Dear Parent(s)/Legal Guardian(s):
For school year 2019 – 2020, the students will be dismissed every Wednesday at 2:00 pm for the purpose of early release time for teachers. During this time, teachers will be engaged in continuous professional learning. Teachers, paraprofessionals and administration will be engaged in data analysis, curriculum development and instructional strategies designed to meet the academic, social and emotional needs for ALL students. The time our staff spends honing the art and science of teaching will ensure our students continue to meet and exceed expectations in order to perform at high levels.
The decision to move ahead with regular early dismissals was not made without the understanding that the decision will likely inconvenience some families. The Board debated this decision for several board meetings this spring with a final decision at our regular May meeting and put the calendar into action at our June meeting when the final 2019-20 calendar was available to Illinois school districts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are early release days?
Traditionally, teachers have been isolated in their classrooms because time was not available for them to meet as an entire grade level, course and/or department. The early release schedule enables educators to work and learn from each other. Professional learning allows teachers to align, revise and develop curriculum, assessments and learning activities. The ultimate goal of professional learning is to improve student learning by teachers identifying best instructional practices and using them consistently.
Currently, local districts that incorporate early release days into their school calendars are Ball-Chatham CUSD #5, Riverton CUSD #14, Springfield District #186, Tri-City, A-C Central and now PORTA .
Why do we have early release days?
Education, like many other occupations and professions, is changing rapidly. The district recognizes that in order to continue to focus on improved student learning to address our educational priorities and goals that time is needed for planning, collaboration, professional development and communication.
Students will be dismissed at 2:00 pm each Wednesday to allow teachers, paraprofessionals, and administration to engage in planned meaningful activities for the purpose of improving student learning. Such activities could include:
All planned activities will be developed around building, grade and/or unit level student achievement data.
Why does the District choose Wednesdays for all their Professional Learning Time?
When considering the different days of the week, the administration attempted to identify a day with the least number of conflicts throughout the school year. Wednesdays are typically less impacted by holidays and have fewer athletic competitions and co-curricular activities scheduled that may conflict.
How will we know if Early Release Days Work?
The District administration will evaluate the effectiveness of the early release programming and will report to the Board of Education at the conclusion of the 2019 – 2020 school year.
The District’s mission: “Dedicated to providing the environment vital for student success” is consistent with the decision to implement early release time. Making this commitment means that we recognize the relationship between professional learning time and improved student achievement. The District appreciates your support of our educators and our students. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the district at 217-632-3803.
Matthew W. Brue, Superintendent
Dear PORTA Family:
Every May, we celebrate and honor teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week for their commitment to our students. As Teacher Appreciation Week comes to an end, the PORTA Board of Education would like to take a moment to thank our staff and express our gratitude for your hard work and dedication. Teachers are the backbone of this district. You are the reason for our students’ success and it is your dedication to your profession and to our students that makes you so important.
You are making a difference in every student’s life by guiding them to accomplish whatever he or she may choose to do in life. You are truly amazing and continue to influence the world by educating our youth.
We know how hard you work and we thank each and every one of you for everything you do to create a better future for our students.
Thank you for teaching our students.
PORTA Board of Education
Local candidates running for PORTA CUSD District 202 School Board will join us for an interview session at the PORTA High School Library. We invite you to attend our “Meet the Candidate Night” so you will have the opportunity to meet the candidates for the Board of Education, have an opportunity to hear responses to a defined set of questions and if time allows ask specific questions of the candidates. Forum moderator will be Neil Gurnsey, Assistant Vice-President of Petefish Skiles and Company Bank. We hope our “Meet the Candidates Night” will give everyone the opportunity to be a well-informed voter, so please come out and hear what the candidates have to say about a variety of issues and how they plan to serve the PORTA District.
The PORTA Board of Education will have 4 four year seats and 1 two year unexpired term seat open for election on April 2, 2019. Returning members of the current Board of Education include Robert “Toby” Turek who resides in voting district T18NR7W, which includes the City of Petersburg and Lake Petersburg and Jeff Smith who resides in voting district T18NR8W on his family farm West of Petersburg.
The current election will have two separate contested seats which include a 4 year seat in which returning Board Member Craig Reincke will be opposed by Chris Henderson, both of whom reside in the Petersburg City and Lake voting area. The second contested seat is a 2 year unexpired term seat that was created with the resignation of Jason Burris in August of 2018. Candidates running for the 2 year seat are Jeremy Garner and William “Bill” Shaub both once again from the City of Petersburg and Lake voting area.
Other candidates running for 4 year terms include incumbent Kevin Bettis and Brandy Zanger who both reside in the T18NR6W voting district or more commonly known Woodland Lakes and East of Petersburg voting area. The final candidate and newly appointed member to the Board is Jeff Schoneweis who resides on his family Farm in the Tallula voting area.
When the PORTA District was formed through consolidation it was determined that no more than three Board Members could reside inside any one voting district, ie T18NR7W. During this election there are only two seats open in the Lake/City of Petersburg voting district and as such Henderson and Reincke will effectively be running for the same seat, as will Garner and Shaub for the 2 year unexpired term. All others running for the Board of Education are running uncontested.
I am Kevin Bettis and I have lived in Petersburg since 1991 when I was assigned to Menard County as an Illinois Conversation Police Officer. I retired in August 2017 after serving the community and the state of Illinois for 27 years. My wife, Molly, and I have 3 children. Erin graduated from PORTA in 2012 and from Bradley University in 2016 and is an Accountant at Caterpillar. Brandon graduated from PORTA in 2015 and will graduate from the University of Iowa in May with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. Ryan is an 8th grader who will graduate in May.
Currently, I am President of the PORTA School Board and have served in that position for 2 years during my 16 year tenure on the Board. I enjoy serving on the board and serving the community, acting as a voice for the students, parents and staff. I continually work and strive to bring new ideas to our district to enhance the educational experience for PORTA students, while maintaining fiscally responsible decisions. In addition to my service on the board, I am also very involved in our community from coaching youth sports, serving on community boards, and PORTA Sports Boosters. I look forward to continuing my service for the next 4 years. I appreciate your vote on April 2. Thank you.
