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  • Fairbury News staff

District to consider bus options

The Transportation Committee of the Prairie Central Board of Education will meet later in the month to consider options to replace the current fleet with newer used buses.

Superintendent Paula Crane will meet with the group to present options for the five to seven-year replacement plans on March 28 at the Unit Office starting at 5 p.m.

Crane reported to the full school board last week that Blue Bird has used buses available. The prices of new buses have risen considerably with costs at $130,000 to $140,000.

“The buses that are available now look like good buses to me,” Crane said.

Crane feels there will be good buses on the market for Prairie Central eventually which is why she wants a long-term plan in place. The Blue Bird buses have low miles and are 77-passenger vehicles.

“We will need a wheelchair bus eventually but right now we have enough wheel chair buses,” noted Crane.

Activity buses will need to be refreshed as well, according to Crane.

In other matters at last Thursday’s regular meeting, the Prairie Central Board of Education heard a proposal for fees and stipends for the 2023-24 school year. No action was taken but the board will review the information for the next meeting.

Crane did increase teacher substitute pay with hopes of attracting more candidates and remaining competitive with area schools. Bus driver substitute pay was also increased slightly along with summer school teachers and paraprofessionals. Student lunches must be increased each year.

“Our lunch prices are actually lower, believe it or not, for what the federal government wants us to charge,” explained Crane.

The district has been doing fine from a food standpoint the past couple of years due to Department of Agriculture subsidies. The athletic department is working on pay for officials as increases from last year did seem to help.

Other proposals for the fee plan include an increased technology cost for high school students in order to meet demands of a one-to-one initiative at that level. Students would pay the fee for all four years of high school and then own their Chromebook upon graduating. A fee of $90 has been proposed. A technology fee for kindergarten through eighth grade students would increase slightly.

Board members approved requests for Junior High membership in the Illinois Elementary School Association and high school membership in the Illinois High School Association in order for teams to participate in state competitions. This is for the upcoming 2023-24 school year.

A calendar for board meetings in the upcoming school year was presented and the newly-seated board will approve this in April after the election. It was also revealed the board will transfer funds from Tort Fund to Operations and Maintenance to pay for the lighting project. This requires a hearing which will happen prior to the regular April meeting.

An overnight stay was authorized for the Junior High Student Council at the student council convention in Springfield April 21-22. It is a yearly event for the group.

During her superintendent report, Crane reported adjustments need to be made to the new lights at the football field to achieve bid specifications as the lighting project nears an end. The high school gym will soon be painted and work on the new gym floor starts after May 1.

“We have a little time for final design,” admitted Crane.

Crane also said plans for the agriculture/IT addition are progressing with drainage design nearly finalized. Groundbreaking is still set for early summer with the project running within its proposed timeline.

The curriculum directors updated board members on state testing which has been taking place at the Junior High and will start after spring break at Prairie Central Elementary and Prairie Central Upper Elementary. This testing is required for all third through eighth grade students. A recent K-6 alignment meeting with teacher leaders was productive. Teachers have made significant process working on this most of the year.

Minutes of the February 16 regular meeting and February 23 special meeting were approved along with the consent agenda, including the activity fund report, bills, cafeteria and financial reports and investment schedule.

Prior to Thursday’s regular meeting at the PCHS library, board members held a walk-through of all schools in the district to get a better understanding of facility needs. The tour started in Chatsworth followed by Forrest, Chenoa and Fairbury.

Following an executive session, the board:

· Accepted the resignation of Meghan Briscoe, PCP East interventionist, effective the end of the 22-23 school year.

· Accepted the resignation of Michael Powers, PCHS math teacher, effective the end of the 22-23 school year.

· Accepted the resignation with intent to retire of Jonnita Vogel, PCJH ELA/PE teacher, effective the end of the 2025-26 school year.

· Accepted the resignation of Somar Preussner, PCP East kindergarten teacher, effective the end of the 2022-23 school year.

· Approved a leave of absence for Meredith Kemnetz, PCE 2nd grade teacher, from the beginning of the 2023-24 school year until October 2, 2023.

· Approved a leave of absence for Crystal Greenwell-Hilt for September 18 through November 6, 2023.

· Authorized non-bargaining salaries for the 2023-24 school year.

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