay, with 6 percent in 2015 and the remainder over the following two years. Certified faculty received a $3,700 pay increase over the three-year period.
School improvement report
Also during last week’s meeting, board members discussed findings by the ECRA Group of Schaumburg about the district’s improvement in curriculum areas.
Tara Tighe, the district’s director of curriculum, assessment and instruction, said ECRA representatives would be meeting with faculty and staff at an upcoming teachers institute day to train faculty to use its system and understand metrics.
ECRA — which stands for “education consulting, research and analytics” — provides data for Illinois school districts. PBL participates as part of the Illinois Vision 20/20 Initiative, which the Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Association of School Boards are partners in. ECRA provides data for the partnership to 200 participating school districts.
Tighe said some staff members already have access to ECRA’s analysis and all staff will have access this year.
“ECRA will explain how they come up with numbers,” Tighe said. “They use multiple assessments, so it’s highly technical.”
Board member Steve Pacey pointed out that the report showed students with lower scores in certain subject areas. Tighe attributed the lower scores to staff absences at PBL Eastlawn School during the last school year, including leaves by math interventionists.
“I don’t know if you can quantify how those scores happened, but that might have been one of the factors,” Tighe said.
One area that Tighe pointed out was the attendance factor, which she said was a contributing factor in other areas of the report, including scores. Tighe said a correlation exists between attendance and student exam performance.
Tighe said PBL has seen more attendance issues in recent months, and she wants to place more emphasis in that category.
“That has a tendency to carry over on student achievement, because since the students aren’t there, they aren’t learning and aren’t making things up if they aren’t here,” Tighe explained.
As for the coming school year, Tighe said the district is focusing primarily on reading. In past years, that focus was on mathematics, and Tighe said that area is still being worked on despite the overall initiative shifting to reading.
Board members also heard an update on the progress of the Clara Peterson Elementary School expansion and renovation project and the PBL High School renovation project.
Brian Mrozek, project manager for Chicago-based Gilbane Inc., first spoke about the Clara Peterson project. Mrozek said work crews have most of the asphalt put down, adding that the new bus drop-off is done and has been striped. Mrozek also said most of the sidewalk work in front of the new school addition has been completed.
“There’s a couple of areas where they have to do some touch-ups on, including the area where the old stairs were out front,” Mrozek said. “Once that is done, most of our sidewalks will be good.”
Mrozek said the ceiling has been put back together minus a few tiles and that a wall separating the new kitchen area from classrooms would be installed Tuesday, Aug. 14.
“We had a crew that started on the stair tower on the east side of the building,” Mrozek said. “We’re hoping that they have about three more weeks.”
Underground plumbing work will start soon and electrical work will commence next week, Mrozek said. Crews still need to pour two foundations. Mrozek also said all of the asphalt projects should be completed by the end of September.
As for work at the high school, Mrozek said testing on the building’s water systems has been completed, as well as insulation on the classroom side of the structure and the ceiling grid.
McClure suggested that Clara Peterson students and staff be allowed to hold a “beam-signing ceremony.”
Pacey asked about new playground equipment for the new school addition and what was going to happen to the existing playground structures at PBL Eastlawn School, whose third- through fifth-graders will be moving to the new addition.
McClure said the Clara Peterson playground area is not large enough to incorporate Eastlawn’s playground structures, adding that the city’s public works staff spent more than a week just to relocate the current Clara Peterson playground area.
“We have to have playground equipment in place by the time the kids start school (in fall 2019),” McClure said.
Also during last Wednesday night’s meeting:
➜ Board members approved a contract with the Community Resource & Counseling Center (CRCC) in Paxton to manage the district’s caseload. McClure said CRCC staff would be present on Thursdays and that the firm would do a purchase service for PBL. “The caseload would be decided by our two current social workers and shared with an administrator,” McClure said. Funding for the CRCC contract would come from Title IV grants totaling $18,000.
➜ The board approved a $131,385 renewal of the district’s property, casualty, workers’ compensation and liability insurance contract with Zenith and Liberty Mutual.
➜ The board affirmed the following resignations: Erik Ronney (high school driver’s education/health teacher and wrestling coach), Lanie Gueth (kindergarten teacher), Michelle Brennan (sixth-grade social studies and science teacher) and Nancy Gibb (Clara Peterson Elementary School paraprofessional).
➜ The following personnel were hired: Christel Kolakowski (Clara Peterson paraprofessional), Amanda Gooden (kindergarten teacher), Angela Dirks (Eastlawn paraprofessional), Hannah McDermaid (sixth-grade mathematics teacher), Denise Burnett (Clara Peterson paraprofessional), April Dalton (Eastlawn paraprofessional), Stacy Morse (sixth-grade social studies teacher), Kathleen Goodson (eighth-grade social studies teacher), Joshua Blacker (high school driver’s education and health teacher), Margaret Bormet (part-time cook at the junior high and high school) and Jill Schrodt (cheerleading coach).
➜ Melinda Busby was reassigned to the position of junior high school dean of students from her previous position as a special-education teacher.
➜ Family/Medical Leave Act requests were granted for Scott Swanson and Hannah McDermaid.
➜ Mike Tipsord was hired as a volunteer cross-country coach at the junior high and high school.
➜ Board Vice President Shawn Young announced that an open house in honor of retired teacher Arcelia Watson’s 90th birthday is planned for 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Paxton American Legion post. Watson taught English classes at the junior high school for 54 years until her 2009 retirement.
➜ The board approved a donation of $200 from the First Lutheran Church of Paxton for the PBL Backpack Program.
➜ The board reviewed new staff and opening day agendas.
➜ The board discussed its vision and goals.
➜ The board approved the destruction of records kept by the district.
Original source can be found here.