The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

October 4, 2013

District looks to make upgrades

The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — District 118 school board members will mull over a list Wednesday of proposed facility updates and projects for the 2013-2014 school year.

Superintendent Mark Denman said considering the ages of some of the buildings in the district, it is important to keep them maintained.

Now that the South View and North Ridge middle school renovations are done and the work at East Park Elementary School is almost finished, Denman said it is time for the district to focus on its other properties.

The district has 12 school buildings, an administration building, an annex, a warehouse, several storage buildings, parking lots, athletic fields and vacant lots that have been purchased for future use. Some of the school buildings are more than 80 years old, with Garfield School being more than 100 years old.

“I think it’s important to allot a certain amount of the budget for upkeep,” Denman said. “We’re looking to use funds that are available in the budget for this work. The district has the money in its budget.”

Many of the recommended upgrades on the list — estimated to cost a total of $550,000 when $50,000-$60,000 in architectural fees are included — are considered required health, life and safety work that needs to be completed between 2011 and 2015.

Also listed separately is the removal and installation of new windows on the west side of Danville High School, which also is considered required health, life and safety work, at an estimated cost of $628,000. Eventually all of the windows at the high school will be replaced, but it could take several years.

According to Denman, the windows at the high school were last replaced in 1969-1971 and are not energy efficient.

He said the district will apply for a $250,000 energy efficiency grant from the state to help offset the cost of the window replacement work at the high school. If the grant is awarded, the district’s portion of the project cost would be divided between the 2014 and 2015 budget years.

“This is significant work,” Denman said of the recommendations on the list. “They’re goals we’re setting for ourselves for short-term and long-term planning.

“This is not approved work. It’s just an outline of what needs to be done,” he said. “We want to put it (list) out to the board for their input.”

The recommended work on the main list includes:

n About $145,000 in health, life and safety work at Cannon Elementary School, which includes excavating and replacing sewage piping for the kitchen, estimated at $15,000-$20,000; stabilizing masonry interior that has pulled away from the exterior, estimated at $10,000-$20,000; and replacing all plumbing fixtures throughout the building, estimated at $84,000-$100,000.

n About $80,000 in upgrades and health, life and safety work at Danville High School, which includes locker room upgrades, estimated at $15,000; creating a pedestrian ramp at the circle drive, estimated at $45,000; and removing trip hazards and stair treads on all stairs, estimated at $12,000-$20,000.

n About $175,000 in upgrades and health, life and safety work at Edison Elementary School, which includes relocating water coolers and installing a sewage ejector system, estimated at $13,000-$25,000; replacing all plumbing fixtures throughout the building, estimated at $84,000-$100,000; and repaving the drive and parking area and adding new parking, estimated at $50,000.

n About $90,000 in upgrades and health, life and safety work at Garfield Elementary School, which includes repairing steam piping as required, estimated at $14,000-$20,000; providing additional structural support over certain windows, estimated at $10,000-$20,000; and repaving the drive and parking area, estimated at $50,000.

Also on Wednesday, board members will:

n Learn what the 2013-2014 student testing dates are for the Illinois Standard Achievement Test and Prairie State Achievement Examination.

n Hear a Spotlight on Staff presentation, recognizing two district staff members.

n Hear a presentation from Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) representatives Robin Staudemeier, who works in the division that oversees the School Improvement Grants, and her associate Lisa Murray.

Denman said Staudemeier and Murray will spend the following day after the board meeting visiting classrooms and meeting staff at DHS, which was awarded a $6 million grant earlier this year.

n Hear an update on the Making the Grade Conferencing that was conducted Tuesday at DHS.

Denman called the one-on-one sessions to discuss grades and career goals between community member volunteers and DHS freshmen and juniors “a big success.” He said some elementary school principals expressed interest in arranging similar sessions at their schools.

Associate Superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat said “it was nice to see the connection” the community members made with the students during the sessions.

“We want to thank the volunteers for coming out and showing interest in the kids,” she said. “They made a big difference.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermilion County will continue the momentum of the Making the Grade Conferencing by offering “Mentoring: Making the Grade,” a site-based, one-to-one mentoring program between Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermilion County, DHS and the community.

The mentoring program starts Tuesday. Adult mentors who are 21 years old or older will be matched with a DHS freshman for the entire year and will meet with that student for about one hour after school every Tuesday at the high school.

“If they are truly interested in mentoring, they should go through the process with Big Brothers Big Sisters,” Desmoulin-Kherat said.

n Hear a recommendation that the district should apply for a $50,000 school maintenance project grant that would be matched up to $50,000 from the ISBE for the maintenance or upkeep of buildings or structures for educational purposes.

n Consider purchasing 221 E. Fairchild St. from the Greater Christ Apostolic Church for $41,000. Denman said the property across the street from DHS is commonly “referred to as The Church, where they sell fish sandwiches during home games.”

COMING UP The District 118 school board will hold its next regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, at the Jackson Building, 516 N. Jackson St.