June 9, 2016
Legislators and the Governor failed to reach agreement on a state budget. The budget impasse continues in Illinois. You may soon hear speculation about whether schools will open in the fall. The lack of a state appropriation for K-12 education in Fiscal Year 2017 will result in dire consequences for many districts. For River Bend Schools, state funding comprises about 40% of the Districts revenue. The district has fund reserves that will allow the opening of school. These reserves and early tax revenue should sustain the district through the first semester. However, ongoing dysfunction at the capitol ultimately results in a shift of the cost of educating Illinois’ children to local property taxpayers. We have no idea how long this impasse will last.
The top priority for our elected officials must be to enact a budget that includes adequate funds for public schools. This will ensure that schools across the state open on time and are adequately funded for the full year. An evidence-based funding model is the soundest and fairest long-term answer to having an adequate and equitable school funding model in Illinois. It is based on research-based practices.
Toxic climates often lead one to avoid getting involved. Yet, as taxpayers and as concerned citizens, now is the time for engagement. Contact your elected officials to let them know your feelings about the current “state of our state.” (firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com ) Your board of education and I will continue to monitor this situation. We will develop contingency plans to respond to the prospect of an ongoing budget impasse into the fall. We are committed to opening schools on time and to educating our children without interruption.
Thank you for your continued support of our schools.
Darryl Hogue, Superintendent
River Bend Volunteers Impact Students Every Day
I was recently invited to Fulton Elementary School’s volunteer breakfast. I was able to speak to about 40 to 50 volunteers who help elementary students every day. The River Bend Schools are so appreciative of the time and commitment volunteers make each day. Having a group of volunteers to call upon, really benefits everyone. Students absolutely love to work with volunteers who provide needed one-to-one time. Students also enjoy the relationship that develops over time. Teachers are thrilled because volunteers extend classroom practices to more students. Volunteers often share how rewarding the experience is for them. Volunteering is a win-win for all involved.
Many needs exist for volunteers at each building. Volunteering at the pre-school or elementary building is often the most popular choice; however, the middle school and high school also offer a great volunteer experience. As a former middle school principal, I loved seeing the interaction between the middle school students and the volunteers. The middle school and high school work is a bit harder, but certainly manageable with a little support. Middle school students often need a little extra encouragement that can be found through a volunteer relationship. If you love math, science, history or writing volunteering at the middle school or high school is a great way to expand your love for learning.
Volunteers don’t just work at the school during the day. The Fulton Athletic Boosters meet monthly on the first Monday at 7:30 PM in the high school cafeteria. The Athletic Boosters work to provide financial support to River Bend athletic programs in all grades. We also have an active music boosters program that meets on the fourth Monday of the month in the high school band room at 5:30 PM. The music boosters exist to support music and band initiatives in all grades. Parents can also volunteer for District level activities. The Board of Education seeks input through the following committees: finance, citizen’s advisory, curriculum, facilities/grounds and policy.
The River Bend Schools are a great place to volunteer and we can use anyone interested in helping. If you are interested in any of the volunteer activities listed please contact the District Office at 815-589-2711 and we can put you in contact with the correct person.
Helping Students Succeed-Preparing for Success at Home and School: Part I-The Student
I would like to share a few nuggets of wisdom from a book I have been reading titled Visible Learning by John Hattie. Hattie’s book combines some very practical research on what really impacts students and learning. The first few chapters focus on contributions from the student, home and the school. Hattie and his team of researchers have reviewed thousands of studies to determine what can help or hinder student learning. This article will focus on what contributions students can make to their own success.
Young learners come to school with a variety of experiences. These experiences impact how a young person will achieve. Hattie defined prior achievement as have a high impact on school success. Helping children succeed early in life will have a positive impact later in life. Closely related to prior achievement, students who have an understanding of their own grades achieve at higher rates than students who cannot predict their grades. The study found that high school students had a very accurate understanding of their achievement levels across all subjects. Knowing ones strengths and weaknesses will help students succeed. Our role as adults is to help young people find success and encourage self-reflection.
On a daily basis students bring a variety of personality influences into the classroom. Personality traits influence what a person will do in a given situation. Chronically happy people and those in pleasant moods are more likely to be creative and efficient problem solvers. A strong self-concept which includes pride, worth and confidence will produce a “can do” and “want to do” attitude which will assist when working through challenges and road blocks. Encouraging children to work through challenges will help them develop lifelong “persistence “ skills.
Motivation, persistence and engagement look different for each student. Because a student is busy, does not mean he or she is learning. Learning is at its highest when students actively experiment with the materials, attend to the teacher and classmates, participate in discussion, question and answer during discussion and take notes. A great question for parents to ask about the school day is “What were your teachers talking about today, or what conversations took place among the other students in class?” This allows your son or daughter to tell you about the class, but not what he or she did.
The opportunity for children to be in a pre-school program has a significant impact on overall learning. Early intervention programs are more effective if they are structured, intense, include about 15 or more children, and the children are involved for 13 or more hours per week. Early learning increases even more when five and six year olds are able to be in full day kindergarten.
As mentioned earlier learning is impacted by many factors, John Hattie and his team of researchers hope to find what activities can have the greatest impact on learning. Children and parents can help this process by knowing the importance of student contributions. Future articles will focus on contributions from the home, school, teachers and the curriculum.
