By Stephanie Malench
The Collinsville School Board held its second and final public hearing regarding using ESSER III funds for the construction of a new Caseyville Elementary School. After showing pictures of the cramped and inadequate conditions in the school, the public was invited to comment. Unlike the first public hearing held on July 19 at the school, no one from the comment had anything to say.
During the regular meeting, the board then unanimously approved a resolution authorizing and providing for the issue of no more than $4,750,000 in general obligation (limited tax) debt certificates of the district for the purpose of construction of the new school and an addition to Dorris Intermediate School. The bonds will supplement the $14.76 million in Federal ESSER II funds and money from TIF I financing through the City of Collinsville.
The board also approved beginning negotiations with Holland Construction Services as the Construction Manager as Constructor for both Caseyville Elementary and Dorris Intermediate School. Holland had previously been selected by the district to complete the large Collinsville High School addition in 2004.
During the State of the District Report, Dr. Brad Skertich announced that $85,000 had already been pledged to offer the first Grow Your Own Scholarship to a Collinsville High School senior at the end of the 2021-22 school year to pursue a degree in education and return to Collinsville Unit 10 to teach.
Because 14% of the district’s students are English Language Learners, the district will offer a Blended PreK Bilingual classroom for 32 students, of whom 10 have special needs, Spanish courses at Collinsville Middle School, and two more bilingual classrooms.
Collinsville Unit 10 also has the lowest tax rate of all the K-12 districts in Madison County. Only two elementary only districts have lower tax rates.
The full State of the District Report will be posted on the Collinsville Unit 10 website.
During Public comment, two parents voiced their concerns about the district following the Governor’s mask mandate. Holly Johnson from Maryville thanked the board for all the have done in working with parent on allowing parent choice on masks, but asked Skertich to keep fighting and not let the Governor take local control away. Johnson cited HB 2789 which the legislature failed to pass for the Illinois State Board of Education to take local control away.
Tammy Grainy, a mother of a Collinsville High School junior and senior from Collinsville, emotionally begged the district not to place the extra stress of having to test every other day if they are found to have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19
A resolution unanimously passed approving the 2021-22 Updated Safe Return To School Plan, reflecting the new mask mandate to start the year. The resolution gives Skertich the power to amend the plan at his discretion. Skertich also stated that the Governor’s order is enforceable, with repercussions including the district losing the excellent credentials and the ability to participate in extracurricular activities.
With the new guidelines, students whose families have opted in to the antigen testing program (76%) will be able to stay in school after close contact with a person who tests positive for COVID-19 if they test negative on days 1, 3, 5, and 7. Students whose parents do not consent for the free antigen test at school and test positive will have to stay at home for 14 days and that child’s teacher will have to transition to live video teaching until the child returns.
School Board President Gary Peccola thanked the parents who have shown up to meetings and contacted the school board on both sides of the mask issue, stating they continually showed class and professionalism, when many parent groups across the country have become violent.
Students in Unit 10 this year will get one free meal each day this year through reimbursements from the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act 2010.
Collinsville High School student Emma Clark was appointed the Student School Board member for the 2021-22 school year.
Six new bus routes were added to the Hazardous Area Bus Route for the 2021-22 school year. The routes are located within 1.5 miles of each elementary school that are deemed dangerous for students to walk to school, such as no paths or having to cross four lanes of traffic.
A public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. on September 20 prior to the regular board meeting to approve the tentative budget for the 2021-22 school year.
The next scheduled meeting will be August 30 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the Collinsville Area Vocational School budget for the 2021-22 school year.