Metro-East News

Belleville District 118 cuts 30 employees

Three part-time certified and 27 part-time paraprofessionals were released from employment at District 118 on Tuesday night, but board members don’t expect it to last.

Moments before, the school board had hired two part time paraprofessionals and increased a part-time employee to full-time status based on the need for the remainder of the year.

“It’s pretty unique to be employed and released all in about three minutes, tops,” said Superintendent Matt Klosterman.

One of those hired and released was Carla Lowman, who is working with special needs pre-kindergarten students at Jefferson Elementary.

“It’s OK,” she said to the board at news of her dismissal. “He warned me about that.”

Klosterman earlier had said, and repeated to the school board, that educators are hired and retained in response to students’ needs.

“With folks retiring and enrollment being strong, the reality is that if we have students then we have to have teachers for them,” he said.

After the meeting, Ryan Boike, assistant superintendent for finance, echoed the strong possibility that the teachers would be re-hired for the coming school year. He said that in previous years, most if not all teachers did have the opportunity to return to the district.

Earlier, Klosterman told the board about the “gap” of what the state owes the district, about $1.2 million in “categorical” payments, which include special education funding, transportation and food service. He said the district is still owed for the second quarter and may soon be looking at being owed $2 million in state payments.

He said the district was watching Springfield closely, especially because real estate valuation was bringing in less money to the district.

“The thing that’s been tough for us is ... when you receive less locally you’re supposed to receive more state aid. So at a time when we’re supposed to be seeing more in state aid, we’re seeing less.”

In other business:

•  District 118 will begin paying substitute registered nurses more than the teacher sub rate. Boike said that because of the substitute pay rate, the district hasn’t found many people willing to work. The $90 per day rate is a $15 daily increase.

“It’s tough because they can work in a hospital and make a lot more money than that,” Boike said. “But there are some individual who, for whatever reason, mayve it fits their schedule, will sub for us.”

Boike and Klosterman said a solid sub pool is necessary because of the increasing number of students with medically significant needs, including diabetes and feeding tubes.

•  The board chose 7 p.m. May 21 as the junior high graduation day.

•  Klosterman expects next school year’s calendar to closely mimic the 2014-2015 school year, with similar start, end and break dates. One thing for the board to consider, he said, was the spring election in 2016 given that seven schools are polling places. Schools can expect parking challenges and class displacements when in session on an election day, he said.

• The board approved a two-year extension to the contract with First Student Inc. for transportation services.

•  Tracy Gray, assistant superintendent for curriculum, talked about moving toward a standards-based report card, which is “more descriptive and allows parents to know what kids know and can do, rather than just give a grade.” She said kindergarten and first grade teachers are interested in piloting such a program next year. The board made no vote or formal action.

•  West Junior High provided a video montage of activities at the school. Four members of the schools 42-student Character Plus Council provided a brief presentation and gave board members a pop quiz on matching Nobel Peace prize winners. Each member was handed a slip of paper with name and another slip with a country, their jobs were to match the names and countries with other board members.

“You guys have to get up and get out of your seats,” chided eighth grader Kinzi Johnson when the board members were slow to start the game. Kinzi is the son of board member Keith Johnson.

•  There was a moment of silence for Carol Scharf, “who served pretty much in every capacity,” on the school board for decades, Klosterman said. Scharf died March 9.

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