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School board approves communications position

Feb 23, 2018 09:04AM ● Published by Editor

At the February school board meeting Cook County YMCA director Emily Marshall presented the I.S.D. 166 school board with a Business of the Year trophy for the school’s participation with the Y. In front L-R: Carrie Jansen and Deb White. In back L-R: Chris Goettl, Superintendent Dr. Bill Crandall, and Sissy Lunde. Staff photo/Brian Larsen

By Brian Larsen from The Cook County News Herald - February 24, 2018

Who is responsible for getting the word out about the many and varied activities and accomplishments that happen at I.S.D. 166? Up until now, it’s been teachers and administrators, coaches and students who disseminate information, not all of it timely and not all of it cohesive.

That’s about to change.

Following the lead of several Minnesota school districts and a report from Becky Bartol and Amanda Hand, the school board decided at its last meeting on Feb. 15 to hire a part-time communications director that will work between 10-15 hours for the months of March, April, May, and June. As school board member Chris Goettl said, this period should allow the school board time to make an assessment and evaluate the effectiveness of the position.

Just how much the position will pay and whether or not the job will be offered to someone already working in the school or outside of the school hasn’t been yet decided.

A communications director, working with staff and administration, could assist in developing various publications (brochures, newsletters, letters, informational bulletins) and prepare a media kit that provides general information about the school district for the public.

At some schools, the communications director functions as a communications coordinator during emergencies. This full-time person is also responsible for establishing in-service training sessions, producing components for specific programs and activities, publishes a school newsletter periodically and serves as a liaison between the media, various community groups, and school district. The director also coordinates and conducts recognition programs for staff and students, as well as publicizes events and programs at the school, among other things.

As of now at I.S.D. 166, it is hard for the public (or media) to know who to call in the school district to get information about the next band concert, future testing or how to get the results of the last basketball game or robotics competition. With one person tasked with putting out school information, it will make life simpler for the school’s secretaries, parents and the public. 

In other business:

. The school board joined school boards across the state in passing a resolution asking the federal government to fully fund special education services and the individuals covered under the Disabilities Act (IDA) to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected. In 1975, the federal government promised to fund 40 percent of the additional cost of educating children with disabilities, and yet the government has failed to adequately pay for the mandated costs. 

. Cook County Middle School and High School science teacher April Wahlstrom requested maternity leave (30 sick days) from Monday, April 23 through Monday, June 4. She is planning on returning in the fall to teach and coach cross country running and would be available to help move into the new science classroom. April is also a Knowledge Bowl and Envirothon coach. 

. Mitch Dorr requested a leave of absence for the remainder of the academic school year of 2017-2018 from his current teaching duties to become the assistant principal; Mr. Dorr said he would remain on the teacher seniority list as provided in the statute. He also said he was looking forward to serving the district in his new capacity. 

. David Hanson announced that he is retiring at the end of the school year. Hanson teaches industrial arts. Superintendent Dr. Bill Crandall said he appreciated Mr. Hanson coming out of retirement to teach for two years. Crandall also pointed out some of the items built by Mr. Hanson’s shop class that have benefitted the school. 

. The school board approved the 2018-2019 school calendar. 

. Approved was a change in the community comments guidelines. From now on if someone brings something up that is a new topic to the board, the board chair will direct Dr. Crandall to research the topic and come back with a response at the next school board meeting. 

. As part of the School Board Recognition Week Dr. Crandall handed out certificates of appreciation to the school board members and thanked them for their service to the community. 

. Cook County YMCA Director Emily Marshall presented 2017 highlights about the Y. She said that every year, the YMCA selects individuals for individual awards that highlight the work, demonstration, support, or involvement in areas vital to the Y, and for 2017 I.S.D. 166 was chosen to receive the Business of the Year award. With that, she gave board chair Sissy Lunde a trophy commemorating the honor. 

. After 35 years of excellent service, Pam Taylor announced that she was resigning her position as a teacher, coach, and activities director effective June 4. 

Said Taylor in her letter to the school board, “I have enjoyed the opportunities of professional and personal development that have been provided for me during my time here at Cook County Schools. I have enjoyed working for the district the last 35 years.” 

The school board collectively praised and thanked Taylor for her many years of service to the kids of Cook County. School board member Carrie Jansen and assistant Principal Mitch Dorr both said they had Pam as an instructor. Dorr said he had her as a teacher when he was in elementary school. 

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