ROCHELLE — At its Monday meeting, the Rochelle Township High School Board Education unanimously voted to ratify a collective bargaining agreement with the RTHS Teachers Association.
The agreement, which was already ratified by the teachers association May 6, is for four years. The board had been in negotiations with the teachers for the last month.
“I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Mrs. Flanagan for her leadership for the teachers association,” Superintendent Jason Harper said. “Negotiations can obviously be contentious or challenging at some points. This was never like that. It was really good dialogue both informally and formally. To you and your current leadership team and also the negotiations team, thank you."
Harper, RTHS Principal Chris Lewis and the board recognized two teachers that will be retiring at the end of the school year: Kurt Wolter (production technology teacher) and Janice Prusator (Focus House teacher leader).
Wolter has been “instrumental” in the progression of the RTHS technology department, Harper said. He’s helped with the theater department’s extracurricular activities and taught dual credit classes in engineering and drafting.
“He has a strong relationship with Kishwaukee College, which has been important,” Harper said. “He's done a great job building bridges to Kish and we're very appreciative of that. He was a track and cross country coach when he got here in the 1990s. On behalf of myself and the board, I want to say thank you for your service here at RTHS and all the years you worked with our students.”
Wolter thanked the board for their support over his 29 years and called working in the community as a teacher an honor. He plans to continue to teach at Kishwaukee College in the fall and hopes to finish his second master’s degree at Northern Illinois University before working in something related to data analysis.
“It's been just fantastic working here in the building with the group of teachers we have,” Wolter said. “The administration has done a fantastic job lately of getting us through some very tough years. I'm looking forward to my future. It's been a great place to work and I want to thank you all.”
Prusator has worked at Focus House for 31 years under the district umbrella with at-risk youth. Harper called her “a mainstay” at the facility and praised Prusator for her ability to navigate transitions in the program, especially in recent years.
Three or four years ago, Focus House saw numbers drop and Prusator was the lone teacher in the building for a year before more teachers were brought back, Harper said. When that happened, she made sure the spirit, climate and culture at Focus House continued, he said.
“Her colleagues talk about her being organized, flexible and the glue that holds Focus House together,” Harper said. “For what you’ve done in recent years, I'm very thankful. I want to thank you and your family for your service in the name of our most at-risk students here in Rochelle, in the county and beyond.”
Prusator called her work at Focus House “wild fun” for 31 years.
“When Doug Creason came to me and said he had a position for me, I thought he was lying,” Prusator said. “Because it's what I had always dreamt of when I went back to school. I didn't think it was possible, but it was, and here it is. It's a work of heart, like all teaching. It's been fun. Thank you.”
RTHS Board President Tom Huddleston thanked Wolter and Prusator for their work ahead of their retirements.
“I don't think it gets more important than what the two of you have done for this school,” Huddleston said. “Our greatness comes from within, from teachers such as yourselves who have been here as long as you have and have been so tremendously committed and dedicated to the school and the kids and the community. We greatly enjoy your support and appreciate everything you've done for our school and we'll never forget you."
End of year
RTHS’s last regular day of attendance was Tuesday. Final exams run Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Graduation practice will take place Friday, May 27 at 10 a.m. and graduation will be outdoors weather-permitting on Saturday, May 28 at 10 a.m.
“We will plan on it being outside at the stadium,” Lewis said. “If it's not good weather, we'll do it inside the gym. We'll make the decision early in the morning and make sure there's proper communication. We won't postpone it. People have parties planned and things to go to.”
Lewis also noted that RTHS summer school will start on Wednesday, June 1.
The board unanimously approved personnel changes including the resignations of Hannah Busching (Spanish teacher, assistant speech coach and international club advisor), McKayla Snedeker (mathematics teacher and assistant girls basketball coach) and Mark Lovell (athletic trainer).