Montello School District votes for 3-year referendum

By Keri Solis
At the August meeting of the Montello School Board, approval was given to proceed with a $1.1 million recurring referendum for the school district. That decision was amended this month, based on public feedback. The district will now be asking for a three-year referendum. Once the three years is up, the district would have to return to the voters to ask for money to continue to keep the doors open with a new referendum, if needed.

The board also heard a presentation from the Technology Department in regards to transitioning to 1:1 computing for students. The department is asking for an additional $50,000 to be added to their budget this year to purchase up to 175 Chromebooks. This, along with the current computers in the school, will allow each student in grade 7-12 to have their own computer for use at school.

The move to online assignments is expected to save the district $10,000 in printing costs this year. Over the next two years, additional computers will be purchased for students, which will also continue to bring down printing costs and server costs. The district will not be renewing current leases on equipment, since they are going to be purchasing outright in the future.

Eventually, the savings on printing and leases will pay for the purchase of computers. There was some concern from the board about the readiness of staff to move from paper to online and were assured a plan would be in place. The district will be asking the Jr./Sr. High Charter School governance council if they would be willing to fund the $50,000 needed out of the charter school grant money.

In personnel changes, a resignation was accepted from Leslie Georgia, the Jr. High Social Studies teacher. Martin Obsuszt was transferred from Jr. High Language Arts to Jr. high Social Studies and a new Language Arts teacher is being sought.

A transfer of $5,000 from timber sales was made into the FFA account.



Westfield School Board tables vote on weighting grades

By Keri Solis
There was a great amount of discussion at the monthly meeting of the Westfield Board of Education last week about weighting Advanced Placement classes.

Advanced placement (AP) courses have a higher standard and rigor than regular classes. Students who take these courses are also able to receive college credit for them. There are currently seven students taking the AP courses at Westfield. The district would like to see more students challenge themselves with the AP courses, but many students fear that if they take the class and do not get an “A” in it, that it will hurt their chances of getting a scholarship or into the college of their choice. As a result, many students take the “safe” route.

Currently, the highest grade a student can get for classes in the Westfield district is a 4.0. On the table for the board was a proposed .33 weighting, making the highest grade available in an AP class 4.33, or a small boost for any student getting less than a 4.0 in the class.

Board member Brian Janke is against weighting the grade. “If you are not willing to gamble losing a 4.0 GPA, don’t take the class. While your grade point may slip, you are receiving college credit for the course. That is the tradeoff and how the real world works.” Others argued that this isn’t the real world, but the world of education, which don’t always operate the same. In he end, the board tabled the matter until next month due to two board members being absent.

In other business, the board approved the early graduation of three students and accepted a $1000 donation on behalf of the family of Hazel Riley to the Westfield Elementary Kindergarten program.