Champaign approves pilot alternative to out-of-school suspension

Champaign approves pilot alternative to out-of-school suspension

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign school board Monday approved a program that will give students an alternative to out-of-school suspensions.

The board approved a $190,000 budget for the first year of the pilot program - $170,000 of which will be spent on an associate principal and two teachers.

Orlando Thomas, the school district's director of achievement and student services, said the goal is a three-year pilot, and the program's budget will come up for school board approval again next year.

The program allow students to learn and catch up on homework, and they'll receive help with their social skills, as well.

The school board also approved a $128,000 contract with Champaign Telephone Co. for cabling for the intercom and phone systems at Robeson Elementary School. The school will be remodeled this summer and next.

Originally on the board's consent agenda, the item was acted on individually after board member Phil Van Ness requested it. Board members and administrators discussed why the school district did not bid out the project.

Joe Davis, the school district's interim business manager, said consistency is key with services like the installation of telecommunications equipment, and Champaign Telephone has worked on many other school district buildings. The Illinois School Code doesn't require school districts to bid out such services, he said.

Champaign Telephone's quote came in below the amount budgeted for the project at Robeson, Davis said, and is consistent in pricing with other companies.

Also Monday, the school board approved creating an interim assistant food service director.

Ken Kleber, the school district's executive director of human resources, said the food service department has 70 employees, 18 sites and one administrator.

"It's becoming unmanageable with all the local, state and federal guidelines we have to meet," he said.

The district hopes the new assistant director could help the school district save money by better evaluating what students are eating and reducing food waste.

The position's salary is budgeted to be about $39,000 plus benefits, which will be offset by money the school district will save when it switches food co-ops, Kleber said.

The school board also approved the hire of three new assistant principals to start next summer: David Mast at Franklin Middle School, Lanee Reichert at Westview Elementary School and Peter Foertsch at Barkstall Elementary School. Reichert and Foertsch currently serve as interims in those respective positions. Mast is currently a sixth-grade science teacher at Franklin.

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