We use the phrase “Finish Strong” often as we near the end of the school year. Students can become distracted by the lure of carefree summer days. This May, it’s appropriate to encourage our State General Assembly and Governor to finish the legislative session strong by passing a budget for the first time in two years. People from every corner of the Illinois are counting on our politicians. Leadership has never been more critical!
While Illinois public schools have benefited from a partially-funded state budget, our schools, students, families, and communities will continue to suffer without a full state budget. We also will continue to struggle if Mandated Categoricals, state payments which support special education, bilingual education, transportation, and other important services, do not get paid this year. To date, the State of Illinois owes District #702 $425,613 in those Mandated Categoricals, and there is no state budget on the table for approval. We are calling on members of the Illinois General Assembly and the Governor to do the following:
Immediately, and with bipartisan support, end the state budget impasse.
Improve the state’s education funding formula and invest in students and schools, including higher education institutions, throughout the state.
Pay school districts what they are owed this year.
As you might imagine, there’s a significant difference in the energy levels of each building when the students are gone for the summer. We can’t afford to let the budget process see a similar fate. Let’s keep the pressure on Springfield at the same decibel level as a Middle School Cafeteria at lunchtime!
Two years without a budget is long enough!
On behalf of the Board and Administrative Team, thank you for your support of our Bridge the Gap event. As of this writing $29,278.07 was donated to District #702. We had a fun day celebrating our 3 schools and appreciate the incredible attendance we enjoyed on March 4.
Several groups were responsible for the successful event. Our gratitude to: The Parent’s Club, MS Student Council, MS Builder’s Club, The Turk Center, The District Technology Department, Board of Education, and several staff members. We appreciate so many of our talented students and staff members for their participation in the Variety Show.
We certainly hope that there won’t be any gaps to bridge in the foreseeable future. It will be no surprise that the dysfunction in Springfield continues to wreck havoc with budgets across the state. The District has not received a single special education payment for 2016-17 accounting for a loss to date of $239,909. The same can be said for transportation where we are currently owed an already prorated amount of $142,140.
Once again, we greatly appreciate the incredible support of our wonderful community!
The December meeting of the Tremont Board of Education was held on Thursday, December 8. Highlights from Superintendent Jeff Hinman’s report include:
Details on the plans to upgrade the Student Management System utilized by District personnel and parents. A committee of teachers, office support personnel, and administrators have heard presentations from thee companies. A decision is expected soon.
The administration is putting the co-curricular report on hold in the short term as a search is underway for a new athletic director. Mr. Hinman told the Board that input from the new individual would be critical in the completion of the report but discussions were still being held about the importance of an active Booster Club to support the athletic program.
Bridge the Gap is being planned for Saturday, March 4th. Board members have agreed to participate in the festivities – possibly organizing a pancake and sausage breakfast that morning. Details will be finalized in the next month.
Hinman reported that he has been in contact with Village officials regarding the levels of lead in District drinking fountains. He was pleased to report the results of tests on all water fountains to be well within accepted safety standards.
In other agenda items, the superintendent stated the fallacy of fully funded schools for the current year as the news out of Springfield continues to lack productivity in terms of budget negotiations. He illustrated the following data:
* By 10/8/2015, the State had paid all General State Aide and Categoricals for 2015. While
still prorated and 3 months after the close of the year, the gap was filled.
* By 12/1/2016, the State has yet to pay $147,225 for FY16 (Last School Year).
* By 12/1/2016, the State has yet to pay $206,071 for FY17 (The Current School Year).
THE BOTTOM LINE…..
* WITH OUR “FULLY FUNDED” PUBLIC SCHOOL, WE ARE CURRENTLY SHORT $353,296 AS
OF DEC. 1, 2016.
* LAST YEAR, WITHOUT“FULL FUNDING” WE WERE SHORT $178,696 ON THE SAME DAY.
Hinman said “I haven’t recommended action on the Transportation Fund yet because we were hopeful to have some idea regarding the amount of reimbursement the District will receive. To date, there has been no indication funding level we should expect. While the Transportation Fund is currently showing a negative balance, we’re pulling money out of our general checking to pay the bills.”
