After delaying approval at last month’s meeting, the Hoopeston Area Board of Education approved a quote from The Upchurch Group for demolition services related to Honeywell School at a cost of 10 percent of the total project cost.
Board members balked at the cost at the December meeting and asked Superintendent Robert Richardson to investigate other options for how to handle writing the specifications and managing the demolition project, including the idea of just handling it as a district without outside help.
Richardson spoke with other school districts with similar projects, environmental consultants and the district’s insurance agency.
He said the insurance agency said it’s not in the district’s best interests to serve as their own general contractor.
Richardson said the environmental consultant backed that opinion up, stating that taking on that role puts the district at risk of being liable for anything that happens during the project, giving the example of a contractor improperly dumping waste from the project and the district being held accountable by the Environmental Protection Agency as a result.
He said the environmental consultant said 10 percent of the project cost is in line with state average for projects like this.
Richardson recommended the board accept the bid and asked the board to come up with start date and completion date for the project.
Board President Dave McFadden said the building and grounds committee recommended beginning demolition on or after Sept. 1 and be completed no later than Oct. 31.
He said this gives them an eight week period to complete demolition and it is expected to take three to six weeks.
McFadden said the original plan was to have the project finished in August, but the committee decided that pushing back the date would allow more time to finish removing everything from Honeywell.
To remove all of the items and whatever wood they choose to take out, McFadden said, will involve summer work crews, so pushing back the demolition date gives them more time to work.
District Business Manager/Transportation Director Mark Eighner also discussed other issues related to the project such as the playground equipment at Honeywell and how to handle what’s left inside the building.
Eighner said they have contacted the city about possibly taking the playground equipment.
As for what’s currently left inside the building, that seems to fall into two categories: classroom equipment and memorabilia.
Eighner said Richardson had spoken with another district that had recently demolished a building and discussed the best way to inventory the contents.
Eighner said one idea is to take a photo inventory of all the classroom equipment left over in the building and put that on the district’s website where only teachers and staff can view it and then allow them the chance to say whether they would like to have any of the equipment for their classrooms.
Once the equipment is out of there, Eighner said it will be a matter of getting the items that have a nostalgic importance to people removed.
He said these include some of the oak and other items that could then be put up for auction for people to buy.
Eighner said it also presents an opportunity to work with Shawn Swartzentruber’s woodworking students to take up the floor at Honeywell, cut it up, brand it and sell it to the public.
“Maybe some of that money goes back to a scholarship fund,” he said.
Eighner said these are just some ideas that are being discussed and there are five or six community members who have agreed to be a part of a committee to narrow down some options for how to handle the items left in the building who will be considering the matter.
“We’ll kind of start picking their brains a bit to come up with some ideas,” he said.
In other business, Hoopeston Education Association President Dylan Swank announced plans for the HEA to canvass neighborhoods in the area to promote the upcoming vote for the county-wide one percent sales tax.
The tax will benefit Vermilion County schools by providing additional funding that can be used for building improvements, mental health professionals and school resource officers.
Swank said the HEA is in favor of the sales tax, which will be on the March 17 primary ballot for voters to decide, and is excited to have the opportunity to tell people about how it will benefit local teachers and students.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity to work to bring the funding here to Hoopeston Area schools that our students deserve,” he said.
Swank said he was in the process of contacting HEA members and board of education members to be part of canvassing in the area throughout February and into March aimed at educating the public about the one-percent sales tax.
Swank, along with McFadden, Richardson and Board Member Lisa Leigh, recently attend a county-wide meeting about the proposed one-percent sales tax and each district was asked to help educate voters about the proposal.
“We’ll be knocking on doors and talking to members of the Hoopeston community Feb. 22, Feb. 29, March 2 and March 14,” he said.
Swank said they will be canvassing from around 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on those dates.
McFadden thanked Swank for taking up the job of organizing canvassing efforts and looks forward to the chance to talk to district residents about it.
Richardson said the board has identified specific areas that funding generated by the facilities tax would be used towards if it passes.
These include air conditioning at Maple and John Greer, upgrading and modernizing HVAC at Hoopeston Area Middle School/High School, installing energy efficient windows, doors and lighting, security surveillance, lessening the tax burden on the public and addressing other aging facility issues.
Richardson also discussed the county-wide meeting on the facilities tax and said it was great to see such enthusiasm from all of the people there about this issue.
Richardson pointed to many improvements Champaign schools have seen since they implemented this tax and said Hoopeston Area schools deserve the same chance to offer those improvements to their students and staff.
“If you drive to Champaign, see those school districts in Champaign County, a lot of their improvements have been done because of a one-percent sales tax,” he said. “Our kids here in Hoopeston and the kids in Vermilion County deserve some of those upgrades as well.”
In other business:
- At the start of the meeting, High School Principal John Klaber introduced the 2019-20 Hoopeston Area High School State Scholars: Sam Hudson, Joanna Walder, Madeline Goble and Sadie Drayer.
The board expressed their pride and appreciation for the students’ efforts and the students discussed their plans for the future.
Hudson plans on attending Danville Area Community College before transferring to the University of Illinois.
Walder also plans on attending DACC before transferring to a four-year college. She said she would love to come back to Hoopeston Area to teach after finishing with college.
Goble plans on attending the University of Southern Alabama where she will major in biology with a concentration in pre-med.
Drayer will be attending the University of Illinois.
Klaber said they were outstanding students and thanked them for representing their school so well.
- The board approved identifying Hoopeston Area High School as a Title I school and to identify Hoopeston Area Consolidate Unit School District as a Title I District.
This comes after last month’s board meeting where the board approved a request from High School Principal John Klaber to make the high school a Title I school to allow it to have access to potential federal funding that all of the other schools in the district have access to already.
- The board approved an overnight stay for Hoopeston Area High School Cheerleading team Feb. 1 for the sectional competition in Joliet.
- The board approved an overnight stay for the Hoopeston Area High School wrestling team should they reach the sectionals and state tournament.
- The board approved an overnight stay for the Hoopeston Area High School Student Council for the state convention May 7.
- The board approved an overnight stay for the Hoopeston Area Middle School Student Council state convention April 17.
The board also voted to accept all of the following personnel actions:
- Action to accept the retirement of Ms. Nancy Luke as Paraprofessional at Maple School effective at
the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
- Action to accept the employment of Madeline Stock as Middle School English Language Arts Teacher with an effective date of Jan. 8, 2020.
- Action to accept the employment of Sarah Kelnhofer as High School Special Education Teacher for the 2020-2021 school year with an effective date of Aug. 13,2020.
- Action to approve the following volunteers, pending a background check:
A. Rylee Martin — HS ClassroornlHS Softball
B. Andrew Atchie — HS Softball
C. Brady Gaddis — HS Baseball
D. Steven Kurk — Band Field Trip
E. Ashley Beauvois — Band Field Trip
F. Jessie Atchie — Band Field Trip
G. Andrew Atchie — Band Field Trip
H. Michelle Bailey — Band Field Trip
I. Connie Catron — Band Field Trip
J. April Colleen — Band Field Trip
K. Rebecca Farnsworth — Band Field Trip
L. Anita Garcia — Band Field Trip
M. Andrea Glotzbach — Band Field Trip
N. Craig Lee — Band Field Trip
O. Alejandra Limon — Band Field Trip
P. Angie Torres — Band Field Trip
Q. Jerud Van Dyke — Band Field Trip
R. Chad Yaden — Band Field Trip
S. Virginia Yaden — Band Field Trip