Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

March 1, 2014

Altamont school board setting sights on future

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

ALTAMONT — Altamont Superintendent Jeff Fritchtnitch calls the school board’s annual work weekend one of those “long discussions that we have with regards to where we’re going as a district.”

Altamont school board members will meet this weekend to discuss items, such as registration fees, athletic cooperative agreements for the district’s golf and soccer programs and giving the superintendent the power to hire summer employees. It also hopes to set goals for the future and discuss larger, more controversial items.

Fritchtnitch said one of the topics of conversation this year will be deciding on upcoming PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test. The new assessment test better aligns with Common Core standards than other standardized tests and is replacing the Illinois Standard Achievement Test. The board also will be discussing customizing the school’s curriculum to better suit the new expectations. He said the school’s daily assessments will need to change in order to get students prepared to deal with the more probing, in-depth questions.

Fritchtnitch said letting the board members see the work which goes into setting curriculum goals is one of the most important parts of having the work weekend.

“Board members get to see what’s going on in athletics and extracurriculars all the time, but they’re not in the classrooms,” he said. “This is a really important time to share where we’ve been, and where we’re going, and what we’re going to be doing.”

The board will also be discussing larger projects, such as updates to its technology program.

Fritchtnitch said district administration is planning on updating the laptops supplied to students to Google Chromebooks, a move which would require additional funds to be used on technology. He said the board would also need to discuss use of the safety grant, which he hopes to use to add a vestibule and additional security into the grade school. The change would require visitors to buzz in and make them unable to walk into the school’s office after coming in the front door.

Fritchtnitch said the board is also hoping to set goals for members and look further into the future with strategic planning. As part of that, members will be looking to find people who should weigh in on the future of the school district.

“We’ll talk about who’ll come in to sit on the committee,” Fritchtnitch said. “We’re also going to employ the Illinois Association of School Boards to set those board goals.”

The weekend also will allow members to discuss goals without being contained by the structure of a traditional board meeting.

“When board members go to work all day and then leave work, come to a board meeting and meet from 7 to 9 at night, at some point it’s pretty exhausting,” he said. “This allows for that really deep think-tank time and allows everyone’s perspective on all the things that we’ve been working on and making sure everyone’s ideas are considered.”

Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or at jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com. or via Twitter @EDNJAdams