April 2002
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April 2002 news

April 1

Dr. Harry J. Sanders, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Minonk, will hold his last service on Easter Sunday, March 31. Dr. Sanders has served 34 years at the church.

Sanders and his wife Shirley plan to stay in Minonk and are in the process of moving to a new home. They are the parents of two sons, Rob and Tim.

He received his bachelor of arts from Judson College in 1961 and his master of arts degree from Northwestern University and bachelor of divinity from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1965.

An open house will be held on Sunday April 7 for the Sanders family at the First Baptist Church. There will be a morning service beginning at 10:30 a.m. An afternoon service at 1:30 will feature several speakers. That will be followed with an open house from 2 to 5 p.m. An evening dinner will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Mona's Restaurant in Toluca.

The annual Knights of Columbus Easter egg hunt held at St. Patrick's Church drew a large crowd Saturday morning. After a week of gloomy, wet weather everyone seemed happy to be outside in the bright sunshine. Kay Knack, dressed as the Easter Bunny, mingled about and posed for pictures with the children.

The winners of the egg hunt were; Pre-school Jack Ryan, Kindergarten Abbey Fuller, 1st grade Kristen DeMay, 2nd grade Brad Ketchmark, 3rd grade Alec Miller and 4th grade Brianne Sanders.

After the egg hunt, everyone gathered inside the church hall for drinks and snacks. On behalf of the Knights of Columbus, Roger Petri wishes to thank everyone for bringing their children to participate in the hunt. To see pictures of the egg hunt, click here.

On March 27 Rick Butler graduated from the Air Force Special Security Forces Advance Training Class at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. Rick is the son of Bill and Shelly Butler in Minonk and is a 2001 graduate of the Fieldcrest High School.

Bill Butler, the Chief of Police in Minonk, attended the graduation ceremonies. At the graduation Bill pinned Rick's first badge on his Special Security Forces uniform.

April 7

After listening to the pleas of parents concerned about a reduction in staff and an increase in class sizes, the Fieldcrest school board went ahead and did exactly that at a special board meeting Wednesday night in Minonk. The board made the cuts based on an anticipated reduction in state funds next year due to the budget crisis at the state level.

The board decided to reduced the number of class sections at Fieldcrest South in Minonk. The number of sections for the First, Second, and Third class will be reduced from 3 to 2. With current projections that will result in an increase of class size for the First Grade from 16 to 24, and from 17 to 26 for the Second and Third Grades.

The reduction in classes resulted in the elimination of 3 positions from Fieldcrest South. The positions for Sarah Rigsby in the First Grade and Cary Schultz in the Third Grade were eliminated and Marsha Stein was given an honorable dismissal.

Conversely, the number of kindergarten classes at Fieldcrest West was increased from 1 to 2 based on a projected class size of 34 pupils. Classes at Fieldcrest East remained unaffected.

Board members Tom Barth and Kristine Klieber voted no on the staff cuts.

The board heard arguments from concerned parents at the meeting. Jeff Gehringer said that ISAP scores at Fieldcrest South were way above the state average. He felt that this was due in part to the smaller class sizes. He cited statistics that indicated that reducing class size was the most cost-effective way to improve the quality of education next to peer tutoring. He suggested that the school board look into cutting the fat from the school's expense rather than eliminating classes.

Peggy Winters wanted to know why the new classrooms at Fieldcrest South are no longer needed since a referendum was approved by the voters to build the classrooms. She wanted to know what was going into the new classrooms if the school is cutting teachers and classes.

The school board answered that one of the reasons that the new addition was built at Fieldcrest South was because the money was available and the state provided 1/3 of the money for the project. If the board had hesitated, the money may not have been available in the future. He stated that the new classrooms will eventually be needed as Minonk is destined to grow.

Board member Pat Schmillen added that it was not economically feasible to build a smaller addition to Fieldcrest South. Therefore, additional rooms were added to make it more cost effective and to provide for future growth.

In response to why teachers are being cut rather than cutting expenses elsewhere, board chairman Joe Knapp replied that personnel cost are 80% of the school's budget and that is where you have to start if you want to make significant reduction in expenses.

Teacher Celia Fink told the board that class sizes have to be smaller in today's learning environment because years ago learning was passive whereas nowdays schools are involved in engaged learning where the student takes a more active part in the learning process. She conducted a test wherein she added more desks to her classroom and then had the students occupy the new arrangement. She stated that the students said that their "space was being invaded".

Shari Stalter told the school board that she was concerned that the cuts will affect special needs children one of which is her child. She wanted to know if there will be empty class rooms next year. Board chairman Joe Knapp replied that the additional rooms will be used for music and art and to handle the overflow from other classes. He said there will be no empty spaces.

Matt Fink told the board that his main consideration to moving to Minonk was class sizes at the school. He said increasing class sizes will prevent many young couples from moving to Minonk because large class sizes imply a lower quality of education.

Superintendent Michael Stagliano said that the school district has been hit hard with workman's compensation cost this past year. He said that workman's comp cost has increased from $35,000 to $87,000 this past year.

April 14

The Minonk City Council voted to hold the spring cleanup day on April 16 and 17. The west side of the city will be picked up on Tuesday, April 16 and the east side on Wednesday, April 17. City Administrator Trent Smith noted that there will be a charge for tires--$3 for car tires, $5 for truck tires and $25 for tractor tires. The cleanup cost to the city will be $5,000.

April 21

Around 50 people showed up Thursday night at the the Fieldcrest board of education meeting to voice their concerns over the recent decision to increase class sizes and eliminate three teaching positions at Fieldcrest South. Several parents emphasized the importance of small class size for academic and social development. The board is currently negotiating the impact of these reductions in force with the Fieldcrest Education Association.

Superintendent Michael Stagliano said that the three teachers who lost their jobs due to the consolidation of classes at Fieldcrest South were honorably dismissed. Due to the uncertainty of state funding a decision regarding re-instating these teachers may be put off until late spring or early summer. He also stated that the board is close to hiring a new principal and hopefully a decision will be made soon.

One person asked what percent of state money does the school district currently use, and how much has been saved in other areas. The speaker said that it looks like the district has enough savings before the cuts to offset the "assumed" shortfall in the state funding.

Joe limbaugh asked the school board why it did not consider promoting from within instead of hiring an outside firm to select a new principal. The board replied that it creates a "level playing field" for all people to apply. Limbaugh said that if they would use current staff that were qualified, they wouldn't need to spend the money in the first place, and that morale suffers when they do this. A consulting firm is being paid $2500 to conduct the search for a new principal. The board denied that moral suffers, and said that no one should be offended by this process. Limbaugh replied that other schools of our size do not do this as a rule.

Other business

Board of District 6 is requesting that the Toluca City Council rezone the former Fieldcrest Elementary West property located at 210 North Willow Street, Block 62, from the current R2 designation to and R-1 designation. Motion passed 6-0.

Board appointed Martha Metz to teach physical education at elementary east and west beginning in the fall of 2002.

Board accepted the resignation of Randy Winters, part-time custodian at the high school .

Board granted 6 week maternity leave to Cindi Koudelka for the fall of 2002; special education teacher at South.

Accepted (with regret and appreciation) the resignation of Bill Seifert, Elementary-Middle East principal effective June 30, 2002.

Attempts to fraudulently extract money from local residents by scam artists has occurred this week in Minonk. Craig Kalkwarf of the Alpha Community Bank said that he thwarted three attempts by a scam artist to try to transfer money out of someone else's checking account at the bank. Kalkwarf said the scam artist has been calling Minonk residents, usually older residents, asking them for their bank account information. The reasons for asking for the bank account information is varied and is not being reported so as to not to tip off the scam artist.

Kalkwarf urges residents not to give out any information regarding their bank account to strangers. The scam artists are very slick and sound sincere and honest, but their goal is to get the victim's bank account number so that money can be drawn from the account. Kalkwarf said that the scam artist who has been calling Minonk residents is a person with a young sounding voice.

A special meeting of Rob Morris Lodge #247 was held in the lodge hall at Wenona IL on April 4th. John Meils Oncken was initiated into the Lodge. A dinner at Georgetown was hosted by the lodge to celebrate our first candidate in six years. Brothers as far south as Decatur, and north up by Walnut were in attendance.

The next special meeting for the 2nd degree will be on May 16th. All Masonic Brothers are invited to attend. Call Russ McCulley Minonk lodge Secretary for details at 432-2944.

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