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The St. Elmo Board of Education met in regular session on Monday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m. where the discussion of the Back-to-School plan was continued, and then tabled, pertaining to the return to full school days.
Board President Kevin Maxey and Vice President Chad Wilhour were not present at the meeting and neither was Board Member Jared Stine.
Shannon Moss was appointed President Pro Tem. for the meeting. At the March meeting, the board discussed April 26, as a possible date to resume full-length school days due to the declining numbers of COVID-19 cases.
The district has been releasing students 40 minutes earlier this year to allow time for remote planning and sanitation of the classrooms. Since the district moved back to in-person learning, and remote learning ceased, the need for the early dismissal was brought into question.
The safety of returning to full-length days at this point, as COVID cases are again on the rise, was brought into question. Superintendent Julie Healy pointed out that the longer students are in the building, the higher the chances are of exposure to the virus.
“We’ve seen a pretty big upswing in our [COVID] numbers with 36 in quarantine and 2 positives,” said Healy.
She went on to note that these are the highest numbers the district has seen this year. Board Member Josh Fulk believes students should return to a full day of learning at some point this year, he said, “I think its important to get the kids back; it’s 12-13 percent of the day that they’re missing.”
Junior/Senior High School Principal Brian Garrard said that he had been approached by staff members who were unsure about the return to full days this year. Noting that the later it gets in the year, the less benefit a return to full days will have compared to the adjustment that the teachers and students would need to make.
“I’ve heard more of ‘Why in the world are we doing this with only four weeks left?’ and I didn’t hear a teacher in the building say, ‘I’m glad we’re doing this or that,’” said Garrard, “We’ve been in survival mode since we walked in this building, the teachers are tired, the kids are tired, the last thing we need to be doing is trying to return to full days.”
Garrard went on to note that the above was simply his opinion and that the situation has been fluid since the start of the year and there really is not a definite right or wrong answer. No action was made regarding the matter and the discussion was tabled for the next meeting.
In other business, the board approved an increase in Junior High and High School Sport’s Official rates of pay. Varsity Basketball Officials will receive a $10 pay increase, Varsity Volleyball will receive a $10 pay increase, JV Basketball will receive a $5 pay increase, Softball will receive a $5 pay increase, and all Junior High Sports Official pay will increase by $5.
Healy said that while the increase will not put the district at the top, it will make the pay more comparable to what other districts are paying officials.
The annual Illinois High School Association Membership in the amount of $500 and the annual Illinois Elementary School Association Membership in the amount of $732.50 were both approved.
Other approved items were: the graduation list for 2021, pending meeting all requirements; the consolidated district plan; a contract with Stacy Gibson for speech services; the re-employment of staff for the 2021-2022 school year; and the employment of Hannah Raver as high school science teacher, pending certification.
Additionally, the board accepted a letter of resignation from Kearstin Scoles as junior high cheerleading sponsor.
The board will meet again, in regular session, on Monday, May 27, at 7:30 p.m.