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  • Fairbury News staff

PC addresses deficiencies

PCHS Principal Brad Allen shares information with the board Thursday, shown via Zoom.

A high school plan for addressing student deficiencies was shared with members of the Prairie Central Board of Education Thursday night during the regular January meeting.

Prairie Central High School principal Brad Allen explained the process which looks at grade trends with comparisons to the previous year. A significant difference was discovered. There were 122 failing grades in 2019-2020 with 336 in 2020-2021. Out of the 336 failing grades, 138 students are responsible for those numbers of failures, according to Allen.

“We wished we could have attacked this sooner,” Allen said. “Every time you solve a problem, two more pop up.”

Remote learning students aren’t the only ones in need of academic recovery as some in-person students are requiring extra help as well. The district is developing a plan where they can meet the needs of the different student demographics. The number of failures is fairly even across the different classes, although freshmen have more.

“Our first priority is to look at our remote-only failures from first term,” Allen explained.

This is not simply a Prairie Central or state of Illinois problem but a national problem too. Allen said they have to give students the resources to be successful which means supervision and providing kids with accountability. Someone will touch base with students daily to keep them on task. In-person students may be assigned to Saturday school to give them the extra support they need.

“If we don’t address this, it’s going to affect the student negatively.”

Also at Thursday’s meeting, board member Lori Schahrer presented a community outreach plan to hold school board meetings in the different communities of the district each month. Community members and others, such as staff members or even students, would be invited to participate in the local meetings.

“I just wanted to bring it up tonight,” Schahrer said. “We don’t have to make any decisions.”

Schahrer would like to see this start with the upcoming school year. The board is expected to brainstorm the idea further at the next meeting.

Board members authorized the bidding for 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Some felt the district should act quickly in the face of anticipated fuel price increases.

“I think fuel prices are going to take off,” stated board president Mark Slagel.

In her superintendent report, Paula Crane noted they did let some elementary remote learners return to in-person learning early. The last chance for elementary learners to come back is March 1. The junior high and high school just allowed some students back this week and their last chance to return is March 22.

COVID vaccines will be administered to 131 employees with the follow-up dose given 28 days after the first.

“I think 131 is a good start,” Crane said.

Several questions still need to be answered about next year like the need for additional interventionists to improve reading and math skills and other extra staff. Crane would like to be able to take remote learning “off the table.”

The board approved the consent agenda along with minutes of the December 17 regular meeting and truth-in-taxation hearing. Also, the process to begin bid letting for the PCUE roof project was approved.

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