A pall was over the monthly board meeting of District 201 Monday night after the sudden death of a longtime Belleville East employee.
Superintendent Jeff Dosier started the meeting with a moment of silence for Chyriell Drain-Hill, the director of counseling at Belleville East. She died late Sunday.
“It was a tough day,” Dosier said after the meeting. “Usually when we have tragedies like this happen, she’d be the one to tell us what to do.”
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Principal Jason Karstens echoed Dosier’s sentiments to Drain-Hill’s importance on campus and dedication to the Lancer students.
Karstens said she was very sick and still went on a college bus tour with African American students; Dosier added that she did so “just to make sure they got scholarships.”
Drain-Hill was 25 days from retirement, and Karstens had planned to make her and her career part of the Belleville East principal’s report.
They said counselors from surrounding school districts were at the school to help students and also the counseling staff.
“We’ve been fielding calls all day,” Karstens said. “She touched a lot of our Lancer families.”
In other news
▪ Most of PARCC testing is over at the two high schools. The science assessment will be conducted in May, according to Melissa Taylor, director of special services.
▪ Brian Mentzer, assistant superintendent, said the district’s fund balance is about $12.1 million.
“We’ll depend greatly on how much and the number of property taxes as well as categorical payments (from the state),” Mentzer said. He said his remarks were “very similar” to those of last year.
He said the outstanding balance owed from the state is about $1.9 million this year; and about $3.5 million over the last five years.
▪ Belleville West will have a new club. The board unanimously approved the French Honor Society.
▪ The board approved a contract with Brecht Database Solutions. Taylor said the district has long contracted with Brecht for some services but the approval expands the contract to include teacher evaluations and more paper-intensive processes. The board’s vice president, Kurt Schroeder, abstained because his professional career as an attorney includes a relationship with the company.
▪ The board unanimously approved collective bargaining agreements with both Local Union #116 Service Employees and the Operating Engineers who work at Belleville Township High School District 201.
▪ Andrea Gannon, director of alternative education, reported that the school is maintaining about a 90 percent graduation rate for the program with recent graduates. She also told the board of the successful Mending Fences program on April 12, where a group of four students was among those meeting with police from around the St. Louis area to help improve relationships and break down any barriers.
“We took the four who would be vocal and ask questions,” she said of those chosen for the trip.