During the regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting on Monday, the Edwards County Community Unit School District # 1 motioned to approve the 2020-2021 school year Consolidated District Plan, referred to as the IL ePlan.

The IL ePlan was instituted last year by the Illinois State Board of Education to consolidate and streamline the federal grant application and management process to reduce the burden on grantees and support holistic service to students, according to the Feb. 14, 2019 announcement of the program by Tony Smith, the previous State Superintendent of Education before Dr. Carmen I. Ayala succeeded him on March 1, 2019.

According to Smith, “the IL ePlan supports planning and grant management that takes multiple funding sources into consideration to fully meet each student’s needs. The IL ePlan also will help ISBE understand each grantee holistically, so we can provide improved technical assistance grounded in equity.”

The Consolidated District Plan will allow Superintendent of Schools, David Cowger to answer one set of planning questions to meet those requirements for all twelve of the federal formula grants, to include:

Title I, Part A- Improving Basic Programs; Title I, School Improvement 1003(a); Title II, Part A- Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals, and Other School Leaders; Title III- Language Instruction Education Program; Title IV, Part A-Student Support and Academic Enrichment and Title V, Part B- Rural and Low-Income Schools. The entire list of twelve grants can be found at  HYPERLINK "http://www.isbe.net/Documents/Consolidated-District-Plan-Presentation-20190219.pdf" www.isbe.net/Documents/Consolidated-District-Plan-Presentation-20190219.pdf.

The board also approved the second reading, and adoption of, several updated policies that were first introduced at last month’s regular board meeting, as well as an alternate bus bid from Midwest Transit Equipment while rejecting their initial bid, plus two other bids from different companies.

At the March regular meeting, the board decided to table to Schneider Electric agenda item to await further information and to clear up some disparities. At this month’s meeting, the Schneider Electric agenda item for maintenance work was again tabled, awaiting further information.

Cowger recommended to table to agenda item until more information could be received before the board made a decision to approve the work items.

The board then approved, in an effort to be ahead of the game, a basketball athletic camp scheduled for May 26-29. Whether or not the camp will actually take place will remain to be seen, according to Cowger. He inferred that everything was contingent upon Governor J.B. Pritzker’s decision to extend the stay-at-home order beyond April 30 or not.

Many components will be contingent upon an extended stay-at-home order beyond April 30, according to Cowger. He is diligently trying to field questions and formulate plans of action to allow students, or potentially their parents, to clean out lockers and desks. If the stay-at-home order is lifted, either in full or partially, Cowger implied that Prom could hopefully still be an option.

As for graduations, they have not yet been cancelled, but Cowger implied that he expected them not to occur as as scheduled. He admitted it is his goal to have all three graduation ceremonies, though he believes it may be June or July before graduation ceremonies could be held. Even if the stay-at-home order was relaxed after April 30, it might take a while for the number of people allowed at a gathering to be at a high enough number to allow for the desired graduation ceremonies. 

Cowger reminded the board that the Cafeteria reports are going to be skewed from this point on for the remainder of the year. “Our last in-school meal was March 16,” so for half of March’s report, the school was not receiving any money for lunches, even though they have been providing meals. Board member Jo Rector asked how much the school would be reimbursed, but the answer to that is currently unknown, as is when. 

Gov. Pritzker’s April 17 press release started that “Illinois will receive approximately $569 million in federal funding for pre-K through 12 schools, as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The funding can help equip students with technology and internet access to enhance remote learning, support teachers in developing their remote instruction skills, and assist schools in continuing to provide meals to children and communities.”

Cowger then shared with the board that as of Monday, the school was providing 235 meals to students within the district. On the first day that the meals were offered, March 17, Cowger noted that they only provided approximately a third of that amount. He then said they would continue providing meals through the end of the scheduled school year, which would be “through May 18 or 19.”

Since the board meeting was the first after Gov. Pritzker’s announcement last Friday that “in-person learning in schools will not resume during the 2019-2020 school year, with remote learning days to continue for all pre-K through 12th grade students,” each school administrator and many of the board members shared their praises for all the staff and volunteers. 

“I’m very proud of the effort that everyone has put forth,” Cowger said. The K-12 Complex Principal Preston Nelson echoed his sentiments, “everybody’s efforts are outstanding…the teachers especially…and the volunteers.” “Hats off to all those putting in extra time,” West Salem Grade School Principal Dale Schmittler stated. Dean of Students, Joe Rivers noted that, “it’s been impressive to watch,” referring to the way the staff, students and volunteers have adapted. Ms. Wells told the board, “our staff is amazing and they’ve done a great job.” The board members likewise recognized all the effort and time invested by all.