Making Democracy Work

Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163 Observer Reports

These are the LWVPFA observer reports of Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163.

Report of SD 163 Board & Finance mtg, June 29, 2015 by Suzie Brown

Finance Committee--6:10 p.m.

Present were Tami Braxton, Allison McCray, Margaret McDannel, and Judy Hawthorne. Jaqueline Jordan, the new President of the Board, arrived at 7:46 p.m. Absent were Walter Mosby and Cheryl Franklin.

Because educational funding will be at the 92% level for the coming year, Dr. Carmine presented a staffing enhancement proposal that includes several summer employees--one secretary and four in curriculum. Those hired will either live in the district or were students here. Also proposed were another social worker and a .5 principal at Algonquin who will help with teacher evaluation. Teachers will have 200 minutes of planning time per week. Reading teachers will take the whole class instead of small goups to aid in the teacher planning time.

In addition, a teacher leader will be hired for science and art, and an English/Language Arts or math intervention person should be hired for each building. They will align the program to the new Common Core standards and will be sure our fundamentals are current.

Michelle Obama School will hire a dean and two classified teachers as half-time health assistants. A part-time person will be hired for social media.

The library budget is back as part of the proposed budget. An additional second-grade teacher may be needed. The STEAM lab needs a broadcast studio. Michelle Obama School had 620 students this past year, and Barack Obama School had 463.

A math enrichment teacher who emphasizes real world projects is needed, as well as a facilities manager who knows infrastructure and will assist with maintenance. Another PE teacher may be needed at Michelle Obama School.

In terms of food service, it was decided to discuss Open Kitchen vs Preferred with the whole board.

Regular Session--7:48 p.m.

Dr. Camine reported that there were 58 more students in attendance this year, which brought the district an additional $350,000. The district also received an additional $550,000 for the poor students in our district. She also reported that, once again, Michelle Obama and Barack Obama Schools had the highest attendance for May--98.58% for Michelle Obama and 99.27% for Barack Obama.

The activity fee will be $20, but those registering before August get $10.00 back.

The Board will meet on July 16 to work on a draft of the Board Policy Manual for the Illinois Association of School Boards. A motion carried to approve Cook of Illinois, the low bidders for both general education and special education transportation.

A homeless liaison, non-discrimination coordinator, and district harrassment officer were approved. Workers' compensation coverage was approved at $111,404 for the 2015-2016 school year.

Suzie Brown (This will be my last reporting of my observations at the School District 163 Boad meetings.)

Report of SD 163 Board & Finance meetings: Apr 27, 2015 by Suzie Brown

Finance Committee + 6:00 p.m.

Present: Jacqueline Jordan, Allison McCray, Shirley McDonald, Margaret McDannel. Tami Braxton + 6:45 p.m., Cheryl Franklin + 6:55 p.m., Walter Mosby + 7:26 p.m.

Students from the Michelle Obama School of Technology and the Arts presented a preview of their spring show to be held May 21 at Bloom High School. The preview included ballet, singing, and dance and was very well done.

A prevailing wage act resolution for laborers, mechanics was discussed. David Ricker, Business Manager, was designated to prepare the 2015-2016 budget. A working cash fund transfer was approved to be used for any negative cash fund, if needed.

A list of hazardous routes will be sent to the Illinois Depatment of Transportation. Dr. Carmine asked that Orchard and Indianwood be added to the list.

Director of Instructional Technology Susan Klimczak presented the need for an upgraded telephone server, since we are using a loaner because of our server is outdated. Netrix is recommended. Winstream will provide our internet and voice over internet service, with firewall protection. In addition, new wireless equipment, configuration, and installation will be provided by Winstream at a cost of $203,000 plus $26,500 for installation over five years. Marcorps will provide network maintenance at a cost of $5,100 per year. A. T. & T. will provide analog phone service, and Verizon will provide cellular phone service as part of a state contract at $957.84 per month.

The board approved ads being purchased in the spring musical brochure.

A union representative and two district custodians spoke to the board about the high cost and deductibles of $6,000 - $10,000 for their health insurance by the outside company that employs them, without a union. Other issues were overtime and sometimes waiting three weeks to be paid.

Regular Session- 7:30 p.m.

The maintenance group spoke again during the Regular Session, citing violations of labor and wage laws by the outide company.

The oath of office as given to Walter Mosby, Cheryl Franklin, and Judy Hawthorne, recently elected school board members. Jacqueline Jordan was elected President, Allison McCray was elected Vice President, and Tami Braxton was elected Secretary of the Board. The time for the Regular Session of the Board was set as 7:00 p.m. on the last Monday of the month.

Shirley McDonald, retiring board member, was recognized with a plaque for her service. Dr. Carmine reported that Barack Obama School's attendance for March was 99%, and Michelle Obama's attendance was 98%. Blackhawk achieved 95.1% attendance. Algonquin's pre-school program received a gold rating by the state.

For the 2015-2016 school calendar, August 19 will be an Institute Day, and students start on August 20. Conference days are December 3 and 4, February 15 is Presidents' Day, March 15 is election day, and June 7 is the last day of school.

Report of SD 163 Bd & Comm mtgs: Mar 30, 2015 by Suzie Brown

Finance Committee (6:00 p.m.)

Present: Shirley McDonald, Jacqueline Jordan, Allison Mc Cray, Tami Braxton, Margaret McDannel. Cheryl Franklin, Walter Mosby + 7:05 p.m.

Mohawk School presented an excellent program about reading and Alvin Ailey dance.

Center Point will get the 12-month contract for gas and electricity at 35.9 cents per therm, a savings. Cloverleaf will get the milk agreement renewal at no increase. The state has approved Preferred Foods for food service, but the district must get bids. The transportation renewal is out for bids.

In terms of stage 1 program reductions, one kindergarten position and one art position will be eliminated, and a science position will be added at $50,000. Retirements will cover the cost. Depending on state funding, an extra bus may be dropped. There are presently three art positions.

Policy Committee (7:11 -7:15 p.m.)

The district policy on bullying was presented to the Illinois Board of Education. Anna Marie Dowling is the complaint manager.

Regular Session (7:15 p.m.)

Supt.Carmine reported that Michelle Obama's attendance was 98%, as was Barack Obama's. Blackhawk had 95% attendance. She also stressed the importance of parent involvement in students' reading. Both Blackhawk and Mohawk Schools will have a Steamapalooza celebration. It was shown how Kindergartners worked to solve the problem of pencils rolling off their desks.

Margaret McDannel reported on a session on Indian American education she attended at the National School Board Conference. They were addressing the question of whether Native American history is represented in our schools. Walter Mosby reported on a session he attended on school security and noted that social media helps get information to the schools.

A report was given on a seven-week program on effective parenting. Seven parents attended, and several of them spoke about the program and how it affected their parenting.

An affirmative action plan was approved.

June 15 was declared the last day of school in 2015. August 21 will be an Institute Day, and August 24 will be the first day of the 2015-2016 school year. Christmas break will be December 23 -January 3, and the last day of school will be June 8, 2016.

Report of SD 163 Bd & Finance Mtgs, Jan 26, 2015, by Suzie Brown

Finance Committee (6:00 p.m.)

Present: Tami Braxton, Allison McCray, Shirley McDonald, Margaret McDannel. Jacqueline Jordan (7:00 p.m.), Cheryl Franklin (6:45). Walter Mosby was absent.

A video and student presentation from 21st Century on vocabulary development was shown called "Flat Stanley."

Because of the mild winter so far, construction of the addition to Michelle Obama School is predicted to be finished by next November. Portions of the addition are under roof and work is being done on interior walls.

An update on the 2015 budget showed that 48% of the revenue has been received, more than last year. District 163 has spent 38% of its budgeted expenditures.

Special school programs include a February 25 (1:00) Black History program at Blackhawk School is called "the Friendship Train" and Mohawk's February 27 Black History program is called "Moving Forward." Michelle Obama School will offer parent training in the evening.

Regular Session (7:02 p.m.)

Supt. Carmine reported that Michelle Obama School had the highest attendance percentage for the month--98.9%. Barack Obama had 94.36%, and Blackhawk had 91.47%.

A video from the Michelle Obama winter musical was shown.

The board voted to adopt a sexual harassment policy that includes a list of officers in the policy and their school addresses.

They May school board meeting date was changed to May 11, 2015. The fee for building usage at Michelle Obama was waived for the light company that works for the district. They teach high school and college students.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting Dec 15, 2014, by Suzie Brown

Regular Session

Present were: Margaret McDannel, Shirley McDonald, Walter Mosby, Allison McCray, Tami Braxton, and Allison McCray. Cheryl Franklin was absent.

Numerous holiday programs will be presented. The Barack Obama School will present the science of winter and have an engineering challenge in which students will make machines to be judged on January 8.

In terms of attendance for November, Michelle Obama School had 98.81%, Barack Obama School had 96.39%, Blackhawk had 98.67%, Mohawk had 92%, 21st Century had 95.21%, and Algonquin had 93.41% . It was noted that the schools that represent the former junior high have considerably higher attendance rates this year, presumably because students are highly motivated to attend the new school programs.

Teacher, Sherie Flabsite was presented with a $500 award from the Ackerman Insurance Group to be used for five microscopes for the science learning center classes.

The following pay scale was approved for substitute teachers: $100 per day for 1-4 days, $110 per day for 5-10 days, and $120 per day for a longer period.

Twenty-first Century has received a Community Learning Center Grant in the amount of $540,000, called XSTEAM, Gym for the Mind, for this year until 2019. The program will be held from 3:00 + 5:00 p.m. for students performing 2.5 years below grade level and who attend less than 85% of the time. Community partners also take part in the program.

Caletha White, Director of Instructional Services, reported that she has written two proposals for the February state conference: "PEP in Common Core Steps," and "Full Steam Ahead."

In response to parental concerns about bus transportation, Dr. Carmine said that buses are available for students who live more than 1.5 miles from school. The district receives 65% reimbursement, and buses cost $160 per bus per day. Dr. Carmine recommended that a morning bus be provided during January and February, at a cost of $17,500. She noted that students may have to walk 10 minutes to a bus stop.

Report of SD 163 Education & Board Mtgs Oct 27, 2014, by Suzie Brown

Education Committee (6:16 p.m.)

Present were: Shirley McDonald, Allison McCray, Margaret McDannel, Walter Mosby (6:30 p.m.), Jacqueline Jordan (7:00 p.m.), Cheryl Franklin (7:10 p.m.)

Dr. Carmine applauded the Board for their conscientious work in behalf of the students of District 163, specifically naming Shirley McDonald, Allison McCray, and Walter Mosby.

A detailed plan for the Performing Arts Program at Michelle Obama School of Technology and the Arts was presented, which includes art, music, theater, dance, private lessons in art and music, and enrichment classes. All students are eligible for beginning band (now 92 enrolled), show choir (now 16 enrolled), and jazz combo (now 5 enrolled in seond year). In addition, a drama club and gospel choir, which will perform monthly for parents, are offered. A roaring 20s dinner dance will be held on Thursday. Support for the program comes from a $35,000 art grant, another grant for $25,000, a total of $9,000 from Governors State University, support from the Vander Cook College of Music, School District 227, and the SPAA Theater in Park Forest. Math and reading are taught through the arts, as well.

