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Madison County School Personnel Eligible To Begin COVID-19 Vaccinations on February 13

By Stephanie Malench

The Collinsville School Board held its first meeting of 2021 on January 25 at the Annex.

During his report to the board, Superintendent Dr. Brad Skertich reported that a data collected by the district found 80% of the district’s staff are interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine when available. School staff fall into group 1B for receiving the vaccine and vaccinations will begin on Saturday, February 13 at the Gateway Convention Center. The County plans to work through blocks of 1,000 school personnel each Saturday.

Until the vaccines have been distributed to all of those interested, the district will remain in a hybrid/blended learning setting. A systematic approach to increasing the number of student attendance days will be used, with a focus on getting open and staying open sometime this semester.

Although Collinsville Charities for Children was unable to have their annual shoe fitting and giveaway at Christmas, the charity is giving away 300 pairs of new shoes with the help of Shoe Carnival to primary and elementary students. The give away will occur the last week of February and the first week of March at the schools under the guidance of Stephanie Pulse, Summit and Jefferson Elementary Schools’ Principal.

The Diversity and Equity Committee issued its one-year progress report. The purpose of the committee is to create a more diverse teaching force and encouraging its students to go into education and is made up of the following district employees: Laura Bauer, Rhandi Beaty, LaToya Berry-Coleman, Carla Cruise, Charlotte Fisher, Claudia Gramaglia, TaRael Kee, Joe McGinnis, Karen Olsen, Akiya Perry, Ukyah Rawls, Kevin Robinson, Brad Skertich, Emily Thoman, Dan Toberman, and Sarah Williams.  Five to eight goals were laid out for three different areas: professional development, curriculum, and district programs, and were heavily influenced by what students had said they wanted to see in their classrooms and curriculum.

Examples of goals include: providing teachers with diversity and equity content specific training, diversifying the curriculum at CHS to include such classes as Present Minority Authors, Minority Voices in Literature, and an alteration of the Current Events class to cover controversial matters, and establishing an “affinity space” for teachers to share their experiences.

Director of Curriculum and Instruction, LaToya Berry-Coleman  informed the board that the elementary school reading curriculum Wonders will expire at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. After an audit of the program, it has been decided to look for a new program.

When the new reading standards came out in 2009, Wonders was the only program that met the criteria, and teachers have had to supplement the series  a lot to meet the needs of students. There is more reading curriculum to choose from now.

The middle school is also looking to move away from Engage New York, which is also used at the elementary schools, but not suitable for the needs of middle school students. The high school is also looking to replace the junior level English books.

A resolution was passed making all snow days e-learning days for students. When the 2021-2022 school calendar was approved, the five emergency days were kept on the calendar in the event there is widespread power outages or the internet is down across the area preventing remote learning.

The 2021-2022 calendar also reverts back to the regular schedule of holidays and teachers’ institute days.

The Collinsville Area Vocational Center is preparing to purchas 3 new sites for their Building Trades Classes. The house purchased at the end of last school year on South Clinton Street is wrapping up, so the district is working on acquiring a lot down the street from the current house as well as purchasing two adjacent lots in the Tanglewood Subdivision off Illinois 159 in Caseyville.

The board approved the purchase of the two Tangelwood lots.

Approval was granted allowing the district to purchase a new dump truck for the maintenance department and a new food service truck.

The district is also preparing to seek student transportation services bids, as First Student is at the end of their contract and has not accepted the district’s latest proposal as of the meeting.

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