Watkins, 59, was elected to the high school district’s board in the April 4 election. He fills the seat vacated by former board member Shelly Schaefer, who was elected to the Belleville City Council.
For 32 years until his retirement, Watkins was a teacher in District 201. He started working in special education and transitioned to health and driver’s education.
Watkins is a 1976 graduate of Belleville West High School, where he played varsity football. Later, he was a football coach for Belleville West and Belleville East High School. At Belleville East, he also served as the assistant athletic director.
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Watkins’ three children graduated from Belleville East. Today, he lives in Swansea with his wife Patty.
He said he decided to run for a position on the school board because District 201 has “been very good to me,” he said.
“I just felt a need to give back and this is my opportunity, I felt, to do that,” Watkins said.
It’s his first time serving in elected office, but Watkins said his involvement on the other side of the school board will help him understand his new position.
“I think being around the school, attending various board meetings not only here, but in junior high levels and different situations, I have a lot of experience dealing with the administrative aspects of school districts and school boards,” Watkins said. “Just being around education so long, you learn what goes on and how it works and what you want to do and get accomplished.”
Watkins was sworn in during a special meeting on Thursday. Also during the meeting, board members approved a new school board president, Kurt Schroeder, and vice president, Carol Eckert.
New transportation staff
In other business on Thursday, the school board voted to hire new transportation personnel since deciding to start running its own school bus service.
Wayne Guetterman was hired as the operations manager for transportation, effective June 15.
Board members also hired the following bus driver trainers, effective immediately:
▪ Glenda Grigsby
▪ Anna Hall-Mednik
▪ William Stevenson
▪ Vincent Brown
▪ Mark Delonga
The District 201 School Board meets next at 7 p.m. May 15 at 920 N. Illinois St. in Belleville.