He was asked by the Board about the possibility of charging for transportation. A member had mentioned that a family friend was charged by their school district for transportation. Mr. Hinman explained that because Tremont is a Unit District, the School Code prohibits charging parents for transportation. Ironically, the School Codes allows transportation charges in a high school or a grade school district.
In other action, the Board:
Approved the start of the 2017-2018 School year for teachers as Thursday, August 17th. The first day for students is Monday, August 21.
Passed the property tax levy that will reflect an increase of 0.7% but a decreasing tax rate due to continued growth in new property. Hinman explained that the last two years have illustrated 3% growth annually in District EAV and that the District #702 tax rate is one of the lowest in Tazewell County.
Heard information on the Local Government Travel Expense Control Act signed into law last summer. Hinman stated the District already follows all of the guidelines but the District will be required to adopt a formal resolution outlining the procedures and limitations for travel expenses.
Granted maternity leave for two staff members.
Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year! As July rolls into August, you may have noticed a few additions around the middle/high school building.
The new middle school drive will provide a safer and smoother drop-off for students in grades 5-8. You will notice a one-way entry to the drop off point with the new exit now one-way through the back of school property to West and Walnut Streets. This arrangement eliminates the bottle-neck that exists at the former entry to the Middle School that also served as the exit. You’ll note that parking on the upper lot is angled differently to reflect the new change in direction. Additional parking has been added for the Middle School and South Gym events. Eventually, sidewalks will be added to meet up with West Street for added pedestrian access. For now, there will be a walkway from the new parking lot to the South Gym.
A newly formed Future Farmer’s of America (FFA) Alumni organization raised money to provide a refurbished greenhouse that is currently being constructed just West of the building near the Ag shop. We greatly appreciate the efforts of this group and are privileged to provide new learning opportunities for our students.
Finally, there’s a new electronic sign on Route 9 that we will utilize to inform the public of school events. The old sign was beginning to show its age and we’re excited to add a more modern feel to the complex.
We can’t wait to begin school on Wednesday, August 17 and are anxious to see our students again!!!! REGISTRATION is THURSDAY, AUGUST 4th (3:00-7:00). Staff will be back in all three buildings on Monday, August 1st.
February 23, 2016
District to Adopt New Policy Manual
Tremont, IL – The Tremont District #702 board of education has completed its policy manual development project and will vote to adopt a new district policy manual at its meeting on April 14, 2016 at 7:30pm in the Superintendent’s Conference Room, 400 W. Pearl Street, Tremont, IL.
The new draft is located on the District’s website and public comments are welcome by contacting the District #702 Central Office at 925-3461. Click here to read the new policy draft.
“Board members who worked on this project spent many hours to make certain that our district policies are both legally compliant as well as appropriate for our students and the community,” said Dr. Volkan Sumer, board president. “I want to thank everyone for the hard work to make this happen.”
In addition to voting on adoption of the manual, the board will consider various options for keeping the manual up to date.
“We put many hours of work into updating our manual,” added Jeff Hinman, district superintendent. “We are committed to keeping this manual current.”
With data obtained from community members and stakeholders beginning in March of 2014, the Board of Education has developed a set of goals that will be an integral part of the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan set to guide District #702 over the course of the next few years.
As a baseline, those involved in the process affirmed the Six Pillars of Student Achievement: CLIMATE, FACILITIES, CURRICULUM, STRONG FINANCIAL POSITION, CO-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES, AND QUALITY STAFF. The Board designed their goals around these themes.
The District will support a safe environment – both emotionally and physically.
The Board of Education (BOE) believes community involvement is critical to a strong school and will engage District stakeholders, including students, parents, community members, and policy makers.
Educational opportunities and building communication committees will be routinely scheduled as an outreach to parents.
The administration and BOE will engage in a continual review of the District’s Safety Plan and evaluate associated procedures.
Staff will develop an age appropriate process for students who may not feel emotionally or physically safe to reach out for assistance.
Staff members will be encouraged to make connections with students & families.
The BOE and District staff members will connect with the community at large.
The Board will maintain and improve our school facilities and infrastructure to insure that contemporary educational pursuits and student safety will be achieved.
The BOE, in consultation with the administration and maintenance staff, will maintain an annually updated 5 year plan regarding District facilities.
Specific areas of study associated with facilities include, but are not limited to:
Student drop off procedures at the GS & MS.
