Rock Falls High School board hears reports on IT, drama

Rich Montgomery, athletics director; Angela Duggins, English instructor and drama sponsor; and Chris Wolter, IT coordinator for Aero Group, attend the Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, meeting of the Rock Falls board of education.

ROCK FALLS — Laptop chargers require wrangling, the natural gas supply for the Tabor Gym heaters is being addressed and the drama students hope to make a point this spring.

Those were among several items the Rock Falls board of education heard reports on during a board of education meeting on Oct. 19.

Information technology

Chris Wolter provided a report on his role as a contracted coordinator of the school’s information technology via the Aero Group. Firstly, he will now be at the school five days a week.

Wolter also said chargers for Chromebook laptops will now be labeled and tagged in an effort to reduce loss or theft.

On a related note, he and the library are looking at a way to make Chromebook distribution and collection a more efficient process.

Wolter said there will be an upgrade of computer systems from Windows 10 to Windows 11, printer upgrades went well, and new security cameras have been installed and he is addressing visual blindspots.

Lastly, good feedback has been received from teachers on the installation of smart panels to replace whiteboards.

Building and grounds

Superintendent Ron McCord gave the report as facilities director Bryan Berogan was not in attendance.

The heating units in the gyms have to be resupplied with gas.

Principal Mike Berentes said: “It’s on Nicor.”

Outside of the gym, the boiler did not start up properly the first time it was used; classrooms are heated but hallways are cold. It has to do with a trap in the old section that has to be fixed.

The administration is hoping that bids for work on the welding lab and the air purification system will be delivered soon.

McCord said the new kitchen appliances are operating well.

The school building went through its decennial health, life and safety inspection and is awaiting the results, McCord said.


English teacher Angela Duggins gave a report on the district’s theater and fine arts productions, the most interesting one requiring a fine point.

In the spring the drama students will receive instruction in stage combat “so our sword fighting will be safe,” Duggins said.

Sword play will be an element in “Ms. Austen’s Choice,” a play by Lavinia Roberts, which tells the story of a young Jane Austen. It will be performed April 27-29.

“The K of D,” a play by Illinois writer Laura Schellhardt, will be the fall production, 7 p.m. Nov. 3-5 at Tabor Gym. In the play the character of Charlotte McGraw may or may not have the power to kill anything she kisses. She said there are elements of the play that may be too intense for those 12 and younger.

A student adaptation of “Bambi: A Life in the Forest” which entered public domain this year will serve as the basis for a film and dance project that will get its debut on Dec. 18.


The board approved personnel including Nichole Small as a main office administrative assistant; Jacob Barnes, assistant boys basketball; Isabelle Arduini, volunteer wrestling; Dylan Williamson, volunteer wrestling; and Paul Piatek, volunteer basketball.


The board approved the request by librarian Kristine Schauff to retire effective at the end of the 2023-24 school year.

Joint Conference

Board member Matt Lillpop gave a rundown of the resolutions before the Illinois Association of School Boards during the Nov. 18-20 Joint Conference.

In his estimation the committee recommendations on proposed resolutions were in line with Rock Falls High School’s position with one exception: the measure that would change passage of delegate resolutions from simple majority to requiring a two-thirds vote.

“In my opinion, I do not like this,” Lillpop said. “This makes things more difficult for downstate districts to pass items.”

McCord said he agreed with the assessment. “Downstate would be so much at a disadvantage. You can’t outvote Chicago,” he said.

The Joint Conference — sometimes called the Triple I Conference — allows school boards, district financial officers and school administrators to conduct annual business at the same time in the same location. In addition to the IASB, the conference includes the Illinois Association of School Administrators and the Illinois Association of Business Officials.


McCord provided final enrollment figures for the high school. In-house enrollment is 548. Including those who attend class elsewhere, such as Whiteside Area Career Center, puts total student body at 580.

“Those are all-time lows,” McCord said.

According to Illinois Report Card data, enrollment was at 595 in 2021, 639 in 2020, 667 in 2019 ad 649 in 2018.

Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.