Renderings of addition to Paxton school presented to board

By ROSS BROWN
bluehavanaross@gmail.com


PAXTON — Paxton-Buckley-Loda school board members were shown renderings of the proposed 63,000-square-foot addition to Clara Peterson Elementary School last Wednesday night.

Chuck Reifsteck of Champaign-based Gorski-Reifsteck Architecture presented an update of the design and layout of the school addition, which will replace PBL Eastlawn School at the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Reifsteck explained that during the past month, staff members from PBL toured the new Carrie Busey School in Savoy to determine the layout of the new addition. Once the staff agreed on a layout, Reifsteck said, his firm created renderings of the addition.

The addition will be built onto the east end of Clara Peterson Elementary School, taking up space where a playground area and the old softball field are located.

Administrative space will be located on the west edge of the new addition, with kitchen, music, commons and gym space to the immediate east. Classrooms are to be located on the east end of the addition, with second and third grades taking up the ground floor and fourth and fifth grades on the second floor.

Reifsteck said crews will need to excavate nine feet on the northeast corner of the property in order to remove topsoil. What the district does with that area, Reifsteck said, is for the board to decide. An engineered fill could be brought in, he said, or basement storage space could be added to the addition.

PBL Superintendent Cliff McClure said there are a number of options on a roofline and mechanical systems that have yet to be determined. The renderings presented to the board showed the addition having a slanted roof, which Reifsteck said was the preferred option.

McClure said the new gymnasium will have at least three rows of bleacher seating and a mezzanine level on the north end. He said additional seating could be brought in for major events.

Once the design options are finalized, Reifsteck said that estimates will be submitted by the end of May.

New policies proposed
PBL High School Assistant Principal Jeff Graham told the board that a new academic integrity policy is being drafted for the upcoming school year.

Acknowledging that the school does not have a firm policy in place, Graham said behaviors such as cheating and plagiarism should be taken more seriously.

Under new guidelines, students caught cheating will receive a Saturday school and the chance to redo the exam or assignment. A 10 percent deduction will be taken off the student’s score on the redone assignment.

McClure said he would like the policy to be adopted as a district-wide guideline that could be universally followed.

Graham proposed two additional policies involving driver’s education classes and student attendance, as well. Any student on the waiting list to take driver’s education classes would be moved to the bottom of the list if he or she has failing grades. Once grades are improving, the student would move back up the list.

Board member Steve Pacey of Paxton questioned the new policy. Pacey addressed concerns regarding students with just one failing class compared with others with multiple failing grades. McClure said students who do not improve grades could end up taking the class during the summer.

The third new policy, Graham said, would result in a five-day social probation for any student having an unexcused absence for at least half of one school day. Graham said any students having unexcused absences would be barred from attending athletic events and activities after school. Several board members questioned athletic participation as being part of the suspension. Graham clarified that participation in athletics or activities would not apply to the social probation.

Pacey asked McClure if paid assistant coaches should be required to complete online training provided by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). McClure agreed with Pacey, though he said that assistant coaches do not have login credentials with the IHSA, and would have to submit certificates to the head coach. McClure said all head coaches are currently required to participate in the online sessions.

The proposed policies will be up for approval in May.

Personnel changes
Following a closed session, the board approved the following changes in personnel:

➜ The resignations of special education teacher Ashley Rabe, social worker Nicole Shields, special education teacher Allison Didier and junior high speech team coach Cindy Haile were accepted, all effective at the conclusion of the 2016-17 school year.

➜ The hiring of Emily Jacob as special education teacher, Suzanne Christenson as high school English teacher, Kate Provin as special education teacher, Olivia Kingren as Clara Peterson secretary, Jill Schrodt as high school guidance secretary and Lynn Rubarts as high school assistant girls’ basketball coach were approved, all effective at the start of the 2017-18 school year.

➜ Family Medical Leave Act and leave of absence requests for Lisa Niewold and Lisa Buhs for the 2017 fall semester were approved.

➜ The re-assignment of Kim Goble to high school building secretary was approved.

➜ The termination of Zach Harris as high school assistant football coach was approved. Harris has moved out of state and failed to submit a letter of resignation.

Other business
Also at the meeting:

➜ McClure said the district will be receiving one categorical payment from the Illinois Comptroller’s Office in April. McClure said he hopes to receive three other payments soon, with the earliest possible date of July 1. The district has an account balance of $38,676,124, with the transportation fund having a balance of around $30,000, McClure said. McClure said he is hopeful that the district can make it through the end of the current school year without having to borrow further from the education fund to support the transportation fund. McClure said, however, that the district is $40,000 short on transportation funds expected for April.

➜ The board approved the purchase of K-5 science curriculum materials, with costs taken from Title 1 funds. McClure said the curriculum is aligned with state standards and includes reading, nonfiction and kits.

➜ The board approved student supplementary insurance policies for the 2017-18 school year. The voluntary insurance is paid by a student’s parent. McClure said no policies have been written for a number of years, but that the district keeps it in place in case policies are needed.

➜ A one-year natural gas contract with Twin City Energy Services was approved. McClure said he is only banking on one year due to different mechanical options with the Clara Peterson addition.

➜ The board discussed proposed fees for 2017-18 for student registration, lunch, breakfast, Advanced Placement/dual credit courses and driver’s education courses. The fees will be up for approval in May.

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