WIUM Tristates Public Radio

"A Big Undertaking" for the Macomb School District

Aug 21, 2015

Macomb School Superintendent Mark Twomey set a goal of having 100% of third grade students reading at grade level.

“By research we know that when they don’t read on grade level by the time they reach third grade, they suffer the rest of their lives. They never really catch up as a group.  A few students do but as a group they do not,” said Twomey.

He said the problem is not confined to the Macomb district -- it’s a national problem. 

His proposed solution is a program called Read 100.  As part of the plan, he would like to build an addition at Lincoln School.  Twomey said he will ask the Board of Education next month “…to engage our architect at a more serious level about adding a multi-purpose room to Lincoln School.”

Twomey said a new multi-purpose room would allow the district to offer Physical Education to each student every day, something it cannot do right now because the current multi-purpose room is too small.

Superintendent Mark Twomey's initiative to get all third graders reading at grade level is called "Read 100."
Credit Rich Egger

He said the cafeteria would be moved the current multi-purpose room, and the current cafeteria would be converted to a reading center.

“And then, for the first time, we can address that issue on a daily basis where lots of kids at one time could be receiving intervention hour-after-hour during the regular school day,” Twomey said.

“That can roll right into an after-school program and a partnership with Western Illinois University, and then that can roll right into a summer reading program.”

He said the district needs a big after-school component and a big summer component if it wants to achieve the Read 100 goal.  And he intends to start building the reading program even before the district starts building the addition.

“It’s a critical issue and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.

Twomey said the program will need to be a community-wide project; it’s not just up to teachers to help young students read at grade level but parents and volunteers also need to be involved.

“It’s a big issue. It’s a big undertaking. But it’s one that I’m absolutely convinced this community has the resources to tackle, and that we have the caring, compassionate adults in this community that will step up and do what’s necessary to fix that issue,” Twomey said.

It’s not yet known how much an addition will cost. Twomey estimated the price tag will be in the neighborhood of $2 million.  He is studying options for paying for the addition.