The reading program at Barack Obama School of Leadership and STEM will focus on five goals: showing deconstruction of the common core standards; monthly signposts that highlight close reading by students to learn what the author is conveying and life lessons presented; clear oral and written communicaion; creating intellectual communities; supporting use of academic vocabulary; and increasing individual reading time to more than one hour per day with class silent reading time. They work in the literacy lounge.

In the STEM program, science, technology, engineering, and math are integrated. Students work in teams at islands and have Apple computers, a glass board for notes, and cameras to help in their work on projects, which they do for four days. They then submit their work in a portfolio to the teacher. One day a week they do an individual leadership assessment.

The Special Education update included the information that 328 students or 20% of the students spend most of their time in special educaion classes. There were 18 summer school classes for 263 students. 95% completed the program and gains of up to four years were achieved in reading.

A report was given on the the STEAM programs at Primary Centers (Algonquin, Blackhawk, and Mohawk Schools).

Regular Session (8:30 p.m.)

Dr. Carmine reported that as of the end of September there are 2010 students enrolled in School District 163.

The Blue Cross/BlueShield insurance renewal was approved at a 9.5% increase for one year. The Ameritas insurance contract was renewed for two years with a 10% increase the first year. The contract with Prairie Daycare was approved for three years.

Allison McCray will be the delegate for the Illinois Association of School Boards Conference.

Discussion of a policy to make all schools peanut free was held. This would include banning peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. A student suffered a severe reaction to peanuts.

Report of SD 163 Finance & Board Mtgs Sept 29, 2014 by Suzie Brown

Present were: Margaret McDannel, Allison McCray, Tami Braxton, Shirley McDonald, Walter Mosby (6:48 p.m.), Cheryl Franklin (7:05 p.m.), Jacqueline Jordan (7:10 p.m.)

Finance Committee (6:15 p.m.)

During the public comments period, several maintenance workers for District 163 expressed concern that Alpha, the new maintenance company, has no union and also that some of them had not been paid for overtime from Phoenix, the previous company. Dr. Carmine said the district has been billed by Phoenix for overtime, and the workers should be paid.

One parent spoke about her concern that her daughter is assigned to Beacon Hill (now Barack Obama), which she feels is in a bad neighborhood. Another parent is concerned because she has two children assigned to different schools. A third parent, who works, is concerned about the number of days and half days off in the school calendar. Dr Carmine asked if the district could have day care for a half day.

Asphalt repairs fo parking lots will be held off for more bids. A report of possible day care providers was given. Prairie was recommended as offering a good before and after school program, being the cheapest, used also by District 162, and being approved by DCFS.

Michael Puckett was introduced as the new general music, band, and choir teacher. There will be tryouts for 50 instruments, with $10,000 in scholarship money to help meet the cost of the instruments.

The Village Recreation Department has a program to get kids off the streets after school from 3:00 + 6:30 p.m. They will offer a college tour next year.

Budget Hearing/Regular Session

Reviewing the 2014-15 budget, it was noted that there will be a deficit this school year because of the expansion of Forest Trail (now Michelle Obama), but the money is in the bank account. The district maintains a 3.7 month reserve. Thirty-seven percent of the budget is for salaries, and 32% for capital outlay. In terms of income, 51% is supposed to be from state aid, 34% from local aid, and 11.5% from federal aid. The budget for the current school year was approved.

Dr. Carmine reported that we have more than 2,000 students enrolled, which is higher than in recent years. Class size is 25 for the early grades. On November 20 parents and others may visit the schools during American Education Week.

Fifty-five children who completed their summer homework goals packet will have a field trip to Schererville, Indiana. Students who meet the Illinois state code of behavior and district standards will be able to participate in graduation ceremonies.

Report of SD 163 Finance & Board Mtgs Aug 25, 2014, by Suzie Brown


Present were: Margaret McDannel, Allison McCray, Shirley McDonald, Walter Mosby (6:25 p.m.), Tammie Braxton and Jacqueline Jordan(6:14 p.m.). Cheryl Franklin was absent.

The Business Manager, Mr. Ricker, presented the proposed district budget for the 2014-2015 school year, which showed that over 40% of district revenue comes from the state. There is also other state revenue. The biggest expenditure is over 36% for salaries. Capital outlay has risen because of the Forest Trail expansion, so a smaller surplus is expected for 2015. The district will have 3.69% of the budget in reserve, a smaller percentage than the last two years, but still within the recommended 3% minimum. This is weighted by bond money. The proposed budget will be examined and can be changed until September.

The district discussed day care providers for half-day pre-school and before and after school care. Two providers were highlighted--Prairie Child Care and Ivy League Child Care. On Dr. Carmine's recommendation, the board supported going with Prairie Child Care, which will pay the district $50,000 over a three-year period. The Kinder Care building on North Street will be renovated to use for day care. Fees are $299.00 for all day pre-school. Using our pre-school grant, we have one all-day class and four half-day classes. Poverty children would be subsidized. District buses would be used.

Maintenance and custodial services will be rebid because the lowest bidder, Alpha Building and Maintenance, did not include information about minimum wages and unions in their bid.

Corrections and updates need to be made on Black Hawk and Forest Trail portables. Because of the high cost of drainage construction at Forest Trail for one year's use, the board wants to put level 3 intervention students, grades 6-8, in the Black Hawk mobile. Next year there will be room for level 3 in Forest Trail . A new plan for level 1 students will need to be made, since in school suspension doesn't work.

More information is needed about increases from Trademark Financial Services for a two-year contract.


It was reported that 1,504 students have registered, and $25,000 in fees have been received. Supt. Carmine thanked all the teachers, administrators, and technicians for their hard work this summer to get everything in place for the reorganized program this school year. Many teachers and administrators have had changes in classrooms and schools.

There will be seven fewer buses than last year, so six buses will be used. All students for 21st Century will be walkers. A safety video for walking safely to school was shown and will be shown to students. There will be crossing guards at busy intersections, and there will be walking buddies at Orchard and Sauk Trail for the first week.

It was voted to push the first day of school back from August 29 to Tuesday, September 2, to give teachers and administrators a few more days to prepare. August 28 and 29 will be Institute Days, September 2 will be a full day of school.

Under the alternative certification program, one teacher from Governors State University will be teaching in the district at a cost of $26,000, which will be reimbursed by G. S. U.

District 163 donated $250 for Back to School Youth Day, Saturday, August 16.

A motion was carried to rename Beacon Hill School the Barack Obama School of Science and Technology and rename Forest Trail School the Michelle Obama School of the Arts.

The discussion about whether to let students with a 1.0 grade point average walk across the stage at graduation is ongoing. Administrators will meet with the board to decide this matter.

Report of SD 163 Finance & Board Mtgs June 30, 2014, by Suzie Brown


Present were Margaret McDannel, Shirley McDonald, Tami Braxton, and Walter Mosby.

Because of changes in transportation boundaries, there will be five or six fewer buses next year, at a savings of $110,000. Sandy Gordon worked on maps of the school boundaries, and they were presented to the board. Park Forest Auto will provide inside bus space for two buses at the same price as last year.

Workers compensation will be renewed at half the cost of the 2012 policy. The district will sign up with Kickert for one year of bus transportation at a 6% increase due to increased labor and insurance costs.

The district recommended staying with the attorneys at the same firm (Scariano, etc.) for tax appeals, etc.

Supt. Joyce Carmine gave accolades to the business manager for his research on transportation plans for next year.


Jacqueline Jordan arrived at 7:05 p.m. Cheryl Franklin and Allison McCray were absent.

Supt. Carmine announced that Forest Tail had the largest attendance for June at 96.4%. The comment was made that lower attendance in some schools may be attributed to confusion because of snow days. The district should receive $300,000 more in revenue this next year.

The golf outing has been changed to July 28, 2014.

An extended discussion was held about the new names for Forest Trail School and Beacon Hill School, which will now be for grades 4-8. Jacqueline Jordan rescinded her vote for the motion to rename Beacon Hill School the Barack Obama School of Leadership and Forest Trail School the Marie Iafollo School of Performing Arts because she misunderstood the motion. After a long debate, it was decided to have separate motions for each school name. The Barack Obama School of Leadership name passed unanimously. The Michelle Obama School of Performing Arts name passed 3-2.

This year's ISAT was harder because most of the test items were from the Common Core Standards. Final scores will be coming soon. Third grades seem to have scored the highest.

The school lunch program was renewed at an increase of 1.1% per meal. Lawn care service was renewed to the lowest bidder at $26,000 for one year.

A down payment of $47,500 was approved for the STEM lab. This is part of the $500,000 grant being used for the reorganization of the district.

A motion for non-union contractual staff contracts was tabled. A motion to approve the adoption of policy related to student elegibiliy to participate in graduation ceremonies was tabled. A discussion of whether students must have a 2.0 academic average in all classes during their 8th grade year did not finalize the policy. A policy meeting will be held on July 23 at 4:30 to further discuss this policy.

Suzie Brown

Report of SD 163 Public & Board Mtgs Apr 17, 2014, by Suzie Brown

Prior to the Finance Committee meeting, at 5:00 p.m., an informational meeting for parents was held to explain plans for a reconfiguration of the School District 163 program. This plan, called Many Minds--One Mission, would set up two magnet schools for grades 4-8 to challenge students academically and increase student motivation. One would be a leadership school focusing on math, science, and technology, and cost an estimated $255,000, and the other would be a school of technology and the arts, and cost an estimated $180,000. The district has received a grant of $500,000, which would be used to implement the program. $100,000 would come from the district budget.

Beacon Hill and Forest Trail Schools would house these new programs. Mohawk, Black Hawk, and 21st Century would house grades K-3 and would have a program that includes allowing the learner to design, experiment, and create innovative processes to solve problems. Algonquin would house pre-kindergarten classes. Each student in grades 4-8 would have a rubric filled out by his/her teacher showing responsibility in getting work done, behavior, a strong work ethic, good attendance, grades, etc. to be used in choosing students to attend these new programs.

Many parents had questions and comments about this new proposed program. The meeting was held in the gymnasium at 21st Century and was well attended.


In attendance were Allison Mc Cray, Tammi Braxton, Shirley Mc Donald, Margaret McDannel, and Jackie Jordan.

Mohawk School 6th graders did a presentation using time lines, other math, and social studies to discuss Minoan civilization.

Further discussion of the proposed reconfiguration included the fact that lockers would need to be installed at Beacon Hill and that it will take 8-10 weeks to install materials. The new programs would be ready by the time school begins in late August. A SMART lab would have 15 paths of engagement in 8 core areas. Students would work at their own pace and would normally spend 8-10 hours on each unit. Teachers would be facilitators. Proficiency would be demonstrated through an electronic portfolio.

David Ricker, the Business Manager, was designated to prepare the 2014-2015 budget.


Walter Mosby reported on the National School Board meeting in New Orleans. Mohawk School had the highest attendance for the month at 96.31%. Black Hawk had 95.6%. The goal for all schools is 95%.

Resolutions were adopted that involved dismissal of staff members at the end of this school year. These are sometimes reinstated after the district learns how much money they will receive from the state. The board discussed the possibility of offering scholarships to cover the cost of instrument rental, about $360, for students in need.

The last day of school will be June 11 because of four snow days.

Report of SD 163 Board Mtg March 31, 2014, by Suzie Brown

Present were: Shirley MacDonald, Allison McCray, Walter Mosby, Jacqueline Jordan, and Margaret McDannel. Tammie Braxton and Cheryl Franklin arrived at 7:05 p.m. for the regular meeting.


