RANTOUL — The Rantoul Township High School board approved district goals at its Jan. 13 board meeting, setting in motion a process that Superintendent Scott Amerio likened to a relay race.

“(The board is) handing the baton off to me. I’m carrying it down the track,” he said.

Goal setting began in September when board members met for three hours with members of the teachers association to develop a vision for the district. Amerio took the proposed goals to public forums at RTHS and the feeder schools for input and to district staff.

His next step is to take the goals to the administrative team for further discussion.

For example, Amerio said, one goal is to increase parent involvement.

“What does that look like? How do we measure it?” he said. “Once we decide that, then what does ‘increase’ mean, and what’s reasonable?”

Once those details have been determined, the rest of the staff will become involved.

The  goals encompass five areas: student achievement and curriculum, programs and services, facilities, district-community relations and district finances.

Special ed positions to be posted

The board also approved posting two new special education positions to take up the responsibilities that Director of Special Programs Sandy Davis will be leaving behind at the end of the year. Davis retired two years ago, but returned to work part time. The new positions will also cover responsibilities Amerio said had been “splintered off” to other staff members. Amerio met with the counseling staff for input on what was needed.

“Without hesitation, they said what we really need is a guidance counselor for our (students) with IEPs,” Amerio said.

An IEP is an individual education plan.

One of the new positions is a special education counselor. The other is a special education coordinator. With both positions, a strong special education background will be more important than counseling or administrative certification.

The district had had a special education counselor in the past, but the position vanished when the person filling it retired, Amerio said.

“Guidance counselors (have) knowledge about how to guide careers, but there is so much extra with kids with IEPs. There is so much paperwork and other stuff,” Amerio said. “It’s kind of a specialized position.”

The special education coordinator would oversee the special education program, including legalities, the IEP process, tuition paid out to other programs and paraprofessionals.

Amy Jones, dean of freshmen and sophomores, spoke to the board about the student and “staffulty” recognition program. Staffulty refers to faculty and non-faculty staff members.

“We wanted to create more recognition for students (who) may not be publicly recognized,” she said.

Every two weeks, students, faculty and staff nominate students or staffulty based on something positive that person has done for the school community. Winners are selected using a blind drawing and announced over the intercom. The four winning students receive a gift card. Their pictures and a short write-up about each is posted in the corridor. Nominees who are not chosen are recognized at a pizza party at the end of the semester and given certificates. Three staffulty names are drawn.

“The public recognition is nice for students as well as staffulty, from teachers to custodians to maintenance people,” Principal Todd Wilson said. “It’s really nice to be recognized in front of your peers and have that blurb read about you. It’s really a positive thing.”

Jones said one student was nominated because he had made it to all of his classes on time during the semester.

“That was a big thing for him,” she said.

Often, Jones said, students are surprised that anyone has taken notice. Another time, a student was having such a difficult morning that he was about to skip out for the rest of the day. She persuaded him to stay a little longer. Five minutes later, his award was announced. He told Jones he was glad she had “made” him stay.

Other business

In other business, the board approved a Feb. 14-15 trip by the track team to Indiana University, Bloomington, for a meet.

The board also directed Amerio to prepare the 2020-2021 budget and approved an agreement with Forum Fitness Center for discounted annual passes for staff members.

Regarding personnel, the board accepted resignations from English teacher Stephen Grabek effective at the end of the school year and from boys basketball head coach Brett Frerichs.

Two new hires, Stephanie Mencias as bilingual instructional aide and Ryan Wines as paraprofessional supervising students at a Hope Meadows construction project, were approved.

Also approved were appointments of Eric Gerdes, head baseball coach; Nick Riddle, assistant baseball coach; Ryan Parker, head boys basketball coach; John Tolbert, volunteer for a music department trip; and Mari Mermelstein, assistant student council sponsor. Family and Medical Leave Act leave was approved for April Jones.

Jonathan Gossett was recognized as January Exchange Club student of the month.

Amerio reported the district received $51,051 this month in Champaign County 1-percent school facilities sales tax.