PBL Eastlawn School's fate seems certain

PAXTON — Paxton-Buckley-Loda school board members agreed Monday that a long-term goal of the school district should be replacing its oldest building: PBL Eastlawn School.

The school at 314 E. Center St. in Paxton is 78 years old. And it is showing signs of its age, the board agreed during Monday’s meeting of the building and grounds committee.

Dave Dowling, the board’s vice president, brought up the need to address the school’s fate. Dowling said the building is in poor shape, would require extensive renovations to be modernized, and does not fit the educational needs of its students.

Dean Swan, the board’s secretary, agreed that now is the time to start planning to replace the school.

“I think we can all agree that the building needs replaced,” Swan said.

Andy Bennett, the district’s director of buildings and grounds, told the board that Eastlawn is the “worst” among PBL’s four schools in terms of needing electrical and heating/ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) work.

Bennett said engineers recently did a “walk through” of the school and mentioned that they thought it needs replaced.

Superintendent Cliff McClure said the board needs to start talking about what to do with the school, as well as HVAC work at the high school and Clara Peterson Elementary School.

McClure said there are a number of “high-dollar” projects that need to be done in upcoming years. He recommended possibly adding the replacement of PBL Eastlawn School to the next 10-year health/life/safety survey the district is required to complete. McClure said the HLS survey needs to be done in two years.

Eastlawn serves students in third, fourth and fifth grades. The building was built in 1934 and was originally the home of Paxton Community High School. Additions were built in 1950 and 1961.

Over the years, the building also served as PBL Junior High School, prior to the junior high being moved to its current location in 2005. When the junior high was moved, students who had been attending Loda Grade School moved into the building, and Loda Grade School was sold.

2013 projects
The replacement of Eastlawn is considered a long-term goal for the district. Meanwhile, several projects that are expected to be pursued within the next year were also discussed at Monday’s committee meeting.

The board discussed the projects with representatives of Gorski Reifsteck Architecture, based in Champaign; and GHR Engineers and Associates Inc., a mechanical and electrical consulting firm also based in Champaign.

The projects discussed were:

— The replacement of the driveway in front of Clara Peterson Elementary School. McClure said architectural drawings have been completed, but the board did not have time last summer to seek bids for the project, so it has not been done. To help with the longevity of the driveway, the board is considering switching from a proposed asphalt base to a concrete base for the driveway. McClure said he thought the price difference would be $4,000 to $5,000. Construction is expected next June, following a bid opening next March. McClure said he would also like to have the district pave a parking area to the south of the school where there is currently gravel.

— The replacement of lighting at Zimmerman Field and Guyot Track at the high school. The project is expected to cost in the $160,000 range, including about $90,000 for a new gear. The project could be funded with health/life/safety bonds; McClure said there is about $180,000 left in HLS bond money available.

— The construction of a new concession stand at the softball fields next to Clara Peterson Elementary School. Bennett said workers plan to start laying bricks for the structure either this week or next. Bennett said construction should be complete this winter so the building is ready for use by the start of the softball season next spring.

— The installation of a new scoreboard at Zimmerman Field. McClure said Paxton’s youth football organization has offered to fund a portion of the cost of the new scoreboard. Also, the organization has offered to help the district buy play clocks for each end of the field, McClure said. McClure estimated the scoreboard to cost around $20,000 and the play clocks to cost an additional $5,000 to $10,000.

— The reshingling of the roof of the maintenance shed behind the high school.

— The continuation of asbestos tile removal at the high school.

— Lighting replacement in the high school’s gymnasium.

— The painting of the ceiling of the high school’s gym.

The committee also discussed completing a needs assessment for PBL High School, to determine the school’s electrical and HVAC needs. Swan said the needs assessment would involve a “three- to five-year plan.”

The committee also made plans to dispose of a van with 250,000 miles on it. McClure said he would like the district to donate the vehicle to a “community agency.” McClure said he has contacted Shields Auto Mart in Paxton to see how much it might cost for a used replacement.

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