Superintendent Paula Crane recently proposed a comprehensive facilities study for the district at the September meeting of the Prairie Central Board of Education.
“What I envision is also a community engagement process,” Crane explained.
This study would examine the details of various aspects of the buildings, such as the necessary exterior repairs and the examination of the interior of the facilities with the plumbing, floors and walls. Questionnaires will also be sent to teachers.
Community engagement meetings would be used to present the information.
“It gives you feedback to determine the future of your facility planning,” Crane said.
While this is a good way to see if current building investments make sense, it could put the Prairie Central Elementary gymnasium project on hold for a bit until the study is complete. Crane noted that a full survey of the building could cost $50,000 and the community engagement part could cost $30,000.
The process will gather data and the final 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 firm yet to be determined.
Board Chairman Mark Slagel acknowledged that some are fed up with expensive bills to maintain district buildings and that polls will show where the public would like the district to go – whether it’s build something new or continue to invest in old structures.
“I want to find someone who is good at computers and presentations and that kind of stuff,” Crane said.
“This should have been done 20 years ago,” said board member Lori Schahrer.
Crane thinks the district is well placed to begin a study like this and will gather more information for the board.
Also at the September meeting, board members heard a report from the Crane Buildings and Grounds Committee. Several projects are underway and the roof of the Upper Elementary is complete. It ended up being $14,000 under budget. The elementary air condensing unit is now working and the high school roof is complete except for the metal around the exterior. The gymnasium windows are installed and finished.
The posts still haven’t arrived for the football lighting and the new baseball field scoreboard is up and running. Boiler work continues at Prairie Central Primary West in Chenoa.
“They came and started cutting this thing,” Crane said.
A new boiler is in a Peoria warehouse waiting to be installed. These are two smaller systems instead of one large boiler.
An update was provided on plans for the addition of GA to the secondary school. The architect started with four different scenarios and the teachers chose a layout. An area can be used by Animal Science for Veterinary Technology and Meats. This room will have a large drain so everything can be washed and sanitized.
“We put that in the plan,” Crane said. “We have gates equipped for this sort of thing.”
The district can also improve the welding area with this addition and upgrade of equipment.
“They were very helpful with their feedback,” Slagel said, referring to staff.
Slagel would like the project to go out to tender this year and start work next summer.
As part of old business, the board approved the FY23 budget. A hearing was opened to allow the public to comment on the budget as presented, although no comment was made. More accurate salary information is impacting the education fund and there are not many changes from last month. The district still pays for a number of capital projects. Some items are listed under operations and maintenance that normally aren’t, such as football lights.
Transportation is well over budget as the buses ordered last year are still not there and need to be paid for this fiscal year. Budgeted revenue for FY23 is $31,475,154 with budgeted expenses of $32,624,243. The fund balance as of July 1 was $23,488,902, with the budgeted fund balance as of June 30, 2023 being $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 called the “sixth day registration”.
“The 30 is all over the place,” Crane said.
While many classes are down in number, those that are higher include sixth and ninth. PC Primary West in Chenoa is currently twice as large as PC Primary East in Chatsworth. That may mean re-examining the boundaries between the schools and moving the split to Fairbury. This could help to even out grade levels.
Program directors reported that the school year has started well, with students and staff in high spirits and working hard. Many advancements in curriculum and teaching are happening this year, which were discussed at a recent advisory board meeting.
The group authorized Crane to write another maintenance grant. The grant application is for FY23 through the Illinois School Maintenance Project Grant for the PCPW Boiler.
Nights were approved for FCCLA and FFA in early October. FCCLA will attend a conference in Springfield while FFA members will attend the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.
Consent agenda items were approved including activity fund report, bills, cafeteria report, finance, investments, school facilities tax report of the county and the treasurer’s report.
Following an executive meeting, the board:
• Appointed Shannon Brown as an interventionist teacher leader beginning in the 2022-23 school year.
• Appointment of Jacie Martin as a paraprofessional at PCP West beginning in the 2022-23 school year.
• Appointment of Emily Wilkey as PCP West paraprofessional effective in the 2022-23 school year.
• Named Tammy Hamlin as the .5 JH Scholastic Bowl coach beginning in the 2022-23 school year.
• Appointed Lexi Heins as Co-Sponsor of the Senior Class beginning in the 2022-23 school year.
• Appointed Amber Carls as Co-Sponsor of the Senior Class beginning in the 2022-23 school year.
• Accepted the resignation of Chassady Grismore, bus driver, with immediate effect.