On Tuesday night, the Belleville District 118 School Board voted to add Belleville District 201 to its school lunch program.
Superintendent Matt Klosterman said the district already provides meals to about 30 schools through its program, but adding Belleville East High School and Belleville West High School will only increase its buying power.
“We’re going to be able to get our product at a better price,” he said, because of the amount of food the district will purchase.
District 201 will also share the cost of District 118’s management team by helping to pay their salaries, according to Assistant Superintendent Ryan Boike.
Klosterman called the partnership a “win-win” for both districts. District 201’s school board voted to sign on to the program during its meeting Monday because it would save the district an estimated $200,000 to $250,000 annually.
“We’re always looking for ways to partner and share services that would be more efficient and effective,” Klosterman said.
The districts previously agreed to share in the cost of offering transportation services in-house. Starting next school year, District 201 will manage that service, and District 118 will be responsible for costs, such as its drivers’ pay. Boike said District 118 will also purchase 50 buses for students in the district’s 11 schools.
Klosterman said the District 118 School Board would explore and talk about further sharing of services through consolidation if it thought that would benefit students.
In District 201, Superintendent Jeff Dosier has said a study would allow the districts determine whether consolidation would help cut costs.
Madonna Murphy, coordinator for the Illinois schools of character, traveled to Belleville on Tuesday to deliver a Character.org state district of character banner to District 118.
“Under the leadership of your superintendent, you’ve had a plan to develop character education in the Belleville schools, and you really have done it,” Murphy said.
Character.org was impressed with District 118’s “caring climate” and initiatives like the Belleville Achieves Strength in Character organization, according to Murphy.
Another reason she said District 118 is a district of character is because it’s “led by a man of true character.” In her first year as coordinator, Murphy remembers Superintendent Matt Klosterman gently reminding her to inform Belleville schools that they’d earned designations.
“I got this nice phone call from Matt,” she said. “... He just was checking with me as to what time I’d be calling the schools to tell them they were schools of character. ... In this very nice way he told me I wasn’t doing my job right because I didn’t know I was supposed to do it. But he was so kind and mentoring and helping. I didn’t feel bad at all. I said, ‘Oh, I’m going to call them right now.’”
During their meeting Tuesday, District 118 school board members voted to purchase 854 Chromebook laptops to replace some existing ones that are about five years old, according to Klosterman. He said the cost is a little more than $168,000.
The district will move forward with a request from speech and language pathologist Bonnie Leveling, who wants to bring a facility dog, a type of therapy dog, to work with students at Westhaven Elementary School. Klosterman said the dog would be available to the students in her classroom to provide comfort, especially for those who have trouble communicating.
“A lot of kids will actually talk to the dog,” Klosterman said.
Also during the meeting, two fifth grade students read a letter from the staff and students at Franklin Elementary School to Al Wunderlich, thanking him for 25 years of volunteering through the Franklin Neighborhood Community Association in Belleville, which he co-founded.
“You constantly do what’s right for Franklin even when it’s not easy,” the letter stated.
Klosterman previously told the board to expect to hear a proposal about potential changes to District 118’s enrollment process. Currently, parents who live in the district aren’t required to re-enroll their children each year. The recommendation from Klosterman and Assistant Superintendent Ryan Boike on Tuesday was to continue using the existing process.
Board members Aaron Snively and Dianne Zimmermann weren’t present at the meeting Tuesday.
The District 118 School Board meets next at 7:30 p.m. June 20 at 105 West A St. in Belleville.