Presentations by students included Forest Trail - poetry and song, with explanation of lyrics; original poems by 7th and 8th graders. First and second graders read essays they wrote about Martin Luther King and sang "Follow the Drinking Gourd" with drum accompaniment.

Renewing the website is 90% covered, with the district paying 10%. A matching grant will pay 50% for replacement of exterior doors. The lowest bid is $189,241. There is a May deadline. $100,000 will be used this year and the rest later. A three-year contract for lawn service was presented, with fertilization being done during school.

The budget will reflect the proposed shift in the program and implementing common core standards. Equitable assignment of staff and materials will be made. Title I says that the district can no longer emphasize early learning, but must put more into the upper grades. Reductions for next year will include one art, one PE, one pre-K, one kindergarten, two reading assistants, and one math teacher. If fully funded, the district will take some back. Enhancements will include one music, one social studies, one reading specialist, one technician, one performing arts teacher, and three media technicians. These would not add any money to the budget.

President Walter Mosby and Dr. Joyce Carmine presented information about an energy and green program involving hydroponics, aquaponics, and community gardens, part of the federal program Put America Back to Work. Vegetables grown would be used in the Forest Trail kitchen.


Supt. Carmine reported that Mohawk had the highest attendance for February at 94.4%.

She also announced that District 163 has been awarded a $500,000 grant to reconfigure the district to motivate and challenge students in grades 4-8 to achieve by offering them choice and challenge. Beacon Hill School would become the Barack Obama Leadership School, emphasizing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Project based learning would take place in Smart Labs. Forest Trail would become the Michelle Obama School of Technology and Arts, emphasizing theater, dance, art, vocal and instrumental music. (STARS) They would have a show choir, orchestra, social studies, literacy lounges, and PE. Expanded extra curricular activities would be offered.

The program is called Many Minds, One Mission and was presented by District 163 principals and members of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee. Primary Centers 21st Century, Black Hawk and Mohawk would have STEAM exploration centers. Algonquin would be a pre-K center. There would still be an honors class at each school. The Superintendent indicated that the Board would vote on this proposal at the April 14 meeting.

To be eligible to attend either the Leadership School or the Technology and Arts School students must meet the eligibility criteria and apply. A criteria rubric will be constructed for every student, which evaluates criteria that includes doing quality class work and assignments, grades, good behavior, and attendance.

The Superintendent's 2014-2015 budget proposal was approved. The Destiny Library Manager software upgrade was approved at a cost of $10,857. The 2014-2015 school calendar will be August 29, 2014 - June 16, 2015. The new PARCC tests, taken on computers, will be given during the period March 9 - April 3, 2015.

Report of SD 163 Board Mtg Feb 24, 2014, by Suzie Brown

EDUCATION COMMITTEE - 6:00 p.m. Present were: Shirley McDonald, Allison McCray, Margaret McDannel, Jacqueline Jordan (6:45 p.m.)

Beacon Hill students gave a presentation on vocabulary development beginning at pre-kindergarten which included adjectives, synonyms and antonyms, and made use of i-pad dictionaries. An enthusiastic report was made on a professional development workshop which focused on a team leadership curriculum and included class environment and teacher/student relationships. The program Capturing Kids' Hearts included science, technology, and math and supplemental education for 25 students at a cost of $25,250, as part of the SMART program. Jean Bernstein worked on a Title IV evaluation. Parent Education Technology Courses were included.

The Klemson technology library system upgrade is tied to the common core standards. It will cost $10,000 this year and $6,000 annually going forward.

In terms of 2014 program reductions, art will be reduced at the primary and pre-K levels, and there will be one less kindergarten class. At the middle school there will be 28 students in five sections of math classes.

REGULAR SESSION - 7:20 p.m. Walter Mosby arrived at 7:00 p.m., Tammi Braxton at 7:25 p.m., and Cheryl Franklin at 7:40 p.m.

Supt. Carmine announced that BlackHhawk had the highest attendance for the past month at 94.87%. She also announced that the Forest Trail 8th grade basketball team won first place in the state finals. The team all received T shirts. A rebroadcast was played of the Michigan State University radio program which lauded the Forest Trail team's playing and victory. On April 16 a Michigan State radio show will be held at Forest Trail. A celebration was also planned for Thursday, February 27.

Many schools are having Black History programs.

The refuse and recycling service contract was renewed until 2017. The contract with Skyward Technology for a student information system was approved, initially costing $67,040.

Report of SD 163 Board Mtg Feb 10, 2014, by Suzie Brown


Present were: Margaret McDannel, Jacqueline Jordan, Shirley Mc Donald, Tammi Barton , and Alison McCray

Planera Architects presented the revised plan for Forest Trail changes. The original plans for the cafeteria, kitchen, and one row of additional classrooms will be omitted. There will be a large fitness room, as well as the gym. The original plan would have cost $16.8 million. The revised plan will cost $13.5 million. This plan will be going out for bid.

The Skyward Student Information System was reviewed. It will cost $109,351 for three years.

The Republic Service Refuse and Renewal contract will be renewed with no increase in cost until June of 2015. At that time there will be a 1,7% increase based on inflation.

SPECIAL SESSION--6:00 p.m. Walter Mosby, President, arrived at 6:00 p.m.

Supt. Joyce Carmine reported that Mohawk had the best attendance for December at 94.8%. She also announced that the 7th graders are regional basketball champs. Algonquin, Beacon Hill, Mohawk, and Black Hawk will all have Black History month programs.

Paperwork has been filed with the IRS for a School District 163 Foundation. The by-laws are being prepared by the Board. The first fundraiser will be at Balmoral, and then the gold outing. A board for the foundation will be formed.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting Dec 15, 2013, by Suzie Brown


Present were: Tami Braxton, Shirley McDonald, Cheryl Franklin, Jacqueline Jordan, Allison McCray, and Margaret McDannel on speakerphone.

It was reported that Mohawk School gave over $500 to the town of Washington, Illinois, which was devastated by a tornado this fall. All schools supported tornado relief in Washington.

Supt. Carmine reported that November attendance at Mohawk, Blackhawk, and Forest Trail Schools was over 95%. All others came very close to this goal. She also reported that changes are being implemented to enhance student motivation.

The 2013 tax levy was passed. A transportation contract was approved at $14,503. New classroom door locks will be installed at the lowest bid of $98,623, following state approval.

By-laws for a district foundation are being edited and prepared for approval by the Board at a meeting on February 10, 2013, at 5:00 p.m.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting Oct 28, 2013, by Suzie Brown

EDUCATION COMMITTEE MEETING - 6:00 p.m. Present were: Margaret McDannel, Allison McCray, Shirley McDonald, Tammi Braxton, Jacqueline Jordan (6:12 p.m.), Cheryl Franklin (7:00 p.m.)

Black Hawk School presented a program on understanding math problems, stressing perseverance. They played Minute to Win It. The Board played it, too.

Rising Star, an online school improvement plan, was approved by the Board, and will be sent to the state.

A video on the Common Core Curriculum was shown, stressing balancing informational and literary reading, rigor in the level of engagement with the text, and deep thinking, levels 3 and 4. The district is part of the South Cook Mathematics Initiative Leadership Team. In math, concept underwriting, procedural skills, and application are stressed. In professional development, the goal is to improve student learning.

There are six mentors for nine new teachers.

A proposed trip for Forest Trail students to Washington, D.C. for April 30 to May 3, at a cost of $900 per student, was presented and discussed. A minimum of 40 students would have to sign up. Fundraisers could be held. The Board felt that too few students would be able to go, and suggested that ideas for an alternate trip be discussed at the November meeting.

Institute Day will stress developing technical uses for writing, tests, math, etc., across all the curriculum. The band has 18 7th graders and 26 8th graders.

Mr. Martin spoke during public comments saying that he has been a substitute teacher several times this year, but for two weeks has not been able to get back on the list. He also spoke to Supt. Carmine about this.

REGULAR SESSION (7:35p.m.) Supt. Carmine reported that all schools had above 95% attendance for the first month of school. Danielle Gladstone, Enrichment Class Teacher at Mohawk School, received an award for her work.

The Board voted to accept the Preferred Meals Snack Program for this year at a cost of 65 cents per snack. The Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance program was renewed for a year at a 4% increase. The Ameritas dental program was renewed at a 5.5% increase. Action on the life insurance program provider was tabled until the November meeting.

Allison McCray was appointed as the delegate for the IASB/IASA Joint Conference.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting Aug 26, 2013 by Suzie Brown

Present were: Tammi Braxton, Allison McCray, Shirley McDonald, Margaret McDannel, Jacqueline Jordan (6:55 p.m.), Cheryl Franklin (6:45 p.m.). Walter Mosby was absent. Cheryl Franklin was President pro tem for the Regular Session.


Bus buddies are being used this week on school buses. Forest Trail work has been completed. Some corrections will need to be made to the portables at Black Hawk and Forrest Trail Schools.

The 2013-2014 budget will be posted 30 days before September 30 and than sent to the state. In house transportation of special education students is being considered in order to save money.

A 1.8% increase in the cost of each student meal is in the contract with Preferred Meals. It is proposed that District van drivers be paid by their time rather than the current policy of paying per trip when each door is a trip.

Allison McCray and Margaret McDannel audited board member expenditures for the San Diego April conference. They reported that board members are getting better about reporting their expenses. One board member included personal expenses which cannot be reimbursed. Allison McCray said that those who attend conferences need to give a report. Dr. Carmine indicated that when administrators attend a conference they meet to share and discuss what they have attended.

Because of a request by a former board member to buy his district Ipad, a discussion was held about whether or not the board should allow the purchase of district equipment. It was noted that the district still has uses for the tablet. The Superintendent will pursue the matter further.

During the public comments of the meeting a 32-year resident and her friend made a plea for reinstating the band program at the elementary level with a band director. They both deplored the fact that there is no music for fifth and sixth graders. Dr. Carmine noted that seventh graders can take beginning band at Rich East, and eighth graders can take marching band. She referred them to Dr. Stroud, an eighth-grade principal.


During the public comments period, a father asked for the board to approve moving his fourth-grade daughter to Mohawk School where his younger daughter is in the honors program.

Dr. Carmine reported that registration is presently at 1,800, but more students are registering each day, and the total will likely be at least 2,000, which is the average. Five students have attended the Alternate Education program, working with District 163 through GSU, District 163 gets professional development money for taking part.

Principals' contracts and goals for the school year were approved. The Board Secretary/Public Relations person will receive a pay increase, beginning July 1, 2013. Retired teacher consultant agreements were approved.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting July 29, 2013, by Suzie Brown

Present were: Shirley McDonald, Allison McCray, Walter Mosby, Margaret McDannel,and Tami Braxton (6:20 p.m.). Jacqueline Jordan came at 7:00 p.m. Cheryl Franklin was absent.

FINANCE COMMITTEE (6:00 p.m.) Due to budget cuts, there will be fewer buses this school year and more walkers. More crossing guards will be needed. Four are requested, especially at Sauk Trail and Westwood., where a police presence may be necessary. The police share the cost of a crossing guard. In the event of absences, a crossing guard must be provided. It was suggested that an Officer Friendly talk to students about safety in crossing streets.