My name is Jeremy Garner and I want to be a part of the PORTA school board. I am employed by the State of Illinois Department of Corrections as a lieutenant for the past 22 years. I have lived in Petersburg for 5 years and I am very active in the community by coaching youth sports football, basketball and baseball. My wife is a kindergarten teacher at PORTA elementary. I have two children my daughter is a sophomore at PORTA and my son is in first grade. Prior to living in Petersburg, we lived in Chandlerville and I was a member of the AC Central school board for 7 years. While serving on the AC central school board I had to learn how to do more with less in this ever changing financial crisis the State of Illinois has created. If elected to the PORTA school board I know my experience as a previous school board member would make a difference. I do this for the right reasons, the future of the community. Your whole community will either prosper or fold depending on what your school district can provide for today’s youth and it is not going to get any easier with state unfunded mandates on our district. My son has 11 more years of school ahead of him and my hope is that this district can gain academically and athletically every single year he has at PORTA and every year beyond. I am also sure every parent or grandparent wants the same for their family. I believe as a community we can do it.
I have been a lifelong resident of Petersburg where I live with my wife Angie, our children Ashton and Paige as well as my nephew, Carson. I graduated from PORTA with the Class of 1998. I attended Lincoln Land Community College and University of Illinois in Champaign studying Communications and Fire Science as well as completing the Advanced Firefighter curriculum. For the last ten years, I have been employed by the American Tower Corporation, headquartered in Boston. American Tower is one of the largest global Real Estate Investment Trusts and leading independent owner, operator and developer of wireless and broadcast communications real estate. In the last four years I have been in the role of Site Operations Manager and Project Manager dealing with very large budgets where allocating funds is crucial to the financial success of the company.
I have been very active in the community over the years and support several organizations. I have been a Firefighter/EMT since 2010 and currently hold the rank of Captain for the Petersburg Fire Department. I was humbled to be voted Officer of the Year in 2014, 2016 & 2018 by my colleagues. I am also Vice President for the New Salem Shrine Club. Past volunteer opportunities have included: member of the Menard County Rescue Squad and PORTA JFL Coach. I am also an active member of my Church where I have been a longtime member.
I am very passionate about volunteering in our community and hope to continue doing so as a member of the School Board. Working together, I believe our efforts will ensure a better education for our children and in turn an amazing environment for them to flourish. Building a prosperous future for the District should be paramount and the growth and success of our students as well as their families should always be our focal point.
Craig was born and raised on a family farm in Nokomis, IL. Him and his older brother helped raise cattle and were involved in the FFA. Craig was involved in Baseball, Basketball and Football receiving achievements in all. Craig was also involved in a Building Trades program that built houses for the community. Craig and his brother spent a lot of time in the summer on the ITPA Tractor pulling circuit, traveling around Illinois attending county fairs. Tractor pulling was a big part of his life, we made it our business to run with the Big Dawgs in the sport. Buying parts to building tractor frames to re-building WWII v-12 allison aircraft engines and being one of the youngest pullers to ever pull in the National Farm Machinery Show In Louisville Ky. We built and sold a tractors, engines, and parts all over the world. Craig was recognized for Modified Puller of the Year, Best in Show and Points Champion during the 8 years of dedication.
Attended Lake Land Community College for one year with a major in Ag Business. Due to his father having a major injury he took over the responsibilities of the family farm for a couple of years before his Dad was able to get all healed up. Running a business just came natural, so after attending Lincoln Land Community College and achieving a Horticulture Certificate. Image Design and Landscaping was started in 2002.
Craig and Rachelle Reincke got married and not long after and blessed to have Krayon (13) and Kip (9). Making a business move to Petersburg happened about 8 years ago. Where we got busy building our business and volunteered in youth programs, coaching, community events, church and 4 years ago got elected to the Porta school board. In the past four years Craig has been able to get a better understanding of how the District is operating. Been involved with Teacher Negations (1), Building and grounds committee (4), fundraising and or corporate sponsor committee (3) and have attended Board Conferences to encourage and enlighten what opportunities might be valuable. Craig has also been part of the potential Menard County CEO program and is working with the community to help bring an Economic Development conversation (PREP) back into a public forum.
Message from the candidate:
I would like to help our community develop a more unified Strategic Plan also like to help with Succession Planning for our District administrators by creating transition committees, teacher lead programs, and other ideas we need to be considering. I would like to be part of a unified Board that utilizes everyone’s strengths and wants to work together to unify and strengthen the overall direction of the District. I would like to help introduce different ways we can become more efficient as a community and continue to build on relationships we have all while exploring new opportunities that can be valuable for our youth.
I was born and raised in Tallula, Illinois, where I attended Tallula Grade School, and graduated from Porta High School in 1978. I then attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins Colorado for two years majoring in ag-business, finance, and marketing. I continue to farm in and around Menard County, striving to be a good neighbor, and steward of the land.
My wife works for the State Board of Education in the special education services division. We have two daughters; one in the fourth, and the other in sixth at Porta Central. Both girls are active in our PAA sports program, playing softball, soccer, and basketball of which I’ve had the opportunity to help coach. I am very proud that both girls are on the honor roll, which I attribute to the great teachers and staff they have had growing up in the Porta School system and Petersburg community.
We attend Tallula Christian Church, where I have previously held the office of Vice Chairman of the board, head of the property committee, and served as a deacon and elder. I am a member of the Menard County Farm Bureau, previously serving as chairman or the Young Farmer’s Committee.
I was appointed to the school board recently to fill a seat where a previous board member moved out of the district. I’ve really enjoyed being on the board so far, getting to work with some outstanding teachers, principals, staff, and a great superintendent, who are trying to educate our youth.
