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  • Fairbury News staff

Tentative levy presented to board

A tentative levy was presented to members of the Prairie Central Board of Education during the group’s regular November meeting in Fairbury.

The proposed levy is expected to keep the tax rate about the same as last year and maybe even a bit lower. With an unanticipated increase of over $20 million in equalized assessed value, the levy would likely generate an additional $1.2 million throughout all funds. Additional funding would help cover employee pay increases, maintenance projects and increased operational costs.

A truth in taxation hearing is planned for the December school board meeting before the levy is approved.

Also at the recent meeting, Superintendent Paula Crane reviewed the Illinois Report Card. All Prairie Central schools have been designated “Commendable” this year, which Crane attributes to the hard work and dedication of staff.

“Through the website, the Prairie Central report card can be accessed, which contains information about the district including state test scores, finances, 5Essentials survey results, enrollment, demographics, etc.,” said Crane.

The site has a new feature allowing users to compare PC schools to others in the state with similar demographics.

A first draft of an Absenteeism and Truancy Police was presented. This is mandated by the State Board of Education. PC schools have a high rate of chronic absenteeism and will begin to focus on the issue. Chronic absenteeism is achieved when a student misses 10 percent or more of the school year. A full year is 176 student attendance days. The policy will be voted on next month.

Health insurance was renewed for 2023 at a modest four percent increase which will cost employees a maximum of an additional $5 per paycheck depending on the individual plan they have or an additional $24-$34 per paycheck for full family premiums. This proposal increases the board’s monthly contribution to approximately $109,200, an increase of around $50,400 annually. Dental insurance increased five percent and vision and life insurance had no rate changes.

Under old business, the board approved a facilities study. The community engagement part of the study needs further planning, however Crane asked the board approve the actual study portion not to exceed $45,000.

Course additions and changes were approved, including the addition of Veterinary Sciences, Pottery and Sculpture II, Educator Rising and Dual Credit Education 101. There are changes to the descriptions of English IV and Dual Credit Principals of Biology.

During the superintendent and curriculum director’s report, board members learned the district is due for a compliance audit which is required by the State Board of Education and completed by the Regional Office of Education. Building projects continue such as putting the finishing touches on the Upper Elementary roof and boring for the high school ag addition to test what is in the soil. Drilling work on the new football field lights begins soon with the poles set to arrive this week.

Crane reminded the board and others interested in running for school board that they will have three vacant seats to fill and there are timelines for filing with the county to run for the positions. Timelines and other information is available on the Illinois Association of School Boards website.

Chastity Pick addressed the board during public comment, expressing appreciation to the Prairie Central Board of Education during the statewide observance of School Board Members Day in Illinois.

“On behalf of the PCEA officers, Caren Appel, Deb Vaughan, Monica Markley and myself, Chastity Pick, along with the entire membership of PCEA, we thank you for all you do to make Prairie Central a great place to learn and teach,” Pick stated.

In other business, the board decided to move its April meeting to April 27 as votes from the April election may not be canvassed until April 25 which was after the regularly scheduled April 20 board meeting. The following month’s meeting is currently scheduled for May 18. Newly elected board members will be seated at that time.

A request was granted from the boys basketball team for an overnight trip to Springfield during a Christmas tournament Dec. 27, 28 and 29.

Following an executive session, the group:

-Accepted the resignation of Ivana Rivera, effective Oct. 26.

-Accepted the resignation, with intent to retire, of Darla Kaisner, effective Dec. 31.

-Appointed Clay Pinkham as junior high track coach, Shannon (Fehr) Brown as Unit Office staff and Betty Ray as café worker at Prairie Central Elementary.

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