Chrisman schools have full faculty, tough time finding new hires

By GARY HENRY ghenry@prairiepress.net
Posted 7/19/21

CHRISMAN — Despite the acknowledged teacher shortage, Chrisman Community Unit School District #6 managed to fill its numerous vacancies for the coming school year.

“Finding teachers is …

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Chrisman schools have full faculty, tough time finding new hires

Posted

CHRISMAN — Despite the acknowledged teacher shortage, Chrisman Community Unit School District #6 managed to fill its numerous vacancies for the coming school year.

“Finding teachers is terrible,” said interim superintendent Jim Acklin.

He added the worker shortage extends to other positions besides certified staff.

“I had three interviews scheduled for custodians that were no shows,” Acklin said.

Elementary principal Kelly Schluter mentioned the hiring issue during her report to school board members Wednesday, July 14. She said with four new teachers coming on staff, she plans to do a new-teacher orientation as part of the staff preparation before studnets returning.

According to Schluter, it is unusual for the Chrisman Elementary School to have such a large staff turnover in one year, and it was not easy getting the positions filled.

Schluter said after the board meeting the number of applications were in the single digits for each of the vacancies at the elementary school.

A new-teacher orientation is also planned for the five new people joining the junior high-high school faculty.

“I do it so the new teachers are not overwhelmed on their first day,” said principal Cole Huber. “I also assign experienced teacher mentors to the new teachers.”

Huber was relieved at securing a full faculty prior to the start of school.

A first ever summer school for junior high and high school students was deemed a success.

Summer school was offered at Unit 6 for students who fell behind during quarantine periods after COVID-19 exposure and were at risk of not earning credits toward promotion and graduation. Participation was voluntary and 16 students completed their course work in the summer session.

Huber said more students could have benefited but declined the opportunity. Chrisman’s summer school was paid for by the federal COVID recovery money provided to the school district and students had no expense for attending.

The summer school is concluded, Huber reported, noting those who attended are back on track and one completed the requirements for graduation.

“I was super, super happy about it,” Huber said regarding the success of the program.

Acklin discussed recent school masking recommendations by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) stating students and staff who are vaccinated do not need to wear masks while recommending those who are not continue wearing masks.

He added a conversation with the Edgar County Public Health Department confirmed officials with the ECPHD are comfortable with not mandating masks at school given the current conditions.

“I don’t think as a nation we are out of the woods yet, but I think we will be able to start school without a masking mandate,” said Acklin.

He stressed COVID-19 is still a fluid situation until more people are vaccinated.

“If the positivity rate goes up, things will change,” said Acklin. “It might require masking, more spacing or we might have to go remote for a while.”

Board members were supportive of starting school without a mask mandate.

“Everybody knows the facts and risks,” said board president Karen Webster. “Everybody needs to know our guidelines that masks are recommended for those not vaccinated.”

Two sets of parents and two students attended the school board meeting and advocated for board members to accept an invitation from Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School to create a football cooperative. According to the parents, as many as nine boys are interested in playing football for the co-op.

“If we got two or 15, it would be an opportunity some of our kiddos don’t have now,” said Acklin.

During discussion, it was noted Chrisman will pay approximately $500 per student who plays, but a lack of bus drivers means the district will not provide transportation to Georgetown for practices and games. It will be up to the students, or parents, to take care of transportation.

Board member Cory Chaney said while he supports the co-op idea, he did sound a cautionary note based on the history of a previous football co-op with Georgetown-Ridge Farm.

“In 2014, we were sending only one or two kids and they (Georgetown-Ridge Farm) dropped us because it wasn’t worth their time,” said Chaney. “How do we know we won’t see the same thing in a couple of years?”

Per Illinois High School Association (IHSA) rules, sports cooperatives must be a two-year commitment between the partner schools. Co-ops can be renewed or dropped on the two-year cycle.

Acklin said it is impossible to project out for two years on this matter, but the Georgetown-Ridge Farm superintendent initiated the conversation.

“They need more bodies, at least for two years,” said Acklin.