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Applications open for school board seat

The Willow Springs school district is accepting applications for a vacant school board seat until 4:30 p.m. Jan. 27.
The seat became vacant with the resignation of board member Jeff Cunningham at the December meeting. At the regular board meeting on Jan. 9, the board gave formal approval to the process for filling the vacancy.
Applications are being accepted at the district’s central office at 215 W. Fourth St. The board will convene a special session at 6 p.m. on Feb. 6 to select the new board member from the pool of applicants. The board member will be sworn in at the conclusion of that meeting, serving until April 2024.
Superintendent Dr. Marty Spence said the new member would be on board officially prior to the winter retreat on Feb. 11 at Echo Bluff State Park. The retreat was among other business approved at the January meeting. Items to be discussed at the retreat include the board’s mission and vision, strategic planning, goals, budget work, and operating procedures.
In other business:
• The board’s first student representative, Nolan Perkins, was sworn into office. Following administrator reports, Perkins gave his monthly report, which included highlights of numerous activities at all three buildings. As a student concern, Perkins asked the administration and the board to review how weighted and non-weighted classes calculate into student grade-point averages at the high school. 
• In administrative reports, elementary and middle school principals, as well as special education director Marlenia Barker, said staff is working on professional development training in a new emphasis program for reading. According to information provided to the board, LETRS, or Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling, provides tools for teachers including “ways to assess student language development for prevention and intervention,” along with “guidance on how to plan and balance word recognition and comprehension instruction.” 
• In his administrative report, middle school principal Jon Johnson told the board staff is considering bringing block scheduling back to the middle school. Middle school students traditionally had utilized block scheduling like the high school, before moving to a traditional seven-class daily schedule a few years ago. “Anything we can do to ease those transitions will help kids,” said Johnson, referring to the transition from middle school to high school. “I feel like the staff has bought into this.” He said staff is exploring how the change could be made without adding to staffing.
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