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Students show support for robotics at BOE meeting

Metal detectors coming to CUSD 10

By Devese “Dee” Ursery

There was a full house at the Collinsville regular monthly Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night to show support for Cindy Bednara and the engineering program at Collinsville High School. Over 40 students showed up to the regular meeting to speak on how it is needed and how much Bednara is appreciated.

Past and present students of Bednara’s stood up in solidarity for the program and its teacher by speaking on how the program changed their lives. Jason Bridgeton, a past Collinsville graduate and current engineering student at SIUE spoke highly of the engineering program at CHS. He also spoke on how it helped him become focused on a career in engineering. Bridgeton credits Bednara for helping him to get on track.

Bridgeton said that before high school he didn’t know what he wanted to do until he was first introduced to engineering.

Peyton Beeles, a current student and member of the robotics team spoke of his personal experiences and growth from being involved with the engineering program. Beeles has been in the program for four years and tributes his growth solely to being in the engineering program. Beetles is also part of the CHS Robotics Team.

Beeles says that he plans on attending either University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign or Missouri Science & Technology as an aerospace engineer. He credits the engineering program with teaching him to think critically.

“My personality has changed a ton,” Beeles said. “I attribute that to engineering because the biggest thing that  engineering has taught me is to think out of the box and to figure out and figure out my own solutions.”

Beeles remembers feeling awkward and indecisive, but because of engineering he has learned to grow past that and he is now a better person for it. He said another thing that he cherishes from the engineering program is the people that he’s met and friends that he’s made along the way.

Beeles also said that programs like this need to continue in order to keep producing bright, intelligent students. Students who are ready to go to college and then into the workforce, we have to have programs that prepare us for the future. 

“As teachers, as administrators it is vital that we continue to provide this for students, who like myself need it,” Beeles said.

The Board approved the proposal for OpenGate weapons detection systems for an amount of $432,000. The detection system is to prevent incidents like mass casualty shootings. The system would be easy to relocate and install being that they are 25 pounds and it takes less than a minute to seat up. The weapons system would be implemented through Communications Technologies, Inc.

Dan Porter, security director, recommended that the district have three people staff each OpenGate weapons detection system. Porter said that every school should have at least one staff member watching each entrance in the morning as kids enter the building.

CUSD10 will provide one additional person per unit in the form of a stipend Certified or Non-Certified staff member. That third person would have to be an administrator, SRO or security person. The COPS committee estimated that 32 OpenGate solutions will be needed district-wide to cover necessary entrances.

The stipend rate is currently $26 an hour. Stipend staff will work an extra half-hour per school day in the mornings.  There are 174 school days each school year with students in attendance. Therefore it was estimated that 32 people working an additional half-hour will cost approximately $73,803 per year.

In October 2022, CUSD10 was awarded the COPS School Violence Prevention grant, which provides schools with additional funding for safety related expenditures. The grant will provide approximately 4320,000 in additional funding to the district for the purchase of new advanced weapon detection systems for all CUSD 10 schools. There were 32 entrances, district-wide, that were identified by the internal committee of community leaders as candidates for these new systems.

Dr. Tesha Robinson spoke on the success of the Truants Alternative Optional Education Program, a program that serves students who are on the verge of dropping out, have attendance issues, teen parents or emotional and health issues.

Their two goals were to enroll students with a smaller, supportive environment using accredited online courses. The second goal increases high school attendance and enables more students to earn their high school diploma.

In 2021-2022, 97 students were enrolled and 36 graduated. There were 28 students in summer school and 93 credits were earned. There were also 93.2% courses completed with an average group attendance of 77.22%. Since 2017 there have been over 172 students to graduate with the help of Kahok Academy. 

An overview of the CHS Success Center provided the BOE with goals and updates of the Center’s success for this year.

Robison said that there has been an increase in attendance and 38 credits have been earned in 2022-23. He said that there have been 10 graduates to date including two more from this year.

Kahok Academy is available on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 7:50 a.m. to 3:50 p.m. and on Wednesday from 7:50 to 2:20 p.m. Students work on different courses at their own pace, but target completion dates set to ensure that students pace themselves accordingly.

The goal of the program is to provide an alternative environment for student success, to provide intensive SEL services and support, behavior modification and credit recovery.

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