Robinson Daily News

Unit 2 seeks grant for school elevator renovation

Annual budget approved

Robinson Unit 2 will seek a state school maintenance grant to help pay for the “modernization” of the Lincoln Elementary School elevator.
During its recent meeting, the board agreed to apply for a $50,000 grant that would be used to replace the mechanical workings of the elevator. Although only 22 years old, the device’s “guts” are considered obsolete and in need of replacement, Superintendent Josh Quick explained.

Lincoln Elementary School

The Farnsworth Group was hired to handle design work on the project. The engineering will take three to four weeks. Another three to four weeks will be needed to go out for bids.
The updating is expected to cost more than $200,000. It is unknown exactly when the work will begin.
The elevator is just the latest facility renovation project undertaken by Unit 2. Officials are in the process of gathering public input on what to do in the future.
“Our facilities are good and are going to get better,” Quick said. “We’re in a position now where we can be proactive rather than reactive.”
He recently participated in a Facilities Committee meeting attended by some 30 employees and members of the public.
“There were lots of excellent questions and lots of good feedback,” he said. There especially seemed interest in creating a single building for students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Interest was also expressed in extending the Washington Elementary School property to the east, but none of the land there is for sale.
Board President Bill Sandiford agreed those present offered “very good” ideas and pointed out the district is still in the information-gathering stage.
Feedback from the meeting, along with that gathered during a pair of public sessions Oct. 10 will be used by Farnsworth as it prepares recommendations on how to proceed.
Those meetings will take place at 10 a.m. at the district office on North Allen and 6 p.m. at WES.
In a related matter, the board is working on updating the district facilities use policy to make it more consistent on who is charged for using school buildings.
School use takes top priority, followed by groups whose activities will benefit Unit 2 students, Quick said.
Also, during the meeting, the board approved the 2023-24 budget following a public hearing that preceded the meeting.
The district is expected to spend almost $15.7 million in the Education Fund in the coming year and should end with a balance of about $1.2 million.
This is somewhat deceptive, however. Quick pointed out Unit 2 is receiving about $800,000 in grants this year to reimburse it for money it spent last fiscal year. That explains the surplus.
Quick added each of Unit 2’s major funds are expected to end the school year breaking even or with small surpluses.
Unit 2 is the latest taxing body to approve residential tax abatements for the Robinson Crawford Enterprise Zone.
The benefits of the enterprise zone, once reserved for new and expanding businesses, can be extended to home construction, a change meant to overcome the local housing shortage.
Persons adding on to existing homes or constructing new ones within the zone can purchase building materials anywhere in the state and have the 6.5-percent sales taxes waived.
Also, anything new added to a property will be eligible for a property tax abatement for five years.
The board also heard reports from a pair of teachers about student clubs they formed.
Robinson High School teacher David Forbes spoke about the Engineering Club, which will host a day-long, 10-team competition Nov. 2. Teams will build rubber-band-powered flying machines, mousetrap-powered cars and toothpick bridges among other items.
The group will also host a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics college fair. Schools including Southern Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University and Indiana State University will be on hand to talk with students about STEM educational and occupational opportunities in the area.
“I’m excited to see how it plays out,” Quick said.
Nuttall Middle School art teacher Lisa Phillips talked about the Art Club she started last year with 30 eighth-grade art students. As part of the group, the students painted two murals at the school.
This year, the club has grown to include students in sixth and seventh grades, too.
Board members approved a field trip for the RHS Safe Alliance Club to see the musical version of Beetlejuice at the Fox Theater in St. Louis Oct. 19.
In other theatrical news, they learned that the LES fifth-grade musical is making a comeback in December. Students are starting work on Suessical, based on the works of Dr. Suess, this week.
Meanwhile, a chorus of fourth- and fifth-graders has formed. Students gather at 7:30 a.m. each morning for rehearsals to prepare for public appearances.
In personnel matters, the board hired Waneita McCormick as an LES lunchroom supervisor, replacing Stephanie Davis, whose resignation was accepted. Also hired was Brandie Thompson as a NMS lunchroom supervisor, Brian Weck as a WES intervention teacher, David Holubek as RHS boys head track coach, Tyler Rehmel as RHS head softball coach and Lisa Phillips as an NMS track coach.
Shilo Bonnell and Tim Gallion were accepted as volunteer RHS cheerleading assistant and volunteer RHS boys track assistant coach, respectively.
Bus drivers Jack McGovern, Beth Clements, Steve Kidwell, Ken Martin, Tyler McQuaid and Dixie Love were reassigned to different routes. Also reassigned were NMS night custodian Angie Wright and LES head custodian Micheal Kubiak.
Resignations were accepted from LES head custodian Frankie Williams, NMS track coach Lauren Clark, special education paraprofessionals Kayla Rogers and Ashley Griffith, RHS English/social studies teacher Amy Hannahs and NMS assistant Scholastic Bowl coach Brenna Keeler.

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