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  • Fairbury News staff

Board talks facilities

(The new high school ag/IT addition is on schedule, according to Superintendent Crane)

Damien Schlitt of BLDD Architects presented information to the Prairie Central Board of Education this week on a long-range facilities plan.

The firm will use information from the district architect to start the process of community engagement with decision making. BLDD will meet with staff in the district to learn about functionality of existing facilities and around 15 to 20 community members will be asked to serve on a facilitating team.

“The hope is to get community members from all Prairie Central towns with a variety of viewpoints,” said PC Superintendent Paula Crane in her summary of the recent meeting. “This team will meet regularly to prepare for community engagement sessions by giving feedback on how information should be presented to community members and what information they believe is important for our community to know.”

During the public engagement sessions, everyone will be invited to learn about the evaluation of school buildings and help brainstorm possible options for facility improvements. In later sessions, community members will discuss pros and cons of various options and engage in high-level discussions of financing options for facility improvements.

Finally, community members will be asked to help select a final option for presentation to the board. Anyone interested in serving on the facilitating team should contact Crane.

Following this presentation, the board approved an agreement for professional services with BLDD Architects for long-range facility planning and community engagement.

In other matters, Crane reported the agriculture and I.T. building is still on schedule and Union Roofing will begin work on the remainder of the Upper Elementary roof. This is the final area to be roofed as it has been leaking, resulting in damage to band instruments over the summer.

All Prairie Central schools scored “Commendable” on the Illinois Report Card, except Prairie Central Upper Elementary, which earned the state’s highest designation of “Exemplary.” This indicates PCUE scored overall in the top 10 percent of elementary schools in the state.

Board members approved changes for the PCHS Curriculum Guide. This includes adding the new state requirement for an additional term of U.S. History for graduation, changing Cross Categorical Health to a nine-week course instead of 18 weeks and adding verbiage that Welding I could be taken on either the LACC or Prairie Central campus.

A health insurance renewal was approved for Blue Cross Blue Shield. District health insurance premiums will increase 15.5 percent which is down from the initial proposal by the company. Dental insurance with Principal will increase five percent while vision insurance with Principal and life insurance with Dearborn Life will stay the same.

Under new business, Superintendent Crane presented a tentative levy for the next school year.

“If the estimated EAV received by Livingston, McLean and Ford counties is correct, the levy should generate a flat tax rate for our citizens,” explained Crane.

Crane also presented information on historic tax rates and EAV as well as current operating fund balances compared to the average expenditures over the past three years.

Overnight trip requests were authorized for the high school wrestling team to visit Springfield, Litchfield and the sectional tournament and for the high school softball team to play at the Jacksonville tournament in late March. A request was also granted for the Junior High Student Council to attend the Springfield Leadership Convention April 19-20, 2024.

The consent agenda was approved, which included an activity fund report, bills, cafeteria report, financial reports, investment schedule and Treasurer’s report. The County Schools Facilities Tax report was not yet available.

Following an executive session, the board:

-Approved the resignations of Macy Vaughan, PCP paraprofessional, effective Nov. 9; Nicol Short, café worker, effective Nov. 9; and Emily Tooley, PCE/West custodian, effective Nov. 10.

-Approved the retirement of Cynthia Frickey, PCHS paraprofessional, effective at the end of the 2023-24 school year and Mike Zimmerman, bus driver, effective Jan. 1.

-Employed Meghan Briscoe, PCE paraprofessional; Ashly Mueller, PCE paraprofessional; Stephanie Meints, high school auxiliary wrestling coach; and Kaitlyn Sattler, Junior High track coach.

-A leave of absence was granted for Kylie Bounds, PCUE SLP, effective April 3 to May 23, 2024.

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