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Princeton Elementary School anticipates having kids in classrooms this fall

PES Superintendent Tim Smith (left) and School Board President Steve Bouslog (right) prepare for the start of Monday's board meeting, which was conducted via Zoom.
PES Superintendent Tim Smith (left) and School Board President Steve Bouslog (right) prepare for the start of Monday's board meeting, which was conducted via Zoom.

Parents, teachers, students and staff alike have been wondering if school will reopen this fall in the Princeton Elementary School District.

Superintendent Tim Smith shed some light for a favorable restart at Monday’s PES board meeting. There will likely, however, be some guidelines and requirements, he said.

He said the administration has been meeting weekly to stay up-to-date on the latest information from the State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“There has not been a lot of news from late March. We’re just working our way through the phases,” he said of Gov. JB Pritzer's plan to reopen the state.

“As you probably know, on June 26 (Friday) the numbers will change. Instead of groups of 10, we’ll be able to move to groups no more than 50, which helps on a school bus, it helps in the classroom. It does not help in a cafeteria, it does not help in a gymnasium where we’re trying to conduct extracurriculars and things like that.

“My understanding is this week we will receive more guidance/and requirements … They’ve made it clear that they are interested in starting the school year with students in our buildings. That is their intent.”

Smith said the district is waiting for more information whether or not masks or face shields will be required by students in classrooms. He said there’s been a direction that any student with asthma or anxiety issues will not be required to wear masks.

New insurance plan will save district money

In other news, Smith announced a significant savings to the district from a switch of its health insurance plan to Blue Cross/Blue Shield through Dimond Brothers Insurance.

“We will minimally save $125,000 in health insurance costs for the district, so that’s pretty encouraging,” he said.

Personnel changes

The board approved the hiring of six positions in the district: Madison Pearson (sixth grade girls basketball coach), Rebecca Shepherd (sixth grade girls basketball coach), Megan King and Zach Clark (Logan cross country coaches), Joanne Imsland (Logan Scholastic Bowl and eighth grade lunch homework intervention) and John Matlick (Logan student council).

The resignation of Jennifer Bacorn (paraprofessional) and the June 2021 retirement of Tom Swan (custodian) were also accepted.

In other action items, the board approved:

• The 2020-21 board meeting calendar.

• Non-licensed/licensed salary increases.

• Healthy/life safety amendments.

• The masonry project at Logan Junior High with a bid of $78,500 from Western Specialty Contractors of Springfield.

• The SLP Contract Renewal.

• The Consolidated District Federal Grants Plan.

• The Worker Compensation School Board Legal Liability, Student Accident Insurance Plans.

The board also authorized Smith to seek milk/bread bids.

Monday’s meeting was conducted by Zoom with only Smith and board president Steve Bouslog physically present at Logan. The remaining six board members, along with future PES superintendent JD Orwig, participated digitally via Zoom.

Next month’s board meeting is being planned to be held at Logan with Zoom being used only for any board members with a health risk.

An executive session was held prior to adjournment.

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