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  • Fairbury News staff

FY21 budget approved by PC

The Prairie Central Board of Education has approved the Fiscal Year 21 district budget.

This really has not changed much, according to Superintendent Paula Crane. She put more money in for payroll as extra help may be needed at the high school. The education fund remains the biggest fund.

“Our state funding all comes into our education fund,” Crane explained during Thursday’s school board meeting at Fairbury.

Funds from wind turbines should get the district a decent amount of money for education, according to Crane. She is not sure if the district will get all evidence-based funding but it did receive federal CARES money. Local fees are down, however, since fans are not coming to games. This also includes books and registration.

Prairie Central is unsure if transportation funding is coming as expenses were down substantially last year. Crane noted salaries are a large part of the budget.

“I think we run a very conservative district,” Crane said.

Crane feels where fund balances are currently is where they should be.

In another matter, the board approved a memorandum of understanding with the Prairie Central Education Association, which includes a section on sick leave and another on evaluations.

Board members received an update on the district’s Return to Learn plan. Parents will be allowed to bring their children back to in-person learning from remote learning if they wish when the quarter is finished.

“The Junior High feels pretty comfortable in the space they have,” explained Crane.

If several students come back, the high school has some problem-solving to do. It all comes down to deciding what is best for kids while keeping them safe at school and learning. Survey results are expected next week on student attendance plans.

Around 100 high school students are remote learning currently, which is about 18 percent of the school. The number of COVID-19 cases and quarantined kids is down. At the elementary level, the district is not really seeing any health concerns, other than families taking precautions and keeping school leaders informed.

Various building and grounds projects were discussed by the board. An updated fire alarm system has been installed at the high school. Every alarm can be tracked. Also, the maintenance department has been in contact with someone about the tank removal at the old Meadowbrook Elementary site in Forrest.

Projects that will need to be addressed in the future include: football lighting as the current poles don’t have very much life left in them, plumbing work at PCE, removal of the old green shed near the football entrance, construction of new visitor bleachers at some point and high school parking lot repairs.

Crane noted a new football entrance could be constructed with a training room, restroom and storage.

“We still need to have a certain amount of pride in our district,” said board president Mark Slagel.

Board member Tim McGreal would like to see the high school parking lot project move forward as there have been safety concerns especially after large rain events and icing in the winter.

“You want to do it right,” McGreal stated.

An enrollment decline continues at PC and the report was shared with the board. This showed an overall loss of 85 students with 24 students lost through attrition. Other losses were scattered through the grade levels. Approximately 320 remote learners are currently part of the district and were included in enrollment numbers. The percentage of low-income students increased from 41.5 to 42.3 percent. Overall enrollment is at 1,719.

Following an executive session, the board:

-Accepted the resignation of Kole Stadt, PCHS agriculture/IT teacher.

-Granted a one-year medical leave of absence request for an employee.

-Appointed Caren Appel is co-yearbook sponsor.

-Appointed Jeff Curl as JH baseball auxiliary coach.

-Appointed Bradley Kolar as JH assistant wrestling coach.

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