Belleville District 201 names assistant principal

Belleville East will have a new assistant principal to take the spot Jason Karstens will leave as he moves up to principal in the coming year.

Marshaun Johnson was approved by the District 201 school board at its regular meeting on Monday night at district headquarters. She lives in Swansea and teaches at a school in St. Louis. She is pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership at Saint Louis University, while teaching eighth grade communication arts. She is the communication arts chair at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, and previously taught at Whiteside Middle School, she said after the meeting. Johnson said she has been a teacher for 11 years.

Johnson has not yet signed the contract so could not speak about her expected salary. Karstens made just less than $80,000 in the 2014-2015 school year in the role. According to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provided by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, in Sept. 2012, Johnson made just more than $63,000.

Board members also approved a two-year extension to the contract with First Student, the transportation company. After the meeting, Assistant Superintendent Brian Mentzer said the contract was done in conjunction with all the “feeder districts” to the high school district, and “we are, I believe, the last board to do it.”

The contract provides a 2.25 percent per-item increase. The cost is based on routes, which are subject to change based on a number of needs and shared use with those feeder districts.

During the meeting, Mentzer had talked about the continued financial hardships the district faces due to delayed state payments.

“One piece of good news, it appears tax bills will go out early and we will receive payments in May and June based on those,” he said.

Mentzer also said the district had not taken advantage of last month’s “pre-emptive” measure to use a line of credit of $4 million.

“We have not utilized that line of credit, however it is there. It is established if we need it,” he said.

During the public participation portion of the meeting, teacher Cyndi Oberle-Dahm, Belleville West social studies department chair and an AP teacher, advocated for House Bill 3428.

Oberle-Dahm said the bill would compel public universities and community colleges to award college credit to students earning a three or higher on the AP test.

“Three doesn’t sound like much, but it’s out of five,” she said.

She said 13 states have passed similar legislation, and urged board members, teachers and students to contact state representatives in support of the bill.

Several students and teachers were recognized by their principals in front of the board on Monday night, including:

• Wrestlers Ricky Nelson Jr. and Nick Foster shared Most Valuable Player honors, Belleville West Principal Richard Mertens said, and both took fourth place at the Illinois High School Association’s state meet in their weight classes.

• Speech team members Sam Geiger and seniors Bethany Dain and Tyler Herron will compete at the national level this summer in Dallas, Mertens said.