I feel very strongly that our early education programs are vital to our children’s overall education. If the kids have not learned the difference between right and wrong at home at an early age, then they and their parent’s need to know that there are consequences to their actions at school. We can’t expect our teachers to raise these kids; that is the parent’s responsibility. We are paying our teachers to TEACH, not run a day-care. If we can’t do that because of school policy, then maybe we need to change our policy. Maybe we need to teach more common sense, and less common core.
I realize that not everyone agrees with my views, which is great, because we need a variety of different opinions to make good decisions as a board. I feel we should work together, to get the brightest ideas, to make the best decisions, and do what is right the first time around. It’s a lot easier and less expensive to do it right the first time.
Bill Shaub and his family moved to Petersburg in the summer of 2015. Bill works as a District Manager for Walgreens, his wife, Lindsey, is a substitute teacher for PORTA schools, his son, Trace is in eighth grade at PORTA Junior High, and his daughter, Tristan, is in fifth grade at PORTA Central. Bill and his wife quickly became involved in the community upon moving here, through their church, school, and sports. Bill has been active in working with the youth of the community though coaching and other school related events. Most often, he can be found working with the football and wrestling teams.
Bill graduated from Lockport High School in 1997, and went on to play football for and graduate from Millikin University in 2002 with degrees in both History and Secondary Education. Bill and his wife Lindsey lived in Springfield after college, moving to Bourbonnais, IL in 2009.
Bill‘s active involvement and service to the community was instilled in him by his parents in childhood and has continued throughout his adult life. He has served on numerous boards of directors including The Kankakee County Walk to End Alzheimer’s, the Bourbonnais Bears, Riverside P.U.L.S.E., and Kankakee County Drug Court, of which he was elected president.
Before taking a full time position with Walgreens, Bill worked at Decatur MacArthur High School. Though he is no longer working in education, it is where his passion remains. He takes every opportunity to support the PORTA School District and its students.
Bill would like to become a school board member as a means of further adding value. His level-headedness and openness to learning new perspectives makes him an ideal candidate. He looks forward to continuing to meet members of this community, and helping to grow the list of our district’s accomplishments.
Brandy L. Zanger, MBA
Born and raised in Quincy, IL, my husband, Mark Zanger, and I moved to Petersburg in 2002 to start our family. We have a freshman son, Wolfgang, and an eighth-grade daughter, Ripley, both of whom are actively involved in the PORTA district. I have worked with HSHS Medical Group for nearly five years, and I currently serve as an Outreach Representative with functional roles as a Practice Manager and Project Manager. I have worked in the healthcare industry for 17 years, where I have gained significant experience in marketing, finance and management.
Aside from my family, I have two very definite passions - education and serving the community. I have a Bachelor of Science from University of Illinois at Springfield (Chemistry major with a Biology minor) and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Benedictine University at Springfield. While I am likely finished with my formal education, I consider myself a lifelong learner, and continually look for ways to broaden my understanding of various topics.
In high school and college, I was heavily involved in school and community activities, and I continue to be as involved as my free time will allow. I have served as President of Town & Country Women’s Club, President of PORTA PTA (now PTO), Girl Scout Leader, Assistant Cub Scout Leader, Petersburg Girls’ Softball League/Petersburg Athletic Association Softball Coach, and I have volunteered at more school events/concession stands than I probably realize. Each of these opportunities has been so fulfilling and I enjoy getting to know the people of our community through these activities.
About two years ago, I attended my first School Board meeting, and I knew immediately I had a desire to serve in this manner. As a Board Member for PORTA C.U.S.D. #202, I will serve our community by ensuring our students are receiving the best education possible while remaining fiscally-responsible for our tax payers. I will also work to ensure the teachers, staff and administrators are given the support they need to provide an environment that is optimal for learning. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me (217-971-1146 or email@example.com). I would greatly appreciate your support at the April 2nd election.
Parents: Please be Vigilent in Monitoring your Child's On-Line Access. Tips In Relation to the Recent "MoMo Challenge" Reports in the News.
We want to inform you that we are aware of the “Momo Challenge” that is circulating on the Internet and News media. The district technology department constantly monitors inappropriate content that targets our students to ensure that our students are protected from such information. While many reports related to the “Momo Challenge” cannot be verified, we non-the-less want our parents to be vigilant in monitoring their children’s access to various apps and programs.
We advise parents to take the following precautions:
• Become familiar with the “Momo Challenge” and talk to your children about the dangers involved and remind them that “Momo” is not real.
• Remind your child/children that if they come in contact with a “Momo” video, they should tell their parents, guardian or another adult.
• Supervise games that your children are playing.
• Ensure that electronic devices are restricted to age-appropriate content.
• Be especially mindful of videos your children are watching on YouTube or YouTube Kids. Seemingly, age appropriate video portraying nursery rhymes, songs and popular cartoon characters have reported explicit and dangerous suggestions for young children.
• Remind your children not to give out personal information online to anyone that they do not know.
As always, if you have questions or concerns please feel free to call your child’s building administrator to share any information you might have regarding this topic.
Matthew W. Brue
Twice yearly a "State of the District Report" is shared with the Board of Education and the public. The report focuses on financial, enrollment, curriculum and facility needs. Please click here to access this Mid-Year State of the District Report.
The Menard County Sheriff's Office and PORTA School District are pleased to announce the assignment of a full-time deputy sheriff to the PORTA district as a school resource deputy. Deputy Adam DeJaynes has been assigned as the school resource deputy and began his duties on December 17, 2018. DeJaynes comes to the sheriff's office from the Petersburg Police Department and brings with him a great deal of knowledge and experience.
Deputy DeJaynes will be assigned to the school district throughout the school year, and will rotate between all three PORTA schools. During non-school time, he will be assigned to traditional patrol duties for the sheriff's office. This position was made possible by the PORTA School District funding the cost of an additional deputy for nine months of the year. The remaining three months will be funded by the sheriff's office, as the deputy will be performing regular patrol duties during that time.
"I am pleased that we were able to work with the PORTA School District to provide this service to them", Sheriff Mark Oller Said. "It would not have been possible without the district's commitment to the funding, and I applaud their great interest in the safety of their students and staff".
