Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Comfort Dogs Bring Support to Belvidere Students after the car accident and deaths


dogs travel throughout the nation and are deployed during tragedies. Lutheran Church Charities says they would be happy to bring the dogs back to Belvidere again, knowing the animals will aide in helping the community get through this difficult time.

Hetzner says, "The dogs are all confidential, they don't take notes, they're great counselors."

Lutheran Church Charities have set up a fundraiser helping support all three families affected by Friday’s crash. To donate, visit their website at or call them toll free at 866-455-6466.

A fund is also set up at Harris Bank for the victim’s families. The account is under the name “Perfect Two”.

Click on the following to read all of the story:  Comfort Dogs Bring Support to Belvidere Students

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Belvidere North mourns lost of two students

Funeral and visitation will be at the high school.

Click on the photocopy to enlarge:


The visitation for Brenda and Thalia have been moved to BNHS. Visitation is Wednesday from 2 to 8 p.m. and the funeral is Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Additional details to follow.

Obituaries are below: 

Thalia Arredondo:

Brenda Gutierrez:

RVC enrollment below 2011 levels and below enrollment goals

The following is taken from Rock Valley College’s Board Packet for tonight’s Board meeting.  The main event for the evening is the approval of the tentative teachers’ contract.  Then a regular monthly meeting will proceed.





The entire board packet and agenda is available at:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Names of Belvidere North students killed in crash released - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star


Mourners placed a small memorial at the site of the crash, Illinois 76 just south of Caledonia Road in Boone County, with flowers, a card addressed to one of the victims and the last pieces of the wreck that claimed the lives of Thalia Arredondo, 16, and Brenda Gutierrez, 16, the two juniors, both cheerleaders.

“It’s been tough on the kids and staff, and the community is really taking this hard,” said Superintendent Michael Houselog.

Click on the following for more details:  Names of Belvidere North students killed in crash released - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Retirement For Dist. #100 Teachers

Sales Tax Referendum


By James Middleton

In an effort to save an estimated $1.5 million in pension
and labor costs, Belvidere School District #100 enacted
an early retirement plan with funding for the plan coming
from the federal government Jobs Bills. This is a one-time
offer and will expire by/or before September 30, 2012.

Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, Joel
Moeller, spoke of the plan at the Board of Education meeting.
Mr. Moeller said, “Moving into next year we have an
estimated $5.5 million to $7 million deficit and that number
is accurate before today’s legislative announcement.”

Earlier, District #100 Superintendent Michael Houselog
advised Board members that a bill in the Illinois General
Assembly could be enacted that would have detrimental
impact on District #100 costing the district, potentially
as much as $1 million. The measure, SB2073 alters the
property tax code by changing the special service tax levy
capabilities. Mr. Houselog announced that this change
could have significant impact on the district.

Mr. Moeller added that administrators evaluated the
current employment roster for the district with special
emphasis on those employees over 60 years in age and
those with 35 years or more employment in the district. He
said that the population of employees that meet this criteria
amounts to around 25 to 30.

The eligibility requirements detailed by the administration
would include certified staff that are 55 years or older with
the “required years of service.” A lump sum payment would
be made by the district at least 30 days after June 30, 2012
but  no payments occurring after September 30, 2012. The
payment would include, “$10,000 plus $1,000 for each year
of service with District #100 plus 5% of the 2011-2012 base

Mr. Moeller also announced, with approval by the
Board of Education, a more detailed statement of benefits
and qualifications and the acceptance time-frame would be
made available to District #100 employees  before the week

Mr. Moeller said, “Replacement would be with younger
teachers and the savings realized from any early retirements
could be compounded over succeeding years. This is a good
plan for the certified staff.”

Mr. Moeller also added, “If there was money remaining
from the certified staff early retirement plan we could offer
this to non-certified staff.”

Mr. Houselog explained that some of the federal Jobs
money has already been used to staff the alternative high
school classes for high risk students. This year District #100
created an alternative high school to provide an option for
students at risk of dropping out from school to retain their
enrollment in public education. Teachers and staff were
hired to operate that school using money from the federal
Jobs Bills.

Mr. Moeller said that, after notification to the certified
staff, those teachers that are eligible have until March 9,
2012 to make their decision final. This is a one-time offer
that will not be available in future years.
Before the vote, Board member Doug Smiley commented,
“This gives us the chance to save some real money.” The
voice vote on the measure was unanimous.
In another matter related to cost savings and budgeting,
the Board took under advisement consideration of the
potential implementation of an “educational facility” sales
tax measure. The Illinois General Assembly enacted a
measure last year that allowed public school districts to
enact, via voter referendum, a school facility sales tax to be
used for school construction or to retire bonds used for prior
school construction projects.

