Hybrid learning, mascot concerns brought to school board

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Emily Mepham, Social Media Director

Community members continued to address issues surrounding hybrid learning and the school mascot at the District #111 school board meeting held on Oct. 21 in the MCHS Performing Arts Center.

To begin the meeting, Jake Purcell, senior, spoke during the public comments time to express his concerns with the hybrid learning plans. He explained the current positivity rates in the Grundy, Will, and Kendall counties are between 7% and 10%. Purcell claimed there would have been a 99.9% chance that 20 people in our school would have had COVID-19 in the first two days back in-person.

“It is now time to place our focus back on the health and well-being of students, teachers, and this community,” Purcell said. “We are not fixing the problem, we are only extending the amount of time until it goes away and in that time, we continue to risk the lives of students, teachers, and our loved ones.” 

He urged the school board members to rethink their decision on allowing hybrid learning as well as to enforce punishments for not following the safety guidelines put in place.

Ted Trujillo of Morris also spoke, focusing on his displeasure with the current MCHS mascot. Trujillo has spoken about this topic at many board meetings. He explained that he desires transparency from the board as well as transparency to the board from himself on why they support or oppose the changing of the Minooka Mascot. 

Speaking about proving ancestry, Trujillo said, “We’re the only race of people that joke it’s a pedigree, because the only other thing that has to go through this are dogs and horses.”

Monica Iasillo, a bus driver for MCHS, requested a salary increase and health insurance from the school. She has been asking for these for four years now and has received nothing. 

“Last year, Mr. Troy’s reasoning for not giving me insurance was that it would cost the school district too much to offer me insurance,” Iasillo said. “So basically all other full-time employees are worth it but when it comes to me, it would be considered too much money.” 

She also said that part-time bus drivers at Minooka are paid more than her. Iasillo has worked for Minooka transportation for 13 years and for MCHS for 11 years. 

After public comments were made, Mr. Brent Edwards, community relations director, and Mr. John Troy, assistant superintendent of business and general counsel, presented results of the 2020 5Essentials survey, which is designed to encourage improvement within schools. Among those involved, 74% of the teachers, 82% of the students, and 22% of parents and guardians participated in the survey. 

District #111 received an overall score of zero. 

“That means that we are moderately organized for improvement,” Edwards said. 

The scoring band included three pluses and three negatives, which averaged to a zero, he explained.

“The survey shows how teachers and students perceive their school, and these perceptions influence their behavior,” Edwards said. 

Board members also continued discussion on the mascot. Due to a cultural assessment study from The Walker Thomas group, a diversity consulting company, school officials have decided to create a task force to examine the implications of the mascot. This task force plans to be in session starting this month into February 2021. 

The board meeting was streamed live on YouTube and can be viewed here.