The ombudsman service agreement has been renewed at $5,715. Successes were reported by board member Shirley McDonald.

A $100,000 deficit in the 2013-2014 budget was reported due to a late payment to one vender because of poor service. The district has a 3 1/2 month reserve in the budget.

The school district will take part in a pilot program which will involve cameras on two buses which will photograph cars that go around school buses when they are stopped. The camera company gets 50% of the resulting fines, and we get 50%. The board will consult with the village. There will be no charge during the pilot program.

REGULAR SESSION (7:00 p.m.) Forest Trail had the best attendance in June--96.99%. Supt. Carmine reported that our district reading and math scores dropped significantly this year. This is the case in other districts, as well. In preparing for the new Common Core instruction, College and Career Readiness is the theme, with four levels in depth of knowledge. Students will need to be one year advanced from their grade level in reading. This is already a part of district teaching. Dr. Carmine indicated that math will receive special emphasis this school year because math scores were lower than reading scores.

Mrs.White, co-Principal at Algonquin School, is our new Director of Grants and Professional Development. She presented some examples of Common Core third-grade math questions which require higher level reading and thinking skills, as well as math skills.

There will be an Illinois Math & Science Academy class at Black Hawk School this year. A steering committee was formed to study the establishment of a foundation for the district.

Some discussion of staying overnight in a Chicago hotel for the November Joint Conference was held. Board members Shirley McDonald, Allison McCray, and Margaret McDannel said they would stay at home overnight to save money and drive down or take the train. The overnight rates are $200. Walter Mosby and Tami Braxton said they would like to stay overnight downtown. Dr. Carmine will look further into the costs. There is a budget of $14,000 for board conferences. There is also a national conference.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting May 6, 2013, by Suzie Brown

FINANCE COMMITTEE--7:00 P.M. Present were: Lance Jefferson, Melvin Pumphrey, Margaret McDannel, Shirley McDonald, Jacqueline Jordan, Walter Mosby, Cheryl Franklin (6:55p.m.)

21st Century presented a program on geography. Other students presented ways of using technology in literature, science, math, and reading. Many spelling awards were given to grades 3-7.

Reductions in square footage to the Forest Trail addition were presented. The overall cost has to be reduced from $16.8 million to $13 million. The new cafeteria and kitchen and the track and fitness room will be eliminated. There will still be eight new classrooms. A meeting will be held to further discuss the reductions.

10.10% of the classified staff is retiring. $1.2 million has been cut from next year's budget, but $1.2-1.5 million in additional cuts are needed. Building assistants, special education assistants have been eliminated, and technology assistants will be reduced. All this is necessary because the state will be paying District 163 only 82% of what it owes.

REGULAR SESSION 7:00 p.m. As part of Title 1 school-wide meetings, students reported on what Beacon Hill School needs--more bags of books (which they will receive).

Lance Jefferson and Melvin Pumphrey were recognized for their service as school board members. Volita Jenkins was recognized for her 25 years of service in special education.

Mohawk School had the highest attendance in April--95.6%.

Walter Mosby was re-elected President of the Board, Cheryl Franklin was elected Vice President, and Jacqueline Jordan was elected Secretary. The two new Board members took their seats: Allison McCray and Tami Braxton.

June 10 will be the last day of school. The 2013-2014 school calendar was edited to make observance of Veteran's Day on Monday, November 11, 2013.

The Board approved giving $1,500 to the union for the district retirement party and approved the seventh-grade trip to Springfield.

The Board discussed changing the day of the monthly meetings, but no decision was made.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting April 8, 2013, by Suzie Brown

FINANCE COMMITTEE--6:00 p.m. Present were: Jacqueline Jordan, Melvin Pumphrey, Margaret McDannel, Shirley McDonald.Lance Jefferson arrived at 6:30. Walter Mosby arrived at 6:25 p.m.

It was recommended that Judge Stuttle, who works with young people, be retained as another attorney for the district--that we use both attorneys. The other one is Attorney Petroika.

Some SMART program students presented a dance of pride. The honors 5th-grade class at Mohawk presented a Stock Market game. John Hatcher presented his basic economic poster, which recently won 3rd place in competition. The 7th-grade boys' basketball team won 1st in their division in the state and received school T shirts.

The 2013-2014 budget timeline will be presented in September. Mr. Ricker will prepare the budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

St. Irenaeus will be the new evacuation site. The working cash fund transfer policy will bring any negative fund balance to 0.

REGULAR SESSION--7:15 p.m. Cheryl Franklin arrived and announced that the reason she cannot attend school events is because she is teaching 8th grade English in School District 169.

During public comments made during the public hearing regarding reduction in force, it was announced that more than five employees have been dismissed, including in the areas of reading intervention, Spanish, pre-kindergarten, and special education.

Black Hawk and Mohawk Schools attained 95.1% and 95% attendance this month.

Supt. Carmine indicated that she has been superintendent for 10 years. We have a $1.5 million deficit due to the state only funding at 82% of what they owe us, which is the same kind of deficit we had when she came, but our students are performing vastly better. She wanted the board to add under personnel that she has the irrevocable intent to retire.

A motion for dismissal and non-renewal of a fourth-year probationary teacher was passed, and a resolution for honorable dismissal of some teachers due to reduction in force was passed.

There will be a 6-cent increase per school lunch next school year.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting March 11, 2013, by Suzie Brown

FINANCE COMMITTEE (6:00 p.m.) Present were Lance Jefferson, Melvin Pumphrey, Margaret McDannel, Shirley McDonald, and Jacqueline Jordan (arrived at 6:38).

Forest Trail students presented the movie, The Many Faces of Forest Trail," which they had made and also demonstrated computer games they had made individually.

$900 was saved on the E-Rate contract for the district website. The Cloverleaf agreement for milk was renewed with no increase in cost, and the Preferred Meals renewal for breakfast and lunch was approved at a 2 1/2% increase. New bids will be gotten for Preferred Meals dinners provided at after school programs. The Life Touch contract for fire alarm monitoring will be renewed at a savings of $1,500 - $1,800.

Because the state will be funding the district at 82% next year, there will be a $2.7 million deficit, and there will be $1.1 million in cuts, including staff and programs. Mary Ann Matysek, the Curriculum Coordinator, will be retiring after this year, and she will not be replaced. Her duties will be taken by other staff. She is an excellent grant writer, as well as curriculum leader, and will be sorely missed. Other possible cuts include the Spanish honors classes, after school art, reduced Reading Title I funds, media assistants, science depot, fewer retired teacher helpers.

The scope of the construction project at Forest Trail will be reduced and will go out to bid again.

REGULAR SESSION (7:00) Walter Mosby. Cheryl Franklin absent.

Two Forest Trail students received a 1st place at the Regional Science Fair, and one student received a second place.

The Superintendent reported that Mohawk School had the highest attendance at 96.5%. Algonquin, 21st Century, and Blackhawk all had higher attendance than at this time last year.

The board adopted a resolution to support the Illinois School Board decision to revise the ISAT test to conform to the new Common Core Curriculum.

Stage I of proposed budget reductions were approved.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting Feb 4, 2013, by Suzie Brown

Eduation Committee Meeting (6:00 p.m.)

Present were Shirley Mc Donald, Melvin Pumphrey, Margaret McDannel.

Forest Trail students presented a flute solo, poetry, and math critical thinking skills. The South Cook Math Initiative involves collaborative math, which was presented by Forest Trail students in an example of making sense of problem solving. This is part of the new Common Core Standards and involves professional development for teachers and improving students' skills. The SMART after school program will also work on these skills

The state ISAT scores will be changed to bring student performance in line with the coming PARCC tests (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), which will be administered more than once during the school year, and will begin in the 2014-2015 school year. These tests will be given on computers. They align with the PSAE tests given at our high schools.Following are state goals in math and reading:
Old ISAT reading score for 2013 = 88%
New reading score for 2013 = 75%
Old ISAT math score for 2013 = 88%
New math score for 2013 = 55% The tests will be more difficult, but will reflect more learning on the part of students. Under the new tests, an A will be 94% - 100% rather than 90% - 100%.


Lance Jefferson arrived 7:07 p.m; Cheryl Franklin arrived 7:00 p.m; Jacqueline Jordan arrived 7:40 p.m.

No school had 95% attendance due to the flu.

Motions were passed to approve an amended consultant agreement for retired Eva Glickman and a consultant agreement for retired Donna Jenile.

A policy committee update will take place on February 25, 2013.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting Jan 7, 2013, by Suzie Brown

FINANCE COMMITTEE (6:00 p.m.) Present were: Lance Jefferson,Margaret McDannel, Shirley McDonald, Jacqueline Jordan, Walter Mosby and Cheryl Franklin (7:15 p.m.)

Algonquin pre-K, kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2 students demonstrated how they are using IPads in reading activities.

A financial report through December 31, 2012 showed that the district is under budget in education and every other area except in textbooks, where there have been new students. Although the state owes us 60% of our revenue, we have only received 27%. $350,000 has been received, e-rate.

Republic of Chicago Heights was the low bidder on refuse and recycling quotes.

In a discussion of transportation, the board talked about door-to-door pickups for preK, kindergarten, and possibly G1 students. There may be a cost for this.

Classroom door locks paid for from a state-approved fund will be installed. We already have secured entrances. We are considering putting bullet-proof glass at these entrances. Intercoms in all buildings will be updated, and teachers will have an all-calls code. There will be cameras in the buildings and also lock-down drills. To fill in some gaps, Algonquin and 21st Century will have five-foot fences.

Both Rotary and Kiwanis gave books, dolls, and cars to the 21st Century students during the holidays.

REGULAR SESSION Melvin Pumphrey, who was ill, participated by phone.

On Friday,Jan. 11, The circuit court electoral board will consider questions about election petitions.

Blackhawk had the highest attendance record at 94.99%. Dr. Stroud reported on the Rising Star state improvement program, which is in all schools.

An intergovernmental agreement between District 163 and Aunt Martha's Youth Services, as well as CEDA, in job training, was approved. Students will be working with positive role models.

A consultant agreement was approved for retired teacher, Richard Evans, for work in academic intervention

A resolution was adopted regarding District 163 attorney, Anthony Scariano, Jr., who recently died.

The board voted down a motion to overspend the budget for the San Diego National School Board Conference, which allows five people to attend. Over spending the budget was the suggestion of Attorney Scariano and Dr. Carmine, after Margaret Mc Dannel changed her mind and wanted to go. A report of school board conference expenses is expected.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting Dec 4, 2012, by Suzie Brown


Two schools, including Mohawk,had 95% attendance during November. Attendees of the school board meeting observed first, second, and third-grade students using math games to help practice math facts. All schools and their administrators will attend a meeting to discuss their improvement plans for this school year.

The board approved delegating room utilization as an administrative responsibility, rather than a board responsibility. Some disagreed. The board can write policy and procedure for room utilization.

The board approved changing a letter of agreement concerning the union and the board of education related to transfer of funds for extended service positions at Forest Trail.

Five board members will be attending the National School Board Conference in San Diego, April12-15. Margaret McDannel indicated that she would not go because of the cost to the board and the tight budget. Shirley McDonald indicated that she would also not go.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting Nov 5, 2012, by Suzie Brown

FINANCE COMMITTEE (6:00 p.m.) Present were: Lance Jefferson,Shirley McDonald, Melvin Pumphrey, Margaret McDannel, and Jacqueline Jordan (7:45 p.m.)

