By Stephanie Malench
The Collinsville Unit 10 School Board held its first public hearing at Caseyville Elementary School in requirement of applying ESSER III funds for the construction of a new Caseyville Elementary School.
Caseyville Elementary School, built in 1935, is the second oldest elementary school in the district and has been expanded three times, the last time in the mid-1960s. The most recent upgrade occurred in 2000-2002 when air conditioning was added (at the time Renfro was the only elementary school that had air and all others received it as part of the 2000 bond referendum) and new windows were installed.
Notable problems with the current school include having no hot water in the restrooms, lack of restrooms in convenient locations, and non-ADA compliant restrooms and railings.
Other issues include the cafeteria not being large enough to accommodate the number of students attending comfortably or safely, no storage space, and not enough classrooms (some lessons have to be held in the hallway.
After a slide presentation by Superintendent Dr. Brad Skertich showing pictures of the school, the public was invited to make comments and ask questions. Only three attendees participated.
Dave Daughty spoke in support of rebuilding the school, having attended the school himself, prior to the last expansion. He said the community’s children deserves it.
Daughty’s wife Debbie then came to the podium asking if the new school is a definite go and when the decision would be made. Skertich said there are many more steps to be completed to ensure compliance with the state guidelines, including having another public hearing, and hiring a construction manager.
The last comment was made by Jeanne Lomax, Lomax expressed concern about the concept of acquiring the library to build a one-story school. She said that she did not believe an elevator and maintenance of it outweighed paying for another taxing body (the library) to get a new building. Lomax is also concerned about the liability if something happens at the library when it is full of Unit 10 students.
School Board President Gary Peccola replied that the one-story design is not carved in stone, and other options will be sought and studied.
The public hearing concluded and after a 10-minute break the regular monthly school board meeting began. With no public comment, Skertich gave the board his report. On July 23 the return to learn plan for the 2021-2022 school year will be made available on the website with a special meeting to be held on July 26 to answer questions about the plan.
Skertich said much like last year, the plan will be fluid and may look different in October and January than August 18 depending on the health of the district’s students.
New this year, all students who enroll in Unit 10 will automatically receive a library card for their community library (Collinsville, Caseyville, Maryville, or Fairmont City).
Online enrollment is underway and in-person registration will occur on July 27. In May of this year, 208 kindergarteners have been enrolled and received free supplies to work with over the summer to get ready for school.
Director of Curriculum LaToya Berry-Coleman reported that a new language arts program would be piloted in grades K-4 and two new language arts programs in Dorris Intermediate school. Enrollment in summer school was 204 in grades K-6, 122 at CMS, and 247 at CHS. For the first time this year transportation was provided for high school students and there was no fee.
The pay rate for substitute teachers will go up from $100 per day to $110 per day starting in the 2021-2022 school year.
The tentative budget for the Collinsville Area Vocational Center has been posted at the district office and a public hearing will be held on August 30.
Activity accounts were approved for the Hispanic Heritage Club and Choir at the high school.
A bid for $18,750 was awarded to Hank’s Excavating to remove the pea rock from the Webster Elementary School playground. Rubber mulch will then be placed in the area after the timbers surrounding the playground are replaced, which are on back order.
The board passed a resolution affirming local board control of COVID-19 mitigation measures.
A proposal was approved to pay $24,536 to repair a wall at the Collinsville area Vocational Center that is buckling.
The next meeting will be a special meeting at 6 p.m. on July 26 to hear comments on the district’s return to learn plan and the next regular meeting will be August 16 at 6:30 p.m. Both meetings will be back at the Annex.