What had been a relatively uneventful meeting of the Chester District 139 Board of Education on Thursday got a little spicier after executive session.
After taking only 19 minutes to get to the executive session portion of its agenda, the board then spent roughly the next hour behind closed doors before returning to open session and adding a personnel item to the agenda.
That item was to approve the posting of openings for assistant principal, social studies teacher, high school baseball coach, high school football coach and part-time athletic director. All postings are for the 2017-18 school year.
"We don"t have anything, as far as the employment situation, that"s locked in stone yet," said District Superintendent Rick Goodman after the meeting. "We"re just preparing for what could possibly happen.
"By next month, I will have firm information on the changes that"s probably going to take place, but I just encouraged the board to go ahead and post those positions because now"s the time to do it."
Goodman stated he did not want to wait until possibly March "for the pieces to fall into place."
"We"re predicting something"s going to happen, but I don"t have any kind of agreements or anything with anybody yet," he said.
Current half-time Chester High School Athletic Director Mike Coffey is retiring at the end of the school year and also teaches one class of Illinois History at the high school. Chester Grade School Assistant Principal Dave Kaiser has the other half of the athletic director role.
Chester football/baseball coach Jeremy Blechle is also a teacher and dean of students at CHS, and previously told the Herald Tribune at the end of football season that it was time to spend more time with family.
In addition, Blechle has been working on his master"s degree in curriculum leadership at SIU-Carbondale, with a type 75 administrative certification.
"Once it happens, it"s going to be real easy for me to explain, but due to the privacy of the other individuals involved, I just want to go ahead and get that posted," Goodman said. "Even if it didn"t work out, we wouldn"t even probably have interviews, but it"s probably going to work out.
"But, I just don"t want to be caught late down the road trying to find people to fill those positions."
Goodman stated he would post the positions either Friday or Monday and run the post for a week at maximum.
"After that, I hope to have other information if there"s been maybe just a verbal agreement with other people involved," he said. "So, that"s kinda what that"s about."
Goodman said the postings are also about getting "really good candidates" if the district needs to fill some of the openings mentioned.
"If I wait until March or April, you might find some really good ones, but you might not," he said.
Goodman was asked if he was looking for one candidate for the positions.
"I think that might be too much," he said. "That might be something probably (CHS Principal) Dr. (Sarah) Gass and I will have a discussion about.
"If we thought it would fit, we might do it, but I"d rather not load somebody with that many responsibilities."
Lastly, Goodman noted that there were a lot of things to figure out.
"Now"s the time to start talking to people," he said.
The rest of the meeting went fairly smoothly, with only a short update on the board"s previous discussion about instituting an agriculture education program at the high school as a key highlight.
Gass said that she had issued surveys to students and parents and noted there was more interest in the class than previously thought.
Goodman noted that the class may have to be online as the district doesn"t have a teacher certified to teach ag. education., but it would require a supervisor.
Gass added there are 10 courses in the program, but the school would focus on two or three specific areas.
• The board discussed the employment of a 100-day tutor/substitute teacher through Title I funds. Goodman noted the district has a teacher with only 20 days left and that it may be possible to go through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund with using that teacher as a paraprofessional.
He said the district will write two teachers into the grant for the next school year, one per semester. The Title I funds do not come from the district.
• In his report, Goodman made note of the impending retirements of Coffey and maintenance supervisor Scott Bert. He also said he had sent a letter to the Chester Education Association - which represents the district"s teachers - stating his intent to begin bargaining sessions.
"We"re ahead of the game," Goodman said.
• The board approved the payment of bills and payroll.
• The board approved the review of executive session minutes from the past six months and approved the certified and noncertified seniority lists for the 2016-17 school year.
• The board accepted the resignation of Haley Davis as CGS paraprofessional, effective Dec. 30.
• The board accepted the retirement request of district secretary Sheri Coughlin effective at the end of the 2020-21 school year, taking advantage of the 6 percent salary increase in the final four years of employment.
• The board approved the employment of Rebecca Stueve as a 3-hour CHS cafeteria aide at $8.25 per hour effective Jan. 20.
• The board approved the employment of Gina Hafertepe as a 7 ½ hour CGS paraprofessional at $9 per hour pending certification.
• The board tabled an item to employ a 100-day tutor/substitute teacher through Title I funds.