The Palestine Unit School Board met for the first time Monday night since the passing of interim superintendent Chris Long. Long died June 10 in Effingham.
Since that time the board has met and named grade-school principal Jessica Sisil as acting superintendent. Sisil became principal at Palestine Grade School at the start of the 2018-19 semester.
As part of her new duties, Sisil will need to begin the annual budget process for the upcoming school year, but she and the district will not be alone in preparing for this year.
"We have calls in already to other state superintendents and districts to help with the process," Sisil said. "I have a feeling it will be in good shape, but it's just about getting the process started."
Board president Corie Biggs confirmed that since Long's passing, the district has reached out for aid and guidance during this difficult time.
High-school principal Tangi Waldrop said that it might be time for the district to form a committee to discuss the state's teacher shortage. Waldrop attended a school collaboration on teacher shortages at Eastern Illinois University recently, which focused on the issue at rural schools.
She said it was great to be a part of and that there were several who attended that were fearful of the state's shortage, with some actually offering jobs to college students right after they finish their degrees.
"Chris told us this was coming and we've known it," Waldrop said.
Waldrop said she is urging district residents to connect on Facebook with the state as it would be helpful if the small schools reached out and became proactive. The board also took into consideration her idea of forming a committee to keep track of the shortage in the state and district, and formulate a plan.
"We really have to encourage people to come here and stay here," Waldrop said.
In her report, Waldrop also added that the all-school reunion is set for July 6, with registration on the 5th.
Meanwhile Sisil said the pre-k grant application has been submitted, and could return sometime in the next three months. Screenings for those students will be July 10-11. So far 51 families have applied to attend the screenings.
Band and color guard camp will be July 22-26 at the grade school.
Sisil also pointed out that Long's quartet Eagle's Wings will be performing at 5 p.m. Sunday, July 7 at Watson United Methodist Church, Watson, Ill. This will be their first appearance since Long's passing.
The district will be seeking bids for the painting of the grade school bus barn. Sisil said that the barn has been partially power washed, and they will be looking for someone to paint it and hopefully have it finished by the end of summer.
In other business the district learned that school registration will be from 12-6 p.m.
Sisil was authorized to seek milk and bread bids for the 2019-2020 school year. Meanwhile the district's risk management plan review was approved with no changes identified.
The fee schedule for the 2019-20 school year was approved, with the only noticeable changes being the grade school's magazine fee structure being increased by $1.
The board also approved agreements with Crawford Memorial Hospital for athletic trainer services for the 2019-2020 school year. The fee for football will be $3,000, split three ways between Palestine, Hutsonville and Oblong. Meanwhile winter and spring sports will be $2,000 and split evenly between Palestine and Hutsonville.
Sisil also said the state has reinstated the minimum five-hour instructional day for the upcoming semester. With that the board agreed to amend the school's 2019-20 calendar to reflect the change.
The board also approved the dual credit agreement with IECC district #529 for the 2019-20 school year.
Following an executive session, the following employments and resignations were made. Sierra Redman was hired as an elementary classroom aide for the 2019-20 school year. Resignations from Mikelle Dedrick as high school aide and Joe Stambaugh as co-assistant football coach were accepted as well.
The board then voted to approve the post for the following positions: interim superintendent, assistant high school football coach, high school aide and assistant high school football cheerleading coach.