Danville considers next step in $6 million grant

DANVILLE — Danville school board members on Wednesday will vote on whether to approve an agreement with an organization that will help the high school implement its $6 million School Improvement Grant.

The Danville School Board will meet at 6 p.m on Wednesday at the Jackson Building, 516 N. Jackson St., Danville. A copy of the agenda is available online at http://bit.ly/19T2maS.

This year, Danville High was one of four Illinois schools to win the grant, aimed at significantly improving student achievement. Working with a professional education consultant is a requirement of the grant program, and the fees also are covered with grant funds.

The district chose the Consortium for Educational Change as its lead partner. The nonprofit organization has a proven track record of helping schools improve student learning.

Under the agreement, the district would pay the organization $330,000. The agreement also lays out the organization's responsibilities and how the money will be spent.

As the lead partner, the consortium will help implement the grant and professional development components, said Associate Superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat.

"They will make sure we're in compliance with the grant and that all things are done and done with integrity," said Desmoulin-Kherat, who worked with the consortium when she served as the transformational officer in the Peoria and Springfield school districts.

"Professional development is their forte," added Superintendent Mark Denman said.

He and Desmoulin-Kherat said the organization will provide teachers and staff with expertise, training and support in a number of areas such as Common Core State Standards, how to teach literacy skills in their subject area, how to teach material in different ways to reach all levels of learners and how to use data from common assessments to drive instruction, among other things.

Denman also said the consortium will have a full-time "transformation facilitator" at the high school, and that position will be filled by Robin Twidwell, a longtime district educator and Danville Education Association president.

Twidwell most recently served as an instructional literacy coach for the district. She also served as a teacher mentor and a middle school classroom teacher.

Denman said Twidwell will remain a union member but will step down as president because of the time involved with her new responsibilities.

Also at the board meeting, members will vote on whether to approve job descriptions for two new positions that were created and funded by the grant — secretary to the high school's transformation officer and the high school family liaison.

Desmoulin-Kherat said Amre Carey, an East Park Elementary School teacher the past two years, has been recommended as the family liaison. She will provide outreach and support to families in an effort to increase parent involvement — a crucial part of children's success.

One of the projects Carey will work on is launching a Parent University. The school would partner with community organizations to offer workshops and training in a variety of things from parenting to helping their children with homework to parents getting their GED and continuing their education.

Desmoulin-Kherat said parents will drive the program.

"It's not the district or Danville High School saying, 'We set up programs for you, and we want you to attend,'" she said. "They will determine that based on their needs. We will provide the support so they're inspired and motivated to assist with educating their child."

In other business, Business and Finance Director Heather Smith will unveil a proposed spending plan for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Administrators were still working on the draft late last week, and total projected revenue and expenditure amounts were still unknown. However "we're hoping it will be close to an even budget," Denman said.

Board members also will vote on whether to approve 2013-14 salaries for 11 administrators and a number of non-union flat salaried employees.

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