The EPG Board of Education held a district-wide community night on October 30, 2018. Current goals of the Board of Education were shared and feedback was gathered on those areas. Four questions were asked and discussed at each table. Below is each of the questions (in order) and bulleted responses that participants turned in on their notecards. (The responses below are unedited and listed as accurately as possible.)

Student Achievement:

From your perspective, how are we doing? What indicators would you look for to tell you how well student needs are being met?

  • How are we as a school ranking among the State in academics?  Kids are struggling certain subjects.

  • Math is challenging and that is good. Important in most careers.

  • Want my kids to get frustrated every now and then and that occurs sometimes.  They’re being challenged (SAT Scores).

  • Improving and looking for ways to improve.

  • I look at student growth in skills and understanding.  I use aims web scores as a guide.

  • Overall I look at scores district-wide as that’s all I have to determine high expectations.

  • When kids move in it is noticeable.

  • My student’s teacher communicating achievements/problems monthly is done well here.

  • My students’ test reflecting what or how they say they are doing.

  • My students being able to move on in goals, which is offered at all grade levels.

  • We feel we are a great district and individual schools.

  • Teacher reviews and observations - retaining top notch talent.

  • Parental feedback.  Do they feel kids’ needs are being met?

  • When my child comes home excited about something that happened in a certain class, not just a good day.

  • Have an opportunity for students to give feedback.

  • Overall as a district, scores across the board are sufficient.  Math scores should improve.

  • Standardized tests.  The number of kids on honor roll, etc.

  • EPG has high expectations on their grading scale.  I think we are going well and headed in the right direction.  Looking at test scores, students’ readiness to progress to the next grade and involvement at upper grades are indicators.  When kids move in they generally are performing lower than our standards at EPG. They also rise to our expectations. This is good.

  • Doing pretty well – no complaints.  Indicators are: kids’ success in college, kids being accepted to Tier 1 Universities, and culture (how are we preparing).

  • I believe that our school provides a positive learning environment for students: Indicators are:  higher test scores (?), improvement in moral of students, and college prep.

  • More opportunities for the advanced students.  Data comparing EPGs grad #s against other HOIC schools-ex. # to 4 year, # to 2 year, # military.

  • I feel the district does a good job at showing active interest in the students and education it provides.

  • When students voluntarily talk about grades.

  • Have Math help when needed (in study hall, before and after school).

  • Baseline metrics compared across similar districts/nearby districts and comparison past/present/future to those metrics.

  • Doing well.  My perception is that we are above average with room to improve.

  • I think EPG is doing well.  I have a graduate from EPG which is a junior at ISU.  I see how well she is prepared at school and I think it is a credit to the district.

  • I think as a whole the district has done well at giving the kids what they need to learn.  The kids seem to have the opportunity to learn when they want to and get the help they need.

  • Doing well-indicator that students understand requirements of homework.

  • Need more parental support.

  • We are doing very well.  Students are challenged but not overburdened.  Indicators are standardized test scores and Lexile scores.

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give the school an 8.  Indicators are Reading and Math levels, are kids enjoying school/teachers, ideas of job/career path, and school HUB placement after high school.

  • Have we/you asked the parents about their thoughts/opinions about the new Math program?

  • Will we have parent surveys?

  • In high school, why is homework not checked if it is right instead of just that it is done?

  • Overall I feel we have a great school district.  I look to see if school is a positive experience, are students understanding course work, do they feel confident in their daily schedules, and do they have Pride in their school.

  • It is not always easy to measure students’ growth.  However, we can implement goals which can be measured such as Reading and Math to see the students’ progression.  The big picture is for students to learn from their mistakes and continue to learn, which cannot always be measured.

  • I am happy with student achievement.  From my personal experience, my kids’ teachers keep me well informed on their academic development.

  • Happiness in the evening, not tears from homework, no tears from treatment from other students.  I feel this year is going well for our family, but I know that for others it is not. Another indicator is everyone having a passing grade – “C” or better for all.

  • Generically, kids don’t hate school more than they’re required to by age.

  • College/further education/track school enrolment numbers are steady.

  • Talk of the town is positive.

  • I am satisfied with EPG.

  • A student should be able to enjoy learning either through opportunities offered or methods of learning.

  • I feel the workforce perception is shifting back to the fact that not all kids are bound for college and those opportunities need to be offered those not bound for college can focus on learning.

  • A student scores to achieve state standards and excel in districts similar in size and population diversity.  Indicators needs being met by those on honor roll, extracurricular activities, and college acceptances.

  • I want my kids excited to go to school every morning.  Overall this is happening. I look to see if they are bored or engaged and challenged.  Again, they seem to be doing well.

