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Minooka High School board welcomes new member

MINOOKA – A new Minooka Community High School board member was named and sworn in during Thursday’s board meeting.

Wendi Arlis replaces Michelle Mullen, who resigned in March after a controversy regarding a possible conflict of interest. Mullen resigned after a communication from the Illinois Attorney General stated it is a conflict for Mullen to serve on the board, since she is a teacher with the Grundy County Special Education Cooperative. District 111 Superintendent Jim Colyott serves on the co-op’s executive board.

Arlis is a school volunteer who has served in classrooms, organized scholastic book fairs, served in the Minooka PTO and is the girls’ basketball team representative for the athletic boosters. She also has participated on Minooka School District 201’s referendum committee.

In an interview released by the district, Arlis said she will strive to listen to all points of view in her position and wants to make sure all students are given the best opportunities for learning.

“I am passionate and honest,” she said in a news release. “I understand that school board members are elected by their community and will strive to listen to all points of view. I may not always agree with everyone that I meet, but in order to effectively reach a decision on various issues, I will absolutely let voices be heard and will take the time to listen.”

Arlis will serve in the position until the April 2015 election, at which time her seat, as well as three other school board seats, will be on the ballot.

The board on Thursday also hired a new director of student services. Joseph Pacetti will replace Carol Whiteaker, who is leaving the position this year to teach at the district’s alternative learning center, Project Indian.

Pacetti has served as assistant director for special education in West Aurora School District 129, middle school principal at Wilmington School District 290, principal at Oswego East High School, dean of student services at Oswego School District 308, and a special education teacher at the Grundy County Special Education Cooperative.

In his new position, Pacetti will oversee the district’s special education programs, homebound service, and response to intervention programs, among other responsibilities. He will begin the position this summer.

Also Thursday, Colyott told members of his concern regarding potential state legislative action on an amendment to Senate Bill 16, which if approved could mean a reconfiguration of how Illinois public schools are funded. Should the bill pass, he said Minooka High could lose $600,000 in state funding next year, which is 33 percent of the school’s state revenues.

“They say the current system is not equitable,” Colyott said. “I am very fearful for schools like us.”

Colyott said he would keep the board informed on the progress of the bill and other legislative actions.

The board also approved a tax abatement for a new hotel coming to Minooka. According to Colyott, Blair Road Hotel Associates plans on building an 84-room, four-story Hampton Inn in town, which could open as soon as May 2015. The district will give the hotel a three-year standard property tax abatement of 75 percent the first year, 50 percent the second year and 25 percent the third year.

The May 1 school board meeting is canceled, due to the superintendent being unavailable and a light agenda.

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