Fieldcrest Board members stated their positions on the building issue facing the school district at a public meeting at the Fieldcrest High School gymnasium Wednesday night.
The meeting started with statements from several speakers. Former board member Greg Kroeschen said he wants to have the buildings in Wenona demolished and build a new high school there and have grades K-4 in Minonk and 5-8 in Toluca.
Another speaker said the $29 million repair cost is not realistic and doesn't understand why $1.6 million should be spent on parking lot. He also said there is no information on what effect there will be on the tax rate. He said there should be a second opinion on the estimate repair cost for the buildings mentioning that higher tax rates will discourage business investment in the communities. Finally, he said the board should not rush into this decision as there are still not any good numbers to work with.
Fieldcrest Superintendent Dr. Dan Oakley said there are 3 options for the building issue. The first is to repair all the buildings, the second is to repair the primary and intermediate buildings in Minonk and Toluca and build a new building for the upper grades. The last option is a hybrid of the first two.
Board member Charles Lohr started the discussion by stating he felt the repair cost were grossly exaggerated and that the board needs a second opinion. He felt the high cost of a new building will be too hard on the taxpayers.
Board member Mykin Bernardi agreed that a second opinion is needed on repair cost and more time is needed to make a good decision. She felt there should be a building in each community and wants to keep the primary school in Minonk and the intermediate school in Toluca but build a new 6-12 building in Wenona but keeping the gymnasium and football field in Minonk.
Board member Elizabeth Palm felt the repair costs are too high. She also thinks the Wenona buildings should be razed and have a 6 -12 building constructed there and leaving the primary and secondary schools in Minonk and Toluca.
Board member Scott Hillenburg also does not want to repair the buildings as it would be too costly. He felt the repair costs could be even higher than that quoted by the architects because of the asbestos in the buildings. He said if a building can't be repaired for under $5 million, it should be rebuilt instead. He disagreed with those who want to build the high school in Wenona stating that the school district would take a big tax loss if Minonk loses its high school since Minonk provides the most tax dollars to the school district.
Board member Kimberly McKay would like to keep a building in each community and said she wouldn't mind having a high school in Wenona if Minonk can keep its gymnasium and athletic field.
Board member Joe Kirkpatrick said repair costs are too high and a new 6-12 building should be constructed somewhere in the community, Fieldcrest primary in Minonk should be repaired and the Wenona school buildings should be demolished. He said if enrollment continues to decline, the other school buildings in Toluca or Minonk could be closed down as well.
Board member Tim McNamara agreed with Mr. McNamara that a 6-12 building should be built somewhere in the community. He said the voters are the ones who have a hard decision to make stating that their vote may cost them more money in the long run if they vote down the referendum.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Dr. Oakley asked if the board wanted a second opinion on repair cost and the board decided to get another opinion. Dr. Oakley said he will get started immediately on getting repair cost from another source.
There will be another public meeting on the building issue next Wednesday night, Dec. 13, at the Fieldcrest High School gymnasium.
Melanie Olson Mills: Wait a minute.....did I perhaps read this right? They are wanting to build a new high school in Wenona?? Am I the only one that thinks this is crazy? I for one, will continue to fight to have our school in the town of Minonk where it belongs!
Darren Swanson: Didn't know it was your school? Thought it was Fieldcrest not MDR , it's been 24 years since it was "your" school MDR, part of the problem is parents living in the past, time to catch up and realize it's fieldcrest not MDR
Jeff Peterson: Why doesnâ€™t it belong in Toluca? Or Wenona too? Do you think Toluca and Wenona residents donâ€™t want to the â€œourâ€ school in â€œourâ€ town too?
Melanie Olson Mills: First of all, I said "our" not mine. Secondly, I said nothing about MDR but since you brought it up....If my memory serves me correctly, we did not seek you out, we were asked to consolidate. We, as in, MDR was doing just fine without Wenona and Toluca.
Lindsey Skaggs: Wenona deserves a School just as much as any other town. We all have children, grandchildren, etc going to school. Why should Wenona just be shut down?! Iâ€™m sorry but the minonk residents only care about their schools and their town only. I grew up in minonk and I think ALL 3 towns should continue to have a school. Iâ€™m pretty sure 99% of you would agree if you didnâ€™t live in minonk!