  • Are the kids prepared for college?

  • Offer more advanced classes in high school.

  • To some extent, test scores, following one grade for improvement.

  • Are students happy??

  • Are the students able to do basic activities like add, subtract, etc.?

  • Are they prepared for life?

  • How well does my child understand what is being taught in the classroom?  Sometimes I hear students or my own child saying they don’t understand what is being taught.

  • I feel we are going well over all, but there can be some improvement in the Math classes at the high school for freshmen and sophomore.

  • I would like to see what the kids say about the process and experience they had.

  • Test scores overall and how we compare with other district in our areas.

  • College preparedness.

  • I think EPG Schools does a good job overall.

  • My child enjoys school and enjoys her teachers.

  • With new teaching styles comes frustration for students.

  • I would like to see continued growth as well as my child enjoying to learn and move toward college readiness

  • Compare scores with similar districts.

  • Grow love for learning.

  • No burnout as older grade levels.

  • Respect towards leaders.

  • Learning is a lifestyle.

District Finance: From your perspective, how are we doing? What indicators would you look for to tell you how well district finances are being managed?

  • I would like to see our district remain in the black.  No deficit spending, but keep taxes level, remain up-to-date with technology and programs that allow for success and continued achievement.

  • Are our schools comparable to other districts buildings?

  • How are we planning for “staffing” with teacher shortages in the future?

  • Taking in more money than we are spending.

  • Are teachers able to purchase things/equipment to they say up with technology?

  • Conditions of the buildings.

  • Being in the black and not the red.

  • Facility up-keep and improvements.

  • Good on finance in the district.

  • Taxes staying consistent.

  • Positive numbers in all funds.

  • Increase in funds each year

  • Steady taxes.

  • Being proactive vs. reactive.

  • Condition of facilities.

  • Class sizes.

  • “Extra” staff like social workers and psychologist.

  • Finances in the black.

  • Education supplies updated frequently enough to keep pace/modernization.

  • Not needing to ask for new tax dollars every few years.

  • Facility maintenance.

  • Appreciate classroom size for teachers/buildings.

  • Staff retention.

  • Building maintenance.

  • Curriculum meeting guidelines.

  • Extracurricular programs available.

  • Technology available.

  • Balanced budgets for 10 years = GREAT!

  • Staff-do we consider positions to reduce vs adding staff?

  • I think it’s going well if we are able to fund our classrooms and subjects (Science, P.E., and Music) without having to ask to raise taxes.  That we are able to stay in the black is security and creates a positive tone when speaking of district. Keeping our teachers at similar pay levels as other district in a building that’s well maintained.

  • Teacher salary-starting competitive nature-get the best of the best and retain them for their careers.

  • We need to be a fiscally conservative district.  However, there will be times when unexpected emergencies will happen but we should have cash on hand to cover that.  We also need to be proactive looking ahead at what needs our district has and financially preparing for those needs.

  • I do not want to see a district in debt.  Staffing issues are important to fill. I also like to see a wide range of extra activities offered, a variety of music, sports, etc.  If this is possible, then to me funding seems at a good spot.

  • A district surplus a good thing because we do live in Illinois.  You never know when the Springfield pot will dry up again. Also a surplus good because things are not getting any cheaper.

  • Pay down debt, budget to actual expenditure, staff receiving tools and curriculum needed to prepare students for the future.

  • Ability to attract talent.

  • Extracurricular activities.

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, we are at 7 which seems slightly above average??  Indicators are facility status compared to other districts, resources for teachers/kids, balance budget with improvements, and small savings.

  • Building condition, classroom improvements/technology, teacher career duration at EPG, and requests for additional funds/fundraisers.

  • End each year with a positive overall or at least balanced budget.  In my belief is allowing us to continue to maintain and improve our district.

  • Stabilized tax rates.

  • Being able to maintain programs, courses, and offer extracurricular.

  • Ability to maintain buildings.

  • Provide the best for our students and faculty.

  • That we are proactive on building upkeep and repairs (basically proactive not reactive).

  • Sounds like we are doing well.

  • I would like to see a “plan” for future spending addressing “big upcoming expenses.

  • Positive fund balances.

  • Fully staffed?

  • I think we are doing awesome.

  • I want to know more.  Are we keeping up with facilities, teacher requests, etc.?  Is staffing full or are we holding back? I love that we have a very active booster program for extracurricular programs to assist these programs.  Positive balances? We have not RIF’d any teachers lately.

  • The school I feel has used the money to the best they can. I just want to make sure we spend the money where it needs it the most.