Blackhawk 6th graders presented their unit on the presidential campaign, which includes graphs and creative use of the smart board on topics like promises and propaganda. Seventh grade boys in cross country were first in the conference. The 8th grade girls' team included Lucretia, champion of the undefeated team. The SMART program presented Pinwheels for Peace.

Architect, Mr. Plenara, presented the plans for the Forest Trail addition, which are ready to go out to bid, in- cluding a video of a model of the addition. The board will vote on it on December.

There will be a .5% decrease in Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance renewal, and the district will use Ameritas dental insurance with a lower premium. A $14,000 savings will be had on the Metlife insurance policy, with vision coverage of $1,200 a year.

More discussion is needed on custodian fees for groups using school facilities.

REGULAR SESSION (7:40 P.M.) All schools had October attendance of over 95%, with Blackhawk first at 97.6%.

The special education report indicated that a total of 319 students (19% of the student population) are in the program. Some who were taking the alternative test have been changed to the regular ISAT.

Supt. Carmine reported that among the eight districts with similar demographics as District 163 (87% poverty level), District 163 has the highest test scores. The district average yearly progress composite score was 80% meeting/exceeding state standards, even with diminished resources. The 21st Century learning grant has been a great help. Supt. Carmine stated that she is very proud of District 163, its administrators, students, teachers, and parents.

The board is open to getting together again with the Park Forest Board of Trustees.

There needs to be further discussion of sick bank donations by the staff.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting Oct 1, 2012, by Suzie Brown


Present were: Melvin Pumphrey, Margaret Mc Dannel, Shirley McDonald (by speaker phone). Lance Jefferson and Jacqueline Jordan came late.

It was noted that District 163 donated 20 pallets of textbooks, etc. to the Books for Africa program at GSU.

Algonquin and Beacon Hill schools showed very creative Open House presentations using technology.

The SMART summer school program had 24 classes limited to 12 students for kindergarten, 4th, and 7th grades. They worked on reading and math focus skills and had a variety of enrichment projects, which were very interesting for the students. This grant program is available during the school year, as well. Dr. Carmine asked if the classes could be larger than 12.

The new math program, Pearson Math, is part of the South Cook County math initiative. It emphasizes lots of problem solving and will be applicable to the 2014 Common Core state tests.

The Loyola and Prairie State projects involved Forest Trail's Community Connections, which have anti-bullying efforts. Restorative Justice Circles, which include parents, are involved, as well. Student surveys, as well as plans written by parents and teachers are included.


Walter Mosby arrived for this session.

Dr. Carmine reported that, according to law, students in the bottom 20% of their class and in high poverty areas, can transfer to another school. However, no area school was willing to accept them.

According to the Illinois District Report Card, which includes all students in the district, our district scores were slightly lower than our ISAT scores. District 163 has an 87% poverty rate among student families, is 97% minority, and has a 40% transfer rate.

The motion to proceed with the formation of a foundation was dropped for want of a second to the motion.

A revised stipend for SMART program employees was approved. The contract for retired teachers was approved as amended.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting Sept 10, 2012, by Suzie Brown

FINANCE COMMITTEE (6:00 p.m.) Present were: Lance Jefferson, Shirley McDonald, Jacqueline Jordan, and Margaret Mc Dannel.

A lease agreement with Life Storage to store materials from the Junior High demolition at $312 per month was approved.

The 2012-2013 budget will have a $1.6 million deficit. The deficit would have been greater had the district not made cuts. District 163 will receive $1.1 million less in state aid.

PUBLIC HEARING/REGULAR SESSION (7:00 p.m.) Walter Mosby and Cheryl Franklin arrived late.

It was announced that the new math program will be instituted at Forest Trail on September 14. Bessie Boyd, Principal at Black Hawk School, has received her doctorate. The education fund will be negative after this year.

David Ricker, the new Business Manager, presented the budget, which showed that district resources include 35% from property taxes and 38% from the state. Expenses include 45% for staff, which has been reduced from 48% last year. The budget shows increased debt. The budget was approved by the board.

The Superintendent reported that 1,883 students are enrolled for this school year, an d are still enrolling. At Forest Trail, some classes are over 30. Beacon Hill had 98.9% attendance, and the other schools were almost as high. There will be 40 additional minutes to the school day, which will be devoted to writing.

Portables will be used at Black Hawk and Forest Trail Schools. Two alternative certificate candidates from GSU were approved to work in the district.

Sounds of Praise Evangelistic Ministries will have services at Algonquin School on Sundays and Wednesdays. There will be no fee, since no custodian is needed.

A former Harvey Superintendent will speak to the Board next Monday about foundations at 5:30 p.m. A policy meeting is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

Dr. Carmine announced that the special education and Title I programs will have $142,000 in supplemental services. We have the SMART program.

Since a district van had vandalism, the district will sell one old bus, so that the van can be put in the garage. More lights are needed by the garage.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting Aug 6, 2012, by Suzie Brown

FINANCE COMMITTEE (6:00 p.m.) Present were Margaret McDannel, Jacqueline Jordan, Melvin Pumphrey, Lance Jefferson, and Shirley McDonald.

Profits from the golf outing were $27,577.49. For the 6th year, Beacon Hill is a spotlight school.

The Ombudsman Educational Services Agreement was agreed upon at $5,549.

$1.69 million in budget reductions has been approved. With the cutting of field trip expenditures, a psychologist, a kindergarten teacher, and classified substitutes, the reductions now total over $2 million. There is a two-year plan to balance the budget.

In the 2012-2913 budget new account numbers will be used to align with others in the township.

A report from Phoenix Rising indicated that all schools are 90% ready for the opening of the school year, except Mohawk (10%) and Beacon Hill and Forest Trail, which are 40% done.

Mr. Pumphrey asked who is responsible for taking care of a twenty-foot area between the home owner and and Beacon Hill School property. This will be investigated.

REGULAR SESSION (7:00 p.m.) Mr. Mosby arrived at 7:34.

Supt. Carmine told the Board that the school day will be 40 minutes longer this year. This time will be used to teach writing. She reported on the results of the ISAT testing, which showed that Beacon Hill, 21st Century, and Algonquin met this year's goal of 85% in math and reading. Reading scores were slightly lower than math scores. She feels that the overall scores are a little lower than last year partly because we have gone from 16 reading teachers to 7. She also cited mobility as a factor. The district's mobility rate is 40%. The students at Sauk Trail who were in that school for a year scored better than students who were there only part of the year.

Applying technology in the classroom and evaluation of teachers and principals in terms of professional practices and assessment data will be discussed at an administrative retreat this week.

Two G.S.U. students will be working in our schools four days a week this fall, as part of an alternate certification program.

The Board approved a contract for retired personnel working in the district for $220 a day for 50 days or less.

The purchase of a CIPA web filter, at a cost of $35,550, was approved.

The question of whether to proceed with the discussion of establishing a foundation for the district was reviewed. A motion to proceed with the foundation was tabled to get further information.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting July 8, 2012, by Suzie Brown

FINANCE COMMITTEE (6:00p.m.) Present were: Jacqueline Jordan, Melvin Pumphrey, Margaret McDannel, Shirley McDonald, Lance Jefferson (6:30 p.m.). Absent were Cheryl Franklin and Walter Mosby.

Preferred Meals will provide meals next school year at an increase of 4%. The cost will be $2.43 per meal.

The 2012-2013 budget is still being worked on, but a tentative amount is $2.3 million. We need $160,000 to balance the budget. The budget can usually be balanced by the end of the year. Seven classified staff will be riffed, but could be reinstated. In answer to Margaret McDannel's question about the building cuts, Dr. Carmine answered that the cuts would be three assistants, five special ed assistants, and one secretarial assistant. Retired teacher days will tentatively be cut to 50. Grant money will cover material resources. Sixteen reading specialists have been cut to six, not including retirees. Primary classes have 25-30 students.

The demolition project at Forest Trail will be done by Chicago Heights Construction at a cost of $349,915. There were five bids. The administration will meet with the village and the architectural and construction people to discuss the summer program and the entrance to be used.

A two-year contract was given to Safe Haven for expanded lawn care service, at $24,800. There will be no increase for bus service.

The need for increased megabytes from 50 to 200 for our internet band width and a new filter was presented, at a cost of $35,000. We need this for streaming, more educational videos, video conferencing, etc.

REGULAR SESSION (7:00 p.m.) Mr. Pumphrey presiding In June, Forest Trail had 97% attendance, and Blackhawk had 95%. Dr. Carmine attended a national technology conference in San Diego and feels our school district is far ahead of others.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting June 4, 2012, by Suzie Brown

FINANCE COMMITTEE: Present were: Jacqueline Jordan, Shirley McDonald, Margaret Mc Dannel, Lance Jefferson (late), and Melvin Pumphrey (late).

Young Authors Awards beginning with Kindergartners and Math Bowl Awards were given. Eighth graders presented their work on "The Truth About Marijuana."

Workers compensation insurance is $58,000 less for next school year. In discussing the summer maintenance schedule, it was suggested that any new company we get should hire good district employees. Revised food specifications for dinner food service are due by September.

$42,000 was the lowest of seven bids for Forest Trail asbestos abatement. The low bid for the Forest Trail electric upgrade was $206,500.

There will be no increase in bus space rental for next year.

Action will be taken at the July board meeting on budget reduction proposals, which will be necessary because the district will receive only 88% of expected state funding. This would amount to $896,000 in cuts, including cutting classified positions, as well as honors and intervention programs. It would affect the differentiated and small-group instruction. The district must do more inclusion of special education students. Some classes may have 28-32 students. Dr. Carmine said that sometimes the cuts can be restored, if more funds come through.

Summer part-time help and summer technology help needs are being discussed.

REGULAR SESSION: Walter Mosby arrived at 7:05, and Cheryl Franklin came at 7:40. The session began at 7:18 p.m.

A new golf instruction program for 7th and 8th-graders was presented.

Phil Conboy thanked the board for his three-years of employment as the Business Manager.

ISAT scores have arrived, but some checking still needs to be done. Some classes scored over 90%. Math scores were higher than reading scores. There is a new reading program.

The district golf outing will be held at University Park Country Club on June 14. Registration is at 10:30 a.m., and lunch is at 11:30. Dinner alone is $50. There will be a raffle and a silent auction.

Summer school will utilize the SMART program, with K-2 meeting at 21st Century, grades 3, 4, and 5 meeting at Mohawk, and grades 6 and 7 meeting at Forest Trail.

The Preferred Meals Food Service Agreement for 2012-2013 has a 2.9% increase in cost per meal.

The board voted to continue meeting on the first Monday of the month for the next school year.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting May 7, 2012, by Suzie Brown

At 5:00 p.m. a special meeting of the Board for Park Forest officials and the public involved a presentation of the Forest Trail Construction Plan with public comments.

FINANCE COMMITTEE: Present were Lance Jefferson, Jacqueline Jordan, Shirley McDonald, Walter Mosby, Margaret McDannel, with Cheryl Franklin arriving late.

An interesting program on nutrition and movement was presented by 21st Century students. Spelling bee and science fair awards were presented. Math bowl recognition will be in June.

