Bus wi-fi and gym updates discussed by Shiloh BOE

By Robby Tucker rtucker@prairiepress.net
Posted 1/23/23

The Shiloh Board of Education convened on Monday, Jan. 16, opening the new year with several updates, proposals and discussions of new programs and purchases.

Perhaps the lengthiest discussion of …

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Bus wi-fi and gym updates discussed by Shiloh BOE

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The Shiloh Board of Education convened on Monday, Jan. 16, opening the new year with several updates, proposals and discussions of new programs and purchases.

Perhaps the lengthiest discussion of the evening focused on the purchase of new cameras for the district’s school buses. While the purchase of the monitoring equipment, which will provide an upgrade in video and audio quality over what the district currently uses, was approved unanimously, there was some debate surrounding other upgrades.

The new iteration of bus cameras and microphones are wi-fi capable, and future integration of wi-fi networks into district buses could allow for any footage captured to be uploaded directly to the cloud.

Some members of the board noted that equipping buses with wi-fi down the line could eliminate the hassle of switching out memory cards and the potential for sensitive footage to be corrupted or damaged during an analog, card-to-computer transfer. Additionally, equipping buses with wi-fi capabilities would make them easier to track and locate in case of an emergency.

Others, however, showed concern at the prospect of equipping buses with a wi-fi network, noting that students might be able to access the network and use it for activities the district does not need to pay for. Furthermore, the school owns communication systems called pucks that could be utilized for tracking purposes now, but they currently remain largely unintegrated into school procedure.

In athletic news, superintendents and two board members from each program in the Tri-County co-op have been selected to take part in the search for a new athletic director who will serve all three Tri-County schools. The hiring process will begin in earnest soon, said Shiloh District Superintendent Bill Myers.

Additionally, purchase of a new plexiglass pane for the scorer’s table in the Shiloh gym was approved. The sign will have logos and branding for both the Shiloh Raiders and the Tri-County Titans.

The vote for the scorer’s table sparked a discussion regarding other improvements the Shiloh gym desperately needs, including a new floor.

“It has one last good shine in it now,” said Myers.

In addition to a new gym floor, updated bleachers will be a must-have for any future gym refresh.

“We find nuts and bolts coming apart (from the bleachers) consistently,” Myers explained.

Other prospective updates, such as shot clocks for both baskets, will be contingent upon IHSA legislation. Board member Brian Rhode also recommended the board consider upgrading to a digital scorer’s table when they begin reworking the gym. Aaron Richardson added a digital scorer’s table or scoreboard could help pay for itself if the school sells advertising slots on the board to local businesses.

An upgrade to the gym’s sound system was also recommended by several in attendance.

Regardless of what updates and renovations do or do not make the cut, the looming overhaul of the gym will be a big investment, noted Myers.

Rounding out the discussion of athletics was a vote to approve Harley Barry as a volunteer girls high school basketball coach, which was unanimously passed.

Morgan Wilhoit, Superintendent for Pre-K through eighth grade students, unveiled a new English curriculum that will be implemented soon. The new curriculum utilizes phonics-based lessons for younger students learning to read, while kids in third through fifth grade will begin reading to learn. According to Wilhoit, this new curriculum features assessments that fall in line with benchmark testing the school already utilizes. The curriculum was last updated 10 years ago, but the board hopes to begin assessing and replacing curriculums on a more regular and consistent basis.

On the topic of curriculum, Myers informed the board that a no bill action was taken on state legislation HB 5188. The bill included a required health and safety curriculum that would go into effect on July 1, 2023. According to Myers, Shiloh and 93% of other Illinois districts are opting to pursue other options.

“We will use a curriculum for health that is more appropriate for our area,” he explained.

Myers also offered an update on Shiloh’s new tutoring program, which is operated in conjunction with Illinois State University (ISU). Roughly 35 high school students have signed up for tutoring, but some issues have arisen that have yet to be ironed out of the tutoring process.

“I do see a lot of positives, but there are some negatives,” said Myers.

Communication between the school and ISU has been inconsistent and slow at times, resulting in some confusion for Shiloh administrators and tutors alike. Nonetheless, Myers believes the program will be worth the growing pains.

“When I see kids and tutors leaving school, I see smiles on faces,” he observed.

The Shiloh school board is waiting to receive bids from a few different contractors who are interested in constructing a new playground for the school. Shiloh has received a grant that will match up to $50,000 put toward the updated playground.

Myers provided an update on a newly implemented breakfast program where high school students can receive a meal the moment they step inside the school.

“It’s been my favorite part of the day,” Myer reported. “It helps me connect faces to names.”