November 7, 2018
Residents of Menard County:
On behalf of the PORTA Board of Education, I would like thank Menard County residents for passing the 1% Sales tax on November 6, 2018. Thank you to everyone who voted in this election. We take fiscal responsibility very seriously and are grateful for your continued support. These funds will go a long way in assisting PORTA Schools in maintaining and enhancing our facilities to help provide a quality education for all our students and community members.
As always we invite you to continue your participation in our Board meetings as an active member of our community so that everyone can be well-informed and confident that these valuable funds are being utilized to their fullest potential.
It is our belief that the PORTA District plays an important role in the success of our entire community. We hope to continue to build relationships with our municipalities to increase interest in our communities so that we can enhance opportunities for business and draw more families to our wonderful school district.
Most importantly, thank you for trusting us with your most prized possessions, your children. We believe the PORTA District is a very fine School District and one of the key reasons, aside from our amazing staff and students, is that we live in a very supportive, education minded community.
Matthew W. Brue
1% SALES TAX. PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ THE LITERATURE ON THE PROPOSITION AND PLEASE EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE.
Menard County Schools place 1% sales tax question on November 6th Ballot as a step to help increase school safety and security. There are many questions about the 1% Sales Tax and as a result we have compiled many common questions and have listed answers. If you have a question you would like answered please feel free to contact Mr. Brue at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Superintendent's office at 217-632-3803.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why did Menard County school boards adopt a resolution to put the County Schools Facilities Tax on the November 6th ballot?
Most of the Boards of Education in Menard County wanted to give voters the opportunity to decide if a one cent sales tax should be imposed exclusively to pay for school facility purposes. The sales tax is a state approved alternative method to pay for school facilities instead of relying heavily on local property taxes. The PORTA Board feels having access to approximately $250,000 per year will allow the district to complete much needed facility needs without raising real estate taxes and will help reduce taxes in the future.
Why would individuals who pay property taxes in Menard County be interested in the County Schools Facilities Sales Tax?
Property owners bear the heaviest burden of paying for school facility maintenance, renovations, construction, and improvements. Currently, school districts must issue debt to pay for larger school facility needs which is funded through property taxes. The sales tax is alternative way to “share” the cost with visitors shopping and staying in Menard County, who will contribute to the annual Sales Tax revenue.
How will my property tax be affected?
The truth is that the 1% Sales Tax can reduce your property tax bill, either through utilizing the revenue to pay-off current debt or by replacing the need to incur debt to complete needed facility improvements. As exemplified by the Charleston school board in Coles County who promised to pay off (retire) Health/Life Safety bonds. They accomplished this during the 2014-2015 school year which resulted in the removal of the $1.03 bond/interest levy. 2015 property taxes went down $343 on a $100,000 home in Charleston because the school district paid its outstanding debt.
The school districts in Menard County can use the same strategy with money from the County School Facilities Sales Tax to pay off bonds relieving the burden from property taxes, and thus lowering property tax rates.
What is the difference between paying for schools through property taxes or paying for them through sales tax revenues? Schools are still funded through taxes. Why would I support a new tax?
The 1% Sales Tax is a fair deal for taxpayers because it is collected from all consumers, rather than just property owners. Home values rise and fall, subjecting local school districts to unfair budget turmoil. The 1% sales tax is spread over a much larger number of people including those who pass through the county, which proportionately decreases any impact on the local consumer. Also, depending on home values, what the average person spends in sales taxes on an annual basis is usually far less than their property taxes. The 1% Sales tax funding method will reduce the need for the school districts to rely heavily on the property taxes for school facilities.
How many counties in Illinois have passed the 1% Sales Tax?
Currently, there are 51 counties that have approved the 1% Sales Tax in the State of Illinois.
What items would be taxed?
Items taxed include “general merchandise” as defined by Illinois Department of Revenue.
Are services taxed?
Services are not taxed. Services include anything that is not tangible such as labor to repair something, dry cleaning, cleaning services, nail and hair salons, etc.
What items would not be taxed?
The following items would NOT be taxed:
§ Cars, trucks, ATVs
§ Boats & RVs
§ Mobile homes
§ Unprepared food (groceries)
§ Medications, drugs (Including over-the-counter and vitamins)
§ Farm equipment and parts; farm inputs; seed
Is PORTA Going to use these tax revenues to build a new all-weather football field?
§ Additions and renovations
§ Security, entrances, safety, disabled access
§ General maintenance
§ Fire prevention and life safety as required by law
§ Energy efficiency (HVAC, windows, etc.)
§ Parking lots
§ Roof repairs and replacement
§ Pay off existing debt and lower property tax rates
Since the sales tax is restricted, what can it NOT be used for?
The sales tax revenue can only be used for facilities. Revenue generated from the sales tax cannot be used for instructional costs (salaries), textbooks, buses, detached furniture and fixtures, computers, movable equipment, and operating costs such as utility bills.
What facility needs have been identified for our schools in Menard County, and would the new sales tax revenue completely pay for these needs?
Most of the school districts in Menard County have identified priority needs that would be funded through the 1% sales tax. Over the past several years, the school districts have deferred many needed projects due to budget constraints. These are not frivolous “wants” but desperate needs. The PORTA District lists the following facility needs as a priority:
· 1.02 million dollars of Health Life Safety projects which include:
· Tuck-pointing (JR/SR High, Central and Elementary)
· Sidewalk repair and replacement
· Water diversion at Petersburg Elementary
· Tile floor replacements at Central, Elementary and JR/SR High
· Entry and Exit improvement
· Redesign of entrances for increased security
· Installing vapor barrier under new tile at Central
· Façade improvements and repairs at Central and JR/SR High
· Parking lots repaired and blacktopped
· Additional immediate needs:
· Increase safety and security
· Track reconditioning
· Pool upgrades
· Roofing repairs
· Traffic redesign at the HS and Elementary
· Windows and the High School
· HVAC system upgrades at the Elementary
· Playground repairs at the Elementary
· Re-purpose or redesign of JR/SR High Tennis court area
· Athletic facility improvements
· Roof replacements and repairs (HS and Bus Barn)
Is it required to spend the sales tax revenue for facilities each year?
