Education

Belleville school board could consider changes to bus service in April

News-Democrat file photo

Tuesday night, Belleville District 118 officials said they hoped to have a proposal of possible changes to its bus service for the school board to consider next month.

Assistant Superintendent Ryan Boike said District 118’s current transportation contract with First Student, Inc., was negotiated with Belleville District 201, the high school district. Several other districts also share the contract, including Belle Valley 119, Pontiac William Holliday 105, Grant 110, Wolf Branch 113, High Mount 116 and Whiteside 115.

But their contract with First Student ends before the 2017-18 school year, so officials from Districts 118 and 201 have been working together to explore three options for cost-effective school bus service, Boike said.

They are negotiating an extension of the contract with First Student. At the same time, they are also considering joining forces to offer transportation services to students in all eight districts on the current contract instead of using a bus company.

Another option would be to hear proposals from bus companies other than First Student.

“In the end, we want to try to save money, and that’s a pretty big undertaking,” Boike said.

However, Boike said officials hoped to have a recommendation for the District 118 School Board to consider by its April 18 meeting.

Another proposal the board can expect to see in April is potential changes to District 118’s enrollment process, according to superintendent Matt Klosterman.

He explained during Tuesday’s meeting that, right now, parents who live in the district aren’t required to re-enroll their children each year. Klosterman said there have been conversations at the administrative level about whether it would make sense to change that process.

Votes on personnel

In other business, the board hired one part-time paraprofessional for the remainder of the school year because of an increase in the early childhood and special education program, according to Klosterman.

That paraprofessional, along with 31 others, will be dismissed at the end of the year, the board decided Tuesday.

Klosterman said the dismissals aren’t based on performance, but are instead a routine move to cut positions when the district doesn’t know whether it will need them next year.

When the district does identify its personnel needs, Klosterman said many of those employees will have the opportunity to be rehired.

Board members also decided not to offer new contracts to three teachers. Klosterman said each of them came into their positions after the school year started.

Two of the teachers were hired because the district had grant money available at the time. They were released because the district doesn’t know what grant money it will have next year, according to Klosterman.

The third teacher, who was filling in for someone who had taken a leave of absence, knew the position was temporary, Klosterman said.

The board also voted to allow two psychology students — one from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and one from Illinois State University — to start internships in District 118 in the 2017-18 school year. Klosterman said the college students will gain experience in all 11 schools in the district.

“They get their training in, and we get a lot of support,” he said.

The district expects to receive a $9,000 reimbursement from the state for each intern. Klosterman said the remaining cost to District 118 will be $7,000.

The Belleville District 118 School Board next meets at 7:30 p.m. April 18 at 105 West A St. in Belleville.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes

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