Astoria Schools - Astoria, Illinois
Astoria is a small community (population: 1200) and the largest in the District, located 65 miles southwest of Peoria, 75 miles northwest of Springfield, and 70 miles northeast of Quincy. It sits on U.S. Route 24 in the middle of abandoned coal mines and farming ground. The school itself is located at the north edge of town at the end of Jefferson Street. The School District encompasses four rural townships with a population of 2100 and area of 89 square miles.
Cultural opportunities are limited for residents of our District. The school, library and churches comprise the internal sources of community culture. A drive of 60 round trip miles provides the resources of WIU, Macomb, Canton and Spoon River College. It requires a 150 mile round trip to access the opportunities that towns like Peoria, Springfield and Quincy provide.
The Astoria School District (pre-k through 12th grade) is housed in one building. Astoria built the present high school in the early fifties and built an addition to house the Junior High and Elementary in the early 1970's. Due to a builder's strike during construction, many aesthetic and basic design features were omitted. Since that time such amenities as floor tile, paint, carpet, and electrical outlets have been added. At present, the district enrollment is about 400 students. Our student population reflects the community's ethnic background, the School Report Card * (see appendix) showing nearly 98.9% white with an average attendance rate of 95.7%. The district is in a low socioeconomic area with approximately 40% of its students on free or reduced lunches.
Astoria's staff is made up of three administrators, thirty-four experienced teachers (average experience of 17.years), and twenty-six support personnel. Even though the number of regular classroom teachers has declined, the number of special area teachers has increased. The years 1996 - 1998 have seen numerous workshops on technology to improve the staff's skills. The coming years (1998 - 2000) will see technology workshops continue and engaged learning workshops emphasized so that our staff becomes better equipped to meet the needs of our students in becoming proficient for a technological society.
The Astoria Community Unit School District #1 is an extremely poor school (Bottom Quartile Equalized Accessed Valuation) district. Many of the better paying jobs disappeared along with local tax revenues when a local coal mine left. Many other jobs were lost when Canton's International Harvester plant closed in the early 1980's. The equalized assessed valuation of the district has shrunk to approximately $25,000 per student.
Until five years ago the district was also technologically poor. At that time, our schools were awarded the Technology Grant for Economically Challenged Schools which allowed us to inform the community and involve community members in planning. We also purchased some computers and software as well as wired the building and started training our staff in computer skills. The award of Technology Integration Funds two years later continued the trend of improving the school's technology base.
Astoria as a community and school faces the challenges of providing a quality education in a socioeconomic ally challenged environment with limited resources. The challenges include limited monies for technology, staff development, community outreach, and engaged learning. To surmount these challenges, we offer experienced staff, involved community leaders, responsive administration, and students who are ready to develop the skills needed for the society of the future.