No. A school district may choose to save the sales tax revenue for a larger project.
I don’t have children attending Menard County schools anymore. Why should I support this sales tax increase?
Whether you are a senior citizen, a limited-income family, or have no affiliation to our school districts, all homeowners pay property taxes which is the primary funding source for the community’s public education. Anyone who pays property taxes in Menard County will reap the benefits of the shared sales tax, for other people living outside of Menard County are contributing toward public school facilities.
How will this impact our local economy?
Investing in school improvements and construction in Menard County has the potential to boost our local economy. Many projects funded by this sales tax will put people to work across the county. Excellent school systems with quality facilities and learning environments are a key factor in attracting families to live within our county.
§ School facilities: This dedicated revenue source will keep schools and classrooms maintained for safety, security, and sustainability.
§ Jobs and economic growth: Many projects funded by the sales tax will put local people to work and support local businesses throughout Menard County.
§ Local control of funds: Every school district will control how it uses this tax revenue through the elected school board members who represent each school community.
§ Shift away from property taxes: A sales tax represents a shift away from property taxes. School districts would become less reliant on property taxes with options to pay off existing bonds or avoid new property taxes.
§ Funding from outside our county: Visitors to Menard County will support schools with their spending. An estimated 30-40% of sales tax revenue comes from non-residents shopping, dining, and staying in Menard County.
§ Quality of life: Schools play an important role in attracting families to settle in our communities. Attracting new families and retaining our current residents help to ensure a positive future across Menard County.
How do school facilities improve the quality of education in our schools?
The revenue provided by the sales tax will mean an improved learning environment including an emphasis on safety and security for students across the county. Buildings will be maintained to increase their future years of service to our community. This revenue will allow Menard County school districts to provide the facilities necessary to support a 21st century education, which is critical to ensuring that our students have the tools they need to compete in a changing economy.
Who should I contact if I have questions or want more information?
You can contact Matt Brue, PORTA Superintendent by emailing at email@example.com
The PORTA Board of Education is accepting letters of interest to fill a member seat that was vacated as of August 31, 2018 by Board Secretary Jason Burris. Jason Burris has sold the family home and plans on retiring from the National Guard in the upcoming year and then joining his wife, Annette in the Washington DC area, where she had taken a position with FEMA.
The appointee would serve on the board until the April 2019 election, at which time the PORTA Board will have Four 4 year seats and one 2 year unexpired term seat open for election. Burris was re-elected to the board April 2017, leaving a two year unexpired term available for election.
The PORTA Board notes a board member must be a U.S. citizen, be at least 18 years old, be a resident of the district for at least one year prior to appointment, be a registered voter, must not be a school treasurer or trustee; and must not be a child sex offender. Those interested should submit a letter of interest to Board President Kevin Bettis either at the administrative office, 17651 Bluejay Road in Petersburg or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 3, 2018. Applicants from the majority of the PORTA School District are able to apply, with exception to those who live in the township 18-7 (T18NR7W) which is essentially the City of Petersburg and the Lake area. Currently, the Board is comprised of three individuals, members Reincke, Kuehl and Turek, who reside in T18NR7W and by rule no more than three members of the Board can reside in any one Township district. If you are interested in applying for the open seat, but need more information about the township district you currently reside please feel free to call the District office at 217-632-3803.
Upon receipt of qualified applicants, the Board of Education will hold a special meeting to interview candidates and then will officially appoint the new member at the regular meeting on September 20, 2018 at 7:00 PM.
The PORTA Board of Education typically meets at 7 p.m. the third Thursday of the month at the Superintendent’s office at 17651 Bluejay Road, Petersburg IL 62675.
Twice a year the "State of the District" Report is delivered to the PORTA Board of Education and is also shared with the community. Please take a moment to look over the most recent end of the fiscal year report.
July 2018 State of the District Report
PETERSBURG TEACHER NOMINATED FOR THE HARRIS HISTORY TEACHER AWARD
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Ms. Patricia Marshall of PORTA High School was nominated for the Harris History Teacher Award by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, administrator of the National History Day program in Illinois. The Harris History Teacher of the Year award is sponsored by James F. Harris and is awarded to one middle and high school teacher annually.
Each of the 57 National History Day affiliates may nominate one middle and high school teacher for this award. Marshall is the high school nominee from Illinois. The two $5,000 awards are presented to teachers who demonstrate a commitment to engaging students in historical learning through innovative use of primary sources, implementation of active learning strategies to foster historical thinking skills, and participation in the National History Day Contest.
“Teachers are one of the greatest resources children have to develop the skills necessary to be successful in both college and their careers,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “The nominees for the Harris History Teacher Award have shown a dedication to teaching that goes beyond the classroom. I congratulate Ms. Marshall on her nomination.”
Dr. James F. Harris sponsors the awards in recognition of the pivotal role teachers play in the lives of students. The two national winners will be announced on #NationalHistoryDay, June 14, 2018.
The two national winners will be chosen by a team of teachers and historians. Nominees’ work must clearly illustrate the development and use of creative teaching methods that interest students in history and help them make exciting discoveries about the past.
About National History Day® (NHD):
NHD is a non-profit education organization headquartered in College Park, MD. Established in 1974, NHD promotes an appreciation for historical research among middle and high school students through multiple annual programs. More than half a million students participate in the annual National History Day Contest. These research-based projects are entered into contests at the local and affiliate levels, where the top entries are invited to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD provides professional development opportunities and curriculum materials for educators of all levels. NHD is sponsored in part by HISTORY®, Jostens, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, Southwest Airlines, the Joe Weider Foundation, and the WEM 2000 Foundation of the Dorsey & Whitney Foundation. For more information, visit nhd.org.
