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  • Fairbury News staff

PC School Board meets

PC School Board Pres. Mark Slagel discusses building additions during Thursday's board meeting.

Building additions took center stage during the regular June meeting of the Prairie Central Board of Education in Fairbury.

A preliminary estimate of $4.3 million was announced for a Prairie Central Elementary gym, additional classrooms, storage, restrooms and locker rooms. Major utility work is anticipated and budget estimates are difficult due to the current availability of materials and pricing. An ag building addition is also in the works at the high school with a preliminary cost estimate ranging from $3 million to $3.7 million. Both projects are expected to cost $8 million on the high end.

Superintendent Paula Crane said the district has money to invest in the projects due to Working Cash bonds, ESSER III grant money and revenue from the County Schools Facility Tax.

“These are budgetary numbers,” Crane reminded board members.

Crane referred to the new gym at Prairie Central Elementary a needed project. It would be big enough for two side by side volleyball courts with seating for 450.

“I think it’s more than just an elementary gym,” added Crane, referring to the possibility of holding other events there.

This new gym would be built over the old preschool playground at PCE, formerly known as Westview Elementary. The board is eventually expected to go out for bids on the work.

“I’d say we need to keep moving forward,” noted board president Mark Slagel.

Also at Thursday’s regular meeting, the board approved a resolution banning an individual from all school events for one calendar year. A hearing was conducted prior to the board vote. The resolution states the individual violated district rules and engaged in misconduct at a school district event or activity by harassing or intimidating staff members, using vulgar language and interfering with a school activity. The denial of admission to school events is from May 24, 2022 through May 24, 2023.

During public comment, the board heard from PCEA President Caren Appel regarding the use of e-learning days in lieu of snow days next year. She noted the 2021-22 school year brought a different set of challenges compared to the previous year with the use of emergency days due to COVID and winter weather.

“Those e-learning days would have benefitted our students,” Appel explained.

AP students would benefit from the use of e-learning and the loss of instructional days for seniors could have been restored if this method of learning had been used.

“All six of the days missed last school year came before our state testing,” added Appel.

Appel suggested e-learning be used as a one day option, rather than consecutive days. A second cancelled day of school would be treated as an emergency day made up at the end of the year. She hopes the board has a discussion on the matter.

Superintendent Crane reported positive news regarding the PCHS and PCJH FFA teams which did extremely well at the state level again this year. PCHS teams won first place honors in Agriculture Business Management, Agricultural Mechanics, Dairy Cattle Evaluation (with reasons), Dairy Cattle Evaluation (non-reasons), Dairy Foods, Meats Evaluation & Technology and Poultry Evaluation. The chapter won the “Harvest for All” section award for efforts to right food insecurity.

Carla Kilgus was recognized as high individual in Dairy Cattle Evaluation, Isaac Lehmann was honored as high individual in Poultry Evaluation and Garret Platz was recognized as high individual in Meats Evaluation and Technology.

From the junior high, Tyler Harms was named high individual in Middle School Dairy Cattle Evaluation (non-reasons) and Tyler Young recognized for being the event high individual for the state middle school Dairy Foods event.

“Our kids really do deserve to be recognized,” said Crane.

Crane gave an update on building maintenance projects, warning the board junior high tiles are in rough shape. An architect from Minnesota has dealt with other issues similar to this. Some samples of the cement will be taken to see if there is a bad mixture or moisture in the cement.

“It could be another year before we get that tile replaced.”

The board approved a resolution to spend emergency funds for a boiler which will be replaced with two smaller boilers, each be capable of handling 75 percent of the load. Boiler systems will need to be ordered immediately for installation in early fall.

Following an executive session, several appointments were made, transfers approved and resignations accepted. Contracts of administrators Brian Quam, Wade Czerwonka, Amy Bachtold, Hannah McDermaid and Shannon Fuhr were extended through June 30, 2024. Superintendent Crane’s contract was extended through June 30, 2026. Non-bargaining salaries were approved for 2022-23.

In other business, the Prairie Central Board of Education:

-Reviewed dates of the FY23 regularly scheduled board meetings and approved the dates.

-Approved committees for FY23.

-Authorized the final school calendar for FY22, a requirement once the year is over and the calendar will no longer change.

-Allowed Crane to prepare a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2022 and ending June 30, 2023.

-Renewed membership in the Illinois Association of School Boards.

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