Clinton County high school names new principal for next year

Dustin Foutch was hired to be Central Community High School’s principal starting in the 2018-19 school year.
Dustin Foutch was hired to be Central Community High School’s principal starting in the 2018-19 school year.

Central Community High School will have a new principal next year whose resume includes helping another school change the way it prepares students for state tests and college.

The Central District 71 School Board picked Dustin Foutch, 39, to replace Central Principal Kent Jones, who will retire at the end of the school year.

Foutch is coming to the Clinton County school district from Pinckneyville Community High School in Perry County, where he has worked as principal for the last six years.

During his first two years in Pinckneyville, 17 percent more students met the state’s standards for what they should know about math. In the three years that followed, 22 percent fewer Pinckneyville graduates needed to take remedial courses for math at Illinois community colleges.

They did it by figuring out what was working in some classrooms and applying that to all math classes, according to Foutch.

Superintendent Kevin Meyer said Foutch is bringing some “data-driven goals” to Central Community High School, too.

“I think the thing that set him apart was his passion for leadership and his enthusiasm for not only coming to Central but moving us forward,” Meyer said of Foutch as a candidate for the job.

From 2012 to 2016, more than half of the Central students who took the state tests met the standards for reading and math. As many as 68 percent of them were considered proficient, according to state data.

In that time, the state tests for high school students were the Prairie State Achievement Exam and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

The amount of students meeting standards dropped to 42 percent in 2017 when Illinois education leaders switched the state test to the SAT. But Central students were still scoring above the statewide average, and their school was among the top 10 scoring metro-east high schools.

Some educators have criticized the minimum scores that the state says students need on SAT’s two sections to be considered ready for college, which are higher than SAT’s benchmarks for college readiness. The Illinois State Board of Education has said its benchmarks were designed to reduce the chance that students would need to take remedial courses in college.

Across the state, 47 percent of the students who graduated high school in 2015 and enrolled in a community college in the state took remedial courses. For Central Community High School, it was 29 percent, with most of those students needing help in math.

Foutch said one of his goals for the next school year is to work with the staff at Central to find the best ways to teach the subjects and skills students need for what comes after high school. That includes using technology.

I firmly believe the good lord put me on the planet with a purpose: to help kids do more and be more.

Dustin Foutch, Central Community High School’s new principal

For the first time this school year, Central gave every student a computer to use during class. Incorporating that technology into lessons is something Foutch has seen teachers do in Pinckneyville and at Centralia Junior High School, where he worked as a principal for five years. He says the access to computers alone won’t help students learn more.

“I think teachers have to kind of change the way they do business,” Foutch said.

He has seen teachers ask students to use their computers to do research and discover information for themselves, which he said helped them learn “at a deeper level.” The technology also gives students an opportunity to collaborate with their classmates, which helps prepare them for the real world, according to Foutch.

Another goal Foutch has for himself as Central’s new principal is learning what expectations parents and community members have for the school.

“I’d like to get to know the people there better,” Foutch said.

About Dustin Foutch

Foutch earned his bachelor’s degree at McKendree University in Lebanon. Later, his doctorate degree came from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

His first teaching job was in his hometown of Centralia. He was a science teacher and coach for the football, wrestling and baseball teams at Centralia High School for five years.

Foutch lives in Pinckeyville with his wife April, who is also an educator, and daughters Adison and Grace. They plan to move to the Central Community High School district by the next academic year.

“One of my daughters is going to be starting at the high school with me,” he said of Adison, who is an eighth-grader.

On average, Central Community High School has about 560 students and 37 teachers, according to state data. Foutch’s salary as the school’s new leader will be $105,000 under his three-year contract.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes

At a glance

  • Name: Dustin Foutch
  • Age: 39
  • Position: Central Community High School principal
  • Education: Bachelor’s degree from McKendree University; master’s degree from Eastern Illinois University; and doctorate degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
  • Experience: Five years as Centralia High School science teacher and coach; one year as Centralia Junior High School assistant principal and fives years as principal; and six years as Pinckneyville Community High School principal
  • Family: Wife April and two daughters: Adison and Grace