By Stephanie Malench
The Collinsville Unit 10 School Board held a public hearing regarding the Collinsville Area Vocational Center budget for 2020-2021 before its regularly schedule board meeting on August 17. Uta Robison, Director of Business Affairs for the Unit 10 School District gave an overview of this year’s budget which was based on 400 students being enrolled in the program at a tuition rate of $1,250 per student for revenues, and expenditures based on only 350 students enrolling due to COVID-19.
Although the shortfall on revenues created a shortfall of $136,712, the account had a balance left over from the 2019-2020 school year that covers the shortfall and still leaves money in the account. There were no phone calls or emails for public comment.
During the regular school board meeting, numerous emails were read asking the board to consider going full remote for the first part of the school year based on the spike in COVID-19 cases in the area lately and the announcement on Sunday that several employees in several building had already tested positive for COVID-19 or had been asked to quarantine due to exposure to someone that had tested positive for the virus.
Earlier in the day Superintendent Brad Skertich had made the decision to switch the district to 100% remote learning beginning Tuesday, August 18 for students at Collinsville Middle School and Collinsville High School and Thursday, August 20 for grades K through 6 after they have their student/parent orientation and small group meetings on either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Remote learning will continue through at least Friday, September 4 and will be re-evaluated at that time based on county health metrics for the week of August 31. A plan will be announced on Thursday September 3 as to whether remote learning will continue or if the district will transition to a hybrid/blended schedule.
Unlike the remote learning at the end of last school year, remote learning will not be a review session. Attendance will be monitored, grades will be given and daily interaction will be required to learn the material.
Before reports were given, School Board President Gary Peccola commended district staff and partnering contractors such as First Student Bus Service and Sodexo Food Service on behalf of the School board for working hard to get the district to where it was in trying to start the year with the hybrid schedule.
During the Superintendent’s report, Skertich again expressed frustration with the Illinois Department of Public Health offering no direction to school districts across the state on how to manage their buildings, students, and staff during the pandemic. Last week IDPH did finally define what an outbreak is in a school setting. Skertich said an outbreak is defined as two positive cases within 14 days in the same classroom.
Each building’s Logistics Plan that was approved by the appropriate county’s health department is available on the website for the time when hybrid learning can be safely implemented.
During the student services report, Director Brad Hyre announced that last school year the number of homeless students went up 41% to 318 students, and with the pandemic he expects that number to go up again this year. The Madison County Regional Office of the Superintendent help with providing services to these students.
Total enrollment for the district is down 43 students from last year and 118 new students have enrolled since August 1.
The new internet tower in Fairmont City will not be completed until December, but a temporary tower has been set up and is functional for students to use during remote learning.
A Public hearing will be held on September 21 at 6:30 p.m. before the regular school board meeting at the Unit 10 Annex at 123 West Clay Street in Collinsville to approve the tentative budget for the 2020-2021 school year. The budget will be on display in the Unit 10 District Office at 201 West Clay Street in Collinsville for the public to review before the hearing.