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August 20, 2019

7/18/2019 11:03:00 AM
Security, paving among prep for Unit 2's year
With the start of a new school year only a month away, Robinson Unit 2 board members Monday continued efforts on summer renovations and began thinking about projects for next year.

One project, the paving of the new transportation barn parking lot is finished, while a second paving project at Robinson High School is about to begin. A third project, however, remodeling the RHS entrance for increased security, is running behind.

A little-known Robinson city ordinance is part of the reason for the paving projects, Superintendent Josh Quick explained.

In May 2002, the Robinson City Council adopted a requirement that all parking lots within the city limits had to be paved. The city has not always pushed enforcement, but a few years back when there were plans to enlarge the lot west of RHS, Unit 2 was told to pave it.

With that in mind, Quick said, Unit 2 opted to pave the lot in front of the new transportation barn on West Main.

There are other reasons, though. The previous owners of the property installed drainage structures in the lot, apparently with the intent of paving later. Paving means the structures no longer stick up too high.

Quick visited the lot after a recent rain and said the drainage system worked well.

Paving also makes the lot safer for employees who will park in it, he explained.

Quick said he is proud of the progress made at the facility. Lights still must be installed for the lot, he added, explain the poles for the lights have yet to be delivered. The goal is still to move into the building Aug. 5.

As for the RHS lot, it was put in when the new RHS was built years ago. It remained because the school needed parking for faculty during the day and the public for evening events.

Ambraw Asphalt was the sole bidder on the RHS project. The Lawrenceville company already has equipment on site and has begun preparing the lot.

Three companies expressed interest in performing renovations to the main entrance at the high school, but none submitted bids.

The problem, it turned out, was a requirement that demolition be completed prior to Aug. 16, the first day of student attendance for the 2019-20 school year. None of the contractors believed they could comply, but all said they would bid if they had more time.

The project will be rebid, with the troublesome clause removed from the bid specifications. Efforts will be made to keep dust and noise down so as not to disturb classes.

The renovations will mean a visitor to RHS will have to make face-to-face contact with a school official before entering the building proper. Recommended by the Unit 2 Safety Committee, it is a step many schools are taking to safeguard students and staff.

A pair of major projects for next summer are already under discussion. One is the replacement of the RHS gymnasium floor. The other is the total reconstruction of a south wall at Lincoln Elementary School.

A series of events led to the gym floor being damaged by groundwater seeping up from below. Apparently, the only solution is to completely remove the floor, board member Dennis Inboden explained, and redo underlying drainage and protective barriers before rebuilding it.

The gym project has been approved by the Illinois State Board of Education as a Health and Life Safety Project, which means it can be paid for through a 10-year Life Safety bond issue.

Inboden added repairing tuckpointing and other problems at LES will require the south wall be completely removed and rebuilt.

Because of the time required to complete these projects, will likely need to go out for bids before the end of the calendar year.

A third possible project is also under consideration. Classrooms at Washington Elementary School are air conditioned, but halls and the multi-purpose room used as a cafeteria and for physical education, are not.

As a security measure, doors are now kept shut on the multi-purpose room, which keeps it warmer inside. Fans are helping cool the room down, but the district needs to look it to air conditioning the space, Inboden said.

Also Monday, board members agreed to as the ISBE to renew Unit 2's waivers for a pair of state requirements.

The first waiver allows Unit 2 to teach driver education outside of normal school hours. It is impossible to fit it into RHS' block schedule. The second allows the district to let employees enroll their children as Unit 2 students without paying the required out-of-district tuition.

Both were subject to public hearings prior to Monday's board meeting. Some employees attended to tuition waiver hearing to thank the board for making it possible for their children to attend classes here.

The board also amended its agreement with Illinois Eastern Community Colleges concerning dual-credit courses.

Dual-credit courses allow local students to take college level courses while still in high school at considerable savings. The change in the agreement reflects a new state mandate. It requires dual-credit classes not taught on college campuses to be subject to on-site evaluation every three years.

In personnel matters, the board hired Karrie Stark as an NMS science teacher, Charity Clark as a WES reading teacher and Tracy Corn as a WES first grade teacher.

Mindy Evans was approved as the NMS Scholastic Bowl coach, while Eric Dean was named head girls softball coach at RHS.

Also approved were Sara Pinnell as RHS assistant girls basketball coach, Austin Sievers as NMS seventh grade girls basketball coach, Maggie Chenault as NMS eighth grade girls basketball coach and Kelly Brookman as NMS girls basketball volunteer.

The resignations of NMS science teacher Ashley Kuhn, WES first grade teacher Tina Watson and paraprofessional Laura Baker were accepted.

In other business, the board:

• Accepted bids for filters from Birkey's and Rush Truck Centers, brake parts from Rush, tires from Best One Tires, batteries from Organ Battery, motor oil, lube and other fluids from Rush, Blackberry Farms and Wabash Valley FS and gasoline and diesel fuel from Wabash Valley.

• Learned from Quick that this year's Unit 2 tax rate is down about 8 cents to 3.8882, making it the lowest in almost 10 years. Meanwhile, the district equalized assessed valuation is up almost $5 million thanks to higher property values.

• Approved Fernando Zuniga-Morales and Lauren Weber as this year's recipients of the Meadows Scholarship.

• Waived the RevTrack service fee during online registration, July 25 through Aug. 1.

• Approved the review of closed session minutes.

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