Closed campus for VCHS OK'd

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By Dave Bell

Just a week after holding a public roundtable discussion on the topic, the Vandalia Board of Education on Tuesday passed, without discussion, a proposal to close the lunch hour at Vandalia Community High School.

That move to a closed campus at noon brings the local district into line with all other districts in Fayette, Bond and Effingham counties.

The change will be effective with the start of the school year next fall.

Were starting to sign students up for classes now, and we wanted to have an effective plan in place, said Superintendent Rich Well. Lunch will affect class schedules. Well be having meetings to figure whats best for the teachers, the kids and the staff.

Well said that student safety was the driving issue in making the change.

The biggest thing is the safety of the students, he said. We have to make decisions for the masses.

"But for most of our kids, this will be the best thing. For the district, its also a liability issue.

He said that 60-70 percent of the students already are eating meals at the school.

Under the high schools current plan, students can leave school grounds on foot, but cannot drive their cars during the lunch break.

The action was taken after the board and school officials received public comment during a roundtable discussion. At that meeting, only one person voiced opposition to closing the campus

Also at Tuesdays meeting, the board approved a proposal to retain the current district administrators: Well as superintendent; Randy Protz as high school principal; Brian Kern as high school assistant principal; Rod Grimsley as junior high principal; Brian Holliday as junior high assistant principal; Donna Cripe as primary school principal.

At last months school board meeting, Stacy South was named principal of the elementary school, replacing Gary Rahe, who is retiring at the end of the current school year.

In other business, the board:

Set VCHS graduation for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 17.

Employed Kim Well as a Title I Reading teacher at the elementary school. A former second-grade teacher, she replaces South, who has been named VES principal.

Approved the sale of the building trades house to Clayton and Brandi Gathe for $142,500.

Approved the first reading of the districts updated risk management plan.

Approved Steve Hosick and Austin Hosick as volunteer boys baseball coaches.

Approved Brian Buscher as junior varsity girls softball coach.

Well said that the district is moving into the third phase of the Health/Life/Safety improvements to district buildings.

That phase will involve several security measures including security vestibules, indoor security, alarms and door improvements.

He also praised two district schools for recent awards they have received:

The Vandalia Elementary School has received a Spotlight School Award from the Illinois State Board of Education.

That award recognizes schools with the following statistics: an enrollment of at least 50 percent low-income students in 2007; 60 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards in reading and math in 2007; at least 50 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards in reading and math in 2005 and 2006; and must have made adequate yearly progress in 2006 and 2007.

The Vandalia Junior High School has received an Academic Improvement Award from the Illinois State Board of Education. That award recognizes schools that have made an improvement of at least 15 points in state test scores in both reading and math between 2004 and 2006.

The VJHS scores went from 57.7 in 2004 to 73.2 in 2006.