After a discussion of the maintenance and cleaning bid specifications, Mr.Jefferson was asked to obtain the cost of different options--having just our own people do the work, having our own people, but outsourcing supplies and equipment,etc.

Approval of food service specifications for the dinner program is due June 4. ISBE approval is needed. The food service agreement renewal with Preferred Meals will show an increase of 2.9% per meal. Lunch renewal fee will be reimbursed for 85% of students. 15% of students will pay $2.00, the regular fee.

Bid specifications for asbestos abatement, electrical work, and demolition work at Forest Trail were approved.

A request to use space at Beacon Hill by a youth group will move forward.

REGULAR SESSION: With help from lawyer Anthony Scariano and the Open Meetings Act, it was determined that Board member Melvin Pumphrey, on vacation, could not participate by phone in the meeting.

Black Hawk School had the highest attendance for the month at 95.4%. The Superintendent recognized three twenty-five year employees and praised all the staff as being amazing.

The board adopted a resolution regarding state funding of charter schools, which now costs District 227 $4 million a year. The new charter school now gets $15,000 per student in state aid. District 227 gets $7,000 per student.

David Ricker has been designated to prepare the 2012-2013 budget.

Board meetings will continue to be the first Monday of the month. The Superintendent's evaluation will be on May 29.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting April 5, 2012, by Suzie Brown

FINANCE COMMITTEE Present were: Mr. Pumphrey, Mrs. Mc Dannel, Mrs. McDonald, Mr. Mosby

Students in the SMART after school program at Mohawk showed their sewing and crocheting skills, their writing skills, and raced cars they had made. John Hatcher was honored for his art work. He was in the top 10 at Springfield. Two years ago he won.

Mr. Ricker was designated to prepare the budget for fiscal year 2012-2013, a draft of which is due in June/July.

A resolution was passed allowing interest earnings to be transferred to other funds, if needed.

In discussing the maintenance service agreement, Supt. Carmine indicated that the price given by Airmark is too high. The present contract expires on June 30. The board will get bids on the maintenance service and custodial lawn service.

A $50,000 grant proposal is due April 30 for maintenance and upkeep of educational buildings. Renovations at Forest Trail will be added to the list included in the proposal.

REGULAR SESSION Mrs. Franklin and Mr. Jefferson were in attendance. Mrs. Jordan was absent.

Coach George Friel was honored, along with some members of the basketball team, as being part of the elite 8 to go to state, an accomplishment they have achieved four times.

A new evaluation tool of the superintendent will go into effect, which includes goals for the superintendent's relationship to the program and the board.

A resolution was passed to dismiss three first- year teachers. One tenured position cut has been made in speech.

A policy which prohibits the use of tobacco on school property was passed.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting Mar 12, 2012 by Suzie Brown


Present were Lance Jefferson, Margaret McDannel, Melvin Pumphrey, and Shirley McDonald, Walter Mosby (6:45p.m.), Cheryl Franklin (7:00 p.m.), Jacqueline Jordan (7:05 p.m.)

Algonquin School second-grade students presented two interesting science experiments as part of their SMART program, which includes homework help and enrichment. One was testing for acids or bases, and the other was deciding which has more sugar--diet coke or coca cola. Coca cola sank in water, while diet coke did not, proving that coca cola had more sugar.

The transportation agreement renewal was postponed until April. Kickert has offered three bids. If we accept one, we don't have to put the renewal out for bid.

The board recommended to continue our auditing agreement with Legacy, which could possibly cost $1,000 more. The board wants to keep the cost down. We need to have everything ready.

Cuts will again be part of the budget reduction plan, in its tenth year. Plan A would reduce administrative salaries by $320,000, with one retirement, and no program changes. Plan B would include program cuts of $233,000, in addition to administrative salary cuts. Plan C adds an additional $160,000 in program cuts. $800,000 in cuts are needed. If the TRS changes being considered by the state legislature occur, which make school districts assume the cost of teacher pensions and benefits, District 163 would have to pay $1,000,000 more each year. We should all call our representatives. Dr. Carmine has written a letter of resolution opposing such changes on the part of District 163, which the board approved.

The board discussed establishing a foundation for raising money for the district. Last year the board voted against establishing such a foundation. The board decided to form a committee and perhaps get people with foundation experience to speak to them.

The golf outing last year raised $18,000.


Mohawk School had the highest attendance rate at 95.09%. The Superintendent's mid-year report highlighted the principal performance-based evaluation, which was piloted at GSU, peer coaching, Think Link, and a special education improvement plan with differentiated instruction and focused instruction, among other things.

21st Century received an $800,000 grant, and the district received an $180,000 technology grant which provided these programs.

Conner Elmore received an award for his scholastic and other activities as an all around great kid.

David Ricker was approved as the new Business Manager.

The next board meeting was changed to April 5, 2012.

Report of SD 163 Board Meeting Feb 6, 2012, by Suzie Brown

Education Committee

Present were: Melvin Pumphrey, Margaret McDannel, Shirley McDonald.

Beacon Hill School presented a program on their reading fluency instructional program, which requires students to read 60+ minutes each day. Students in the school and the district are in an accelerated reading program which puts their reading level one year ahead of their grade level. These young K-1 children did exceptionally well at reading words, phrases, and sentences. The district has received a technology grant for $184,140. Twenty-five per cent must be used for professional development and two staff conferences. In the summer the staff will get training on how to integrate technology with their lessons. Two hundred seventy-five tablet computers(like IPAD) will be purchased. The adult literacy program at Forest Trail has 38 people enrolled to learn introduction to computers, the Accel program, and multi-media projects. A report was given on the three-year accelerated program, which involves high-frequency words one year above grade level, inferential thinking skills, reading material above grade level, teachers reading more advanced material to students, etc.

Focused instruction was highlighted, which involves having everyone on the same page. The reading specialist introduces a skill, and it is reinforced in class, newsletters, etc. Mohawk School has one focus each month. Middle school reading teachers pretest students on getting the main idea, summarizing, cause/effect, etc. Extra support is given.

Peer coaching is used with best practices in teaching. Students observe as a group and gather ideas. They debrief to share help in peer coaching.

Maryann Matysec, Director of Instructional Services, told the board that because of budget cuts, we have fewer reading specialists. In 2009-2010 there were 15 reading specialists and 14 retired teachers helping for a total of 29. Now we have 8 reading specialists and 7 retired teachers helping for a total of 15. Reading scores have dropped somewhat. This year, scores of 92 1/2% in reading and math must be reached for students to pass the ISAT.

Regular Session - 7:18

Walter Mosby, Cheryl Franklin, and Lance Jefferson came for this meeting, in addition to other board members.

Supt. Carmine reported that for the fifth year Beacon Hill School has spotlight status by the state for their performance. Black Hawk School had the highest attendance for the month of January at 95.8%.

Internet, electronic learning environment, and communication agreements were approved. After closed consulting, David Ricker was approved as the new Business Manager. A new Special Education Director was also approved.

Report on SD 163 Meetings, Jan 9, 2012 , by Suzie Brown

FINANCE COMMITTEE Present were: Jacqueline Jordan, Walter Mosby, Melvin Pumphrey, Shirley McDonald, Margaret McDannel, and Lance Jefferson.

Black Hawk 5th-graders presented essays they had written in response to reading about the civil rights history, particularly the letter written by Martin Luther King while in the Birmingham jail. These essays were very thoughtful.

The best three months of attendance during the last year averaged 1,720, which is more than1,000 more than the previous best three months. This will give us $400 more in state aid.

Lease agreements will either be extended or go out for bid, with action in February. Bids for internet contracts and for a school vending machine agreement for Mohawk and Forest Trail are due by the February board meeting.

Over the Christmas break all tile floors in the schools were refinished. Custodians worked very hard to accomplish this in eight days, even though this was not in their contract.


Mrs. Matyasec, Director of Instructional Services, presented a comprehensive report on how the 21st Century Learning Grant is used. It includes an after-school remedial and enrichment program, homework help, teaching students how to write and meet goals, mentors, adult education, and summer school. There are 377 students reached by these programs. One new part is a meal served to students involved between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. The tutoring and homework help programs are from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m., and enrichment is 4:30 -5:30 p.m.

Community partners in these programs are Beacon Hill Youth Committee, Legacy Student Development (which works on behavior intervention), Rich high schools (for tutoring), and New Dimensions in Learning (for consultation).

Black Hawk School had the highest attendance with 95.3%. Mohawk was second with 95.27%.

A Superintendent Evaluation Committee, which included Melvin Pymphrey, Jacquelin Jordan, Shirley McDonald, and Lance Jefferson, was selected by President Mosby. this committee and the Facilities Committee will meet on February 13, 2012.

Forest Trail has been selling snacks at basketball games, etc. and have raised $900, which was donated to Rich Food Pantry.

Chief Butz and the Park Forest Police Department were commended for their community services project in which they gave Forest Trail students a shovel to use in shoveling snow for seniors and others. Prizes and gift certificates will be awarded.

A woman addressed the board to ask when she can speak to them about a wrongful termination. This will take place on Feb. 2.

Report on SD 163 Board Meeting Dec 5, 2011, by Suzie Brown

Present for the Regular Meeting were: Melvin Pumphrey, Margaret McDannel, Shirley McDonald, Cheryl Franklin, Lance Jefferson, Jacqueline Jordan, and Walter Mosby. The meeting began at 7:06 p.m.

Cheryl Franklin indicated that the Black School Educators Conference she attended was very good. No details were given. Melvin Pumphrey and Walter Mosby attended conferences and told the board that they were also good. Margaret McDannel went to the state school board conference in downtown Chicago.

Karon Nolen reported that ISAT preparation night for parents will be Dec.14.

During the public hearing about the 2011 tax levy we were told that the 4.97% tax increase will be an actual increase of 1.5%.

The board and visitors went into the 21st Century gym for a program by the district choir, which was excellent.

When the board meeting resumed, Forest Trail students did a presentation in 3D on the smart board showing building a house, a bedroom, windows, and landscaping. This was quite interesting.

Supt. Carmine reported that the district received a 21st century grant of $700,000. Three hundred forty-seven students receive math and reading help after school. The Smart program now receives a meal after school.

Mohawk School had the best attendance record last month at 96.8%. Forest Trail was second with 96.37%

The board approved a visitor management system for all schools at $9,006.

Report on SD 163 Meeting November 7, 2011, by Suzie Brown

FINANCE COMMITTEE-6:00p.m. Present were: Lance Jefferson, Jacqueline Jordan, Melvin Pumphrey, Shirley McDonald, and Margaret McDannel. Cheryl Franklin arrived at 6:55 p.m. Walter Moseby arrived before the regular meeting.

During public comments Suzie Brown praised the work of Shaunita Jones in presenting the Park Forest History curriculum to 4th and 5th graders at Black Hawk School.

A presentation by the architect highlighted possible changes and recommendations for savings to the Forest Trail addition. We can access additional funds, according the Dr. Carmine, but it may not be as easy as the first funding. This is all under capital development.

A public hearing will be held for a levy which will increase by 4.97%. Because this is an assessment year, we may get a 0% increase.

The Guardian Dental Insurance renewal will increase 3$ for HMO and 6% for PPO.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance renewal will increase 6.4%.

A program called First Tee, which emphasizes positive skills and life skills through golf and sponsored by the Glenwood PGA, was discussed. They would provide equipment at a cost of $2300 per school for six schools and later $3200.