Monitoring trends and needs in technology to insure relevancy in this area.
Expansion of air conditioning at MS/HS.
Evaluation and monitoring security procedures and equipment throughout the District.
Expand parking for after school events and at the athletic complex.
The Board will support a rigorous and relevant curriculum that is locally defined, providing sufficient elasticity to provide for the unique and changing needs of our students in a contemporary society. Staff members will be encouraged to pursue professional development opportunities assisting practitioners in developing strategies designed to meet these needs.
The curriculum will be aligned at all three buildings – both horizontal and vertical using online curriculum mapping resources.
Standards Based Grading principles will be researched and implemented at each building.
District staff will abide by state driven testing mandates because of the diagnostic value attained in evaluating student growth data as we prepare educational programs for each child.However, the locally developed curriculum will not be sacrificed for testing purposes.
Teachers and administrators will develop locally driven formative and summative assessments at the applicable grade level.
Strong Financial Position
The Board will be good stewards of the assets entrusted to it and advocate for changes that will strengthen the District’s financial position.
The BOE and administration will continue to pursue the goals outlined in this document while being cognizant of the financial challenges facing Illinois public education today.
The BOE will continue to inform public of district finances.
The BOE and administration will communicate with state legislators and officials making information available to them in regarding the local impact on their policies.
The administration will monitor budgets effectively at the District and building levels and communicate financial information to the BOE.
The Board believes that co-curricular activities enrich the experiences of the students and views them as an extension of the classroom.Accordingly, the Board will hold co-curricular programs to the same high expectations maintained throughout the District.
The Board understands the value placed on co-curricular activities by the community at large and the importance of diverse and strong programs for potential families seeking to re-locate.
The staff will insure equal co-curricular activities access to all district students.
The administration will support the autonomy of staff members willing to work with students as coaches and sponsors provided programs represent the Community in a positive manner and the expectations for students are consistent with District values.
The BOE supports a strong activity code for students who participate in community provided extra-curricular programs to encourage positive choices and reflect the role model status for these participants in regard to younger students.
The Board believes that a quality staff is an essential component to an excellent education and has been extremely pleased with the level of competence, commitment and compassion demonstrated by our teachers on a consistent basis.Therefore, The Board will continue to seek and retain outstanding educators while providing professional development opportunities that are timely and budget sensitive…
The administrative will continue to hire the best candidates possible.
The admin will provide quality professional development….Important for meeting district/building goals and assisting staff members in maintaining certification responsibilities.
Welcome to the 2015-16 school year!!!! We are extremely excited to see our students as we begin this new journey with them. The buildings look great and we’re ready to go!
It’s no secret that education has changed dramatically since many of our parents have been in school. At Tremont, our staff is cognizant of the latest instructional research and strives to prepare our students for the world they will inherit. At the same time, universal values and high expectations are infused in the environment we hope to create. While the District has certain mandates required by the State and Federal government that we must maintain, our desire will always center around doing what’s best for students – hoping to keep the political distractions out of our classrooms and buildings.
The Board of Education will be adopting a set of goals in September that will assist in the planning of policy and operation over the next five years. The outcomes were a direct result of a series of meetings over the past few years where input from the community was sought and evaluated as these goals were developed. A larger strategic plan will be rolled out later this year.
Political dysfunction in Illinois has brought waves of budgetary uncertainty year after year after year after year after year…….. There’s no end in sight and the challenges are many. We urge local citizens, parents, and students to attend our Annual Report meeting to be held later this fall. We’ll present the data we’re looking through and provide analysis for the future. As always, we are pleased to report incredible student achievement that continues to represent the community and our schools in an extremely positive manner.
Each year brings renewal. Our staff will be examining the mission and vision that we believe every organization needs to cultivate that provides the focus and energy necessary to establish a set of standards by which to operate. While these discussions are forthcoming, we will work tirelessly to model the Ritz-Carlton expectation to provide service infused with understanding, respect, and empathy. District #702 staff members are committed to continuing a tradition of educational excellence established in Tremont throughout the years.
Have a great school year!
