The annual transportation and food service reports were presented to members of the Prairie Central Board of Education during the group’s regular July meeting in Fairbury.
An update from district transportation director Chris Wilder included a breakdown of what is spent on each bus for maintenance along with non-school bus vehicles. Mileage totaled around 441,000 this year as there were more extracurricular activities compared to the previous year. Maintenance costs for buses typically include oil changes, wheel pulls and brakes.
“They did this summer find a couple that needed brake drums on the rear,” Wilder explained.
Wilder revealed a couple of people are interested in getting their license to drive a bus and another is working on a being a substitute driver.
“I’d love to find some more,” Wilder admitted. “It’s tough, especially with today’s economy.”
“We are hiring two drivers tonight,” noted Superintendent Paula Crane.
New software will help with routing and used buses which were purchased earlier in the year are delayed and may not arrive until November. This is due to new vehicle delays for other districts trading in the vehicles Prairie Central purchased.
Food services director Susan Cavazos updated the board on district cafeterias. There was a higher reimbursement rate in the past year under the summer food program and all meals were free to students. The regular meal program returns this year and families must complete the free and reduced lunch application to receiving special pricing if they qualify.
“We can’t deny a student a meal. Every day they’re getting a meal,” explained Cavazos.
A COVID grant of $2,000 was received to purchase an additional freezer and PC received a “Dollars for Dairy” grant to purchase a new ice cream freezer and share cart at the Upper Elementary and an iced coffee bar and share cart for the high school. Funds are being set aside to buy a new walk-in freezer at Prairie Central Elementary.
Both reports were approved by the board.
During her superintendent report, Crane updated the board on work at the high school which includes windows in the gymnasium and roof work. Some disconnected pipes have been fixed on the south end. The Upper Elementary air conditioning is not all the way in yet and the football field lighting will not be installed before football, meaning old lights will still be used this season due to material delays and an engineering issue.
“We’ll see how that all goes,” said Crane.
Hydrants have been tested at the high school and PCE and the results just came in. Surveying will soon take place for the ag shop addition and the new gym at PCE.
The tuition waiver application has been received by the board and goes into effect Aug. 14, meaning full-time employees of the district may now have their children attend PC schools tuition free.
The FY23 budget proposal was reviewed and will be considered for approval at the board’s September meeting. Over $4 million in capital project expenditures are included in the budget which predicts nearly $30 million in revenue and $32 million in expenditures, showing deficit spending of around $1.8 million. Crane noted fund balances will stay healthy for the year.
E-learning days were once again discussed by the board. While a decision was not made at the meeting, Crane outlined what an e-learning day would look like, including four hours of synchronous instruction by teachers and at least one hour of independent learning by students. The five hours meets the state mandate of 300 minutes of learning to be counted as a school day.
“You’re not going to have a preschool student online four hours,” Crane told the board.
Board vice president Tim McGreal questioned if this would turn into more work. Board president Mark Slagel wondered how many children would not get online for the e-learning. Crane fears a further separation for some students as it could be difficult to get kids caught up.
Slagel suggested taking an e-learning day only if the day can be predicted and called the day before by 2 p.m., such as for extreme winter weather events. He also asked about students attending the day before Thanksgiving. Crane admitted an e-learning day could look different at the K-6 level compared to the higher grades.
“It’s not going to be perfect,” said board member Dana Kafer.
Following an executive session, the board:
· Appointed Mariah Wheeler as bus driver effective the 2022-23 school year.
· Appointed Brooke Fenton Chasaddy Grismore as bus driver effective the 2022- 23 school year.
· Appointed Leslie Bauman as HS secretary effective August.
· Appointed Tiffany Custer as HS social studies teacher effective the 2022-23 school year.
· Appointed Kylie Miller as HS agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor effective the 2022-23 school year.
· Appointed Matt Mogged as HS assistant girls track coach effective the 2022-23 school year.
· Appointed Sarah Morris as HS yearbook sponsor effective the 2022-23 school year.
· Appointed Melissa McClellan as bus monitor effective the 2022-23 school year.
· Appointed Daneka Burger as bus monitor effective the 2022-23 school year.
· Appointed Anita Meyers as bus monitor effective the 2022-23 school year.
· Accepted the resignation of Kade Hill, HS agriculture education teacher and FFA sponsor, effective the end of the 2021-22 school year.
· Accepted the resignation of Max Crowninshield, HS social studies teacher, cross country coach, and girls track assistant coach, effective the end of the 2021-22 school year.
· Accepted the resignation of Hannah McDermaid, PCUE principal effective July 31, 2022.
· Non-renewed the employment of Danielle Seifrit, bus monitor, effective the end of the 2021-22 school year.
· Approved a leave of absence for Darla Kaisner from August 15, 2022 through December 31, 2022.