Photo by Carla Waters

Thomas Leahy, Illinois Association of School Board director of executive searches, addresses the Unit 9 School Board about its superintendent search.

The Unit 9 School Board is continuing with its search for a new superintendent.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, Thomas Leahy, Illinois Association of School Board director of executive searching, talked to the board about the process.

The board has been with interim superintendent Gary Miller since the beginning of the fiscal year in July after Guy Gradert left the position.

Leahy showed the board members some of the information being used to create the brochure for the search. The group went through information about each board member, then talked about the requirements that will be used to search for a superintendent.

Leahy said he took some of the information that came from the survey taken to look at some top issues thought to be important. He said they took the top issues that the board and others taking the survey felt were important. The board was given some time to look at the points on the brochure before a final version is completed. The board did say it wanted the brochure to say residence in the district after employment is strongly preferred. Previous successful teaching and administrative experience is also one of the items the board said required.

Leahy said that very few districts are listing a specific salary. The brochure will say that the total compensation package will be based on schooling and experience.

He said all seven board members filled out the survey, along with 69 teachers and staff and 76 parent/community members filled it out.

He said when the applicants start to come in, his group will look through them and determine how they fit on the requirements set by the district and then present candidates for the board to interview in December. Candidates will be interviewed in December and January and the board should be able to name a new superintendent by the end of January. In other news, the board heard from school principals, who said the school year is off to a good start.

Jessica Heldt, director of student services, said there are some changes being made to pick up and drop off points at the school.

The school district and city officials are working together on the project. There will be a new sidewalk. “Everything is going to be set at eight feet wide for the students to come off of the street into the building,” she said. “We are excited about that.”

She said, too, that the open house and book fair was very successful. The book fair netted $3,240, which is the highest every received. “Just from open house we had $2,442 so we opened it up to students for an extra three days and they shopped during their lunches,” she said.

Also new, she said, was that a parent could upload funds into an e-wallet for the book fair. The student can then buy books and the parent doesn’t have to send money with their student to purchase books.

Many people put time in to help get the book fair operational.

Heldt said, too, that Emily Tuttle has started a team called SWAT, which stands for Students With Advanced Technology.

“We took three students from each fourth grade class and Emily Tuttle is meeting with them Wednesday mornings and going over a lot of technology with the students. Then if teachers and students in other classrooms need assistance they call Emily and she sends out her SWAT team to that classroom to assist those who need extra help,” she said. “The students are loving it, so it’s nice.”

Third grade students were able to walk to the Iroquois County Courthouse one day to see Judge Michael Sabol’s courtroom. Heldt said the students had just read a book about a trial and teachers thought this would be a good trip for the kids. “All four classes walked down there,” she said.

Nettie Davis School Principal Heather Gerth said students have been learning about the fire department and what firefighters do. Firefighters visited the school to talk with students and show them some of the equipment and what to expect if the firefighters should have to come to their house.

Gerth said teachers have attended a reading conference. Those teachers will be sharing what they learned with other teachers.

She said, too, that teachers have been starting their days off with the students on a positive note. As students enter the classrooms they can choose what kind of welcome they want from the teachers. “I like how they all start their day off on a positive note. The students can choose what welcome they want, from a hug, a high five, a wave or a fist bump. It just starts everybody’s day off on a positive note.”

Principal Carolyn Short said homecoming week has been going well at Watseka Community High School. “We have dress up days every day this week,” she said. “A lot of happy faces. It’s a fun week.”

All juniors will be taking part on Oct. 17 to visit Parkland Junior College and University of Illinois. They will see student life, dorm life and have tours and talk with student representatives on getting involved in college life. “It’s a wonderful exposure for our students,” she said.

National Honor Society has 13 inductees this year, Short said. The banquet will be Oct. 23.