Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Today's Teacher Shortage

I hope everyone is heading into the new year having enjoyed a wonderful holiday break. As I write this post, I am listening to an NPR report on the teacher shortage that the country is facing today. I would recommend you take a listen to the report:

This shortage is not just a national or statewide concern, it is major issue in west central Illinois. As many of you are aware, at VIT we have been unable to find a qualified science teacher for our high school - we are not the only district in this area facing this issue. Additionally, we recently had to find a replacement for our Spanish teacher. Our previous Spanish teacher has been given an outstanding opportunity to take on leadership duties in an area ELL program. I support her move and wish her the best.

Many students and parents were worried that we would be forced to use a virtual Spanish program. While, this option would not be ideal, it is the path that many districts in this part of the state are using or exploring. We were able to find a qualified candidate who was willing to work ½ days. This will impact access to other classes as some students will be forced to change their schedules to fit into a morning Spanish class.  

When we examine the science program, there are benefits and negatives associated with the use of an online science curriculum. Students have mixed feelings, parents have mixed feelings, I have mixed feelings. On one hand, the content is rigorous and available whenever the student wants to access it. On the other, there is no "teacher" to ask questions of. For some students this is real hang-up. For others, there are other avenues to find answers to their questions...fellow students, Google, science textbooks, etc.. An additional concern is that some students are falling behind on their target progress. The science program requires more than just 45 minutes per day to stay on target.  When people think of homework they think paper and pencil assignments, this program requires some students to work on science after school - like a true high school science course would as well. Students have every opportunity to stay after school and work on our devices and wifi. Also, students can take Chromebooks home to use if they have wifi at home. We have extended the semester through the Christmas break in order to allow students to complete the semester course. When our students go to college, they will experience the concept of online coursework. The science program is a precursor to their experience with higher education online coursework.  

I do want to impress upon our community that we are doing all we can to recruit a quality science teacher: Job search websites, networking, reaching out to area universities etc..

Two of the biggest factors we are facing are 1) we are in competition with higher paying parts of the state and 2) teachers of science, math, foreign language and other content areas are in limited supply. We have so many staff members who love this district and have been here a very long time. We have several former students who teacher here - and that is an amazing fact.  The goal is to get a QUALITY candidate to the interview and share the positive attributes of our school.

Finally, teaching in general has become a less attractive job for young people and their parents (who often help pay for college).

The new pension requirements, retirement age, the high cost of a bachelor's degree vs. the starting salaries for many districts, the increased academic requirements for young people to become teachers, and the negative view that some parents, social media bullies, legislators, and shock media outlets put teachers under are all reasons why we and the rest of the nation will be looking for teachers for a long time to come.

While, this post may not be a light-hearted read, it is a fact we must all realize exists in our district, around the state, and throughout the nation as a whole.  

In order to end on a positive note, I offer this:

We have an outstanding staff who care deeply about our students. These people work hard everyday to provide an effective, caring, and supportive learning environment for the students of our community.

Enjoy the break,

Dr. Curry

Mike Curry, Ed.D.

"It always seems impossible until it's done" 
Nelson Mandela

Monday, July 11, 2016

2016 School Budget!!

As many of you may have heard, the train wreck in K-12 education has been averted in typical Illinois Legislature fashion.  K-12 education received a budget that will allow schools to operate normally in the coming year. I feel for the higher education and social service sectors for continuing to worry if the stop-gap is a band-aid, a drop in the bucket, or a bridge to real funding. We will continue to make prudent financial decisions and provide the best educational opportunities for our students. Thank you for your continued support of the VIT District.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wednesday's Email to Rep. Hammond on the Budget Fiasco

My Most Recent Email to Rep. Hammond:
Representative Hammond. Tell your colleagues that enough is enough. Your work on the bipartisan budget proposal is appreciated. Our state's K-12 students, poor citizens, elderly, abused, college students, employees and infrastructure deserve better than a staring contest that puts so many people and institutions into peril. The VIT School District will feel immediate impacts if there is no GSA. Parents in our district have lost jobs at WIU. We have parents and kids not receiving social services at an acceptable level, and our Fulton County and McDonough County neighbors are all feeling the same effects.  Use all of your might to get the Governor and the Speaker to do what is RIGHT.
Thank you,
Mike Curry