Using Constellation Energy's Residential Program at a lower cost than Com Ed was discussed, but more information is needed.

The board voted against students taking home Comcast flyers.

REGULAR SESSION-7:00 p.m. The dedication of the district board room in the 21st Century Media Center in honor of Virginia Ford was held with refreshments and a program by students. Virginia Ford was on the District 163 School Board for many years and also served a long time as its President. The media center will be named the Virginia Ford Media Center/Board Room.

Supt. Carmine reported that Mohawk School had the highest attendance level for the month at 96.8%. Three schools met the 95% goal.

Black Hawk School Family Science Fair will be held November 17, from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Jacqueline Jordan was appointed the delegate to the IASB/IASA.

Report on SD 163 Meeting October 3, 2011, by Suzie Brown

Education Committee: Present were Margaret McDannel, Shirley McDonald, Melvin Pumphrey, Jacqueline Jordan.

The SEEK report told about the work of the committee, which includes environmental education, reading, math, professional development on the common core standards, the accelerated plan for reading skills by 2013, math leadership, etc.

A report was also given by Marianne Matysek on the new Scott Foresman reading materials, "Reading Street," which District 163 has adopted. This is the first new adoption in eight years. Some teachers piloted the program last year. Tier 1 provides basic instruction. Tier 2 provides some intervention. Consultants will be here to train teachers. It is tied to technology online, and linked to science and social studies. It also provides opportunities for writing.

$18,000 was made from last year's golf outing, and this may be used to get more computers in each classroom. Presently, there are two, and each school has a computer lab.

The Freshman Academy was discussed. All students will have an accelerated curriculum, which will better prepare them for high school. Ongoing communication with Rich East helps facilitate this. Four 8th-grade classes and two 7th-grade classes are studying high school algebra. Thirty 8th-grade students are going to Rich East for Spanish. Seventh-graders will soon be going, as well. One science student takes a course at Rich East.

In special education, the district has red-flagged students who did not do well on the ISAT. Monthly monitoring is given. With resource help, some feel these students spend too little time in class. Annual reviews are now given all year. The 2011 Year-end Report indicated that there are 437 students in the district who scored 50% in reading and 58% in Math.

Regular Session: Lance Jefferson and Walter Mosby arrived. Cheryl Franklin was absent.

The first bicycle was given to a 21st Century School student whose attendance, class work, and behavior are exemplary. This is a Park Forest Police Department program. Supt. Carmine reported that four schools achieved 95% attendance in September. District enrollment is 130 students higher than last year.

A proposed after school program by the Greater Faith Baptist Church Youth Group was discussed. Margaret McDannel questioned the fact that it was a religious group.

The District 163 School Board attended a Meet-and-Greet gathering with the Park Forest Village Trustees which was quite successul. The Illinois School Board Association has developed an evaluation tool for the Superintendent and methods for team building by the board.

Report on SD 163 Meeting Sept 12, 2011, by Suzie Brown

Finance Committee - 6:00 p.m. The following people were present for the meeting in the newly-remodeled 21st Century Preparatory Center: Lance Jefferson, Shirley McDonald, Margaret McDannel, Melvin Pumphrey, Walter Mosby (arrived at 6:25 p.m.)

An agreement with Chicago Office Technology Group involving district copiers and printers was discussed. They will partner with Zerox to get the best prices through the state. U.S. Bank will roll over our agreement with them with no buyout penalty. The new copiers will have printers and fax machines, and the agreement will include maintenance for parts, labor, and supplies at a cost of $14,713 per month. It is a four-year contract, with no increase for the first three years. The fourth year there will be an increase no more than the cost of living. There will be two new black and white copies in each building, and a centralized color copier in the district office. With the new faster copiers, the district will save $24,000.

Bids will be taken on the Forest Trail building remodeling in February, 2012. Construction will begin in April. Asbestos will be removed, some parts will be demolished, and renovating will be done. The entire project will be completed between April and June of 2014. Shirley McDonald had a question about the air quality for students during the construction.

Dr. Carmine reported that the district enrollment is up by 100 to 1,920 students. We have received a 5% cut in state aid. A fifth-grade teacher has been added at no extra cost, since one reading specialist has been removed. In order to get the pre-K program funded by the state, we need 200 students registered by Oct. 15. One hundred fifty-seven pre-K students have been screened. Other screening dates are September 30 and October 7. Various methods have been used to publicize the screenings. Dr. Carmine indicated that they are looking into partnering with day care facilities.

Budget Hearing/Regular Meeting - 7:39 p.m. Jacqueline Jordan arrived at 6:55 p.m. Cheryl Franklin arrived at 7:10 p.m.

During a presentation of the 2011-2012 budget, it was shown that we will receive $562,000 less in state aid. Expenditures will be $1.8 million less than last year. $6 million is kept in reserve. The total budget will be $24,271,272. $20 million in bond money is for the capital projects at 21st Century and Forest Trail.

A Friday Teacher Institute on differentiation and focusing will be led by district principals. Blackhawk School will have GSU teachers in training helping on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Forest Trail will continue activities related to bullying and getting help for difficult situations. Seventh graders will have early bird Spanish this year. Eighth graders already have Spanish. Forest Trail has held 91 conferences with parents.

Five schools had 95% attendance for August. A report on the summer school program showed that the 6th and 7th grade students who had scored below the ISAT goals and the honor students attending showed improvement.

The board voted to name the Media Center/Board Room for Virginia Fort. Lance Jefferson thought the board would be meeting at Forest Trail.

The Village of Park Forest requested a meet-and-greet with the District163 Board on September 19.

There was considerable discussion about two conferences. One is the National Alliance of Black School Educators, which meets in New Orleans November 18, 19, and 20. Several board members want to attend. The other one is the National School Board Association Annual Conference in Boston April 21-23, 2012. Four board ,members want to attend that. Because of budget constraints, Shirley McDonald and Margaret McDannel said they will not attend either conference.

Note: I made a public comment (without wearing my LWV badge) with the suggestion that other boards usually send one or at the most two people to such conferences, especially when there are budget constraints.

Suzie Brown

Report on SD 163 Meeting Aug 1, 2011, by Suzie Brown

Finance Committee

Present at the meeting, beginning at 6:00 p.m., were: Lance Jefferson, Jacqueline Jordan, Melvin Pumphrey, Shirley McDonald, Margaret McDannel, and Walter Mosby, who arrived at 6:12 p.m.

A temporary budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year showed a deficit of $199,000. This budget was approved in order to retain the retired personnel used in the important district intervention program. Through the state cooperative purchasing networks of National Office Furniture and Hahn the district will purchase district office furniture for 21st Century.

Mrs.Brennan's 8th grade math class had 92% who met the state math standards this last school year. The district is working on a grant application of $650,000 to restore cuts made in after school, summer school, and adult programs. The idea of charging for the spring musical was discussed.

Regular Meeting

Cheryl Franklin arrived for this meeting.

The first day of school is August 25. Five hundred students are registered. Other registration days are Aug. 3 and Aug. 17. It is sometimes Sept.15 before all students are registered. About 2,000 students are expected. Two staff positions are still open. There will be an administrative retreat to discuss objectives, district plans, monthly explicit plans, etc.

Contracts for retired personnel working in reading and math were approved. Revisions in district policies on discipline and social networking were tentatively approved.

Agreements with the Cooperative Purchasing Network and the National Intergovernmental Purchasing Alliance Co. were accepted for purchasing district furniture.

It was reported that nine 8th-grade students signed up for the new charter school. There were about four honor students. Two were from the gifted class.

Report on SD 163 Meeting July 11, 2011, by Suzie Brown

Finance Committee

Present were Margaret McDannel, Lance Jefferson, Shirley McDonald, Melvin Pumphrey, Jacqueline Jordan, and Walter Mosby. It was reported that District 163 received financial recognition from the state superintendent because of its financial responsibility. We also received a $785,000 grant for our pre-school program for three to five-year-olds. This grant will enable the district to retain two teacher assistants. Some of the grant will go toward the $200,000 deficit in the budget. We continue to subsidize gym uniforms at a cost of $6,000 per year.

The board expressed consensus for budget plan A, which does not cut the intervention program by retired teachers in reading. They work three days a week and are paid the equivalent of a school secretary's salary. They work with about 70 students each. The final budget will be voted on in September.

Regular Session

(Cheryl Franklin was absent.) Margaret McDannel reported that the June golf outing, a fundraiser for District 163, was quite successful. Forest Trail had a June attendance of 95.97%, the highest in the district. In terms of state standards, Forest Trail had 88% of its students meet the state criteria in reading and math. The district average was 82% in math and 78.8% in reading.

The food service agreement with Preferred Foods was approved by the board. Beacon Hill School was approved to be used for a summer camp. The District 163 Board will meet with the Park Forest Village Trustees in late July or early August.

Shirley McDonald requested that a fine arts goal be added to the five other goals for 2011-2012, and the board agreed.

$10.00 will be added to student fees for the 2011-2012 school year to cover field trips. The present fees are $50.00 plus a $10.00 activity fee. There will be a decrease in the cost of worker's compensation coverage. The new food service program will pilot at Forest Trail in September and proceed to the other schools after winter break, at a cost of $89,200.

Miss Valente reported on the summer school program for the summer of 2011. Twenty-one sixth-grade students and 22 7th- grade students received attended math classes. Also attending summer school were 12 honors students.

Report on SD 163 Board Meeting May 2, 2011, by Suzie Brown

Finance Committee - 7:00 p.m.

Present were Jacqueline Jordan, Walter Mosby, Melvin Pumphrey, Shirley McDonald, and Margaret McDannel. Cheryl Franklin arrived at 7:30 p.m., and Lance Jefferson arrived at 7:45 p.m. At first, the Finance Committee did not have a quorum, so there was only discussion of the agenda

A presentation by Blackhawk Intermediate Center on reading strategies and bullying included grade 4/5 students as authors being other students and roleplaying bullying situations and their solutions.

A risk management plan involving how to allocate torte funds was discussed. 2% will be eliminated. Anyone who does business with the district must be paid prevailing wages. Next year there will be a 6th grade at Mohawk, as well as Forest Trail. There will be a 3% increase in the ombudsman service agreement. Next year there will be no rooms for Speed at Mohawk. They will have to go downstairs at Forest Trail.

Special Session/Regular Session

Dr. Carmine was elected President of the Board pro tem, and Shirley Mcdonald was elected Secretary of the Board pro tem. Walter Mosby was re-elected Board President for two years, and Melvin Pumphrey was elected Board Vice-President for two years. Jacqueline Jordan was elected Board Secretary for two years. The time of the board meetings was set on the first Monday, with the FinanceCommittee Committee at 6:00 p.m., and the RegularCommittee at 7:00 p.m.

Mohawk School had the high attendance at 96.3% All other schools were at 95% or above. New teacher, Matthew Bonnic introduced himself. Three teachers are retiring. There are two new teachers.

Mr. Convoy, Business Manager, was approved to prepare the 2011-2012 fiscal year budget. The last day of school will be June 16, with two emergency days. A 7th-grade Springfield trip was approved. A $598 a month lease for a bus garage with Park Forest Auto Service was approved. A district early retirement policy was adopted.

