You may have seen on our B-PC Facebook page that the Spartan Store is now in all B-PC Schools! Designed to support kids in need, each store contains age-appropriate items (clothing, personal hygiene, etc.). Click HERE to learn more and find out how you can help us help kids.
In December, the Bushnell-Prairie City Board of Education passed a resolution to increase the working cash fund through the sale of bonds for $3.6M dollars to make improvements at Bushnell-Prairie City High School. These funds, in addition to more than $500,000 of ESSER III grant funds, will support updated bathrooms; locker rooms; new flooring in all hallways and classrooms; new classroom doors to improve security; new lighting in all classrooms and hallways; window replacement; cafeteria improvements; roof replacement over the library; new seating, lighting, and sound systems in the auditorium; installation of an indoor track surface in the gymnasium; and resurfacing of the all-weather outdoor track. These improvements will be done in two phases, with Phase I to begin this summer and focus upon instructional spaces, and Phase II planned for the summer of 2023 with a focus on arts and athletic spaces. The sale of these bonds is a continuation of the improvements undertaken at Bushnell-Prairie City Elementary and Bushnell-Prairie City Junior High. A hearing will be held in January with the bond sales occurring later in the month. Funds should be received in February and the bidding process can begin.
What does this mean for the financial health of the District?
There will be 2 types of bond issuances to generate these funds: 1) self-purchased Working Cash bonds, and 2) debt certificates. The self-purchased Working Cash bonds will be borrowed against the balance in the Education Fund and repaid using County Facilities Sales Tax (1% sales tax) revenues. This will yield an additional $300,000 in revenue to the Education Fund from interest paid; the fund that incurs the greatest amount of expense to operate the District. The debt certificates will be repaid through the debt levy.
Will this increase the the District's tax rate?
The bond and interest tax rate for the District since 2015 has ranged from .25 to .32. Repayment of the debt certificates will yield a bond and interest tax rate ranging from .27 to .32; not higher than past rates. This range could also decrease should the District's equalized assessed value (property values) continue to be healthy.
As shared with our school community via Skylert in the last week, the Center for Disease Control and the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) have issued revised guidance relative to COVID-related exclusions. Please click HERE for the health alert issued by the IDPH or click HERE for a simple-to-read summary. Please don't hesitate to contact your school office and/or District Nurse, Kristi White, at email@example.com if you need assistance or have questions.
Every year our Scholastic Book Fairs show our students how much we value reading and how fun it can be. It also helps raise money for our libraries.
This fall's book fairs are November 8th - the 12th, at the Junior High and the Elementary Schools.
Find out more here.
As discussed at several Board of Education meetings, Bushnell-Prairie City School District has finalized a testing support agreement with The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois to conduct COVID-19 testing for staff and students. This testing, commonly referred to as "SHIELD testing" will be conducted weekly in all school buildings and is anticipated to begin in mid-October. Provided free of charge by the University of Illinois, this testing protocol will not only assist the District in maintaining healthy schools, but will also provide an opportunity for anyone identified as a close contact to limit possible exclusion through a "test-to-stay" process. To learn more about this saliva-based (spit) test and/or to refuse consent for your child to be tested, click on this LINK.
Please see the attached document for the answers to common questions regarding our return to learn for the 2021-2022 school year. Parents and students, please look for a survey coming your way soon to provide input on Homecoming 2021.
The first day of school is quickly approaching! Custodians have been repairing and cleaning buildings, teachers have been busy in classrooms, and bus stops are being finalized. Supply chain issues have caused some delays in construction at B-PC Elementary. We welcome teachers back to school tomorrow for two full days of meetings and welcome students back on Wednesday. We can't wait for parents and students to see the upgrades to facilities at B-PC Junior High and B-PC Elementary! If you have not yet registered for the new school year, please do so as soon as possible so your child's schedule and classroom placement is available during the various orientations and meet the teacher events scheduled Monday and Tuesday evenings for grades K-9.
District and school leaders met this evening to review the week ahead and will be sending welcome back information via Skylert to all district families later this evening. Please look for those in your school email. Guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education (found HERE) and guidance provided by the District's attorney (found HERE) were used during planning, to insure the District is compliant with the mandate, but common sense and creativity were in the room to make sure we can welcome students to a successful year of in-person learning! As always, please contact your school office if you have questions or need assistance.
