DECATUR — Tightening budgets are affecting schools statewide, including the Heartland Technical Academy, Milligan Academy and Futures Unlimited.
The superintendents of schools in Macon and Piatt counties act as the boards for the Macon-Piatt Special Education District, the Regional Office of Education and Heartland Technical Academy, held their monthly meetings for all three Thursday.
They named Kathy Massey director of Macon-Piatt Special Education, afterward voting on a list of reduction in force motions — layoffs — some of which will be reconsidered before next school year if student needs change.
The Illinois State Board of Education has appointed retired Decatur teacher Breida Roach as a second monitor for the Illinois Alternate Assessment, the high-stakes test given to special education students whose Individual Education Plan calls for an alternate test.
“I don’t think we’re a target for ISBE,” Massey said. “We’ve never had a problem.”
Roach will observe testing and assign a score at the same time the students’ own teachers do as way to ensure accuracy.
During the portion of the meeting devoted to the Regional Office of Education, Regional Superintendent Matt Snyder said the regional offices are working with the state to design teacher and principal evaluations as required by new regulations that measure teacher effectiveness by student growth. In small districts, he said, when there might be only one or two history teachers, the suggestion has been made to group several small districts together to create a larger sample. Once an “average” has been determined, it would be easier to compare individual results to determine if a teacher is above or below average.
“We’re already in the process of developing a growth model,” said Decatur Superintendent Gloria Davis. She offered to share that model with the other districts when it is complete.
The regional office is responsible for Milligan Academy safe school and Futures Unlimited, and budget constraints are making it necessary to consider raising tuition for districts that send students to Milligan, Snyder said. With higher enrollment this year, he said he’d like to hire a part-time staff member to finish out the year and consider a fourth teacher for next year.
Heartland Technical Academy Executive Director Jodi Ferriell gave the board a list of programs offered at the technical academy, enrollment and projected enrollment next year, and she and her staff have begun considering recommendations for program cuts to save money for next year.
Those decisions will likely be made at the March meeting.