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Michael Rouse joins D161 school board to fill vacancy left by Michelle Hoereth

The Flossmoor School District 161 Board of Education recently appointed Michael Rouse, of Flossmoor, to fill a vacancy left by former Board President Michelle Hoereth. (Photo provided)

The Flossmoor School District 161 Board of Education is once again whole.

Michael Rouse took the oath of office on May 10 to join the school board, filling a vacancy left by former Board President Michelle Hoereth, who resigned after winning a seat with the Homewood-Flossmoor High School District 233 Board of Education.

The appointment of Rouse was approved by a 5-0 vote by the District 161 School Board. Board Member David Linnear was absent, and Hoereth was not present at the meeting after submitting her resignation on May 5, according to district records.

Board President Carolyn Griggs said Rouse’s words stuck with her following his interview and she was happy to see him join the board.

“We’re very excited to have you,” Griggs told Rouse at the meeting. “I think you’re going to make amazing contributions, so I’m grateful for your willingness to step up in this capacity.”

Rouse, of Flossmoor, is a math teacher at Thornridge High School. He told the Chronicle following the meeting he was eager to get started with District 161.

“I’ve been looking at the possibility of joining the board for quite some time,” Rouse said. “The opportunity presented itself. I’ve been in education for the past 12 years. I’m very passionate about education. I’m very passionate about all students having the opportunity to learn and make the best use of their abilities. 

“When the opportunity presented itself, I thought I’d step up and see what happens, and fortunately things have turned out. I’m just looking forward to getting to work to push for opportunities for the students and the stakeholders of the community.”

District suffers ‘a few’ COVID-19 quarantines
During his report to the board the evening of May 10, Superintendent Dana Smith noted the district has seen “a few” COVID-19 quarantines over the past couple of weeks, particularly at the lower grade levels in the district. But metrics in the area are “coming down.”

“They’re very stable,” Smith said. “They are well under the bar that we have set to review whether we should be in-person.”

The district is using several categories of metrics to determine when sticking with in-person learning might no longer be a good idea, following its return to that format for some families at the beginning of the fourth quarter. While the weekly increases in cases per 100,000 people have been high recently, the rest of the district-tracked metrics are all “minimal,” Smith explained.

“We will stay vigilant,” he said. “We will stay focused. This is important in order for our kids — the ones who are in-person — to end the school year in person. We have to be smart about what we’re doing.”

Going ‘Above and Beyond’
The district recognized its latest #AboveAndBeyond winners for their hard work and dedication. The May honorees were Pana Campbell from Serena Hills Elementary School and Ashley Rich from Western Avenue Elementary School.

“These are two well-deserved recognitions,” Smith said.

A video was played at the meeting, recognizing the two for their work.

“That was amazing,” Rich said following the video. “That was the pick-me-up I needed for the last 14 days.”

Campbell added, “I’m grateful to be part of such a wonderful school district. … Serena Hills has been wonderful to be at.”

Other Business

  • The school board voted 5-0 to approve a series of no-bid summer projects expected to cost a total $93,024, as discussed at the meeting prior on April 27.
  • The school board voted 5-0 to approve the hiring of 10 summer custodial and technology hourly staff members for 2021 at an expected total cost of $46,200, as discussed April 27.
  • The school board voted 5-0 to approve a recommendation by Associate Superintendent Frances LaBella to adjust elementary school times for the 2021-2022 school year in an effort to give buses additional time to get from Parker Junior High School routes to the elementary schools. The new start time is to be 8:40 a.m., and the new end time is 3:15 p.m.
  • The school board voted 5-0 to increase the principal’s stipend for the Summer Academy by $1,000 and the assistant principal’s stipend by $1,500. The principal is now to receive a total of $6,000 for the Summer Academy, while the assistant principal will get $4,000.

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