A shortage of teacher candidates posed challenges, but the Bement school district was able to fill all of its staff openings by June 1, which included four certified teachers and one classroom aide.
"We were fortunate because we had some positions where there was just one applicant, and they ended up being a good fit for us," said Superintendent Sheila Greenwood.
"We were fully staffed before June 1st," she added. "We had a lot of networking with other people, getting out applications, and passing along names, and a lot of phone calls."
The openings included two elementary school teachers, a special education teacher and an art instructor.
Greenwood was also happy the district has been approved for an $89,000 grant to continue funding its pre-kindergarten program. She said the competitive grant application was 40 pages long, and that authorization should last for several years. Since the program in Bement is not projected to be at maximum capacity, it will be opened up to other area school districts, with Monticello already committing to send nine students who are on its waiting list.
Middle/High School Principal Doug Kepley said results had been received from the Illinois Youth Survey, which polls eighth, 10th and 12th grade students on areas ranging from alcohol and drug use to hours they spend in front of television sets.
Kepley said the information can be of use to educators.
"My goal is to take this information and look to next year on what are the target areas. What do we see as areas of concern, and how do we address those? Working with Jill Clodfelter, our social worker; what kind of programming could we have to address some of those areas," he told the board.
Work has begun to install secured entryways on both the east and west side of the campus. With work being done on the two school offices, Greenwood said it has made for musical chairs for staff that are on site during the summer months.
"They’ve knocked a hole in the high school office, (high school secretary) Carla’s moved in with Doug (Kepley) in his office. Kathy Murrel has moved in across the hall by Steve (Cline), and Steve’s new office which is (teacher) Brittany Taylor’s office. Everyone’s been very flexible and I’ve been very appreciative of that," she said.
Board members also approved random drug testing, starting this fall. Besides athletes, those with parking permits and students enrolled in shop classes are among those eligible for random testing. The cost to the district will be $49 per test, which will be administered on site.
Kepley said students who fail a test will need to submit a clean drug screen at their own cost before being allowed to resume an activity. Violations of the athletic code are also applicable.
In other action, the board:
–was told that high school Students of the Month for the school year were Karl Watzlawick, Will Wittmer, Hannah Leigh Foran and Elizabeth Stillabower;
–was informed that middle school students of the quarter for the school year were Carline Hill, Quinn Flavin, A’Jonna Hamilton, Skye Tieman, Landon Beurrier, Lilli Greenarch, Kyleigh Miller, Emmarose Summar, Haley Garrett, Kade Alumbaugh, Emily Parrish, Delaney Loftus, Bradly Frazee, Jazlyn Ritz, Jason Schimansky, Xander Hutchcraft, Zoe Martin, Addie Fritz and Trinity Stroisch.
–heard from Kepley that the estimated enrollment for the high school this fall is 101 students, with middle school estimated at 64 students;
–was told registration will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 6;
–approved the resignations of: Jennifer Kinsella, elementary teacher; and Aly Havener, special education teacher and middle school cheerleading sponsor;
–hired the following personnel: Brenda Lewis, art teacher; Kathryn Eichen, elementary special education teacher; Emily Kuetemeyer, pre-K paraprofessional; Mistie Denny, elementary teacher; and Luke Brewer and Tommy Bales, summer work crew;
–approved administrative contracts for Kepley and assistant principal and athletic director Steve Cline for the 2018-19 school year;
–approved an intergovernmental agreement with the DeLand-Weldon school district to share speech language pathology services; and
–approved the district’s student handbooks.