Assistant Superintendent Brian Mentzer said the district asked its transportation provider, First Student, Inc., for a proposal for a one-year extension of its current contract.
Another option that Mentzer said the district’s finance committee is exploring is whether to put the services out for a formal bid to hear from other transportation providers. The district will also explore the cost of offering the service itself, which would involve purchasing buses and employing drivers.
Superintendent Jeff Dosier said District 201’s transportation fund is suffering from a lack of payments from the state, so it is evaluating the school bus service based on “real numbers in our budget.”
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“We want to be as cost effective as we can,” Dosier said.
In weighing all three options, Mentzer said the committee will keep in mind that “we have had a very long and fruitful relationship with First Student.”
New interest in advanced placement
Melissa Taylor, director of student services, gave the school board an update Monday on the progress of the Equal Opportunity Schools program. The goal is to increase the number of minority students taking advanced placement courses throughout the district.
Compared to the current school year, Taylor said an additional 173 students have expressed interest in taking AP classes next year — 96 from Belleville West High School and 77 from Belleville East High School.
Most students currently taking AP classes are white and Asian students from middle- to high-income families, according to Taylor. She said all other students are considered underrepresented.
Of the 173 students who said they are interested in signing up for AP classes next year, Taylor said 113 are underrepresented students.
New student advisers
By August, there could be two new faces at the monthly school board meetings.
District 201 hopes to select two students — one from East and another from West — who will serve as advisers to the board. Dosier said Monday night that the social studies department chairs at both campuses, Cyndi Oberle-Dahm and Katie Hoerner, brought the idea to him.
The district expects to begin taking applications from high school juniors this spring, according to Dosier.
Elsewhere in the metro-east, the Collinsville Unit 10 School Board currently has a student representative program in which a high school senior attends the monthly board meetings to offer a student’s perspective as a non-voting member.
Students, staff recognition
During the meeting, Principal Rich Mertens recognized five Belleville West students for their involvement with the Harambee club, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Mertens said these are students who are interested in learning about African-American history and spreading a message of working together.
The students honored on Monday night included Azorrhea “Zoey” Barr; Jordan Cole; Kristina Hood; Sydney Hand; and Desmond Goodwin.
Mertens also recognized social studies teacher Jeff Frerker. Several of Frerker’s colleagues describe him as the patriarch of the social studies department.
“When sentiments get fiery about politics or best pedagogical practice, Jeff is the calm voice of reason, yet stands by his values and fights passionately with the union to make our school a better place,” said Cari Novaria, a social studies teacher.
Principal Jason Karstens also recognized an educator from Belleville East.
English teacher Becky McGarrity was told that her son was going to be honored at the meeting so her recognition would be a surprise, Karstens said. Several of her current and former students were in attendance.
Karstens said McGarrity is known among students for her high standards, which eventually prepare them for the writing they do in college.
Social studies department chair Katie Hoerner read a poem she wrote in McGarrity’s honor. One line mentioned McGarrity’s standards while poking fun at her height: “Her standards are mighty though her legs are quite short.”