  • Cuts haven’t been made in regards to all employees, so that’s a benefit.

  • Taxes.

  • Number of employees.

  • Take the school staff as it should be?  That would be an indicator to me.

  • Why can’t a district give an early retirement bonus to hire a younger teacher?  (I understand the 6, 6, 6, rule, etc.)

  • Finances compared to other districts.

  • Financial dashboard or scorecard posted quarterly (assets, liabilities, margin, etc.)

  • Historical analysis.

  • I would want to know we are using funds wisely and not always saying yes to all purchases.

  • I think the school Board and administration has done well with what we have gotten.  I feel that the money spent was needed to make our school district more accessible to our kids to make them the best that they can.

  • Doing extremely well financially compared to others and given the situation of State financing.  (Adequately staffed, well maintained facilities, teacher-student ratios, activities-opportunities to participate, ability to take on debt methodically.)

  • I feel we are being wise with what we have while planning for the future.   (I look at surplus and expenditures from year to year; practical application-we’re conscious of the resources being used and try to be careful.)

  • Finances are managed well when there isn’t wasteful spending on people or supplies.  It is hard to fund schools properly the way Illinois does it thru mostly property taxes.  I think EPG is doing well in spite of the State.

  • I see we are striving to maintain balance.  Indications are: staffed class/grade levels and appropriate teachers for subjects; buildings being maintained; at least at the elementary level, I haven’t seen any excess spending from a parent perspective.

  • Encouraged by recent report of intake/output.

  • Balanced spending.

  • Work to use our resources to their potential

  • Seeing financial improvement.

Facilities: The long-term plan is to have 5th-8th grades at EPG Junior High in Gridley. What suggestions do you have about how we should address the facility needs of EPG Junior High?

  • I feel we just keeping responding to the need at EPG Junior High School with Band-Aids.  I am for starting with a new construction outlook. If we know the location is staying in Gridley, I think it is due time to move forward.  Education is being compromised because of the outdated structure.

  • Life/Safety requirements must be considered both short term and long term (obviously new construction vs. upgrading existing buildings).

  • Fifth thru eighth grade under one roof for security reasons.  Too many kids, too many times a day are going in and out of the building.  Add on to current seventh and eighth-grade building, knocking down the old high school, and leaving the gym and newer addition.  One level building-lots of kids on crutches. More gym space.

  • Safety-one building, students don’t have to exit building to get from one class to the next.

  • Health-bathrooms must have sinks to wash hands and be handicap accessible.

  • Gym space-maximize.

  • I think we should start over and building new facilities to meet the needs of students.  Build a new campus!

  • Junior High School-upgrade fence around South field, move softball complex to South field, add walking path to baseball diamond, asphalt “pool” are for parking, enlarge cafeteria area.

  • High School Facilities-structural, mechanical (HVAC, electrical, plumbing, FIRE ALARM!), appearance.

  • Student health and safety needs to be first.

  • We need to publicize the impact that this facility has on student learning.

  • Stop putting on Band-Aids.

  • Not enough experience with EPGJHS but some basic renovations appear necessary.  Create a cohesive learning environment that doesn’t distract from education, not sure if that’s a renovation or new facility yet.

  • Knocking down grade school and adding on better classrooms and possibly a bigger gym.  For knowing that the junior high building needs repair badly so to do one section for now and possibly down the road building a new building or a better facility.

  • I was not able to take the tour so I may have missed some good input on the Junior High.  The “old” part of the building looks to be a maintenance nightmare and $ sinkhole from the outside.  I believe it should be torn down and replaced with a decent, functional building that should last for 40 years.

  • Tear down, rebuild:  new gym and restrooms now for safety reasons and softball field on campus for safety.  How does a district pay for upgrades/new facilities if the State doesn’t come through or a referendum doesn’t pass?

  • Update the electrical, construct some type of enclosure so kids aren’t walking outside to get to a class, and give classrooms more outlets for technology.

  • Classrooms around the gym are distracting to all learnings, especially students with disabilities; not easily accessible for students with physical needs; water shut off in rooms because of lead turned back on solely for hand washing; huge division between the buildings/employees in both.

  • If we need to improve the facilities we need to do what we have to do.  The buildings are old and realize that it takes a lot of money to fix up.  If we have to we need to consider getting rid of the old and build new.

  • I think you compare estimates for renovating and building a new building.  I am really not sure how the two buildings can be renovated. I would also compare to other district to get ideas on how to organize the building-teachers, staff utilization, etc.

  • EPG Junior High.  I think start fresh with a new building in Gridley.  The school needs to fit the students’ needs and this campus does not!