Budget Fiasco

Illinois' Budget Fiasco 
click here for the background and potential impact on the entire state:
Illinois is the nation's only state without a budget in place. In fact we haven't had a real budget for over a year.  The only real budget passed last year funded K-12 education. While we are appreciative of the 15-16 funding, we also understand and see the irreparable consequences our state's most vulnerable citizens (poor, elderly, abused, etc) have suffered. Additionally, the effects of no funding for Higher Ed. has cost people in our part of the state jobs, cost students financial aid, and forced Illinois HS graduates to contemplate out of state colleges. 
    As far as VIT is concerned, no budget for 2016-17 will force the district to use $500K-$600K of our reserves.  At that rate, we can stay open for the entire school year - following years will be uncertain. Additionally, the draining of fund balances due to unforeseen and truly unbelievable governmental stalling and posturing will cause irreparable financial damage to our district. Such damage may lead to a sooner end of this district has you have known it since the late 1940's. 
    VIT is not alone in the negative consequences of financial uncertainty - all of our neighbors are feeling the same pressures - on a variety of levels. Our Board has been out in front of this fiasco for the last 12 months. I, and the Board, have the best interests of our students, staff, and communities at the forefront of our planning for this potential financial disaster. 
    If you are reading this, I hope you take a few minutes to read Mr. Willett's Letter to the Editor in the June 29th Argus. He hit the target - dead on. If you have the time or desire - CONTACT our local legislators and tell them enough is enough!
While my cup is half-full, the future is uncertain and the next 3 days in Springfield will shape our district's future.
Thank you for your continued support of VIT,
Mike Curry
Legislator Information:
Representative District #93

Official: Norine Hammond - Republican
Office: State Representative
Contact Information: 

209-N Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: 217-782-0416
Fax: 217-557-4530

331 N. Lafayette Street
P.O. Box 170
Macomb, IL 61455
Phone: 309-836-2707
Fax: 309-836-2231
Senate District #47

Official: John M. Sullivan - Democrat
Office: State Senator
Contact Information: 

417C State Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: 217-782-2479
Fax: 217-782-3088

926 Broadway
Suite 6
Quincy, IL 62301
Phone: 217-222-2295
Fax: 217-222-2944

1601 West Jackson St.
Suite 105
Macomb, IL 61455
Phone: 309-833-5526
Fax: 309-833-5687

Monday, June 27, 2016

New Paint

New paint going on. Ms. K, Brandi and Carol changing the walls to a light gray to go with the new look that is coming soon the VIT HS Library.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Summer Updates

VIT CUSD#2 Summer Update 2016

Great things are happening in our district over this summer break. We have added air-conditioning to all classrooms in both buildings. This addition will greatly improve the learning environment in the sweltering months of August, September, and May.  The elementary building is getting all new windows as part of the AC project. The current windows are original and in need of replacement.  The elementary school also received an electrical upgrade to ensure adequate power for the new efficient window AC units.

The Jr./Sr. High School library is getting a much needed facelift. The finished project will have an atmosphere of a university student collaboration setting. New carpet, a variety of furniture that is designed for a modern learning space, and fresh coats of paint will make the space an inviting digital learning space, as well as, a meeting place for both school-related and community-related groups.   

The high school will also continue to implement digital learning opportunities for our students. Through Federal E-Rate dollars, all classrooms will have individual network access-points. Increasing access-points will provide faster internet access for the teachers and students to use in the educational process.

The goal of these upgrades is to provide a positive learning environment for our students. We look forward to the return of our students in August and welcome parents and community members to visit our buildings to see the completed work in August.  For updates and pictures, check the district website ( and Mr. Curry's blog ( Have a great summer.


Jr. Sr. High School Library Upgrade begins with a team effort of clearing it out. New paint and carpet soon. Stay tuned for updates.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

"Rural educators are the greatest multi-taskers in Illinois" - Dr Purvis at #WITcon16

Sent from my iPhone


Today should be another great day at WITcon2016. Illinois Education Secretary Beth Purvis is on hand for a morning Keynote.
Hope to hear about new trends and techniques from other west central Illinois educators!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

#WITCON2016 Day 1

So far, the Whatever it Takes Conference in Galesburg has been very insightful. Good breakout sessions. Mrs. Shaw, Mrs. Klaska & Mr. Bucher have joined me for the next 3 days of exploring new trends in education. #witcon2016

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer 2016 Happenings

Summer is upon us. There are some great changes happening on campus this summer. First and foremost, we are air-conditioning all classrooms. This should dramatically improved the climate of the educational learning environment.

Sent from my iPhone