As we begin a new fiscal year, the constant political and economic dysfunction of our state government continues to wreck havoc with the District’s budget. Despite the July 1 shutdown, much has been made of educational funding payments that are scheduled to be received on time in August. However, it’s important to realize that we’re still dealing with a proration of state funds. Illinois was already 50th in the nation in support for public education. The reduction in general state aid, transportation, and special education dollars the past five years have resulted in well over a million dollars short-changed to the District #702 budget. On June 30th we anxiously awaited payments in special education and transportation of $143,940 that never occurred. Throughout the entire academic year, mixed messages about additional prorations to general state aid and missed payments continued to flow from our political leaders and State Board of Education.
We certainly realize there’s more at stake than just educational money but Illinois residents and the school children of our state deserve better.
Our Board of Education has done an excellent job of attempting to “manage the deficit” the past few years. Unfortunately, the continued financial challenges continue to stress our reserves. While we’ve attempted to maintain the vast majority of our programs, it will become harder and harder without changes in the revenue we receive. Staffing has been reduced and our teachers and support personnel are stretched considerably. Looking to Springfield leadership to solve these problems is obviously futile.
As we gear up for another school year, we wanted you to be aware of a couple of areas that we will be focusing on as we attempt to trim our immediate deficit.
1. Enrollment has been a concern for the past 4-5 years.We’ve noticed a steady decline and there are certainly many social factors at work as families become smaller, economic opportunities exist elsewhere, and a modern migration to larger municipalities with various services important to young families exists.
There has also been a sizeable boom in the home schooling movement. We estimate around 150 children in the District are home-schooled. We’d love for those families to give us a second chance. If there are ways to reach out to the home-schooled community, the opportunity to sit down and discuss areas of mutual concern/benefit would be greatly appreciated.
2. The transportation budget, specifically the lack of state support for this expensive mandate will be examined closely.We’re hoping to eliminate a route if possible.Creative solutions are being discussed and it may mean abandoning the status-quo.We do expect some changes and ask for your patience as we go through this process.
3. Fees are being added in attempt to pass along costs to users.We’ve increased our registration and instituted a $25 per semester parking fee for HS students that drive.
4. Throughout the year, we’ll be looking at various opportunities to trim spending in our education fund – hopefully minimizing the impact felt by students.Field trips, supplies, and equipment will be examined carefully as we attempt to trim our deficit.
Please look at informational meetings and e-mails throughout the year as the Board of Education strives to seek your input and keep you informed of the economic challenges facing the District. This will be a critical year and your involvement and understanding of the issues we’re seeing will be important and appreciated.
All of us associated with District #702 are extremely proud of our students, families, and community. While the last few years have been tough financially, student achievement and parent involvement has never been higher. Our teachers continue to seek out the best instructional practices while creating outstanding classroom environments. In short, the educational opportunities in an incredibly supportive community continue to be strong.
We’re committed to maintaining a Tradition of Educational excellence at Tremont #702 despite the inaction and indifference of our elected officials. Enjoy the rest of the summer! We look forward to welcoming your children back to school on Wednesday, August 19th!!!!
Tremont Board of Education
Jeff Hinman, Superintendent
The Illinois Department of Transportation will be hosting a public meeting at Tremont High School on WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24 from 5:00pm-7:00pm in the Cafetorium.
IDOT is planning a major renovation of Illinois Route 9 through Tremont and will be available to inform interested community members on the project and seek public input before construction begins and plans are finalized.
The meeting will be “Open House” style and residents will be able to stop by any time between 5:00 and 7:00 to hear about the plans, see drawings, and provide input to IDOT officials in attendance.
As we close out the end of the school year, we want to wish everyone a safe and productive summer. Thanks for a great year. The support of our parents and community is greatly appreciated.
A couple of events we want to bring to your attention:
A Memorial Day program, sponsored by the Tremont American Legion will be held in the park Monday, May 25th at 11:00. Memorial Day is dedicated to all the American Soldiers who sacrificed their life for our country. The event is open to the public and a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to those who died in defense of liberty.
- 8th Grade Promotion - Tuesday, May 26th at 7:00.
The Last Day for Students – Wednesday, May 27th 8:00-2:00
The Tremont Turkey Festival – June 12th – 14th
IDOT Public Meeting – Tuesday, June 24, Tremont High School Cafetorium
The Illinois Department of Transportation is planning a public meeting on June 24th tentatively planned from 5:00-7:00 so they can update local residents on the planned improvements to Illinois Route 9 through the Village of Tremont.
