By Kathy Turner
Superintendent Dr. Brad Skertich opened the Monday, January 24, meeting of the Board with the introduction of the revisions to the Return to Learn Plan for the Collinsville School District. The plan, which provides guidelines for the district’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, has been revised to meet Governor Pritzker’s and Illinois Department of Public Health recommendations. The revisions adopt the suggestion that the district follow the five-day quarantine and post-exposure timeline for students and staff to return to the classroom.
Other requirements under the revisions include students and staff providing updated vaccination cards following any primary series or booster shots received. Students and staff aged 18 and older who have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, as well as students aged 5 to 17 who have received their primary series of COVID-19 vaccine who are in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 but do not have symptoms do not need to be excluded from school or be tested unless testing positive or if symptoms develop.
Students and staff who are not fully vaccinated should quarantine after a recent exposure to someone with COVID-19. Going forward quarantine decisions will be made and communicated to students, staff and parents based on the recommendations of the Madison County, St. Clair County and the East Side Health Department officials.
“The revisions reduce the time out for students and staff,” said Skertich. “We had an ‘adaptive pause’ on January 11, 12 and 13 which is allowed under the policy. This adaptive pause allowed our students’ and staff’s health to improve after a major surge during the holiday break.”
“I want to commend our staff for their efforts to engage their students academically and socially, complement our students for their attendance over the three days, and thank our families for their ability to adjust their schedules,” said Skertich.
Skertich also reported that two major projects are closing in on final design and development – the addition at Dorris Intermediate School and a new Elementary School in Caseyville.
“The district is close to being able to reveal the details of these two major projects, and we are excited about the continued improvements throughout Unit #10,” said Skertich.
Finally, Skertich reported that the 2022-23 calendar will soon be released to families in the district. Key dates to focus on for families include the start of school on August 15 and 16 with institute days and first day of student attendance on August 17.
In other business, Ms. LaToya Berry-Coleman, Director of Curriculum and Assessment, provided a report on the district curriculum. “The pilot program currently being implemented in the kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms continues to show improved student engagement,” said Berry-Coleman.
The ‘Kahoks Read Initiative’ will be implemented next fall with all teachers in K-6 being given “Books of the Month” to enmesh into their day-to-day classroom programs. The books selected will be district wide and based on social and cultural programming of the district.
Berry-Coleman also announced the assessment testing will be on schedule this Spring after interrupted schedules because of the pandemic. Testing has been scheduled for all students of the district throughout the Spring, including pre-college application testing for high school students.
She also announced the in 2021 the ELL program showed a 56% decrease in pass proficiency. “This is definitely a sign of the COVID impact,” said Berry-Coleman. The district is working to fill two positions in the program to work to get pass proficiency numbers back to prior levels. Filling such positions is hard nationally and poses a challenge for the district.
Finally, she reported that the Pre-K enrollment stands at 133 of the 200 available slots. Screening of potential students continues in the district with a goal of filling the remaining 67 slots. When asked about the under-enrollment, Berry-Coleman pointed out that because of the pandemic more families are keeping children home and this has impacted the numbers.
The Curriculum and Assessment department has started planning for the 2022 Summer programs at the district. The programs available will be presented to the Board at a later date.
During the Budget Committee report, Dr. Dennis Craft, Board Treasurer, reported that the district will move to fill two additional health clerk positions, for a total of seven health clerks for the district. “These are vital positions for the district during these times of testing and maintaining records for the pandemic,” said Craft.
Mrs. Tracey Schmidt and Mr. Michael presented a report on the Library programs of the district that included a tongue-in-cheek video presentation. Overall, the library continues to see an increase in student activity as the result of the movement from the traditional library to media centers at each of the schools in the district that allow for student interactions and socialization.
The Board also approved contractual agreements for the following projects in the district:
•A $36,780 contract with Millennium Construction to convert the Collinsville High School locker bay to a classroom;
•A $59,550 contract with Midwest Services Group for Asbestos Abatement in the Collinsville High School Boys’ Locker Room; and,
•A $52,880 contract with A & D Electrical Supply for LED Lighting upgrades at the Middle School.
Three new student clubs were approved by the Board. The Collinsville Middle School will add a GSA club. Collinsville High School students will add a Cybersecurity Club and a chapter of Rho Kappa Social Studies Society.
The Board approved an agreement with WJR Technology to add new Technology Infrastructure utilizing Category II E-Rate funding. Dr. Craft commended the staff on their efforts to secure the grant funding to allow for this project which, he pointed out, came in a $200,000 under budget.
Finally, the Board approved the adoption of the TRS Supplemental Savings Plan for teachers in the district. Illinois law requires an option for retirement savings plans for students. This is a combined contribution plan handled by an outside broker. Once enrolled, teachers will deal directly with the brokerage company to manage their accounts without district involvement.