Administrators at District #100 are considering the
sales tax as a means to pay down the bonds sold to fund the
construction of the Belvidere North High School. Those
bonds come due in only a few years. Enactment of the
sales tax measure could also offer a potential abatement of
county property taxes.

Mr. Houselog, Mr. Smiley and others attended an
information event where discussion of this sales tax measure
occurred. Mr. Smiley said, “This is a sales tax but it does
not affect everything. We can levy up to 1 percent (with a
referendum being approved on a general election ballot).
This is good because we could abate some of the property
we would collect less from property taxes.”
He said that because this would be a countywide sales

From Front Page... District 100
tax addition, North Boone District #200 would benefit
with successful passage. “This could go on the ballot in
November,” Mr. Smiley said, “and if passed it would go
into effect in 2013.” He suggested that the real benefit from
the tax would not occur until 2014. He estimated that the
district in one year could gain over $2 million.
Mr. Smiley concluded, “This is worthwhile to pursue.”
President of the District #100 Board, Richard Van Evera
said, “This should come back next month.”
Before the measure could reach the ballot in November
a lot of planning and work lies ahead. The discussion next
month could take up the question if the Board of Education
would proceed to engage North Boone School District #200
to pursue a ballot referendum together.

Monday, February 20, 2012

IL seeks flexibility with No Child Left Behind waiver | Illinois Statehouse News

February 17, 2012

By Anthony Brino | Illinois Statehouse News

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois is hoping to join the growing number of states that are being allowed to skirt the requirements of federal education reform known as No Child Left Behind.

The deadline to ask the U.S. Department of Education for exclusion from the program is Tuesday, and the Illinois Board of Education said it plans on submitting a waiver request. The waiver would take effect immediately.

President Barack Obama announced in September that he would use his executive authority under the law to exempt states from many of its provisions — including the requirement that all students be proficient in math and reading by 2014, a benchmark widely deemed impossible. 

The Obama administration has granted waivers to 11 states. Twenty-eight other states, including Illinois, are applying for the waivers, which will remain in place until Congress changes NCLB or passes new federal education policy.

NCLB’s main thrust was to tie student performance to federal funding. Under NCLB, students’ standardized test scores must show improvement every year.

Under the law, if students’ test scores in a school fail to improve two years in a row, the school must develop an improvement plan. If, for a third year, the school does not improve, it must offer free tutoring and other academic improvement services to students, according to NCLB legislation.

Since NCLB went in effect, the majority of Illinois schools have not met the law’s benchmarks. As of last year, only 1,259 of Illinois’ 3,810 schools were meeting the law’s yearly progress requirements, said Melissa Perez, an education researcher at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, which maintains a database of state education data.

Part of the criteria for obtaining a waiver is that the state still must provide a way to assess students’ academic process from year to year, but constant progress isn’t a necessity to get federal dollars.

Illinois’ education officials say its plan focuses on accountability for educators and administrators, but also offers local districts more leeway for achievement gaps.

“We’ve really outgrown NCLB,” said Monique Chism, administrator of innovations and improvement at the Illinois State Board of Education, or ISBE, who helped write the state’s waiver.

ISBE is submitting its waiver application with a plan largely focusing on measuring student readiness for college and careers and targeting underperforming schools with individualized plans to improve student performance, rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach that NCLB now uses, Chism said.

Illinois is part of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which includes 24 states and the District of Columbia. Those assessments will be used by 2014, and will track student progress from grades 3 to 12 in math and reading, Chism said. 

In addition to the college and career assessment, other tests — shorter but more frequent — will provide teachers, parents and students with almost immediate feedback, she said.

The new assessments would begin in 2014.

Accountability was another one of NCLB’s goals, and Illinois’ new plan will emphasize that, said Chism.

ISBE’s new assessments will rate schools based on a five-star system, with five being the best and one the worst.

Schools receiving low ratings will be audited by a third-party research company approved by the state. The audit will include assessments of curriculum and school finances. The district will then work with the school to put together an intervention plan, with support from the state.

“We will and we are prepared to intervene in schools and districts that continue to show that they’re not making progress,” Chism said.

Matt Vanover, a spokesman for the ISBE, said the agency does not know exactly how many schools have closed or been turned into charter schools as a result poor academic performance under NCLB.

Illinois’ new plan includes provisions for closing a persistently failing school, firing its staff or converting it to a charter school, if it remains on a watch list for five or more years.

THE ABOVE IS TAKEN FROM:  IL seeks flexibility with No Child Left Behind waiver | Illinois Statehouse News

Friday, February 17, 2012

Is District 100 abiding by the spirit of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act?

