by Laura Bednar
Sept. 7 special board of education meeting
After discussing a pay raise for certified substitute teachers, Superintendent Ben Hegedish said he and Treasurer Eric Koehler researched surrounding school district pay rates to determine what Independence should offer.
At the August board meeting, the original proposal was to increase compensation from $100 to $110 a day. Some members of the public in attendance said they thought that rate was too low. Hegedish said they settled on $135, adding that some districts gradually increase pay based on number of days worked, but he believed this would be a burden on the treasury department.
To be a certified substitute, an individual must have a four-year college degree in any subject, have a clean background check, submit fingerprints to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation, and apply for a license through the Educational Service Center.
Independence adds an extra step by interviewing each candidate and requiring board approval. Board member Carrie Sears said she appreciated this extra step, especially with the number of substitutes increasing.
Assistant Superintendent Tom Dreiling gave an update on school security cameras. He said city officials had a connection with a former member of the United States Secret Service, who will do a walk-through of each school building to determine the best type of cameras to use and the proper placement.
The school’s current cameras are 12 years old and can only shoot footage in one direction. Dreiling said the new cameras the district is considering can shoot in multiple directions, but still feed off of one cable. Three companies are preparing bids for camera installation.
Dreiling is also going to apply for a $250,000 federal safety grant to offset the cost of the cameras.
Another possible upgrade is door sensors, which would set off an alarm if a door were propped open for too long, ideally preventing unauthorized people from entering the buildings.
Currently, the schools have facial recognition technology, in which a visitor’s driver’s license is scanned at the door and put through a sexual predator database. Board member Andrea Marek said records of visitors on a day-to-day basis should be kept in a database to be referenced if need be. Hegedish said data like that is usually kept for one year.
The search continues for a wrestling team practice space. The team currently uses the Independence Fieldhouse and the middle school cafeteria. One of the problems using the Fieldhouse is the distractions from pickleball players and other community members using the space. Dreiling talked about adding a vinyl divider to isolate the team during practice.
One option is for the team to practice at the Elmwood Recreation Center in Elmwood Park. Dreiling said it is completely booked for this year and did not have adequate shower facilities, but the school offered to renovate and add showers. He said it is up to the city to allow practice there if showers were installed.
Another alternative is adding a multi-purpose room underneath the football stadium bleachers. Hegedish said it could serve wrestlers as well as other athletes such as track runners who need to stretch before a meet.
“It’s crazy that this building [Independence High School] was built without a wrestling room,” said Dreiling. ∞