Facing teacher shortage, District 161 looks for new faculty at job fairs

The James Hart Junior High School eighth-grade basketball team took third place in the state tournament with a victory Feb. 18 over Summit Hill Junior High. On Tuesday, the Panthers received kudos from the Homewood Board of Trustees, which approved a resolution honoring the team’s accomplishment.

They were competing in the Class 4A tournament of the Illinoisi Elementary School Association. They beat Summit Hill 49-48. Summit Hill is from Frankfort. The Hart record for the year was 22-4. 

The resolution read, in part, “The Panthers have represented their school and community with pride and excellence and displayed good sportsmanship throughout the season. On behalf of the good citizens of Homewood, the president and board of trustees hereby recognize and commend the hard work, dedication, determination and commitment to excellence of the team members, parents, families and coaches throughout the season.”

The resolution listed the members of the team: Cecil Archbold, Kevin Berner, Brandon Brewer, Aalijah Brize, T.J. Burt, Xavier Dixon, Collin Fields, Tre Hondras, Dominick Jones, Myles Prado, Antonio Rocquemore, Harold Tabor and Joel Watts. The team was coached by Jack Gaham and Matt Somodi.

James Hart Principal Scott McAlister and Homewood School District 153 Superintendent Dale Mitchell accepted the resolution on behalf of the team. 

“This is the first time our basketball team has ever advanced to the final four. We’re very proud of them,” McAlister said. “They are a great group of young men and coaches. On behalf of the school district and James Hart I’d like to thank you for recognizing their accomplishments.”

The board also approved a resolution formalizing its support for the District 153 bond referendum on the March 15 ballot. Referendum supporters made a presentation at the board’s Feb. 9 meeting about the district’s need to bolster its budget with additional funding from bond sales. Trustees expressed strong support for the measure then but did not vote on the matter.

Terry Keigher, chairman of Citizens for Homewood Schools; Shelly Marks, president of District 153; and Mitchell each thanked the board for its support. 

Security improvements
In other business, the board approved a bid by Sound Inc. for up to $215,488 to install new security features at village facilities. The bid came in at nearly $11,000 under what the village had budgeted for the work.

Assistant Village Manager Michael Marzal told the board the project began with a security survey conducted in 2012 by then-Deputy Police Chief Bill Alcott. Alcott is now the interim police chief. 

The survey identified a number of areas that needed improvement, Marzal said. 

The village currently has a mix of swipe-card and punch-key door access features and a mix of digital and analog video equipment for observation. The project will make security systems consistent at village facilities, with swipe-card access control and digital video monitoring at the Municipal Services Building, the water plants, the pump station at 183rd Street and Stewart Avenue, the Brian Carey Training Center, the police department and the fire department. 

Village President Richard Hofeld asked Public Works Director John Schaefer whether water tower security was included in the project. Schaefer said water towers are not currently set up to work with an Internet-based system, but he added that village officials are exploring the possibility. 

Hofeld urged staff to pursue that option as soon as possible. 

“Unfortunately, in these times, things like this have to be done,” he said.

Related story:
Citizens for Homewood Schools asks Homewood trustees to support March bond referendum (HF Chronicle, Feb. 10, 2016)

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