RTHS to give off-campus lunch a trial run

RANTOUL — Rantoul Township High School seniors who meet academic, behavior and attendance criteria will be eligible for a pilot off-campus lunch program this spring.

“One thing I’m trying to do this year and long term is to recognize students who do really well here. Sometimes it seems we put our attentions on students with challenges,” Principal Todd Wilson told the RTHS board at its Feb. 12 meeting.

He said he anticipates the program will begin in March or April after the weather improves.

Students would have to earn Cs or higher, have no discipline referrals and have no unexcused absences or tardiness. They would be allowed to go off campus during their assigned lunch hour on the two block days. Students would have to requalify for the program every two weeks.

Wilson estimated 25-50 students would participate in the pilot program.

“Do you see any problems monitoring them leaving and coming back?” school board member Roger Quinlan asked.

School board member Kelly Foster voiced the same concern.

Wilson said he isn’t certain yet how that will be done.

“Ideally we would like to have a couple of doors that students who earned the privilege would exit from,” he said.

Several faculty members have indicated they are willing to monitor doors. Students may be identified by a sticker placed on their ID cards or have their names checked off a list. It might also be possible to use existing software to scan ID cards, but that would require buying a $500 reader, Wilson said.

“I like that you spoke to businesses,” school board member Janet Brotherton said.

Wilson spoke to representatives of four restaurants and to the police department, all of whom responded positively when they understood the eligibility criteria.

The proposal originated in and was vetted by a student advisory committee that Wilson convenes periodically. It is intended to be an incentive to encourage attendance and academic improvement and eventually to be extended to juniors and seniors.

“Is this going to raise our attendance rate by 10 points?” Wilson asked. “No, but it might get five more kids in class, five more kids to school on time. I think it will cause a positive ripple effect.”

The board approved the pilot in a 6-0 vote. Board member Jeremy Larson was absent. Wilson was asked to report to the board at the end of the pilot. Another vote will be required to continue the program in the fall.

Also at the meeting, the board heard a presentation from the career and technical education team. Teacher Grant Kelly described the hands-on work experience students are getting at Hope Meadows, where they are evaluating homes for energy efficiency and making improvements. Seven students work on the project after school.

“I can duplicate this in my classroom, and the quality of work is OK. Once we got out on the job site, the professionalism I see is amazing,” Kelly said.

Teacher Jeff Reale said the team is trying to develop opportunities for special needs students

“Getting them that opportunity to do something during the day, working with their hands,” Reale said. “For instance, in the greenhouse, helping me plant.”

Student Hannah Combs described her experience in ag courses and FFA, including the trip to the Washington Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. She said she enjoyed meeting students from around the country and touring the city. She also developed a service project in which she planned a random act of kindness every month.

Two years later, “I’m still doing it,” she said.

Later in the meeting, the board approved the next leadership conference. Board President Anne Reale abstained because Reale is her son.

In other business, Medler and Richardson Builders Inc., Rantoul, was awarded a contract for the main office remodel in the amount of $158,959. The board also approved bid specifications for abatement of asbestos found in the mastic beneath the floor tile.

The board also authorized purchase of a 2017 Chevy Malibu from Shields Auto Center, Rantoul, at a cost of $14,295. The car will replace a leased driver’s education vehicle.

Additional waivers for participation in the Competency-Based Education pilot were also approved.

Two new staff positions were approved for the 2018-2019 school year. The first, dean of students, is the result of an administrative reshuffling and will not cost the district additional dollars, Superintendent Scott Amerio said. The second is for an English learner liaison.

“Right now we have an English learner teacher and an instructional aide. We may get a family in at 9:30 to enroll a student. We are having to pull (the teacher or the aide) from instruction time to work with that family. I don’t see the number of (English-learner) families in town decreasing,” Amerio said.

He said the liaison would probably work with students in the classroom when not needed with a family.

In other personnel matters, Greg Van Hoorn, Mari Mermelstein, Hannah Yeam and Emily Hahn were appointed as SAT prep instructors; Ryan Winter and Richard Harbacek as baseball assistant coaches; Allen Jones Sr. and Allen Jones Jr. as baseball volunteer assistants; and Rich Thomas and Syndrea Porter as softball assistant coaches.

Amerio reported the district received county sales tax receipts of $48,149.

Lindsay Jordahl was recognized as February student of the month.

news@rantoulpress.com

             

Categories (2):News, Education

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