At their regular meeting in July, the B-PC Board of Education voted to approve measures that aligned with requirements issued by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health. On August 4, 2021 Executive Order 2021-18 was issued by Governor Pritzker and included the following:
Section 1: School Mitigation Measures. All public and nonpublic schools in Illinois serving pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students must follow the join guidance issued by ISBE and IDPH and take proactive measures to ensure the safety of students, staff, and visitors, including, but not limited to:
a. Requiring the indoor use of face coverings by students, staff, and visitors, who are over age two and able to medically tolerate a face covering, regardless of vaccination status, consistent with CDC guidance; and,
b. Implementing other layered prevention strategies (such as physical distancing, screening testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, advising individuals to stay home when sick and get tested, contact tracing in combination with appropriate quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection) to the greatest extent possible and taking into consideration factors such as community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and occurrence of outbreaks, consistent with CDC guidance.
A copy of this guidance can be found HERE.
There are mixed and strong emotions surrounding this and there are a few districts who have voted to defy the executive order. One such district has already been stripped of its School Recognition Status making that district unable to award diplomas, its students participate in athletics, and jeopardizing district funding. Their legal counsel has already contacted ISBE to appeal reversing that decision and has assured ISBE that the district will be following the mandate. Last night, after a spirited and sometime heated debate, the B-PC Board of Education voted to comply with this mandate. Board members were diligent in gathering information from public health officials, their insurance broker, the District's attorney, and many other sources to inform their decision. All members are to be commended for voting in a manner they feel is in the best interest of our school district.
This has created an unfortunate and unnecessary divide, but I'm confident that we can all agree to at least one thing - we need kids back in school. Staff have been encouraged to remain positive and focus on what their primary responsibility is; to ready their buildings and classrooms to welcome students back next Wednesday. We are hopeful that parents who are unhappy with the source of this debate (the Governor and his executive order) do not bring the fight and the disruption to classrooms when students so need the time in front of teachers and coaches. Time that was lost to them last year. Regardless of how you feel on this issue, please don't take those energies to classrooms and buildings, but where most effective . . . to your senators, your representatives, the Governor, and the Illinois State Board of Education.
Lastly, we have started to field questions about the procedures associated with the executive order, particularly the wearing of masks. The directives below were provided by our attorneys.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Illinois Association of Regional Schools Superintendents, 77% of responding districts reported a teacher shortage in their districts. We were one of those districts, but finished the school year strong and looked forward to improving facilities and providing teacher training (as we do every summer) in anticipation of the next school year. Unfortunately, the teacher shortage in west central Illinois is worsening and we, along with many of our neighboring districts, are struggling to fill teaching positions. Districts for the first time are actively recruiting teachers from each other, resulting in unusually late resignations. In the past few weeks alone, B-PC has had 5 teachers resign, 4 of whom were recruited by other districts, with the most recent resignation yesterday. As a result, and our efforts to place staff in the most effective and/or needed positions, students' classroom teacher and/or schedule may change.
We are, and will continue to work hard to fill all positions with the most qualified candidates available. We have posted openings on our district website and educational job banks, advertised via social media, have formed a great relationship with Western Illinois University by welcoming candidates from its alternative licensing program, are working with our local regional office of education to utilize legislation that supports teacher recruitment and hiring, and we continue to reach out through professional and personal relationships. Changes occur almost daily, but we recognize the importance of having caring and qualified teachers in classrooms and appreciate your patience and your trust as we work through these challenges.
The Bushnell-Prairie City Board of Education met for its regular July meeting on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 in the Bushnell-Prairie City High School Library. During this meeting, board members reviewed current metrics, received feedback from the school community, and engaged in a lengthy discussion to identify factors to support the return of B-PC staff and students to school for in-person instruction that prioritize their health and safety and are compliant with current guidelines and mandates from the Center for Disease Control, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Illinois State Board of Education. This plan can be found HERE. Essentially, this plan allows for parents to make the choice whether or not to mask their children and also allows that same personal decision to be made by staff members. Per mandate, all passengers and drivers on public transportation are expected to wear face masks. Social distancing of 3 or more feet will also be implemented as possible. Our district nurse and administrators will continue to work in concert with the McDonough County Health Department, with specific guidance expected soon from the Illinois Department regarding contact tracing and quarantine requirements.
In compliance with established guidance, this plan is a layered approach to safely remove mitigations supported by local conditions. As stated in the document, the Board will continue to monitor current conditions and notify the school community of any changes to the plan.
Despite our hopes that we would return to a "normal" school year, these continue to be difficult and polarizing times. The mitigation strategies put forth by state agencies to combat this health crisis have created tension and conflict within our school community that only serve to detract us from what should be our primary focus - teaching and learning. I am hopeful that we come together as a school community to welcome a safe and successful return to school in August. No student or staff member shall be discriminated upon, regardless of vaccination or face mask preference.