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Allendale School receives ‘exemplary’ state designation

December 4, 2018

ALLENDALE — Allendale Superintendent Bob Bowser reported that the school system was recently designated as “exemplary” within the new designation system adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education.

“It’s a great thing for our school,” he said, adding that many other schools in the southeast portion of Illinois had received lower designations.

Exemplary, in percentages, means the school performed in the top 10 percent of all schools in Illinois. Not school districts, but individual schools, Bowser clarified.

Bowser believes the designation represents the quality of the school’s overall social climate as well as academics.

This school year, 75 percent of the designation was based on academic achievement and growth. In future years, the breakdown will change, Bowser noted. Ten indicators make up the state’s designation, and with those changing, Bowser cautioned against hopes that this designation will stick.

There are many variables at play, he contended. “Next year could be different,” he said.

However next year’s state score ends up, Bowser said he was proud of the school and lends some of its success to its size.

Most classroom sizes at Allendale range from 12 to 17 students, which makes for more one-on-one teacher time for each student.

“Our class size is small enough that there’s a lot of opportunities for one-to-one attention,” he said.

While school officials have known for a long time that teachers focus on academics, they also focus on maintaining a familiar report with the students as well, Bowser added.

Community support helps, too, Bowser noted.

“I’ve felt for a long time that our designation should be exemplary,” Bowser said, “but now we have this data to back it up.”

“At least for this year,” he added with a chuckle.

It is difficult to pull a solid future outlook from one snapshot of school performance, Bowser noted.

Allendale’s atmosphere is not the norm, he noted, explaining that the school is public, but with its smaller class sizes and student attention, it feels like a private school in some aspects.

“A small school atmosphere lends itself to great things happening,” Bowser explained.

Part of the climate Bowser referenced was because of the work of staff members as well. Bus drivers, teacher’s aides, school board members and cafeteria personnel have a part in the education environment, he said.

Another part of the total school-environment picture is physical improvements and upgrades to the school.

Over the Christmas break, new tile will be installed in the main hall. This is one of several improvements the school has been able to make with one-percent sales tax revenues, Bowser noted.

New bleachers, classroom and hallway lighting upgrades, new doors and a freshly coated gymnasium floor are a few of the other projects completed with that funding.

“This 1 percent sales tax money has been the greatest thing for Allendale School,” Bowser said.

These upgrades could not have been performed just a few short years ago.

Academics and student safety were important for school officials, he said, but to make it aesthetically pleasing wasn’t as easy to do without the funding.

Voters passed the 1 percent sales tax referendum in November 2016.

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