Report on SD 163 Board Meeting April 4, 2011, by Suzie Brown

Finance Committee

In attendance were Lance Jefferson, Jacqueline Jordan, Walter Mosby, Margaret McDonnell, Shirley McDonald, Melvin Pumphrey, and later Cheryl Franklin.

Marty Blaies presented several students who told about their science projects as part of the Mohawk Science Depot. These very interesting experiments involved sprouting, composting, cars with battery and solar power, and barn owl pellets. The students have worked to establish a family Audubon Society, which will meet at the Aqua Center classroom near the wetlands.

The maintenance service renewal agreement was discussed. The first option on the agreement will have a 1.5% increase. The halls, classes, and gyms will be shower scrubbed, which will be stipulated. The first phase of our $13,000,000 funding bonds will be used to pay off our revenue bonds. We are not ready to decide about rental space with SPEED.

The board voted to setup an exploratory committee to look into the possibility of setting up a foundation to help raise funds for programs or projects that were cut because of budget cuts. Several board members, principals, and others volunteered to be on such a committee. Suzie Brown was invited to be a community representative, but declined because of lack of time. She made a statement about how time consuming such a foundation and fund raising would be.

Any budget increase over 10% requires an amendment to the budget. Mr. Convoy will bring a report about this to the board.

Several board members visited the Blue Island schools to see their bulk food program, in which they serve the food in bulk. The Preferred Company will start binging bulk food to Forest Trail next fall.

Regular Session

Dr. Carmine reported that Forest Trail had 96.7% attendance last month. The middle schools were all at the goal of 95%.

A report on special education school improvement data about preparation for the ISAT was given. There are three self-contained special needs classes. They receive an alternate assessment. Their sub skills in reading are measured, and then instruction is geared to these specific skills. What the student needs most is targeted. A few students improve enough to be able to take the regular ISAT tests. This sounds like a very thorough intervention program.

The regular education and special education transportation agreements will be signed with no cost increase. The Cloverleaf milk agreement will also be signed with no increase.

The contracts of three first year teachers and one part-time gifted teacher will not be renewed. All schools will receive sidewalk repairs and tree trimming this summer. Bid specifications for asphalt repairs will be published.

Mr.Jefferson asked the board to consider a request from his church to put up a sign on the school property at Algonquin School. This was discussed briefly, and the opinion of a lawyer will be sought.

Report on SD 163 Board Meeting Mar 14, 2011, by Suzie Brown

We were treated to a program by the Kindergarten and First Grade students, and the first, second, and third place winners of the Science Fair presented their projects. These were sixth and seventh-grade students.

Finance Committee

Walter Mosby and Cheryl Franklin were not there, but came later.

The old bid from Planera on the Junior High renovation is too high and not cost effective. It will be rebid. The asbestos and life safety work at Sauk Trail is approved. District administrative personnel and 21st Century Preparatory Center students should be able to get back into their building the end of July. Students have been meeting on the lower level of Blackhawk School while the work has been going on. Cloverleaf Dairy wants to extend our milk agreement for one year at the same price. The transportation agreement goes out for bid next year. Renewal of our auditing agreement with Legacy will require a 3% increase. Food service will be increased by 1.3%. Board members were invited to see Blue Island's food service program. They have fresh pizza, a salad bar, and "kickin chicken." Students apparently like our food better this year. There is a salad bar. Pricing will be researched toward a natural gas agreement. Average daily attendance was 88% for the first three months, which is down. ISAT tutoring after school was reinstated with grant funds. Special education has a grant for car transportation.

Regular Session

Walter Mosby arrived. Forest Trail had the highest monthly attendance at 94.2%. The Black History Month programs were applauded. With encouragement from the principals and teachers, parent participation as volunteers has improved. The adult literacy program (using computers) has fifty people participating, and they have asked to have it extended. There will be a fund-raising golf outing sponsored by the district at University Park Golf Club in June. Besides golf, the $25.00 tickets include dinner and jazz. The purchase of a Grand Caravan at $17,000 to transport children was approved. The contract for the district office asbestos abatement was awarded to Safe Environment Corporation. New bids were requested for the district office renovation project.

Report on SD 163 Board Meeting Feb 7, 2011, by Suzie Brown

Education Committee

A 21st Century Preparatory School presentation included a song and dance called "ISAT Survivors" about studying and doing your best on the tests this spring. There was also a presentation by students on vocabulary using media and the library. In addition, six students from Grades 3-6 received science fair awards for excellence. A demonstration of the pilot PAL program showed how two students work together in partner reading and paragraph summary. Online professional development for teachers was shown, as well as the adult literacy program, which has 44 participants and 4 classes including introduction to computers, digital imaging, photos, etc. This six-week program provides child care and snacks.

If the district does not receive its usual $1.5 million in federal funding this year, plan A would involve a $900 deficit, which could be handled with teacher retirement, etc. There would be no academic impact. Plan B would include some academic impact, and Plan C would have a big academic impact (jobs and academic program cuts).

Two District 163 principals will be presenting at the February 10 NCOB Conference in Chicago.

Regular Session

Mohawk, Beacon Hill, and 21st Century Schools are again Spotlight schools because of their academic achievement and numbers of students on free or subsidized lunch. Mohawk has been a Spotlight School for more than five years.The new census shows there is more poverty in District 163 families.

Forest Trail had the best January attendance, with 95%.

Because of the January 26 death of Virginia Ford, past President of the District 163 Board for many years and board member for even longer, the district library fund will be named the Virginia Ford Library Fund. Shirley McDonald, a former board member, will return to finish out Virginia Ford's term.

Report on SD 163 Board Meeting Jan 10, 2011, by Suzie Brown

Finance Committee

Present were: Melvin Pumphrey, Jacqueline Jordan, Margaret McDannel by conference phone, and later Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Mosby, and Cheryl Franklin. Jacqueline Jordan chaired the meeting until Mr. Mosby, Board President, arrived.

The Forest Trail Junior High chess group reported that they had won first place in the Mayor Daley Chess Tournament and showed their trophy. Mr. Pumphrey started chess instruction at Beacon Hill School. The group won out against such schools as Winnetka, which spends the most per student of any district in the state. Dr. Carmine will have a pizza party for them in her office.

Sixth graders in the stock market game won first place in the region.

Capital projects--There is still work to be done on the life safety projects at Beacon Hill and Mohawk Schools. February bids are due on the district office renovation and architectural plans for the Forest Trail project. Also included in the five-to-eight- year facilities plan are new sidewalks at 21st Century and Algonquin, tree trimming and striping this coming summer.

The district's annual financial report received a 3.6 level, the highest level.

The federal school and library contract for districts with free and partially-paid lunch gave us a 90 rating and discounts on computers. We will apply now for next year.

Dr. Carmine wants to create a district foundation. A lawyer will explain this on January 31 at 5:00 p.m. During January and February district staff will tutor students preparing for the ISAT. Money for the tutoring was cut from the budget for this year, but money from a Title I grant will pay for it.

Regular Session

Forest Trail had the highest December attendance--94.6%.

Dr. Carmine reported that we are on target with our current budget. For the next budget, $1 million will be cut. Six board members will attend the National School Board Association , April 9-11, 2011, in San Diego.

Meeting adjourned.

Report on SD 163 Board Meeting Dec 6, 2010 by Suzie Brown

Prior to the Public Hearing, at 6:00 p.m. the writer attended a delicious dinner for the board and school principals served in the Library at Forest Trail School.

Public Hearing: Present were Lance Jefferson, Cheryl Franklin, Jacqueline Jordan, Walter Mosby, Melvin Pumphrey, and Margaret McDannel. This was a hearing on the 2010 tax levy for $14,000,000 in general obligation bonds for the renovation of Forest Trail School. There were no public comments. During the regular session this tax levy resolution was passed.

Regular Session: Those attending the board meeting were treated to a number of seasonal selections by the district choir. Three Junior High students presented their program on bullying for 3rd - 8th grades. Some were members of PAC, Principal's Advisory Council, which is like student council. Their theme is "Bullying is lame. Don't play the game." The students are given pledge cards not to bully, and also receive bracelets that say, "Be a buddy, not a bully." They have presented this program at Blackhawk School, and will do it next at Mohawk School. The three students also showed us a video about their program. When asked by the Superintendent, the three students indicated that the students like the new salads served at the Junior High, which include craisins and nuts and cheese.

Supt Joyce Carmine announced that Mohawk School had top attendance at 96.1% for November. The other schools were close. The Park Forest Fire Department presented a trophy to Blackhawk School for first place in the Bucket Brigade contest, in which students carried buckets of water to a designated place, practicing the way fires were put out long ago.

The board watched a DVD of the Channel 5 coverage of the District 163's Veterans Day project in November.

Supt Carmine shared her way of dealing with students sent to her for various infractions. They must watch the history channel for two weeks and write an essay on what they see. They must also read for 120 minutes a day.

A change order in the amount of $897,000 was approved for roof structure replacement and related work at Mohawk School. An application for room utilization at Algonquin School for church services was approved. A learning technology center central letter of agreement in the amount of $4,000 was approved. A school energy efficiency project grant of $450,000 was received. The retired teacher contract was approved.

Margaret Mc Dannel and others expressed their desire to go to the National School Board meeting in April. Early registration is cheaper.

Report on SD 163 Board Meeting Nov 1, 2010 by Suzie Brown

Finance Committee -7:00 p.m.

Present were Melvin Pumphrey, Margaret McDannel, Walter Mosby, and Jacqueline Jordan. Absent were Virginia Ford, Lance Jefferson, and Cheryl Franklin.

The Board and other attendees were treated to a very impressive progam by some Beacon Hill kindergartners highlighting their phonics program and the theme, "Are You Smarter Than a First-Grader?"

The Board accepted the lowest bid by Skyline for refuse and recycling disposal service for $38,360. A change order for roof structure replacement and related work at Mohawk School will give the district $39,058 back. Included in the work will be a new sidewalk and seal coating the drive.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance will be renewed for this school year at a 7.77% increase, down from a 10.77% increase. This will result in a savings of $100,000.

A Chevy Tahoe truck needing basic repairs is worth about $1,000. The Board directed Business Manager Conboy to look for used pickups that are one to two years old.

Plans were presented for the new secure entry at 21st Century School. A music and art room will be added, and other rooms will be rearranged. There will be one pre-kindergarten room, two kindergarten rooms, one first-grade room, one second-grade room, three third-grade rooms, and one special education room.

Regular Meeting - 8:00 p.m.

Lance Jefferson and Cheryl Franklin arrived at 8:17.

Supt. Carmine announced that there will be celebrations on Tuesday, Nov. 2, at Governors State University at 9:00 a.m. and 11:a.m. to honor the five district schools which were ranked by Chicago Magazine to be in the top 300 elementary schools in Cook County. She explained that each subgroup must attain the current Average Yearly Progress level and be there all year. On the other hand, for the School Report Card, if a student is there the day of ISAT, it counts. These have not been published yet. Supt Carmine lauded the work of all the administrators, teachers, and students. In addition, she reported that 180 Forest Trail students are taking high school algebra.

A December 6 public hearing will be held on the 2010 levy.

The Guardian Dental Insurance contract renewal was approved for one year at a 3% increase. The Board appointed Jacqueline Jordan as their delegate to the IASB/IASA Conference.

On November 10, from 10:00 -1100 a.m., there will be a breakfast at Forest Trail for those WWII veterans who were interviewed by students last year. Their interviews will be shown on a DVD.