Peru elementary school board and Superintendent Mark Cross Wednesday said they will keep the Gifted and Talented Education program’s pull-out option.
That means students in the program will be pulled out of regular classes for specialized instruction, as before. For GATE students, that’s a compromise because they will lose a portion of the program they greatly valued — instruction from teacher Mary Covert.
Covert’s job for next year was cut last month and she will be replaced with a teacher who will teach GATE and who can teach reading. Covert lacked that specialized training.
“We were never intending to get rid of the program,” board member Cindy Gustat said.
GATE students, as they did at last month’s meeting, spoke to the board. Gina Henkel, seventh grade, said pull-out is the only way she and her GATE classmates will receive the education they need.
“It sets no limitations for us,” she said. “Over the years the gifted program has been pushed aside and money has been spent on other things.”
Karolina Kaniewski suggested ways to save money, such as cutting electric costs and field trips.
Anna Smith said losing Covert now requires compromise to keep the elements of the program. However, she believes it also should be offered to grades 2-4 at Washington School. Cross said GATE was never intended to be at Washington. Washington Principal Melissa Bosnich said reading intervention will have an upper tier of high-performing students who will get specialized instruction.
Cross and Parkside Principal Lori Madden said the program will be retained completely, with as much time devoted to pull-out as before.
“I’m recommending we maintain a pull-out program for grades 5-8,” Cross said. “We have prioritized to keep a gifted program at Parkside when no one around us is doing it.” Peru is the only district offering GATE in the Illinois Valley area.
Cross, who has met with GATE students, reiterated something he said he has told them before: “Everybody learns in a different way among any group of people.”
Jeff Dankert can be reached at (815) 223-3206 Ext. 177 or firstname.lastname@example.org.