Melanie Olson Mills: If Minonk did not consolidate with Wenona, you would have been closed 24 years ago. As I've stated before, I agree that the high school should be centrally located, however I do not believe a town that does not contribute to the school system should have the school.
Melanie Olson Mills: I do not like the fact that our little ones are on the bus. All our babies need to be close to home.
Edmund Johnson:I think board member Hillenberg had the right idea. K-4 at south 5-8 at west repair high school in Minonk. Close east . If that's not acceptable to Wenona maybe payback the TIF money they have kept over the last 25 years.
Chris Winters: Seems totally logical. Wenona you have stolen tax dollars from Fieldcrest for 20 years but we will give you a new school. Minonk who has been paying 85% of the bills for 20 years you will lose your school but will keep a few kindergarten students until we later add on to the new school in Wenona and then will move them too. Bus the majority of the kids from Minonk to go to school in Wenona? Busing must be free now. Can you say do you deconsolidate and get it over with.
Darren Swanson: Wenona stole tax dollars? If I heard correctly Marshall county paid more towards the school district then LaSalle and Woodford counties combined if you want to get rid of Toluca and Wenona from the consolidation well none of the towns will have a school and then all of the towns will become Rutland, la rose, Dana, varna and so on
Darren Swanson: And why is it alright for Wenona and Toluca to bus kids for the last 23 years but Minonk can't do it?
Trent Ruestman: I think what he is referring to is the TIF district that the entire city of wenona was in from 1993 to 2016. So none of the increase in property value in wenona went to the school district and was instead kept by the city of wenona for various capital improvements of their own. Its the city, not county or township.
Jeff Peterson: I pay taxes to Fieldcrest school district in Wenona just the same as you do in Minonk..
Darren Swanson: You mean the windows that the city paid for to improve " our school" here in Wenona and multiple other things but that's all forgotten
Trent Ruestman: I bet if your property value increased at any point between 1993 and 2016 none of the increase went to the school district and all went to the city of wenona tif.
Christine Cunningham: Minonk has bussed kids to the other communities for 23 years as well.
Amanda Greenland: I was bussed from Minonk to Toluca for 3 years...
Morgan Ruestman-Koehler: Here is clarification of tax dollars to the schools from each town...property taxes are public information and all can be found online...I randomally selected 3 that were similar in total dollars ... 1 from Wenona 1 from Toluca and 1 from Minonk ...Note the dollar amount going to the fieldcrest school district ...not on equal playing grounds for the last 20+ when a TIF district is involved.
Click here for tax dollars.
Lindsey Skaggs: I was bussed from minonk for 6-8, but that doesn't change my thoughts that ALL towns should have a school.
Amanda Greenland: Lindsey Skaggs it was the comment about Minonk not willing to bus their kids that rubbed me the wrong way. Minonk has always bussed kids to other towns.
Christine Cunningham: .....this really should be eye opener for the tax payers. For 20 years, this money was not received by our school system, this amounts to millions of dollars the school never received because the ENTIRE town was in a Tif.
Lindsey Skaggs: Exactly! All communities have bussed one way or another. It's the people that say Wenona is terrible and so on that ticks me off. We pay taxes here just as anyone else does. We may not be the "richest" town but we are a part of the Fieldcrest community so why just exile us!
Amanda Greenland: The officials in Wenona are responsible for this..not the townspeople. When a whole community isn't contributing to the school but the other 4 are it is going to cause a divide and hard feelings.
Lindsey Skaggs: Well it shouldn't affect the people of Wenona and it is and we can do nothing about it. I liked how several board members said a high school in Wenona, and they weren't even from Wenona!
Amy Bogacz: Everyone is pretty bitter...ahem...itâ€™s about the kids. I was bussed to Minonk for four years. It sucked, but I survived, but I DONâ€™T like the idea of having my daughter bussed for 12 years. I donâ€™t think anyone does. One way or another these COMMUNITIES have to work together.
Nicole Embery: I think the original point was that minonk has more students (i dont know of this is true it is just what i have read). If it is true it would only make sense that busing more students would cost more money.