The PORTA District has been working on streamlining donations and fundraising for the District and has added an on-line donation button on the PORTA Website, which can be found on the left hand side of the web-page listed as "PORTA Fundraising". As we develop the new link we hope to reduce and streamline the number of fundraising activities and focus on large items through sponsorship. All revenue generated through the fundraising link will go directly into PORTA activity funds and used to enhance individual programs and facility needs for those programs.
To kick-off the new web-link the PORTA Building Trades class was contracted to build a Gazebo for the Hudspeth Memorial Park in Oakford. This past Fall the Gazebo was delivered and as is typical in our amazing community many people came forward to offer unsolicited donations to the project. In a very short time half of the cost of the Gazebo was covered and now we are going to set a goal of raising $1500 dollars before Easter Sunday to pay for the remainder of the Gazebo and to help a great cause in honor of the tragic loss in our community.
Please take the time to look at our new link it is very simple and at this time the only option for donation is to the Gazebo Project. You will see there are various levels of opportunity to give including an "other" option for a denomination not listed. We hope to raise the $1500 in a very short time and to help the families complete the Memorial Park this Spring so that some joy and beauty can come from a tragic situation.
The PORTA Building Trades class and PORTA District Thanks all of you in advance for your generosity.
This Morning, February 22, 2018, the administration became aware of what is now known as a rumor of a threat of violence. This rumor is unsubstantiated and originated on social media out of Jacksonville Illinois and referenced the reported threat at SHS. The PORTA Administration and Menard county Sheriff’s office have interviewed students who perpetuated the rumor and are now working with Morgan County authorities to determine the origin of the rumor.
The PORTA District wants to make clear there is no direct threat to our students at this time and we very much appreciate all the help we have received from parents and students in this case to help us deal with this developing rumor. The only way we can keep all our students safe is to share information we see on Social Media. Please talk with your children and continue to monitor their activities so that you can help them make wise decisions about sharing even the most innocuous of threats. Nothing is too small to share with our first responders and District Administration.
Ask anyone who’s been in school, and they’ll identify some point at which they just didn’t want to go to school. Whether it’s a grade-schooler longing for a snow day or a high schooler wishing for one more day to polish that paper, we’ve all had those moments when staying home sounds great. For most of us, that moment passes, because we enjoy school, on some level, if only for the camaraderie. For others of us, the moment stays with us, and we need some extra help to get back on track. That’s where Heidi Jacobus comes in.
Jacobus, in her 19th year with PORTA, supervises the Student Assistance Program (SAP), a program for 3rd-12th graders finding themselves having difficulties with academics, attendance, behavior, or even extended illness.
As it is now structured, the Student Assistance Program consists of a coordinated team of teachers, led by Jacobus, who meet to develop plans to help struggling students overcome issues interfering with their success in school.
“Here at PORTA, teachers often take initiative to assist students even before SAP convenes,” explained Jacobus. “We’re privileged to have a good system of teachers already in place, so a lot gets done behind the scenes which may solve a problem before it’s referred to SAP. Teachers often request a student be assigned to their advisory, or come in for extra assistance during mutual study hall/prep period if that student seems to be having problems with only one class. When students are struggling across their classes or have an issue that’s affecting them overall is usually when SAP steps in.”
Students can be referred to SAP by teachers, parents/guardians, or even by themselves in a self-referral. Once referred, students can find a number of avenues of support, including referral to outside social service agencies, partnering with a peer mentor, specific teacher support, or other intervention that is appropriate for that student’s needs.
“The peer mentoring program at PORTA is outstanding,” Jacobus stated. High school students volunteer to give up at least two days of their study hall period to mentor students who may need anything from academic help, to social skills assistance, to organizational strategies. Central students assist with things such as checking planners to make sure homework is going home accurately or offering study assistance. “It’s not unusual to see an upper grade student, a 6th grader, for instance, helping out a 3rd grader who needs extra support.”
Jacobus suggests that parents and guardians check in with their child’s teacher(s) if they see a problem such as grades falling off, attendance becoming erratic, or behavior changing noticeably. “Parent/Teacher conferences are a great time for a quick check up, and parents and guardians are always able to contact a teacher.” Email information for teachers is on the PORTA website at porta202.org.
“Students who are struggling in school don’t find school to be much fun,” observed Jacobus.
“SAP is a program we have in place to help students find success when it’s eluding them.” She invites parents/guardians or students to contact her to learn more about the SAP program or to initiate a referral.
The PORTA District will alter its normal schedule for Parent/Teacher conferences in February so that parents will have more opportunity to meet with their teachers during the evening hours. It is our hope that holding conferences two evenings in a row will allow more parents to visit their children's teachers. Goal #3 in the PORTA District's Strategic Plan is to encourage, support and facilitate honest transparent communication to inform and engage the community. By offering more convenient opportunities for parents to visit with teachers we hope to increase the number of parent/teacher meetings, which will lead to better communication between our families and the School. We believe that education starts at home and a partnership between home and school is imperative if we want all our children to succeed.
Feb 7th 2:00 PM Dismissal and Parent/Teacher Meetings will be held from 4-7 PM
Feb 8th 2:00 PM Dismissal and Parent/Teacher Meetings will be held from 4-7 PM
Each year representatives from the PORTA and AC Boards of Education meet to discuss the Athletic Coop. These discussions are driven by current perceptions of the Coop and individual district's expectations of the cooperative. The PORTA Board has decided to hold a special meeting on January 29th at 6:30 in the High School Library to discuss who will represent PORTA at this annual meeting, share concerns and positive aspects of the COOP and to solicit public input. The PORTA Board seeks to facilitate honest transparent communication with the community in any and all issues that the district may face. If you have a perspective you would like to share please feel free to attend and participate.
January 29, 2018
1. Call to Order
2. Roll Call
3. Recognition of Persons Present:
4. Old Business:
5. New Business:
A. PORTA/AC Coop renewal Discussion
6. Additional Business
PORTA Will be in Session on Thursday January 4th. The temperatures predicted at 8:00 PM for the early morning hours do not meet the -20 wind chill standard the district follows. Please dress your children accordingly and as always, as a parent you have the right to keep your children home if you feel the conditions are not safe.
