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Fieldcrest Board Takes No Action on School Building Issue

Monday, January 07, 2019 - Posted 9:31:11 PM

The Fieldcrest Board of Education took no action on what to do with the school's buildings at a special board meeting Monday night at the Fieldcrest High School in Minonk.  At the previous board meeting, 5 of the members were supportive of pursuing another referendum to build one new school building.  However, after a lengthy discussion among the board members there was not enough support to pursue another referendum to build a new building.

Board members Joe Kirkpatrick, Tim McNamara and Kimberly McKay wanted to build a new 6-12 building in a central location while Scott Hillenburg wanted to have a referendum to repair the middle school and high school.  Mykin Bernardi did not want another referendum but wanted to keep a building in each community and have a 5 year plan for upgrading the buildings, including a space study.  Elizabeth Palm said a referendum would not pass and instead wanted to upgrade the middle school in Wenona into a high school and demolish the high school in Minonk.  Charles Lohr chose to do nothing and wait until the new board is elected and let them decide what action to take.  Mr. Lohr also suggested that the board consider hiring a new engineering firm.

While the decision does not rule out a future referendum by a newly elected board, it does rule out a referendum in April.  The board now has to decide on what steps to take to comply with the Life-Safety requirements of the State of Illinois for the middle school and high school buildings.

Before the board's discussion on the building issue, two speakers addressed the board.  Minonk resident James Liner told the board it should close Wenona and move the students to Minonk and Toluca due to declining enrollments.  He said this would save the school $14 million in repair cost to the middle school.  He said the board should get a second cost estimate from another engineering firm for the high school.  He said this is what is best for the district financially and will minimize the loss of revenue to the district while being able to meet the safety mandates of the State.  He said the board members were elected to represent the voters of the district, not to think for them.  He said the voters have told you no new buildings, but a majority of you still do not get it.

Mr. Liner also asked what the status is of a vote to remove Charles Lohr from the board on a charge of bid rigging brought by Board president Joe Kirkpatrick. Mr. Kirkpatrick replied that there was not a second to the motion to remove Mr. Lohr and the motion was dropped.  He said that final action would have to be approved by the Regional Superintendent if the board did take such action.

Toluca resident Jerry Faw addressed the board with his concerns over construction costs to repair the primary school and secondary schools in Minonk and Toluca.  He gave the board members a list of his concerns which included excessive charges by Core Construction and other cost issues.  He asked that since the upgrade costs to the primary and secondary schools came in at 41% less than estimated, would the cost to upgrade the high school and middle school come in that much less?  He asked if anyone on the board has reviewed any of the bills from Core Construction.  He concluded by asking the board to review the cost concerns he has listed before spending taxpayer dollars on a much larger project.