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  • Fairbury News staff

District waits for guidance

Leaders in the Prairie Central school district are hoping for additional guidance from the state soon pertaining to the COVID-19 situation.

“We are really not able to create a plan until we have additional guidance,” Superintendent Paula Crane said during the PC school board’s regular June meeting.

According to Crane, the health departments in both McLean and Livingston counties really don’t know any more about the future than the district does at this point. Health officials are advocating for both masks and social distancing should classes resume.

“We’ll see how it works,” Crane admitted.

Crane really wants to see the district reopen for in-person instruction but feels that could be difficult depending on what parameters are set. Everyone wearing a mask could be a scary sight for some kids and that could prove challenging for students with asthma or other issues. Social distancing could also be tough for schools to observe.

“Once we get that guidance, we’ll start to meet,” added Crane.

“You can’t make a plan for what you don’t know,” said board member Tim McGreal.

Board president Mark Slagel noted he reached out to both of the State Representatives in this area, Dan Brady and Tom Bennett, about the situation.

During her superintendent report, Crane explained the state did pass a budget so the district will get level funding when it comes to categorical and evidence-based money. CARES funding will be used to purchase software teachers can utilize for remote learning or other purposes.

Work is ongoing on the high school football field bleachers and building roof work continues, as the rubber is down on them.

“We are finding things as they are still here and working on it,” Crane stated.

The board approved a Phase One return to conditioning for sports and music as the IHSA recently announced it was alright for participants to return. Coaches can only have so many contact days with kids during the summer. Drumline rehearsal is underway with the same safety precautions as other sports.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, two letters were read from employees who are concerned about the possibility of stipends not being fully paid for activities which may not happen due to COVID-19.

“I fear that furloughing coaches will require many of our coaches to find other means of supplementing their income,” stated a letter from head football coach Andrew Quain. “This may result in coaches not returning to their current positions. More importantly, I fear that with the loss of the coaching support system, student-athletes will seek other avenues and not return to our athletic programs.”

Quain’s letter also mentioned the resources provided by football staff to help players which have included Zoom meetings, home mailings, grade checks and parent/school communications. He feels this is not the time to pull coaches away from athletes since over 70 students could be impacted if there is no football for the 2020 season.

A letter from FCCLA advisor Emily Lantz stated, “I am concerned about losing my stipend because we work year round, rain or shine. We do things in and for the community, for the district and to help better the members involved.”

The leadership program helps build better members of society, the letter notes. FCCLA attends several conferences which help teach skills and get students involved with other schools.

Following an executive session, the board accepted the following resignations: Abbey Kendall, PCE paraprofessional; Amber Johnson, newly hired PCHS social studies teacher and cross country coach; Denice Masters, PCE and PCJH secretary; Hilary Bauman, PCE secretary; Tory Farney, PCHS football assistance coach; Shelby Gresham, PCJH interventionist and librarian.

The following appointments were made: Rita Meister as summer school teacher; Kathy Anderson as PCHS co-head scholastic bowl coach; Julie McArdle as PCJH science teacher; Maxwell Crowninshield as PCHS social studies teacher and HS head cross country coach; Brendan Vincent as instrumental music teacher; Tonya Chester as PCE head cook, Emily Davis as PCE secretary; Wade Czerwonka as PCJH principal, pending successful contract negotiation effective for the 2020-21 school year.

Katie Urick, newly hired PCP East interventionist, was internally transferred to PCE special education teacher effective the 2020-21 school year.

In other business, the Prairie Central Board:

-Amended the 2020 Fiscal Year budget as presented.

-Authorized preparation of the Fiscal Year 21 budget.

-Approved IASB membership for 2020-21.

-Set the Board of Education meeting dates for 2020-21.

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