Guidelines for Temperature-Related School closings by Sangamon and Menard County School District Superintendents.
While individual districts must consider road conditions prior to making decisions about weather-related cancellations, the following will serve as a common guideline for cancellations due to extreme cold.
Districts will use www.accuweather.com to obtain an hour by hour forecast of air temperature and wind chill at 8:00 PM the evening prior to any decision about school cancellations due to temperature.
Springfield will be the central location used for all schools housed in Sangamon and Menard counties when determining the predicted temperatures.
If the combination of air temperature and wind chill is predicted to exceed -20 during the two hour window between 7:00 AM and 9:00 AM School will be cancelled.
Example—At 8:00 PM the accuweather predicts that the wind chill will reach -21 at 7:00 AM and -19 at 8:00 AM- School will be closed.
These guidelines assume roads are clear and that temperature is the sole factor for determining whether to conduct school.
The holiday season is often referred to as the “season of giving,” and PORTA Elementary’s second graders have had the opportunity to learn just what that means recently. The second grade team of Brent Davis, Darcy Hacke, Mary Kate Smith, and Stephanie Wankle put together something special this year to help the students understand and embrace giving.
The team explained they wanted to get away from the typical gift exchange at the grade school, noting the extra stress it puts on parents and guardians during an already busy time of the year, and because they wanted the students to see how grade schoolers—“little people”—could make a big difference by donating to charities.
Students began the unit by doing research about the various agencies in the area that help people in need. Smith details how her students began by reading the book, Wonder. For those who haven’t read it, Wonder, the New York Times book review says, is a story about Auggie, an unusual child, born with genetic abnormalities whose “facial disfigurations are so pronounced that people who see him for the first time do ‘that look-away thing.’” The book recounts Auggie’s journey to fit in to a society that, at first, doesn’t want to accept him. Smith’s students were so moved by the book, they decided to take the Children’s Craniofacial Association as their charity and raise money for it. More information on the association can be found at https://ccakids.org/.
All the teachers wanted to keep their giving local, and Hacke’s class opted for Helping Hands, an agency that, according to their website, “was founded 28 years ago in Springfield to address the problem of homelessness and help those with the threat of homelessness to build lives of stability, security, and hope,” More information about Helping Hands can be found at http://www.helpinghandsofspringfield.org/.
Another agency the second graders chose, and Smith emphasized that the children made the choice of agencies, St. John’s Hospital, had close ties to the classroom. Some of the children had actually been born there, and others had family who work at the facility.
Raising money to support the various agencies has added to what teachers fondly call the “Holiday Mayhem,” but the drive for donations has been quite successful. Wankle described a “change war” in which the classes went to “war” with each other to see who could bring in the most change.
The donations were made to the charitable organizations on Wednesday, right before the holiday break. When the students return to school in January, they will enjoy a trip to the Mason City cinema where they will view the film, Wonder, which was just released in November and stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay.
The National Education Association details some of the duties performed by school secretaries as being “public relations specialist when a parent has a complaint; school accountant; monitoring school clubs; nurse to ailing students; receptionist-hostess for guests; counselor to students and sometimes colleagues; administrative aide to faculty members; clerk to teachers; and communications officer to journalists.” At PORTA, secretaries do all this and often more.
Julia Territo, secretary at PORTA Central, describes her job as being “much more than a message taker. Some of our job requirements are technical and deadline oriented, such as state attendance reporting.” Given that average daily attendance figures have a direct effect on state aid the district receives, accurate record keeping and timely reporting is an absolute necessity at PORTA.
Jessica King, secretary at PORTA Junior High adds “Something that most people don't realize is that we take care of more than just the students and their paperwork. We take care of the staff and parents too! So at any given time, we are needed by at least one person (student, parent, staff member) for any and every thing school-related. We are thought to be the owners of all knowledge, and we do our best to be just that.” Robin Wheaton, secretary at PORTA Elementary agreed, saying, “I'm being pulled in many different directions, not just with one class of 20 students but with the entire Elementary student body. While I love all aspects of my job, I'm sometimes trying to focus on one thing in particular so I worry I may come across as scattered when asked a question!”
PORTA’s secretaries come from a variety of backgrounds and often had jobs in the district prior to taking on secretarial duties. Wheaton, for example, “began at PORTA as an individual aide. My desire to work in the district started as a need to be close to home to easily handle ‘mom duties.’” King, a past PORTA attendee “needed to transition from stay-at-home mom to a working mom of small children, I wanted to have a position that still allowed me to be close to them and on a similar schedule.” Territo points to having begun “as a volunteer and office sub.”
Being a secretary often means adapting to changes that, as King states, can make the “job easier and harder at the same time.” She says technology can make tasks “easier and less time-consuming, [while] others are complicated and come with more responsibility with the addition of new devices, programs, and even social media.” Territo reports, “The biggest change I notice is the emphasis on and need for safety. The district conducts safety drills so that the staff of each building is as prepared as possible for an emergency. The emphasis on safety is a sad development, but so necessary in this day and age.”
Being a secretary at PORTA often means being the recipient of student “gifts.” Wheaton identified one of her “favorite things as when the students bring me handmade artwork made just for me. My name has been spelled many different ways & I love each and every one!” At Central, Territo often receives “notes from the students thanking me for what I do. Often, their impression of my role is humorous but always sweet!”
At the heart of the job, school secretaries make a huge difference in their buildings. King expressed her delighted surprise to see “the impact I actually make on our students. We know that every adult in the building affects our students both positively and negatively, but I didn't think that the school secretary could mean so much to some of our kids.”
Picture: Robin Wheaton’s “gift”
This being the week when turkeys are nervous while families and friends gather closer, it seems appropriate to take a pause from the hustle and bustle of school life to think about the things here in the PORTA District for which we are grateful.