River Bend Schools Celebrate Many Accomplishments
As we just celebrated graduation for the class of 2015 , it is a great time to reflect on the many accomplishments that the 2014-15 school year brought. The River Bend Schools has greatly appreciated the support of our communities. Thanks to parental and community support The River Bend Schools can provide so much more. Parents and community members add great value to our volunteer programs, booster programs, parent-school programs, Education Foundation, and board level committees. Each of our schools owes a debt of gratitude to those who give so much to our schools. Just recently the Fulton High School won a $10,000 technology grant by gathering local support collecting more votes than Moline High School. The River Bend Education Foundation supported professional development by funding $21,823 worth of course work, new teacher induction training, work shop attendance and curriculum development. The River Bend Education Foundation has also given $7,219 toward classroom mini-grants. The River Bend Athletic Boosters spent about $75,000 dollars to enhance the weight room, football, basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball program improvements. The Eric Ottens Memorial fund covers a percentage of the athletic fees in the middle school. Community support continues to be a true blessing.
The River Bend Middle School throughout the year has encouraged students to “Paw it Forward” and give back to the school/community. The middle school students have raised over $3000 for other students, the American Heart Association, FOP and the American Diabetes Association through dances, fun events, selling items and raffles. The generosity of the students has been phenomenal this year. The students and staff successfully completed the Illinois State Board of Education PARCC testing at two different times this year. The electronic testing was successful. The seventh grade students supported local nursing homes by creating various holiday cards and sharing with the residents throughout the year. The seventh grade class made a visit to the Morrison Institute of Technology to learn about technical career opportunities. The eighth grade girls took advantage of spending the day at John Deere learning about careers for women in engineering. The eighth grade boys were able to participate in a STEM (science-technology-engineering-mathematics) day a Sauk Valley Community College. All the eighth grade classes learned about the career classes offered to juniors by visiting the Whiteside Area Career Center.
The Fulton Elementary School staff has worked hard this year to increase parent and community engagement. The FES staff continued events such as Meet-n-Greet, Family Reading Night, Parent/Teacher Conferences, January Reading Incentive Night, Family Math Night, a Spring Open House/Art Show, Scholastic Book Fair Family Nights, Field Day, and DARE Graduation. These are all opportunities for parents and community members to attend and visit FES. The FES Volunteer Program continues to thrive with 45 volunteers from the community who assisted with individual students, in classrooms, and in the LRC fulfilling many valuable needs for the students and staff. In addition, Grandparents Day and a Veteran’s Day Assembly were added. The new events were very well attended and resulted in much positive feedback. The building was filled with happy Grandparents and children on September 10th, Grandparents Day, an event that all look forward to in the coming school year. Gary Metivier was the keynote speaker at the Veteran’s Day assembly on November 12th. Local Veterans and those who were currently serving were invited to attend Mr. Metivier’s touching presentation, tributes written and read by FES students, and a performance of the FES choir all in their honor. Students, staff, and family members were deeply moved by the event.
Fulton High School has worked on many different projects that highlight the success of our Steamers. Academically two different groups of students won contests for outstanding work in video production that earned the high school $11,000 in grant money. The senior class earned over $185,000 in scholarships. Our art department had four students win awards at the CCC art competition. The music department sent two juniors who earned the privilege of representing Fulton High School at the Illinois Music Educators Association State Choral performance. Students in the drama club qualified for the state finals. The Science Envirothon team won the sectional and made it to the state competition. Fulton High School had 60 students with an accumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and earn a varsity letter in a sport which resulted in an academic all-conference award for each student. FHS also had 26 juniors and seniors that completed at least one full season in an IHSA interscholastic activity and maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher which earned them an IHSA scholastic achievement award. The football team made the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Girls’ volleyball fell just short of winning their regional championship game. Both boys’ and girls’ basketball teams had winning records and the boys won the Eastland Holiday tournament. Our wrestling squad had a freshman win fourth at the state meet and posted a 16 and 6 record for team duels. Currently we have two teams in the state finals at the IHSA track meet and individuals who have qualified in their events. The baseball team also had a great season and is playing in the sectional final.
As a school district, the administration, board and staff have worked together to accomplish and start many new initiatives. The teaching staff learned about their personal strengths and have modeled a strength’s approach to teaching and learning. A great deal of curriculum work was started and completed as the new Illinois Learning Standards have been implemented. The computer based PARCC testing cycle was managed successfully. Administrative and teacher efforts resulted in a student growth model to be piloted next year. The State of Illinois is requiring that teacher evaluations have a percent of the evaluation be connected to how students grow academically over a period of time. A district improvement team started meeting to look at curriculum, professional development and our teaching culture. The district improvement team meets about seven times during the school year to plan, evaluate, measure and recommend growth goals. The community, staff, administration and board of education met to create a strategic plan that will provide guidance as the district continues to set growth goals. The Board of Education is considering selling bonds to fund a 1:1 technology initiative, purchased needed curriculum that supports the new learning standards, provide better mobility access to the high school and address health life safety concerns. Health life safety projects include replacing the lights in the three gymnasiums with LED lighting. Each of the buildings will also be retrofitted with higher functioning and lower wattage T8 lights. Provide keyless access to each exterior door which will increase security. Video surveillance is being added to the elementary/middle school and the high school will increase the number of cameras. The district technology team has been meeting monthly and is proposing a two year model for becoming a 1:1 technology program K-12. Teachers have been piloting a learning management system called Canvas. The system will allow teachers to place curriculum in an electronic folder that can be accessed by both parents and students. When fully functioning, the Canvas system will increase parent/student and school communication.
The 2014-15 school year has been busy, The River Bend Schools thank all our stakeholders for your outstanding support. We are excited and look forward to next year. Enjoy your family and summer.