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La Harpe School Board Meets

March 13, 2016 Meeting:

The Board of Education of La Harpe Community School District #347 held a regular meeting March 15, 2016 in the school district library. Members present included Pres. Cindy Wear, V.P Bobi James, Dustin Detherage, Dave Mershon, and Darren Spangler.

The board approved the consent agenda, and payment of bills. The board received with regrets Cindy Irish's retirement letter, and approved Denise Harrell as sub paraprofessional and Jeff Blokel and Jason Finch as track coaches.

Letters from art teacher, Ryan Kitch, Special Ed teacher Jason Finch, and music teacher Stephanie Mencel were given to each board member.

Mr. Kitch invited board members to visit his classroom or view the artwork displayed at the bank, the public library, and in the school halls. Elementary art students also participate in the town's festival of trees.

Kitch attended the annual Illinois Art Education Association workshop of which he is a continuing member. He gave some highlights of the workshop from the keynote speaker, Dr. Cindy Todd, who explained how art utilizes multiple areas of the brain, and how some students have created art in order to master technology.

Art also helps in the healing process for people who have experienced trauma, as Kitch has seen firsthand in his classroom where students with academic, social, and behavioral problems thrive.

Dr. Todd also mentioned that art is a foundation for later academic and career success, noting a study during President Bush's presidency that showed 10 out of 30 jobs were art-related.

Kitch thanked the board for funding the art program and, in doing so, fostering future creative members of the community.

Mr. Finch expressed gratitude to the board for the Promethean board he received this year for the junior high special ed. classroom.

A majority of Finch's students are visual learners, so the new interactive white board has been used for educational videos, creation of charts and graphs, literacy and phonetics work, educational games, PowerPoints, flipcharts, and notes.

Finch provides a few screenshots of the many sites his class has accessed this year via the Promethean board.

Mrs. Mencel gave a summary of music activities.

Junior High participated in the annual solo and ensemble contest, practicing before and after school and during recess for it.

One student is memorizing three selections for the WIU Honor Chorus.

Band and Choir students are preparing for the spring concert, Music in the Parks Festival at Six Flags, St. Louis, graduation, and the Memorial Day program in the city park.

Elementary students are experiencing music through play, dance, song, and reading. Mencel was pleased when a brave young student volunteered to sing for the class and performed with correct pitch and used Curwen hand signals.

3rd grade is focusing on folk music. They will be composing a short melody using compound meter and pentatonic scale.

Mencel is motivating 4th grade to learn to play the recorder using Recorder Karate curriculum, with which three students have already earned a "black belt".

5th graders used electronic composition programs to create their own pieces using pre-recorded sounds, melodies, and rhythm patterns.

Mencel has a WIU block student who will be working with 5th grade and teaching a ukulele unit to 4th grade.

Mencel thanked the board for their continued support of the music program.

The Curriculum and Instruction committee consisting of Spangler, Campbell, James, Mrs. McKeown and Dr. Olson met regarding curriculum needs, goals, and next steps.

The committee discussed current math, reading, and science materials and common core alignment and standards.

Teachers will begin developing scope and sequence, essential questions, and unit plans at upcoming work days and during the summer.

Junior High, which has the greatest need, will be the initial focus.

Dr. Olson noted an upcoming school board association division meeting, the 3rd annual Spike Out Cancer event, and a conference he attended in Arizona on, "personalized learning" and "open education" resources.

There is a push right now from the federal government for educators to access a myriad of free resources available online rather than relying on textbooks to support standards.

Olson expressed concerns about the lack of progress the State legislature has made on a budget. Disappointingly, this being an election year, few legislators are willing to take action before the November election.

A Committee of the Whole will meet prior to the next board meeting to review PRESS Policy updates.

Olson gave a projection of class sizes and staff for next year.

Olson gave a Promethean demonstration of ST Math, by MIND Research Institute, which is game-based instructional software for K-12 designed to boost math comprehension and proficiency through visual learning using the brain's innate "spatial-temporal" reasoning ability.

Principal McKeown reported the competition of volleyball season and the beginning of track. Scholastic Bowl won the Sand Valley Conference meet.

McKeown mentioned the 8th grade reading placement test at Illini West, Spring Picture Day, and a recent School -wide Morning Meeting led by Mrs. Beals' class.

PARCC testing and teacher observations are being completed.

Recent principal professional development included and autism workshop, Student Information System (SIS) webinar, and a school lockdown webinar.

Kindergarten teachers attended the annual Kindergarten conference. McKeown reported meetings held for IEPs, TAT, faculty, curriculum, and Sick Leave Bank.

School board meetings are held at 7:00 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month in the school library.

Agendas and approved minutes are posted on the website at