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  • Fairbury News staff

Future murky for schools

The future may be unclear, but local schools are doing their best to be prepared for a number of possible scenarios for the 2020-21 school year.

If students do come back in the fall, it will be difficult for schools as questions remain about wearing masks and the number of students allowed in one place.

“We are getting ready for something we can’t predict,” Prairie Central Superintendent Paula Crane told members of the PC Board of Education Thursday night.

Things could get very interesting as there has been no guidance provided for transportation and Prairie Central has a lot of transporting to do since it is such a massive district from a land perspective.

Crane acknowledged there are unanswered questions such as what the district does if 20 staff members get sick or if substitutes cannot be found. The school lunchroom and physical education classes could look much different than before.

The district has placed an order for no-touch thermometers as temperature taking of students and staff could be the new normal. Also, CDC guidance states staff should wear masks. Teachers have been surveyed on their needs for next year.

From a funding perspective, Crane believes things look promising in Springfield from the legislative session. The General Assembly will ensure base funding is distributed next year and categorical money has been promised along with an increase in special education funding.

“We’d get the same funds we did this year,” Crane said.

Crane hopes all of this potentially good news for the district does not fall through at the last minute.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Crane explained budget changes which include the correction of beginning fund balances. The report these were generated from was mislabeled, according to Crane, and the balances are actually higher than what was originally listed in the budget. Fire prevention and life safety expenditures were amended to $350,000 as it was previously $330,000. This was due to the decision to pay for part of the current roofing projects from this account to free-up some of the capital project funds.

Debt Services has been amended as there was a missing interest payment in the total and Operations and Maintenance was amended as well since help was added in the maintenance department.

“I only corrected what needed to be corrected really,” explained Crane.

These are not significant changes, but would flag the auditor so it is best to amend the budget now.

Next week is the final week of teacher attendance and will include discussions on what worked and what did not during distance learning. Ideas and thoughts will be gathered from staff.

The high school is completing an award night video which includes the annual departmental awards and scholarships. The video will be put together in the next couple of weeks. Also, a graduation for military students is slated for Saturday, June 6 with those graduates who won’t be around all summer. They will be brought in with families although no more than 10 will congregate due to social distancing.

In other matters, the Prairie Central Board of Education:

-Approved handbook changes as presented.

-Renewed a bread contract with Aunt Millie’s for the upcoming school year.

-Accepted a milk bid from Cloverleaf Farms.

-Authorized the consent agenda which included the activity fund report, bills, café report, sales tax report and treasurer’s report.

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