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VG BOE approves solar energy implementation

By Gabriella Agius

The Villa Grove Board of Education met with QFB Energy on March 20 via Microsoft Teams to discuss revisions to the solar energy project. The new arrays will be on both ground and roof locations. Most of the arrays will be on the FFA plot near the baseball field, with precautions being taken to ensure foul balls will not damage the arrays. Roof arrays will be placed on the portion of the roof above the new gym. This was done to ensure the arrays would not need to be removed when roof repairs are done. Additional roof arrays are able to be placed later, with components being integrated in the initial placement to ensure capability.

QFB also discussed utilizing a 15 year lease option. This was the best option for the district. No upfront capital will be required, the first payment not being due until a year in. Payment for the project will come from the savings the district gets through the implementation of solar energy. Over 25 years, the district will save roughly $1.25 million by implementing solar energy. Because of their good credit, the district was approved for the lease application.

Beginning of construction could take up to six months. QFB will audit the property very soon in order to begin the process of an interconnection agreement with Ameren.

The Board approved giving Superintendent Carol Munson the authority to execute official contracts with QFB Energy to implement solar energy at the district.

The Board was addressed by the School Improvement Committee, composed of Callie Parr, Lindsey Wells, Eric Brooks, Melissa Morrow, and Bryan Murawski. The Committee’s goal is that “students exit Villa Grove High School with the core skills, critical thinking, and resilience they need to successfully enter the college/career training they have identified as their next step.”

Committees within School Improvement are Core Skills (Math, ELA/Reading, Science/Social Studies), Resiliency, Critical thinking, and Career path.

The Math committee determined that the best way for improvement would be to utilize a new curriculum. The district hopes to provide consistency across grades. Four teachers piloted the “My Math” curriculum and had good experiences.

The ELA/Reading committee created grade level entrance expectations and exit goals as well as working with upper and lower grade levels to align goals.

The Social Studies/Science committee determined that reading comprehension was the most important priority. They decided to work with ELA/Reading to accomplish this.

The Resilience committee worked to address falling academic performance and attendance. The committee decided that increasing student school buy-in would help address issues. The committee recognized that isolation from the pandemic was a factor and that building community could strengthen resiliency. The committee took a survey of all of the students to determine interests. With this data, the committee created ten clubs that students were sorted into. These student-led clubs will meet every other Friday.

The Career Path committee established a plan of action for implementation of current standards. Highlights include the implementation of Xello throughout Junior High and High School, financial education in 8th grade rotation, moving career fair into the school day, elementary career exploration, and job shadowing experience.

The School Improvement Committee noted that not all of these changes will happen immediately, but will be implemented over time throughout the next five to seven years.

The Board approved Shelby Eversole, Jacob Griffith, Jim Kestner, Robert Knilands, and Mary McGarigle for tenure. The Board also approved membership renewal for IHSA and IESA, as well as the Intergovernmental Agreement with Education for Employment #330.

For the Superintendent’s report, Dr. Munson will meet with the new activities director for the city to ensure that the district and city can collaborate. Dr. Munson also got notice that the district is eligible for portable air purifiers through IDPH.

For the Elementary Principal’s report, Mr. Beck noted that both kindergarten registration and parent-teacher conferences went well. Reading night and the SOAR program were well received.

Beck also told the Board that the PTO is looking to start fundraising for a new playground. A letter will be sent out at a later date for more information on gathering donations.

Family Fun Night will take place on April 28, 2023.

For the Junior High and High School Principal’s report, Mrs. Jones congratulated the high school boys and girls track team for a successful season so far with records already being broken.

Four students were selected to play in the Order of the Eastern Star All Star Football game in June. Jones also congratulated the ACES team.

The High School had a Winter “Decades” dance and Junior High Scholastic Bowl has started.

The FFA had another successful FFA week with a “Kiss the Pig” assembly. They raised $1,477 for the Snack Pack program.

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