IL Superintendent Summer Spotlight: Dr. Chuck Lane, Centralia High School School District #200

This summer, we will get to know more about our Equity First superintendents; many of whom are active in our FIF coalition. Advance Illinois’s Equity First coalition is an alliance of superintendents across Illinois that advocate for public policy that promotes equity in public education for students. The group gathers to discuss education policy and school community issues to help inform Advance Illinois’ education policy agenda and statewide policy broadly.

In this week’s blog we converse with Centralia, Illinois, superintendent Dr. Chuck Lane.

Why did you go into the education field? 

I thought I could make a difference in the lives of children and adults. I also remembered how enthusiastic and happy my teachers were in high school and how they seemed to enjoy coming to work every day. That made a lasting impression on me. 


How does EBF funding play a role in the success of the students you serve or the school district? 

In simple terms, EBF has totally transformed our school district. In 2017 we were in dire shape financially. The years of prorated general state aid had crippled our school district. When EBF finally passed, Centralia High School was at 51% of our adequacy target. Today after 6 years of steady funding, we sit at 72% of our adequacy target. We’ve been able to make significant strides in investing in our curriculum and teaching staff. We’ve invested heavily in technology adding interactive panels to all classrooms and creating a VR room to give our students a taste of the very latest in the digital world. EBF has leveled the playing field and allowed our students to have a type of high school experience not previously possible during the general state aid days. 


Tell us about your school district. What are some accomplishments you want to highlight from your school

We’ve been able to invest substantially in technology over the last few years. In becoming a 1:1 district, we’ve given our students the necessary technical tools to be successful in today’s workplace. We have continued to add more dual credit classes which helps our students get a head start on their post-secondary certificate or degree. Centralia High School has also been able to add more career pathways which allows our students to get a taste of what their future career might look Ike. Many of the challenges we now face center around the shortage of quality teaching candidates. In past years, we would have 20-25 candidates for most positions. Now we are lucky if we have a handful. This is especially problematic for most rural schools across our state. We must be able to replace retiring faculty with high quality candidates if we want to maintain excellent schools. 


What resources and supports can further benefit your school? Or what resources/supports have made a positive difference? 

Obtaining funds to start a “Grow Your Own Program” would be a game changer for our school district. The only way for us to attract high quality candidates to our area is to invest in our own students. We currently have an education pathway that exposes our students to the profession but we do not have funding to then help them pay for their college. If we had funding to offer, we could lure them back to our school district to become teachers for our school. In my opinion, having a “Grow Your Own Program” is the only way rural school districts will be able to combat the teacher shortage problem. 


 Fun fact about yourself: 

I was a college and high school basketball coach before becoming an administrator.