Look for more information later in the next few weeks.
Have a great summer!!!!
As we reflect on an incredible day, our deepest gratitude is extended to everyone who had a part in our Bridge the Gap fundraiser. What started last year as an event designed to raise awareness about significant financial challenges caused by declining state support, has evolved into an important opportunity to build a "Bridge" to our stakeholders - illustrating the critical relationship that exists between the District and Community.
Having said that, there is also incredible value in our students seeing and understanding how they too are a part of something larger than themselves… Maybe that’s the real value of a public education. A sense of belonging and contributing to a community is at the core of the Tremont #702 experience. The school is absolutely dependent on a strong community and conversely, a strong community is dependent on the school. Our enrollment challenges underscore how intertwined we are on each other. Without getting too philosophical, the public school system is truly foundational to the democratic system of government. More importantly it continues to be an illustration of the interdependence we have on each other and the responsibility we share collectively to insure a quality education for all.
While we can quantify the amount raised as just over $43,000 with some revenue still coming in and some expenses still to be paid, it's impossible to put a figure on the community goodwill that was evident throughout the day. We can’t thank you enough for your support and were absolutely thrilled to be able to celebrate our local schools during Bridge the Gap with our students, families, alum, grandparents, and interested members of the community.
A special thanks to everyone who volunteered or came to the event. Hopefully you enjoyed the day as much as we did. A portion of the final proceeds will be distributed equally to the 40+ clubs, athletic teams, and organizations in all three buildings. We will continue to explore ways we might be able to improve our back drive at the MS entrance keeping in mind some of our financial limitations.
Bridge the Gap is scheduled for this Saturday, March 21st and an excellent day is being planned to celebrate our local school system. We hope you can join us for all or part of this great event – all at the high school!!! Raffles and baskets will be available all day to view. There are some great donated items to win.
7:00-10:00 The Board of Education is serving Pancakes and Sausage…
8:00 5K and Fun Run Race…
11:00-6:00 Cookout by the Tremont Volunteer Fire Department and District Staff…
Ribeye and Pork Chop Sandwiches, Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Chips, &
Homemade Pie!!!! Hot Dog meals available for kids…
1:00-4:00 Entertainment: Ron Stuber and the MisFitz, featuring Bill Lohnes!
11:00-4:00 Petting Zoo and Old Fashioned Cake Walk…
3:00-5:00 Middle School Dodgeball Tournament and Knockout…
5:00-5:45 Family Feud – Teacher Version…
6:30 Variety Show featuring past and present school staff and alumni!!!
Mr. Ted Wanack returns for some amazing trombone numbers, the
grade school & middle school teachers will perform, Hin-Nak the
Magnificent will be in the House, a lip-sync sing-off featuring some
senior boys will be hilarious, and the Coffee House Band featuring
Vince Imig, Soozee Litwiller, Dave Hillrich, and a host of District 702
friends will be amazing. Other surprises will be added, you do not
want to miss this event… March 21 at 6:30 in the Cafetorium!!
Once again we appreciate everyone's assistance in regard to our Bridge the Gap initiative. In this era of diminished state support for the education of our children, these types of events are helpful to maintain programs, facilities, and educational opportunities for Tremont students. The District plans to distribute a portion of the proceeds to 40+ clubs, organizations, and athletic teams in all three schools. A remaining project is to improve parking at the Middle School and extend the back drive all the way to West and Walnut Streets, eliminating the current bottleneck that exists near Route 9. We plan to break down this cost into several phases so it is more palatable to our budget. Certainly, current financial challenges may take precedence as the budget year unfolds, but this project is certainly near the top of our list as we look at current needs.
We are definitely in the middle of unprecedented times in education. The incorporation of common core, the development of new assessment structures, teacher evaluation procedures, and an ever increasing lack of state funding has caused districts to look at all aspects of how we serve our students. Though there have been several examples of failed educational reforms, a new and exciting movement has begun in Illinois. That reform effort is Vision 2020.