UPDATED 2-21-2012

Apparently the Illinois State Board of Education has ruled on this matter. See below:

Click on the photocopy to enlarge:


page 5 of the document shown above indicates that retirement incentives are allowed.


Using the reference immediately above( downloading the specific document named-- page 3—the following items are found—I have provided the highlighting.


C-3. May an Insular Area use Ed Jobs funds to make payments into a “rainy day fund” or for debt reduction?

No. An Insular Area may not use program funds, directly or indirectly, to establish, restore, or supplement a rainy day fund, or to supplant non-Federal funds in a manner that has this effect. Furthermore, an Insular Area may not use program funds, directly or indirectly, to reduce or retire debt obligations incurred by the Insular Area or to supplant non-Federal funds in a manner that has this effect.

C-4. What categories of expenses may an Insular Area support with Ed Jobs funds?

For purposes of this program, the phrase “compensation and benefits and other expenses, such as support services” includes, among other things, salaries, performance bonuses, health insurance, retirement benefits, incentives for early retirement, pension fund contributions, tuition reimbursement, student loan repayment assistance, transportation subsidies, and reimbursement for childcare expenses.

So as long as C-3 is not occurring, it would appear early retirement incentives (C-4) are allowed.


Posting “before update” follows:

The primary objective for ARRA was to save and create jobs almost immediately. Secondary objectives were to provide temporary relief programs for those most impacted by the recession and invest in infrastructure, education, health, and ‘green’ energy. (Wikipedia:

As shown by letter shown below,  the proposed action of the Board of Education, for Tuesday February 21, would use ARRA funds for large bonuses for staff that retire next year.  The amount for a teacher with 30 years of teaching at a Belvidere school would be $40,000 ($10,000 + 30X$1,000) plus 5% of their salary from the prior year. And of course the teacher would also receive their teacher’s pension.

The District indicates that they are going to save $1,500,000—is that making the assumption that many of these retirement age teachers are only going to take the retirement because of the incentive? Are not administrators also subject to the incentive—would there be any savings there?

How many dollars of ARRA funds are going to be use?  Belvidere has only one school making mandated annual yearly progress. Is this going to help the district educationally?  Are any jobs being saved or created?

I do not recall any such massive bonuses for retirement (except for administrators).  Is this just because the money is from ARRA rather than local tax dollars? 

Click on the photocopy to enlarge:

\District 100 Retirement Incentive

The above proposed action is from the school documents:$file/retirement%20incentive%202-21-12.pdf

The school district posted this information  only on Friday—so very few citizens have seen this.  I have many questions and probably will be receive few answers.

Tuesday the Board or Education will be voting on this issue.  Monday is a school holiday.  Your school board members are shown below: 

Richard Van Evera
11676 Inverway
Belvidere, Illinois 61008
(815) 885-3942

Term Expires: 2013

Doug Smiley
Vice President
11101 Covington Place
Belvidere, Illinois 61008
(815) 885-9100

Term Expires: 2013

Julia Norem
10762 Shaw Road
Rockford, Illinois 61114
(815) 885-3741

Term Expires: 2013​

​Darrell Fox
1477 Cummings Road
Caledonia, Illinois 61011
(815) 621-3508

Term Expires: 2013​

John Powell
1615 Cloverdale Way
Belvidere, Illinois 61008
(815) 547-1834

Term Expires: 2015

​Mike Rathbun
313 Briarwood Drive
Poplar Grove, Illinois 61065
(815) 547-8925

Term Expires: 2015​

Dan Wilson
1815 Candlewick Drive, S.W.
Poplar Grove, Illinois 61065
(815) 765-5115

Term Expires: 2015

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Huntley’s D-158 may hire more staff next year

Currently, there are 545 high school seniors, about a hundred more than last year’s senior class.

Then, next fall, the district could see another enrollment increase, assuming the current 714 children in kindergarten enter the district’s elementary schools.

The district has a student population of 9,300. From 2009 to 2010, the district’s total student population increased by 372 from 8,568 to 8,940.

Click on the following to read the rest of the story:  Northwest Herald | D-158 may hire more staff next year

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Law Schools face legal suits regarding employment statistics on graduates

Ed Clinton Jr. who filed the suit against John Marshall said he also plans to file similar complaints against DePaul University's law school and IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law later Wednesday.

Click on the following for more of this Chicago Tribune story:,0,7639944.story

District 100 needs a new special education director?

The board of education for Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95 approved the hiring of Ms. Erin Pittman as the new assistant superintendent for student services at the Jan. 26 board meeting.

Ms. Pittman is currently the director of special education for Belvidere Community Unit School District 100, where she is responsible for all special education programs in the district from early childhood to transition

Click on the following for more details: