Mt. Vernon Register-News

January 23, 2014

D-80 wants new gym at Casey

By TRAVIS MORSE travis.morse@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — Building a new gym at Casey Middle School was one of several long-term goals discussed at the recent District 80 Board of Education retreat held Jan. 17 and 18.

Completing such a project would give the school two gyms to help accommodate physical education classes, athletics and community meetings.

Even so, Superintendent Mike Green stressed that the gym project would be “years down the road.” The district, he said, does not currently have the funding for such an effort.

“It’s just a board goal in the future to have a new gym,” Green said.

The annual two-day board retreat gave district officials the chance to set goals for the 2014-2015 school year and beyond. They also reviewed other key topics such as District 80’s School Report Card data and

the school calendar.

Green said this year’s session proved quite productive for board members and administrative staff.

“The retreat’s a great time for the Board of Education to review all the facets of the district,” Green said. “It was just a good sharing of information.”

The main focus of the retreat is to develop goals and objectives for the district.

Each year’s goals usually center around five topics — students, staff, facilities, parents and the community, and finances.

Green said the 2014-2015 goals are still being developed and will likely be approved in March or April.

However, building a new gym at Casey was one of the goals to come out of the retreat. This goal, though, would be more long-term and would not be started next year.

Prior to the current school year, Casey students had access to two gyms, one at the Casey facility and the other at the Dr. Andy Hall Early Childhood Center.

At that time, sixth graders were at Andy Hall for most of their classes while seventh and eighth graders were at Casey.

The recent expansion/renovation at Casey changed that, however. Now, all the sixth grade courses are under one roof at Casey, a building which has one gym, a multi-purpose room and a fitness center.

Mary McGreer, principal at Casey, said her school is currently meeting the athletic needs of students. Even so, she said it would be nice to have a modern “performance gym” to be used for graduation and other events.

“We can provide a resource to the community,” McGreer said.

Green said adding a second gym to Casey would make sense now that sixth graders attend classes there.

It would also help community groups like the YMCA and the Jefferson County Sports Authority, which use the Casey gym often, Green said.

Another goal from the retreat was to offer Social Studies classes to the second and third graders at District 80. Currently, the Social Studies curriculum begins at fourth grade.

Before this goal could be implemented, however, district officials would have to determine what classes to reduce or eliminate to make room for the Social Studies courses, Green said.

“When you put something in, you have to take something out,” Green said.

Student achievement was another big topic at the board retreat.

In addition to the School Report Card, district officials also looked at ways to prepare students for upcoming state tests that will focus entirely on new Common Core standards for English/language arts and math.

This spring will be the last time schools take the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, Green said. The exam this year will be made up of all Common Core questions.

The following school year, the ISAT will be replaced by the PARCC test. PARCC stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

District 80 this year is participating in a pilot program to test out the PARCC exam, Green said.

As part of this effort, some fifth graders will take a PARCC test in English/language arts, and some seventh graders will take one in math.

The district calendar was also discussed at the recent board retreat. Even so, no firm decisions were made regarding any changes.

So far, District 80 has used seven of its 10 emergency days, which will likely be made up at the end of the year, Green said. The Board of Education will examine this topic again at its February meeting.