First and foremost, staff in the district are grateful to parents and guardians for supporting the students who attend PORTA, because education is not, nor has it ever been, a one-person job. When students come to school ready to learn, it’s because they’ve been sent that way from home. That can be hard to do, especially in this modern world, when parents/guardians may be doing it alone, doing it working multiple jobs, or doing it while building a career or a marriage. Honestly, just parenting, with no other issues plaguing us can be a challenge. So many of our PORTA students come to school ready to learn, and a foundational aspect of that is the preparation at home. Thank you to all the parents and guardians this Thanksgiving season.
Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t express gratitude to the teaching staff. In addition to teaching every student, every school day, they spend time outside of the school day planning lessons, grading papers, pursuing professional development, coaching and/or sponsoring an extra-curricular or an enrichment activity, and many of them fall into the category of parent/guardian as well. They serve not only as educators, but often as mentors for students who need some additional adult guidance or role model. They help students in need, whether it be a student who needs glasses, but may be struggling to afford them or a student who is in crisis and needs professional support. Teachers often help students make connections between services they and their families may not know are available, one of the many tasks they do that isn’t in the “job description” but is a part of doing the job well. .
The PORTA support services--bus drivers, cafeteria workers, speech pathologists, social workers, custodians, and office staff--also deserve our gratitude during this season. These are the folks who make sure everything runs smoothly so the teachers can do their job of teaching. Having a neat classroom to do it in, having kids safely bussed in so they can attend school, helping students who have physical or emotional issues, offering students nutritious meals, and doing all the paperwork that needs to be done to keep a school functioning are tasks most of us assume happen magically. These are the magicians who get it done, and PORTA does its job as well as it does because of the foundation the support staff builds.
Our administration, building principals, superintendent, athletic director, and school board play key roles in the district climate and direction. They are the liaisons between the state statutes and mandates and the work we do on a daily basis educating children. When a building runs well, teachers and staff can comfortably go about their business without worrying about the minutiae that are an everyday part of an administrator's life. Compliance documents, changes in the school code, the latest news on funding and budgets are all vitally necessary parts of education. Administration not only make sure PORTA stays on top of those changes, they make sure PORTA staff know what’s going on and how it will affect them. Those of us who have worked in a district in which this doesn’t happen know how important it is to be in a district in which it does.
And finally, how could we not give a sincere thanks to the community which supports the schools? Each of elements of PORTA--Petersburg, Oakford, Rock Creek, Talulla and Atterberry, and all the countryside in-between--never fails to support the schools when asked. From buying puffins for History Club to support Honor Flights to donating time or expertise when PORTA Elementary and/or Central puts on a Family Fun Night, our community steps forward to support the students by supporting the district.
We all know the efforts put forth to support education at PORTA are targeted at students. And, when we stop to think about what that means, we must acknowledge that means we are all thinking toward the future. How grateful we are to live and/or work in a community that believes the future is so important. How important that we take the time this Thanksgiving Season to remember it.
Most of us did some cooking or sewing when we were in junior high or high school. Some of us likely have fond memories of baking cookies in junior high or high school, but things have changed so much since “back in the day.” It’s not “Home Ec” anymore; it’s Family and Consumer Science—FACS in acronym—and PORTA High School offers a rich array of opportunities under the FACS umbrella.
Britney Jones, FACS teacher and club sponsor, joined PORTA after searching for a Family and Consumer Science Teaching position in Chicago, only to find there were not many openings. When she saw the opportunity at PORTA, she jumped at it, delighted to be living her dream of being a FACS Teacher. As she stated, “I am a huge Disney fan and I believe dreams do come true because here I am, proud to be a Bluejay.”
As the teacher of the many FACS classes PORTA offers, Jones has seen the approach to teaching about food evolve over the years. Whereas cooking used to be the province of females, Jones has “a lot more males taking my classes than females.” These students are also in the kitchen two to three times a week.
Of the many classes PORTA offers, such as Foods, Parenting, Housing, Child Development, or Culinary Arts, Jones recommends that students take Foods I and II and Child Development, if nothing else, from the FACS curriculum. As she argues, “Foods I and II are crucial life skills classes to have in your life. Everyone needs to know and understand the importance of reading a recipe, cooking your food thoroughly, practicing safety and sanitation in the kitchen, and understanding nutrition to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
Jones also recommends Child Development since everyone will encounter children, whether or not they become parents. Child Development explores caring for children from newborns to teenagers, so when students learn about the emotional and social development of children, they’re also learning about themselves. Jones “loves to talk about [her students’] childhoods and use their real life experiences to learn from.”
FACS classes integrate well with other classes students take, as well. Jones explains, “We incorporate FACS with math every time we double and divide a recipe; with history when we learn about the history of food and different cultures of foods; and with science when we understand the sciences of cookies and why we get crispy, puffy, or chewy cookies.”
Students who are interested in pursuing a career in Foods can take Culinary Arts, which is an advanced class. In that class, students pick their own recipes and make their own grocery lists. They prepare Sweet Treats for Teachers once a month, a highly regarded and much-anticipated event for the school faculty. They plan and prep a theme for each month, covering some twenty-two units of study in the first semester. These units include learning about the roles of people in the kitchen, creating a menu, etiquette, catering, restaurants and drive-thrus, as well as a thorough grounding in various meals/food such as breakfasts, appetizers, salads, and pasta. In the second semester, the students explore American food, then “head overseas” for International Food Studies.
FACS Club, a companion extra-curricular club to the FACS curriculum, gives students the opportunity to take the skills they’ve learned in FACS classes and put them to work in the community. Jones described, “FACS Club is a volunteer club that helps pay it forward to the community. We volunteer at Roots on Thanksgiving for the Community. We also write a nice check to help them purchase food for it. We donate time and toys to the Menard Animal Shelter; we make blankets for Project Linus and donate them to St. John's Children Hospital; we always help other clubs by baking goods for them to sell to help make a profit for their clubs; we cater for the musical cast and crew. We do a lot of behind the scenes for the school and community.”
Community members who would like to support FACS activities are invited to donate new canisters for flour and sugar. Contact Britney Jones a email@example.com if you or your organization would like to help.