Wednesday, the Waltham school board agreed without a vote to prepare a letter explaining why statewide test scores leveled off after radical changes in testing standards.
Illinois schools are implementing “Common Core” standards to make kids more college-ready; but switch resulted in what the state Board of Education called “a sharp drop in the number of students whose 2013 ISAT scores met or exceeded standards.”
Waltham’s school report card was by no means poor — the district consistently exceeded state averages — but parents who track school performance year over year will notice some changes.
“We’re still above state average in everything,” principal Kristine Eager said, adding later, “and in some cases we’re well above state average.”
Eager agreed that all parents coming in for conferences Oct. 24, 28 and 30 would get not only copies of the school report card but a companion letter explaining the standards revisions in greater detail.
Separately, district finances are in good shape; but district officials still want to take a hard look at individual line items.
Interim superintendent Larry Carlton issued a first-quarter financial report showing the district has received about 54 percent of its revenues in nine categories and has managed expenses well.
“Really, we’re right on target,” he said.
Nevertheless, the district faces an 11-percent reduction in state aid and thus must keep an eye on the bottom line.
“We’re in October,” he said, “(and) we’ve got to go clear to June to get more dollars.”
Finally, the district plans to apply for a $50,000 matching grant to upgrade restrooms and to lay an asphalt walkway to the often-drenched Waltham North playground.
The board tabled approving the grant after Carlton requested more time to explore the walkway costs; but Carlton said he intends to bring to the board in November a finished grant application for $100,000 in improvements with the state picking up half the tab.
In other matters, the board:
n Hired Angie Hartman as seventh- and eighth-grade girls basketball coach
n Hired Tina Kicinski as substitute custodian
n Meets again Nov. 20
Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.