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Superintendent Brad Lee Covers Several Back to School Topics with WROY/WRUL News

Carmi White County Unit 5 School parents and kids have an exciting day ahead of them.  Registration is being held from 9am – 7pm today in the High School cafeteria.  The main new state law for parents to be aware of regards their child’s teeth.  Dental exams have been required of Kindergarteners, 2nd graders and 6th graders.  New this year, high school freshmen will need an updated exam.  Outside of that, Unit 5 Superintendent Brad Lee says any other pertinent information will go home with parents and caregivers at registration.

Some kids are starting school for the first time.  Others are going to a new building.  When it comes to having a successful school year, Lee says it’s most important for parents to keep lines of communication open with their students’ teachers and building administrators.

“I think it’s important that parents stay involved in their students’ education and that they communicate with their teacher or teachers and with the building administrators.  If there’s a problem, don’t assume that the teacher or principal knows about it.  Let them know so they can try to head those off as soon as possible.”

Lee says he expects the district as a whole to have somewhere around 1,400 students again for the 2019/2020 school year, despite the District having 3 years of downward enrollment.  There were 1,410 kids enrolled in the 2016/2017 year.  1,388 2017/2018, and 1,371 last year.

If you still need vaccinations, you can make the trip to Egyptian Health Department’s office in Eldorado.  The organization is hosting a Back To School Vaccination Clinic from 1p – 8pm today.  No appointments are necessary.  If you have it available, you should bring any insurance information and a complete record of immunizations.

School is starting in about a week and a half.  Here in Unit 5 and at NCOE, kids will report to school for their first day on August 14th.  They will get out about 50 minutes early to help the kids and teachers acclimate to their new routine for the remainder of that week.  Their first full day of school is the following Monday, August 19th.

Unit 5 Superintendent Brad Lee says while things aren’t great financially in Illinois and for education, we’re in a lot better shape than we were a decade ago.

“Nine years ago, it was not good.  With some difficult decisions by the board and our employees being patient with us and through some cuts and reductions, we were able to kinda keep the ship afloat so to speak.  Funding has gotten tremendously better and while like you said we’re not totally fully funded, it’s certainly better than the pro-ration we went through for so many years.  So we feel like we’re on the right track and now we’re able to add some of the positions we were forced to cut some years ago.”

It’s no secret Unit 5’s buildings are aging to put it nicely.  Could there be a new facility coming down the road?

“We have three buildings that were built in the ‘40s or in the case of Lincoln, it was built in the ‘50s…but with aging homes, cars, buildings, it doesn’t matter what it is and over time, there’s expenses.  And it just seems like those expenses just keep building year after year.  Our custodians do an excellent job of maintaining what we have, but it’s always something.  You’re aware there have been some discussions in some board meetings concerning facilities.  That’s something we look to in the near future start a community engagement process to inform the public of what’s going on and maybe some options for down the road.”

A Back to School Night at Lincoln is scheduled for Monday, August 12th at 6pm.  Staff at Jefferson will welcome kids and their parents back on the following evening, Tuesday August 13th at 6pm.  And Washington Attendance Center will welcome folks to a Back to School Night on August 14th following their first school day at 6pm.

The poverty rate in White County is just a hair under 14% amounting to about 1,970 people.  16.6% of those people are school age children age 5 – 17 according to the latest data amounting to about 330 kids.

When it comes to back to school, it can be costly for just the basics.  Unit 5 Superintendent Brad Lee says the school has a role to play in helping those kids up as does the community.

“There are a number of civic organizations, churches, and individuals that are behind the scenes and don’t want any kind of recognition and they provide all kinds of supplies for our kids from school supplies, clothing, meals…it’s really amazing how this community comes together to help all our families.  We did add a social worker last year for our lower grades.  Those two individuals are reaching out to all kinds of organizations to find what they can for families in our district.  We’re just blessed to live in the community we do and to have the people we do who provide in others’ time of need.  We welcome anyone who wants to help out though.”

You can contact the central office of Unit 5 by calling 382 – 2341 or stop by the office at 211 West Robinson in Carmi.