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La Harpe School Board Hear Teachers' Reports

The La Harpe Community School District #347 Board of Education held a regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16, in the District library.

Regional Superintendent John Meixner held the Summer Meals Exemption Hearing. Dr. Olson and Prin. McKeown presented winter MAP test results and the Board accepted with regrets the retirement of Don Little from the position of head custodian effective October 1.

Preschool teacher Larissa Storm showed a Promethean presentation of a recent Preschool Family Math Night which was attended by about ten families. Activities included: sorting, graphing & patterns with M&M's; a shape game families can play at home; familiar classroom puzzles; measuring household items with Unifix cubes.

Tangram patterns and puzzles to replicate; a story book to integrate literacy with math; 1-10 number mats with pennies; and a "fishing for numbers" game.

Parents gave good feedback about the Math Night activities.

The Preschool also holds family nights for Literacy, Gross Motor Skills, and other topics.

Regional Supt. John Meixner

Regional Supt. John Meixner gave a brief history of the Regional Office of Education and the recent transition to incorporate Hancock, McDonough, Fulton, and Schuyler County Schools all under ROE 26. He was pleased that no employees had to be laid off in the transition.

The new ROE 26 district maps produced by WIU GIS Center were given to the Board and administration along with pens and pins.

Meixner overviewed the ROE office structure, safe school/alternative programs, truancy program, homeless ed. program, and professional development consortium.

The ROE seeks to "Champion the Community" by posting community stories, features, and events on its website, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Meixner promoted the Vision 20/20 campaign to reshape education in Illinois which is currently working to alter the school funding formula.

He mentioned teacher and substitute shortages, the staff directory they publish annually for the region.

The ROE also assists districts with health life safety and regulatory compliance, reviews district audits, offers GED testing, PARCC testing call center links, and a number of other programs.

ROE 26 program information a newsletter subscription may be found at

Kindergarten teachers Michelle Fryrear and Melissa Johnson provided narrated classroom videos for the Board.

Fryrear's video pictured students working at math groups, computer center, game center, teacher center, patterning with stringing beads, graphing with M&Ms, and students putting their work in the class "turn in" basket. Her kindergarteners work at one center per day with whole group skills lessons and review.

Johnson's video showed students working in literacy centers. Students focus on writing and phonics at three centers per day with mini lessons in between.

Centers include: Read to Self, Book Box, Writer's Workshop, Word Work. Expectations and outcomes for each activity are clearly defined for students as they progress through the centers according to an organized chart.

Working on independence is an added benefit of kindergarten center time.

Spangler mentioned a visit he had with Mrs. McKeown about curriculum and expressed his desire to have a curriculum committee meeting.

McKeown provided the Board with results of a recent curriculum survey showing materials teachers are using and their curriculum concerns.

McKeown has held in-services on the writing curriculum and a professional group has reviewed the elementary math curriculum.

She mentioned the use of LiveBinders to meet new math standards in junior high, curriculum challenges for new teachers, the loss of a scope and sequence in the transition to Common Core and new standards, and the need for vertical and horizontal curricular alignment.

Further discussion included focusing on professional development resources, building a good class library rather than a prescribed series, the attraction of Teacher's Pay Teachers, and a recent departure from teaching whole group standards.

Spangler emphasized the need for a text reference for parents to help with homework, but much of Common Core is not yet available in textbook form.

Dallas City has adopted GO Math! which has an online component and a book to take home, EngageNY and Louisiana have done a lot of work, and EurekaMath has high ratings.

Detherage asked about the feasibility of 1-1 computing. Olson suggested developing a four quarter plan and listing resources with each standard, and McKeown agreed that unit plans are a good format.

Teachers need summer workshops/retreats to work on these one or two grade levels at a time.

The Board curriculum committee will meet to formulate broad goals for the teaching staff to hone and personalize to their grade level and subject matter.

Supt. Olson mentioned Gov. Rauner's 2017 budget address noting that a 2016 State budget has yet to be passed

The Johnson Estate money totaling $390,000 will soon be ready for the district.

Dr. Olson and Mrs. McKeown met regarding staffing for next year including the possibility of not replacing one of the retiring teachers.

The next IASB Western Division Meeting will be March 29 in Colchester. The 3rd Annual Spike-Out-Cancer event will be held at the school March 16 at 5:30 pm. Dr. Olson mentioned a conference he would be attending in Arizona paid for by District Administration magazine.

Principal McKeown provided a report on athletic team progress, Preschool Family Math Night, the elementary winter positive behavior party with parent-led games, Jump Rope for Heart, and midterms.

With Mrs. Vershaw's assistance, second grade students led a recent elementary school-wide morning meeting.

Logan Little won the junior high spelling bee with Sammi Haney in second place and Austin Johnston in third place.

The county spelling bee will be held in the Carthage courthouse Feb. 17th.

8th grade students attended freshman orientation at the Illini West Charger Center and took a reading placement test at the high school.

The Joint Committee comprised of Dr. Olson, Principal McKeown, Mrs. Mencel, and Mrs. Finch met at the end of January.

The Joint Committee approves student learning objectives, student growth percentages and changes or updates to the teacher evaluation instrument.

Mrs. McKeown has completed three observations for each of the new teachers.

The February Teacher Institute included all staff in active shooter training with Deputy Sheriff Josh Smith and Police Chief Justin Livingston.

Active shooter training will be provided to students in April. Mrs.

McKeown provided the Board with a list of recent meetings, trainings and webinars she has had, as well as a copy of the IL School Code regarding a parent-teacher advisory committee that may need to be reestablished in compliance with new student discipline rules.

Board members present included President Cindy Wear, Vice President Bobi James, Pam Campbell, Dustin Detherage, Dave Mershon, and Darren Spangler.

The Board also approved the consent agenda, and payment of bills.

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