By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
London City Schools will take steps to reinstate its program for gifted students and hire paid staff to at least partially man the school libraries.
The move is part of the district’s efforts to bring back programs and services cut two years ago during the district’s budget crunch.
Superintendent Tom Ben plans to hire a teacher to work directly with gifted students. That position was eliminated during the cuts. Since then, a staff member from the Madison-Champaign Educational Service Center has worked with teachers to find ways to challenge gifted students in the context of the regular classroom.
Ben also hopes to find part-time classified employees already on staff who are willing to pick up hours as library staff members. He will be talking to cooks, bus drivers and others who can be trained in library services.
For the past two-and-a-half years, the district has relied solely on volunteers to provide students with some library time. Ben said the volunteers’ service has been invaluable, but he wants to get back to all-day library hours.
If he cannot find enough part-time staff to take on the work or if scheduling proves to be an obstacle, Ben said Plan B will be to hire more staff to cover part of each day and fill in with volunteers for the other part.
With the school board’s blessing to move forward with the gifted program and the library staffing, Ben said he will start the personnel search right away. The plan is to reinstate both programs as soon as possible this school year.
The board did not give Ben the go-ahead to reinstate coordination of the junior high yearbook as a paid supplemental contract, a request he made during the Oct. 22 school board meeting.
The teacher who handled the yearbook for the last several years, including the past two years voluntarily, cannot fit it into her schedule this year. The cost to reinstate the job as a paid supplemental is $750 to $2,000, depending on how many years a person has done the job.
School board president Marvin Homan said he’d have a hard time reinstating this particular supplemental when there are others waiting for reinstatement that have more of a direct impact on student learning.
Board member Dr. Martha Geib suggested the board and district administrators put together a prioritized list of programs and services to bring back. Until then, supplementals like the junior high yearbook project will be tabled.
The board will work on that list in a work session set for 5 p.m. Nov. 7 in the board meeting room at the elementary school.
Also at that session or at their Nov. 12 regular meeting, the board will discuss the possible sale of a piece of school property that sits between VonKanel Field and Kronk & Scaggs Insurance on High Street. Ben said the district only recently found out that the triangular shaped property, less than two acres in size, belongs to the district. He said it is of no value to the district and presents an expense for mowing maintenance.
Ben plans to get an estimate on the land’s value and details from the city of London about separating the land into its own parcel. He will present the information to the board for discussion.