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  • Fairbury News staff

District building study possible

PC Primary West is shown along Division Street in Chenoa.

During the regular September meeting of the Prairie Central Board of Education, Superintendent Paula Crane proposed a full facilities study for the district.

“What I envision this being is also a community engagement process,” explained Crane.

This study would look at details about the various aspects of buildings like outside repairs needed and examining the inside of facilities with plumbing, flooring and walls. Surveys would be sent to teachers as well.

Community engagement meetings would be used to present the information.

“That gives you feedback to figure out the future of your facilities planning,” Crane added.

While this is a good way to see if the current building investments make sense, it could put the Prairie Central Elementary gym project on hold for a bit until the study is completed. Crane noted a full building study could be $50,000 and the community engagement part could cost $30,000.

The process will gather data and see the end result could take a year. District architect Craig Wright of Wright and Associates would likely help with the study which could be conducted by a company yet to be determined.

Board president Mark Slagel acknowledged some are getting tired of expensive bills to maintain the district buildings and surveys will show which way the public would like the district to go – whether to build something new or keep investing in the old structures.

“I want to get somebody that knows their way around the computer and presentations and that sort of thing,” added Crane.

“This should have been done 20 years ago,” said board member Lori Schahrer.

Crane feels the district is in a good place to start a study such as this and will gather more information for the board.

Also during the September meeting, board members heard a building and grounds committee report from Crane. Several projects are ongoing and the Upper Elementary roof is complete. It ended up $14,000 under budget. The elementary air condensing unit is now running and the high school roof is finished except for metal around the outside. Gym windows are installed and finished.

Poles still have not arrived for football lighting and the new baseball field scoreboard is operational. Boiler work continues at Prairie Central Primary West in Chenoa.

“They came and started cutting that thing apart,” explained Crane.

A new one is at a Peoria warehouse waiting to be installed. This consists of two smaller systems instead of one big boiler.

An update was provided on plans for the ag addition to the high school. The architect started with four different scenarios and the teachers chose one layout. An area can be used by animal sciences for vet tech. and meats. This room will have a big drain so everything can be power washed and sanitized.

“We put that into the plan,” stated Crane. “We’ve got doors that are equipped for that sort of thing.”

The district can also improve the welding area with this addition and upgrade equipment.

“They’ve been very helpful with input,” Slagel said, referring to staff.

Slagel would like to see the project out for bid this year with work starting next summer.

Under old business, the board approved the Fiscal Year 23 budget. A hearing was entered to allow public comment on the budget as presented, although no comments were made.

More accurate salary information impacts the education fund and there are not many changes from last month. The district is still paying for a number of capital projects. Some items are listed in operations and maintenance that normally aren’t, such as football lights.

Transportation is well over budget as buses ordered last year still are not here and they must be paid for this fiscal year. Budgeted revenue for FY 23 totals $31,475,154 with budgeted expenditures at $32,624,243. The July 1 fund balance was $23,488,902 with the budgeted fund balance for June 30, 2023 at $24,154,416.

For new business, the board heard the enrollment report with the district down about 30 students from last year at this time. This is known as the “sixth-day enrollment.”

“The 30 is kind of all over the board,” admitted Crane.

While many grades are down in numbers, those that are higher include sixth and ninth. PC Primary West in Chenoa is twice the size of PC Primary East in Chatsworth currently. This may mean re-examining the boundaries between schools and moving the split into Fairbury. That could help to even the grade levels.

The curriculum directors reported the school year is off to a great start, as students and staff are in good spirits and working hard. Many advances in curriculum and instruction are occurring this year, which were discussed at a recent Advisory Council meeting.

The group authorized Superintendent Crane to write another maintenance grant. The grant application is for FY 23 through the Illinois School Maintenance Project grant for PCPW’s boiler.

Overnight stays were approved for FCCLA and FFA in early October. FCCLA will attend a conference in Springfield while FFA members will attend World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.

Consent agenda items were approved, including the activity fund report, bills, cafeteria report, financials, investments, County Schools Facilities Tax report and treasurer’s report.

Following an executive session, the board:

· Appointed Shannon Brown as Interventionist Teacher Leader effective the 2022- 23 school year.

· Appointed Jacie Martin as paraprofessional at PCP West effective the 2022-23 school year.

· Appointed Emily Wilkey as PCP West paraprofessional effective the 2022-23 school year.

· Appointed Tammy Hamlin as .5 JH Scholastic Bowl Coach effective the 2022-23 school year.

· Appointed Lexi Heins as co-senior class sponsor effective the 2022-23 school year.

· Appointed Amber Carls as co-senior class sponsor effective the 2022-23 school year.

· Accepted the resignation of Chassady Grismore, bus driver, effective immediately.

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