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Ruettiger fills vacancy on Dist. 111 school board

As Warning leaves, former board member returns

Published: Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 5:00 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 8:49 a.m. CST

MINOOKA — Patti Ruettiger was appointed Thursday night to fill the vacant seat on the Minooka Community High School Board of Education.

Ruettiger fills the vacancy created by board member Debra Warning, who resigned after winning a seat on the Grundy County Board in November.

The board held interviews from interested applicants, and three residents applied. The seat had to be filled by a school district resident residing in an unincorporated area.

Ruettiger previously served on the District 111 board from 2005 to 2009.

“During that time, we were able to pass the referendum in order to get South Campus built,” Ruettiger said in her application for the vacancy. “I think that MCHS has provided a great education for its students, including my own children, and I would like to see that this continues throughout the years.”

The seat will be up for election in April, at which time Ruettiger plans to run for the four-year term, she said.

“I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to get back in here,” she said following the meeting. “If I win, I am already prepared to serve.”

LOCAL INTERNSHIPS

Minooka Community High School Superintendent Jim Colyott was one of several area educators who met with local industry leaders and economic development representatives to discuss internship opportunities for high school students.

Senator Sue Rezin hosted the meeting at the Grundy Economic Development Center on Dec.20 to explore the internship initiative with Grundy County businesses.

The summer positions would provide transitional opportunities for students with a goal of bringing more students back to the area to work after college or other training programs.

“(The discussion was) how can we get our graduates to come back to Grundy County,” Colyott said. “There’s an incredible amount of industry here.”

Representatives from Morris High School, Coal City School District, Minooka High School, Grundy Area Vocational Center and Linn State met with the Grundy Economic Development Council, Senator Rezin and industry representatives from Exelon, Morris Hospital, Chicago Aerosol and Aux Sable Liquid Products.

Discussions with industry leaders will continue, but educators are anticipating 20 to 30 job descriptions from the companies that will be distributed to area high schools, Colyott said.

Many of the companies already have summer internships, and allowing area high school students to apply for those positions is a valuable opportunity.

“It’s kind of a dream come true,” Colyott said. “Anytime we can connect kids with industry is a golden opportunity to educators.”

BENEFITS CONSULTANT

With all the new and proposed changes in the Affordable Care Act, District 111 has found themselves needing to hire a benefits consultant.

The board approved a contract with Group Alternatives of Schaumburg on Thursday night at an annual cost of $42,000.

The district received six proposals, and they interviewed four of the firms, District Business Manager Todd Drafall said.

Bill VanAsdlen of Employee Benefits Group in Minooka has been the district’s insurance broker for the last several years.

“He has done a very good job for us,” Drafall said.

But with the thousands of pages of regulations coming out, the district needs assistance, Drafall said.

“If we run afoul of the law, it’s $100 per day per employee,” Drafall said. “We have to make sure the district is doing the things that are required, and it’s constantly changing.”

The annual contract will end up costing the district less than the commission costs they have been paying.

GRADING SCALE

Minooka High School will soon begin holding public forums to get input from residents regarding a change in the grading scale.

The board began discussing the issue as early as fall of 2011 when parents approached board members and spoke at board meetings.

Minooka High uses a seven-point grading school, as do a few other area high schools. Some high school districts use a 10-point scale, and yet others are somewhere in between.

District resident and parent Chuck Hiscock, who is an associate principal at Downers Grove North High School, spoke to the Minooka High board last year. Research shows a 10-point grading scale is more beneficial to students, and the district’s scale puts students at a disadvantage, he said at the time.

Parents, residents, faculty, staff and administrators from Minooka High School District and junior high feeder school districts will all be asked for their input, Colyott said. Minooka High students will also be able to voice their opinions.

“We will be researching neighboring high schools, junior high schools and colleges so we can make an educated decision,” Colyott said. “If there’s a need to revise it, we want to make sure we are competitive with our neighbors and fair at the same time.”

If the district is to make a change in its grading scale, the shift would most likely be adopted for the next school year. A decision could be made as early as April, Colyott said.

Board president Chris Kobe said she is happy the board is moving forward with the issue.

“As a board member, I have been asking about it,” she said.

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