  • Discover cost of life safety upgrading and expected maintenance and life-cycle cost of existing facility for next 10-20 years.  Compare to building new. New will be cheaper.

  • Well, depending on the finding of this study, it would be good to have a committee formed to start the process of transition in the case of new school.

  • We know that we need a new junior high, instead of making costly repairs every year.

  • Safety.

  • No going outside between buildings.

  • Drop zone off the street – semicircle – crossing guard?

  • Plan for needs of classrooms of the future-technology, classroom arrangements, changing curriculum needs.  Think more long term-aging facility, is it worth the constant cost of upkeep-how long can that go on?

  • Ultimate wish for JH Campus-one building to facilities grades 5-8.

  • For now wishes:  updated classrooms/HVAC systems, updated offices/entry ways into JH *Ground/stairs, cafeteria needs to be bigger/updated/use space better; gym updated.

  • Drop off/pick up kids bused and attending JH.

  • Stone wall needs to be torn out or redone!  It is safety hazard.

  • Don’t Band-Aid it, if we’re going to do it do it right—as long as it makes sense and we are financially capable without overextending ourselves.

  • Take down existing.

  • Flexible spaces, Natural light.

  • Self-Guided Work Spaces

  • Separate grade levels.

  • Facility does a good job about grouping grades/like classes together.

  • Evaluate/prioritize physical building needs and repairs.

  • What’s important and necessary to teachers to better educate students?

  • Thank you for being clear a school is in Gridley.  Let’s don’t rehash that every few years. That’s leadership by Board!!  Build new one with big gym, stage, common area, one office, one teacher work room-1 school.

  • Need to maintain a long-term vision (10 years) while addressing the day-to-day needs.

  • Consider how technology is changing facility requirements.

  • How can technology be used to improve facilities - solar power, LED?

  • JH facility-asbestos abatement, windows energy conservation measures, HVAC?  Maximize facility - if areas cannot be used, get that area to be usable. One campus – students do not leave the building during class changes.

  • Soundproofing rooms around gym (5th grade rooms).

  • Tear down both buildings and build one new one if possible.

  • Safety issues??

  • Facilities:  I am not sure I know but if we are set in having a school in Gridley and they are being pieced together and rearranged annually, I think we’ll need a whole new building.  We need one that wasn’t built for a specific age, has adequate classroom sizes, bathrooms that all have sinks, a locker in the hallway for each student, and a locker room that can house PE clothes for 1-2 students.  One building keeps children inside out of weather and safer in a society that’s scarier every day. It needs to be accessible for all on all levels, so probably a single level facility.

  • Facilities:  I think consulting with a company was a great step in the right direction.  Ask teachers! They use the building every day. Student safety and conducive learning environment should be of upmost importance.

  • Priority 1 would be to keep a Jr. High in Gridley.  Maybe add to facility west out toward old football field to try to keep each grades together.

  • New campus in a new location (purchase land?).  Will need a school to switch to a new facility as an interim building.  What is cost difference between fixing the existing vs new over 10 year period?  Competitive building for moving forward in future = attractive to move-ins.

  • Facilities:  New/old? Why?  Needs to be asked either way, several times.  Cost? Ways evaluate?  Sustainability for community.  Attraction to community.

  • Bulldoze junior high, ADA accessible, technology focus, centered to focus grades in groups, classrooms that are flexible to new teaching methods, opportunities for all Jr High activities at their school, keep gym, keep stage, and add a gym.

Culture/Community: If a family was planning to relocate to the area and asked you to describe our district to them, what would you say? Would you recommend EPG to their family? Why?

  • We have a close-knit community that have values and we like them.  We have K-12 within 7 miles.

  • We have the best mayor.

  • Yes, I would recommend EPG.  Both communities are outstanding.  EPG staff care for their students and our staff is exceptional.  We have strong leaders in our district and great students. EPG has so much to offer!

  • The community at EPG is fantastic.  The kids are great and you will receive a great education.  The small numbers are a plus and crime is small.

  • Small, intimate, your children won’t get lost, smaller class.

  • Yes, I would recommend; staff that cares, closeness of the communities, the people are friendly.

  • Take care of the money.

  • Parental involvement.

  • EPG is an awesome district; caring staff, attentive administrators, great resources for students, and great education.

  • Busing situation is ideal for in town/country students to get to their age appropriate school.

  • “Campus” buildings for each grade levels.

  • Safe campuses/sports available.

  • PTO/Boosters Club/EPG Foundations for funding.

  • Small/close knit community.

