DANVILLE – The namesake of Danville District 118’s administrative service center will be on hand when the building is officially dedicated next week.
Retired District 118 Superintendent David Fields is expected to be present during an open house and public tour of the Dr. David L. Fields Administrative Service Center, which will take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday, at 110 E. Williams St.
“We will finally open the building to the public, and there will be some kind of ceremony that morning,” School Board President Bill Dobbles.
Superintendent Alicia Geddis said Friday, “We’re excited to celebrate Dr. Fields and to honor him by naming the building for him. We hope he will be pleased.”
There will no longer be a public access TV feed of the school board meetings because the equipment is antiquated and could not be moved to the Fields building from the Jackson Building. The school board will eventually live stream its meetings on the district’s website.
Lloyd Randle, a former Danville city alderman, appeared before the school board in 2016 and asked them to consider naming the new administration building for Fields, who was a District 118 employee and superintendent for 41 years.
Randle said he plans to say a few words at the building dedication.
“It’s taken a while, but they had to finish remodeling the building, knock down the house behind it and pave the parking lot,” Randle said.
A committee of Danville District 118 representatives and community members was appointed in October 2017 to recommend a name for the district’s administration building.
The committee consisted of retired District 118 Superintendent Mark Denman as committee chair, and committee members: school board members Gladys Davis and Lon Henderson, Randle, former state Sen. Judy Myers, former District 118 human resources director Johnnie Carey, Northeast Magnet faculty member Kim Hall.
“There was a committee because there’s a board policy and procedure to go through once Lloyd asked to name the building after Fields,” Dobbles said.
The committee encouraged input from the community, district staff and students and considered Randle’s request to name the administration building for Fields.
The committee ended up unanimously recommending naming the former MT Systems building as the Dr. David L. Fields Administrative Service Center.
The committee’s rationale for its recommendation included Fields’ lengthy and commendable service to the district; his strong educational leadership skills based on his children-first philosophy; his devoted service over the years to Laura Lee Fellowship House, United Way of Danville Area, Danville Housing Authority and Lions Club; and his service at state-level education posts, such as being a member of the Illinois State Board of Education and president of the Large Unit District Association.
“If anyone deserves a building named after them, it’s Dr. Fields,” Dobbles said.
“It’s incredible what he stands for in our community and this will honor his legacy,” Randle said of Fields. “He’s very dedicated to education.”
Randle said it was Fields’ idea to call the facility a service center “because the staff is there to serve students and parents.”
The district entered into an agreement in August 2016 to lease the former MT Systems building for $24,500 for one year with the option to purchase it. The first remodeling work took place at the 12,000-square-foot building in the fall of 2016 at a cost of $109,209.
In May 2018, the school board approved hiring McDowell Builders of Sidell to renovate the south half of the building for $615,957.
The renovations included creating the board room where the school board will meet starting next Wednesday, as well as creating handicapped accessible restrooms and a separate conference room that will be used by the human resources department and relocating the front entrance so it now faces the parking lot.
In September 2018, the board approved spending $1.05 million to renovate the remainder of the building as well as to expand and pave the parking lot.
The district’s administrative offices for the superintendent, assistant superintendents, human resources and business were relocated December 2016 to the Fields Administrative Service Center, which is across the street to the south of the Jackson Building. The Jackson Building had been the district’s administration building since 1964 after it ceased being used as a school in 1963.
In the last few months, child psychiatrist Dr. Angela Mahome has been meeting with District 118 students and parents for appointments at the Fields building, Geddis said.
The district’s move to the Fields Administrative Service Center provides a professional environment for administrative employees that is all on one level and handicapped accessible.
District employees involved with special education, curriculum and educational support, as well as Danville Public School Foundation and Crosspoint services, still remain at the Jackson Building, which also could be used for a possible future expansion of an alternative program, Dobbles said.