HOOPESTON — Superintendent Robert Richardson told school board members at Thursday’s meeting, the first day of Hoopeston’s new school year went well.

“I saw kids excited to be back in school,” Richardson said, crediting not only the teachers and staff, but the parents and caregivers in his praise. “I was impressed. It goes back to the people in the district. They go above and beyond. The do some amazing things!”

Principal Susie Root agreed. “Really surprised with the little ones,” she said. “There was very few problems.”

There are a total of 1,062 students enrolled in the district, according to Richardson, with 792 in-person students and 270 remote learners. A break down by school is as follows:

• Maple – 187 in-person; 67 remote and 9 homeschooled.

• John Greer – 163 in-person, 65 remote.

• Middle School – 193 in-person, 66 remote and 6 homeschooled.

• High School – 249 in-person and 72 remote learners.

Enrollment is still down from last year by a little more than 100 students, Richardson added, but each school is checking to see if all students have been enrolled or if some are still vacationing.

Tents have also been placed at every building, Richardson said, to include outdoor classes during the day in order to give students a break from the masks.

Bus routes went well the first day, added Tim Walsh, buildings and grounds supervisor and bus driver. Students from the Rankin area were grouped by families rather letting them sit anywhere and masks were worn with no problem. Shuttle buses saw no problems either and all buses went to all schools.

Buses were cleaned Thursday morning, Walsh said, each time kids got off and will be thoroughly cleaned each day after school is over for the day. He added that 20,000 facemasks were ordered, 160 gallons of sanitizer and wipes with sanitizer and wipes in every classroom. Plans are in works, according to Walsh to purchase, electrostatic spray guns for all the buses and buildings.

In other school board business, the school board approved unanimously the bid for $224,450 from Lee Farms Excavating of Paxton to demolish Honeywell School by September 21. Lee Farms requested permission to proceed earlier with the demolition if their schedule permitted it. After a brief discussion, the board allowed the earlier date but stipulated the asphalt driveway needed to be saved.

Silver Bros. took the Honeywell sign from the ground and are storing it at their place of business until the school finds a place for it. They will gladly come back, said Richardson, and remove the corner stone if Lee Farms Excavating feels they cannot do it safely and carefully enough.

The board approved unanimously the requisition to McGraw-Hill materials ALEKS for supplemental math assistance remote learning students for $19,980 through the ESSER Grant funds; the requisition to Kajeet for WIFI connectivity for remote learning students for $29,429.20 through the ESSER Grant funds and the requisition to Hapara for Instructional Management Suite Service for District learners for $17,493 through the ESSER Grant funds.

Also approved was the second reading of policy updates and five-year policy review as presented, approved the tentative budget for year 2021 and the employment of Russell Leigh & Associates for the year 2020 audit and set the date for the 2021 district audit, not to exceed $7,300.

The public hearing for the 2021 budget was approved for Thursday, September 17, 6 p.m. in the Hoopeston Area High School library prior to the regular board meeting.

Learned the new 15-by-25 foot flag is now flying, the baseball field drainage work is done and softball is up and running.

The next Hoopeston school board meeting is Thursday, September 17, 6 p.m. at the Hoopeston Area High School library.

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