  • I would definitely recommend EPG.  It has caring, dedicated teachers and staff, high academic expectations, support for students who may be struggling, great diversity in extracurricular activities including sports and music.  Our Board has done a good job of planning and budgeting to make us financially stable in an unstable state climate.

  • Definitely recommend EPG:  excellent staff, high standard for education, close knit family.

  • Yes!  We at EPG pride ourselves on smaller classroom sizes.  Average class has 25 students per class.

  • We at EPG care for the students as if they were our own.

  • We at EPG work with others to assist our students to be successful.

  • The staff genuinely cares about our kids.  They are not perfect but they want what is best for the students in our district.

  • We live in district and are very thankful!

  • Small school learning is a better option, just in teacher/student ratio alone.

  • Like all schools there are issues but the entire school and community are working together.

  • Majority of admin/faculty are devoted and want what is best for kids.

  • Typically small class sizes which is beneficial to learners.

  • Friendly community.

  • Great place to raise family.

  • Fantastic teachers.

  • Class sizes.

  • Extra opportunities.

  • Rec program.

  • Yes, I would recommend EPG.  The district is committed to the education of its youth and strives to maintain strong community involvement.  The administration and staff care about their students. (family feel, strong staff, varied activities, good class sizes)

  • Community/District Relations:  excellent staff, commitment and support from community, health learning environment, small class sizes.

  • In general, I would like to say that EPG is an excellent place to raise a family and our schools are above average for the size of the district.

  • Your kids would grow up in two very good communities.  The school offers good education and opportunities to your kids.  Being in the small communities you get that small town feeling which I like.

  • Relocation to EPG:  class size/offerings, extracurricular activities; busing times 30 minutes or less, diverse population/work, caring staff/administrators.

  • Depends on the family.  Not a lot of diversity within the community (two).  That being said, if the family is/was looking for a great place in Central Illinois to raise a family – it is a great place.  Family oriented, friendly, strong sense of community.

  • Our school and town is very family oriented.  We have caring teachers and administrators. We have basic courses, advanced courses, tutoring, and extracurricular activities that are typical of area/size.  Have a great music program! The families in the area stick together and support each other.

  • Yes, I would recommend EGP!  EPG is family oriented, staff, religion is important, music is especially important, small town(s) atmosphere.

  • Yes, we are a great community:  people care about one another, and we have a great staff that really cares about your kids.  I feel our district is welcoming and friendly. Our values in our district are great.

  • Yes, I would absolutely recommend EPG.  I researched the area before I moved and we chose EPG because of its reputation for excellence.  EPG is made up of great people who love kids and put them first. Our values and the way we support and come together are awesome!

  • Small community school.

  • Good district, great families, passionate.

  • Underlying tone of El Paso vs. Gridley still there.

  • Good superintendent who wants to be here long term (important), and Board who has the best interest of the district in mind.

  • Strong facilities, strong spiritual communities.

  • The EP and G merge has gone relatively smooth.

  • We offer a community school at its heart.  People work and live in this district. The array of opportunities are awesome outside the classroom.  Academic are competitive and also connected to vocational opportunities.

  • I would recommend EPG to new incoming families.  We have a proud tradition based history, welcoming towns, teachers genuinely care about our kid as “people” not just kids in seats, small town/family orientated lifestyle, Home town Proud!!

  • Gridley and El Paso are great small towns.  They are communities you can feel safe in. My child graduated from EPG and still speaks highly of the staff there.  Staff is school and also community oriented.

  • Yes, because of the people, churches, school, and culture, only thing lacking is good food!

  • I would recommend because of all of the teachers, faculty, and Board I have experienced have a genuine desire to see our kids at their best.  The teacher might not have all the resources necessary but they will do their best with what they have. Most of the town seems involved and interested to some degree.

  • Yes, I would.  I feel like EPG as a whole benefits from two great communities that care about the school.  I feel all my kids have had a great experience going here. I love the fact that my kids come home and tell us that they are having good days.

  • I would describe EPG as a district of people that are hard-working and try to generally do the right thing.

  • I would want to know more about the parents and student’s attitude and goals before recommending EPG.

  • I feel EPG settles for mediocrity too often, whether it be our facilities, academic opportunities for our brightest students, or our sports programs.

  • Close knit communities, El Paso Gridley Secor, good support system for your children, good education, lots of programs that other schools our size – Life Skills Classes.

  • Yes, supportive community, administrators and most teacher think “students first”, 1:1 Initiative which I image a district our size doesn’t do or can’t do.

  • Why EPG?  Small town, conservative family values, highly engaged and involved families that network and create a “village of caring atmosphere, possibly lower taxes that Bloomington too!

  • Keep things like this event going.

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