District 158 plans for in-person return to school this fall

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BY JIM MASTERS

LANSING, Ill. (May 24, 2021) — The words “back to school” will mean so in a physical sense when District 158 students return to the classroom in August.

Back to in-person school

The District 158 Board of Education made that declaration at its meeting on May 19: they fully expected all students to be back in the classroom for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

The board’s announcement reflects the passage of a resolution by the Illinois State Board of Education requiring that all schools fully resume in-person learning, provided that remote instruction be made available for students who are not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and are under a quarantine order by a local public health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Dr. Nathan Schilling, Superintendent of Schools, said that the remote learning program already in place will continue for those students that need it.

He said the district would not be requiring vaccines of students or teachers, calling it a “very personal decision.” However, as vaccines are now open for children as young as 12, and if the vaccination availability and uptake continues, Schilling says, “We should be in pretty good shape.”

He added that the district will continue to distribute COVID-19 related information and follow State Board of Education and Department of Public Health guidelines and requirements.

Schools ink bus contract

The board also awarded its lone bid for school bus service to Kickert School Bus Line Inc. The three-year deal comes with a 9.25% cost increase for the coming school year. Schilling explained that Kickert is attempting to make up for losses when the schools moved to remote learning and buses were no longer needed. To financially compensate, Kickert had layed off a number of bus drivers.

Bus service costs the district approximately $1 million a year, although it saved about $370,000 during 2020-2021 because Kickert is paid per each route it runs daily. No route means no pay.

Even with the increase in cost, the district is still fiscally ahead of the game. In addition, Kickert is turning over $11,000 to the district as a portion of federal stimulus funds the company received.

In other business, the board announced that medical and dental insurance premium costs will be rising slightly for teachers. For instance, the family medical plan is increasing $160 annually.

District 158 offices are located at 18300 Greenbay Avenue, Lansing, IL.

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