Vision 2020 is focused on kids and provides an evidence-based model to bring forth change in Illinois schools and how they are funded. Vision 2020 boasts a common sense approach to education that begins with quality teachers and instruction. In addition, the reform effort focuses on providing 21st century learning outcomes with a new method of accountability that is not measured solely by standardized test scores. Finally, Vision 2020 grounds itself in an evidence based funding model that creates adequacy for Illinois schools no matter the zip code.
Specifically, there are 4 key pillars that define Vision 2020.
Highly Effective Educators
Attract the most qualified teaching candidates from inside and outside of Illinois.
Allow for schools utilizing alternative licensure measures to get qualified individuals with diverse backgrounds in front of our children.
Provide on-going and purposeful learning opportunities for teachers.
21st Century Learning
A deep focus on teaching the “whole child” by embracing social and emotional realities.
Build intentional partnerships with business and industry, so that our students are more aware and prepared for the world of work.
Expand technology access to all of our students and our districts throughout the state.
Broaden the measures of accountability for schools by allowing student assessment data to be partnered with research based instructional best practices.
Provide local control to school districts to endorse or defer unnecessary, cumbersome, and unfunded mandates that stifle resources.
Equitable and Adequate Funding
Utilize an evidence based model for funding schools that begins with the success of students as the outcome to define spending.
Allow a scalable system for best practices that sets a standard financial bar for funding for all schools while allowing communities to locally define where funding should be best utilized.
Tremont #702 prides itself in being innovative. We have staff, students, and parents that are dedicated to the success for our schools. Our focus continues to be on developing opportunities for our young people. Vision 2020 is the first example of meaningful state education reform that is completely about kids. This is why our Board of Education and Administrative Team has chosen to endorse the Vision 2020 effort. Please visit www.illinoisvision2020.org and sign the petition in support of the reform effort. Let your legislators know that you support the effort as well.
As educators, it seems as if we fight a constant battle with the decision makers in Springfield regarding the direction of public schools in Illinois. The list of expectations, mandates, and regulations on us is maddening. There aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the year to accomplish the numerous well-intentioned ideas coming down the pike from politicians caving to multiple special interests. While regulation is nothing new, the General Assembly went into hyper-drive the past 12 years passing numerous initiatives that all boil down to a burdensome drag on our local schools and take away precious financial resources that have also been reduced significantly the past 5 years.
Vision 20/20 is an attempt by public education stakeholders to take back control and tout what we favor while encouraging our government officials to give back LOCAL CONTROL to our public schools. The Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA), Illinois Association of Principals (IPA), and the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) have started this process so legislators can hear what educators (the people in the classrooms, on ground level, in their local communities) support.
On January 8, 2015, the Tremont Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution supporting the ideas found in Vision 2020. The state agencies are working through legislation now to begin the process of putting some of these ideas into motion.
What can I do to help? Thanks for asking that question!!! It’s critical that District #702 residents get involved and we have three suggestions for you initially……
- Go to illinoisvision2020.org to learn more. Specifically, read through the Executive Summary that you’ll find on the main page.
- Click the “Get Involved” tab and sign the online petition showing your support.
- Attend the District meeting we’ll be holding in late February or early March (exact date to be determined). Funding shortages are becoming critical and we want to update the community on those challenges but we also plan to discuss Vision 20/20 and our own local strategic plan.
Thanks for reading!!!
My goodness….. Nothing is more petrifying to this superintendent than reading to a class full of kindergarten and first grade students. Just finished earlier today and I’m still sweating. While, it’s probably a strange reaction, they are only 6 years old, I find myself mesmerized (and maybe slightly intimidated) by the wonder and excitement on their faces. They really liked the books picked out by their teachers and there is certainly pressure not to mess things up…..but I loved every single second with those children. Their smiles, questions, and comments solidified for me all that is good about public education. Our most precious resources love their teachers and have a real zest for learning.
The opportunity to escape the mundane concerns about school finances, enrollment declines, unfunded mandates, the upcoming election, and a multitude of other issues certainly didn’t seem all that important in those moments in front of the class. I’m very grateful the teachers are allowing me to come into their classroom and spend time reading to these wonderful students. Two more classes to go and we’ll have all the kindergarten and first grade classrooms visited. What a joy!!! More importantly, a powerful reminder to keep the classroom tours going throughout the year! With that, why not establish a goal to get through the 6th grade by Christmas.