DANVILLE — Danville District 118 Schools Superintendent Alicia Geddis and school board members thanked students, parents and staff at Wednesday night’s board meeting as the new school year for most schools is a week in.
“This week has been rough,” Geddis said. “Thank you for hanging in there with us.”
There have been busing issues and delays.
“We’re short on drivers. They’re having to double up,” Geddis said.
In food service, she said supplies are not meeting the demand. They have been short on produce and other items. She said they had to go to Champaign to get tortilla shells.
For technology, Geddis said they don’t have all the laptops in. She said the supply chain has affected that, and the district has had a number of students at home.
In-school challenges have included electrical issues and air conditioning problems, she reported.
“Southwest was hot and freezing at the same time,” Geddis said, adding that Danville High School also experienced problems.
There also have been staffing issues, including staff out for COVID-19.
Geddis said that’s all on top of still dealing with COVID-19.
“We are really, really trying,” she said.
Board member Darlene Halloran said some students are almost blissfully unaware of all the school district is doing to keep the students in schools. She said they are just happy to be back in school, with their friends and doing extracurriculars.
It’s almost normal for them, just with face masks, she said.
The school board heard from Danville City Council Ward 1 Alderwoman Brenda Brown.
She congratulated the administration with following the mask mandate for students.
“It is very important that our children stay healthy,” she said. “Healthy bodies, healthy minds.”
The board also heard from DHS senior Laynie Ferriman who asked the board to review the school district’s dress code.
She said she’s been “dress coded” approximately 10 times for wearing clothing not meeting requirements. She’s been removed from tests and classes.
She said she’s 6 foot tall and the dress code required length for dresses and other clothing don’t fit all body types and sizes.
Ferriman said Danville is behind the times, as other school districts have altered their dress codes for requirements.
She said comfortable shorts are hard to find for 6-foot tall frame that meet the requirements. Classrooms are hot to wear pants, she said.
She hopes to see positive changes.
In other public comments, the board heard from Derrice Hightower, president of the Danville Education Association.
“I’m done with this nonsense,” she said about the process some board members are taking trying to change an already ratified contract, and the spreading of false information.
She said she won’t be bullied by anyone.
Board member Bill Dobbles said the negotiations and ratifying the contract was quickly done in about a month. He said as they look at it, sometimes they find some unintended consequences, glitches, afterward.
Some employees received the best raise they’ve gotten in a long time, he said. Some glitches, however, included not raising the starting salary for learning resource center assistants or teaching assistants.
“It would be helpful in recruiting new staff,” he said, adding that teaching assistants make less then $17,000 a year and he wanted to increase starting salaries to $19,405 in two years.
Another glitch was the rate based on experience, which decreases with the number of days worked.
He said his main concern was with certified staff, but he wanted all groups to get a good raise.
The board voted 5-2, with board members Lon Henderson and Dobbles voting no, to table a proposed motion with contract changes.
Board member Shannon Schroeder said a counteroffer is in process and she didn’t think it’s appropriate to handle both proposals at the same time. She doesn’t want the board to step into unfair labor claims.
Board president Randal Ashton said there is “a little strife going on here” among board members, but he thinks they all have the best interest of everyone in mind.
“It should work out to everybody’s benefit,” he said.
Ashton too said he’s happy to see everyone back in school.
“Let’s all try and stay there,” he said.
The school board Wednesday night:
- Had a first reading on South View Upper Elementary elective curriculum changes.
- Renewed commercial property and liability insurance with Liberty Mutual Insurance and Northfield Insurance Co. for $281,433. This is an increase of $42,002 from last year, largely due to updated building appraisals which hadn’t been completed since 2014. The appraised value increased about 20 percent when reassessed in Dec. 2020.
- Approved spending up to a $75,000 in a contract with Central Illinois Produce on produce for the food service program.
- Approved spending up to a $270,000 in a contract with Prairie Farms for dairy products.
- Approved a $163,848 upgrade to the district’s storage area network computer server from Red7 Networking. COVID-19 funding is covering the cost.