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  • Fairbury News staff

Another abatement authorized

Another tax abatement was authorized by members of the Prairie Central Board of Education at the group’s regular June meeting.

The seven-year abatement is for Zutat Feed Solutions, located just south of Chatsworth in an unincorporated area outside of the town limits. A 60,000 square foot building and 28 full-time jobs are being created, meeting the wage and benefit requirements.

“It exceeds all of the criteria of the program,” noted Adam Dontz from the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council.

Livingston County Board members have already approved the abatement.

“The property won’t be on sewer and water from the Chatsworth municipal system,” explained Dontz.

Board member John Wilken gave a Music Booster update, after he and Superintendent Paula Crane met with booster officers and staff. It has been a slow year for fundraising and spending in the music program.

“They are planning to have basically the same type of fundraising events in the year ahead,” Wilken said.

The group is making more of an effort to raise funds through donations rather than extra fundraisers.

In her superintendent report, Crane told board members the Upper Elementary roof project ran into problems with supplies and there is a secondary project as well. New developments include a damaged metal deck in one area with the roofers wanting to fix the damage. Also, a gas leak was detected in a line leading to the high school foods classroom. Repairs have been scheduled.

Crane reported work continues on the Capital Projects Grant which was initially written two years ago. The state would like additional information and the board will continue to be updated on progress. A FEMA and IEMA grant is almost finished but additional information has been requested for this grant also.

An update on Senate Bill 654 was provided. This requires 30 minutes of unstructured play for all K-5 students in addition to PE time and could create additional burdens at Prairie Central Elementary with no gym available and the all-purpose room being used all day for PE and lunch.

“The elementary principals are working on that already,” explained Crane.

Senate Bill 818 has been revised and no longer mandates personal health or safety and sexual health education. House Bill 18 allows the PERA joins committee to agree to evaluate tenured teachers who have achieved an “excellent” or “proficient” score in their most recent evaluation to be evaluated every three years instead of every two. House Bill 24 is the sexting education bill which mandates this be taught during delivery of the sex education curriculum, which is optional.

A review of the six-year capital projects plan was again presented. Crane said football lighting will have to become a priority and she outlined plans for the high school gym. Main gym roof work would need to happen first to make sure there are no leaks, then the district will look into the windows before redoing the floor.

“We will have other projects come up,” Crane added.

Under new business, a draft job description was presented for a new data management technician position. The position would manage district employee and student data as well as educational software programs and accounts. The issue will be revisited during the July meeting.

Crane also reviewed the 5Essential Survey results for the district with the data expected to be released to the public in the near future. Prairie Central scored well on this.

Curriculum and Instruction director Tonya Dieken presented a fall to spring academic data report. Dieken explained kids are making growth which is what the district was looking for, but there was a drop in the ability to grow the kids which was pretty much district-wide. She feels students “ran out of steam” by the end of the year.

“Our kids slowed down and we weren’t able to keep the pace we were at,” Dieken explained.

While students are rebounding nicely, this will take time.

Board members authorized Crane to prepare a draft fiscal year 2022 budget for the district and approved board policy manual changes to be in compliance with current law. The group also approved the Food Service Director job description update which was presented last month along with non-bargaining salaries.

Following an executive session, the board appointed:

-Krystina Smith as PCJH special education teacher, effective with the 2021-22 school year.

-Dan Groce as .25 FTE PE teacher at PCP West.

-Lilah Stotler as high school head cook.

-Gabby Weber as varsity girls basketball coach.

-Ashley Allonge as high school café worker.

-Keshia Buscher as junior high café worker.

-Heather Weber as junior high science teacher.

-Samantha Retter as high school custodian.

-Lydia Jeffries as PCP West paraprofessional.

-Ali Ifft as seventh grade volleyball coach.

-Andrew Lassiter as high school custodian.

-Justin Steve as high school dean of students.

-Brian Quam as director of Curriculum, Instruction and Technology.

-Courtney McClure as PCE principal.

-Amy Bachtold as PCJH principal.

The board accepted the following resignations:

-Kayla Smock, PCHS math teacher and JV volleyball coach.

-Tim McGuire, varsity softball coach.

-Deana Boles, PCP West paraprofessional with the intent to retire.

-Jessica Lawent, PCJH math teacher.

Transfers were approved for:

-Krista Leman from café worker to paraprofessional at PCJH.

-Michelle Harms, PCJH ELA teacher, to PCJH interventionist.

-Monika Rhoads from paraprofessional to .5 FTE secretary and .5 FTE paraprofessional at PCJH.

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