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[Board meeting Agenda & Minutes]      [Strategic Plan 2008-2013]

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Superintendent's  Blog

High School Announcements -
SATURDAY DETENTION Will be this Saturday, the 25th, in the High School study hall with Mrs. Stephens.
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FRIDAY SHIRT DAY!!!! Friday will be college/armed forces/trade school shirt day. Come dressed in your favorite college shirt or the college where you plan on attending, or the one you want to win MARCH MADNESS, etc. You can also wear an armed forces or trade school shirts. Anyone can participate and everyone is encouraged to participate.
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NHS MEETING TODAY IN STUDY HALL DURING HOMEROOM Any seniors that cannot stay for the meeting should see Mrs. Keller today or tomorrow.
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POST PROM AGREEMENT FORMS Are on our information table in the lobby. Every student attending post prom MUST complete a form and have it turned in by April 12th. Guests must be high school students or older, with the age limit of 20.
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POST PROM KNOCKER BALL This year at post prom, students will have the opportunity to play KnockerBall(bubble soccer). However, to be able to play, you must have a signed waiver on file. Therefore, each student (and guest) needs to pick up a form outside the office, and have it signed by a parent or guardian, and return it to either the school office, or bring it with you to post prom. YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PLAY WITHOUT THE FORM ON FILE!
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FOCUS5 HOG RAFFLE TICKETS $5 Winning tickets will be drawn at the FOCUS5 Trivia night on Saturday, April 22nd. Tickets can be purchased at FNB Mt. Olive, Stephanie's Cafe, or from a FOCUS5 board member.
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LUNCH TODAY Chicken Patty on Bun
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BREAKFAST TOMORROW Waffels w/Syrup
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LUNCH TOMORROW Cheese Pizza

Personal Care item drive for the American Red Cross - We will be hosting a personal care item drive for the American Red Cross. These items listed are to be used for the home fires, disasters, etc. in our local area. A bin will be located outside of the nurses' office until the end of March.

Click to open flyer on Personal Care Item Drive for the American Red Cross.

FOCUS5 Hog Raffle - Click to open flyer.

Focus5 Trivia Night - Click on link to open flyer.

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A Note From The Superintendent's Desk -
Mt. Olive School Board to File Suit against the State of Illinois

During the most recent Board of Education meeting the Mt. Olive School Board unanimously approved a resolution to file suit against the State of Illinois for failing to adequately fund state-issued mandates regarding Illinois Learning Standards. Joining thirteen other school districts across Illinois, with more expected to join in coming weeks, in demanding that the State Board of Education meet its constitutional duties:
1) To ensure all children in Illinois receive a “high quality” education and;
2) To fund school districts adequately and equitably so each and every school can offer all students the “high quality” education they deserve.

In 2010, Illinois adopted the Common Core learning standards, which spelled out exactly what students should learn at each grade level. Meanwhile, since 2009, districts across Illinois have been forced to navigate hundreds of millions in budget cuts. Parents in our community recognize this – they’ve watched as we’ve increased our class sizes, as we’ve laid off teachers and as we’ve had to continually do more with less. As administrators, we have taken many steps to be as efficient as possible despite state budget cuts and implementing state-mandated Common Core standards. We’ve increased our class sizes, access to social workers are shared with other districts, only one part time counselor is available for 450 students, and we’ve reduced the size of our administrative staff. We’ve cut costs in various contracts, we’ve bargained with vendors, we’ve gone line by line through our budgets to identify dollars we can re-allocate more efficiently. Each day we strive to lower costs, save money and improve our operational efficiency. In short, administrators and other school staff have done everything in our power to meet these heightened learning standards, which currently amount to over 100 unfunded mandates.

But this approach is neither sustainable nor fair to Illinois families. The state has expected teachers and students to meet newly heightened standards without allocating any additional funding, so our staff then has to navigate changing curriculum without any professional development. This is the opposite of a best practice. It’s as if we have been using duct tape and super glue to prevent the system from collapsing altogether. Despite being understaffed and ill equipped, our teachers, administrators, support staff, parents, and communities have all stepped up. They make sacrifices year after year to offer students the best possible education despite inadequate funding from the state, and despite unpaid debts the state still owes our district.

To give a sense of how this adds up: In Mt. Olive CUSD #5 alone, the district has lost over $1 million dollars due to proration. Governor Rauner likes to tout that education funding has reached record-high levels on his watch, but that number is a ploy. The truth is that – yes, Illinois has recently spent record-high amounts per-pupil, not accounting for inflation – however, each of the more than 850 school districts in Illinois has had its funding slashed and drastically pro-rated across the last eight years, costing us billions of dollars in total and it’s the least affluent districts, like ours, that are hardest hit by these cuts. What’s worse: additional state dollars championed by the Governor are being poured into a system that already has proven to be broken. The result is that our state’s school funding system still ranks as one of the least equitable in the nation. That is, in Illinois, we see remarkable disparities in funding levels between the wealthiest districts and the least affluent districts. This is not just happening at Chicago Public Schools – this is happening in rural Illinois and the suburbs of Chicago. Even the bi-partisan, bicameral commission Governor Rauner established to study school funding – after months of in-depth review – concluded that the current funding model is inequitable and must change.

On average, the Illinois school districts with the greatest number of low-income students receive 20% less funding than wealthier districts. Yes, the Governor’s commission declared that the funding system is broken, but the Governor would have us – taxpayers – throw more money at it. Instead, we must maintain high learning standards but also ensure the state is holding up its end of the deal: The state must provide adequate funding, based on each school district’s unique needs. I want to be clear: We welcome setting high standards and holding our students to them. We also welcome operating our districts as efficiently as possible. However, even the highest, most rigorous standards in the history of our state will do us no good if we don’t have the adequate, equitable distribution of education dollars required to help students meet those standards. If you walk into one of our schools on any given day, you’ll see evidence that the state’s current level of funding is not cutting it. Whether it’s a student distracted by family issues who has no counselor to talk to, or a motivated eighth-grader who wishes she could learn Spanish but has no access to foreign language classes, or an elementary teacher who has a class size of 25 students.

Districts face instability year in and year out because of budget cuts, inequitable funding and unfunded mandates. It’s unsustainable, and our students are paying a very high price for it. So this is what budget cuts and unpaid state debts look like. We as school districts across Illinois would not take on the arduous task of bringing this lawsuit forward unless we believed that we have unquestionably reached a breaking point where we must draw the line. Enough is enough. Our teachers deserve better. Our families deserve better. Our children deserve better. Until the state enacts an education funding system that adequately and equitably funds every school district in Illinois, we are unwilling to maintain a status quo that puts the future of our students at risk.


Yours in Education,

Patrick Murphy
Superintendent of Schools

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