Skip Navigation Links

Fieldcrest Board Hires New Architectural Firm

Wednesday, July 24, 2019 - Posted 8:34:23 PM

The Fieldcrest Board of Education unanimously approved the hiring of the architectural firm Basalay Cary & Alstadt of Ottawa, IL at their monthly meeting Wednesday night in Toluca. The firm replaces The Farnsworth Group which has been the school's engineering and architectural firm and was involved in the design of a new middle school and high school last year that was defeated in a referendum last November.  

The new architectural firm does not have its own engineering staff like The Farnsworth Group but has a close working relationship with several engineering firms.  The fees specified in the agreement with the school district include $125/hour for a Principal, $100/hour for a Senior Staff Architect, $95/hour for an Architect and $85/hour for an Architect Staff member.  The first order of work for the firm is to do another Life/Safety study to determine the methods and cost to comply with state requirements.

In other news the board approved the only milk bid, that submitted by Prairie Farms Dairy of Streator, Il, which charged .32 cents per carton for 2% milk, 35 cents for chocolate milk and 29 cents for skimmed milk, approved the only bread bid, that submitted by Aunt Millie's Bakeries of Fort Wayne, IN, which charged $1.37 for a 24 oz loaf of white bread among other bread types, approved the waste removal bid by Area Disposal of Peoria, Il for $11,241.98 and approved the purchase of a drivers education car, which was a Ford Escape SE from Uftring Motors of East Peoria, IL for $24,510. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kari Rockwell said leasing a car has become too expensive because of the high interest rate charges and said purchasing outright was more economical. Superintendent Dr. Dan Oakley said the school's drivers education course may be limited in the future as it is very difficult to find qualified drivers education instructors.

The following personnel changes were announced.

Certified Employment
Adams, Suzanne - HS/MS Health/PE Teacher

Non-Certified Employment
Rients, Susie - MS Building Secretary

Extra Duty Assignment
Freeman, Michael - Asst HS Girls Basketball Coach
Hamilton, CJ - HS Boys' Track Coach

Bernardi, Carol - MS Asst Track Coach
Cooper, Angela - 5th Grade Classroom Teacher
Murphy, Caleigh - HS TA
Williams, Janelle - HS/MS Health/PE Teacher

Barth, Jerrod - Monitor
Cain, Angela - MS Teaching Assistant
Essington, Sabine - Driver
Hackleman, Samantha - Driver
Heidenreich, Marilyn - Monitor
Junker, Lisa - Monitor
Kuhlman, Monica - Driver
Peifer, Jeanette - HS Teaching Assistant
Persic, Sherri - Monitor
Pozzie, Laura - MS Teaching Assistant
Schube, Eileen - HS Teaching Assistant

The administrative compensation report for FY20 was approved. The report can be viewed at this link.

Dr. Rockwell said online student registration started on Monday and was going quite well. Maintenance Supervisor Ron Keiser gave an update on the annual maintenance procedures that are being followed in the various school buildings.

Dr. Oakley said the board will hold its annual board retreat on August 17.

Fieldcrest Primary Principal, Jason Chaplin, gave an update on the installation of the new playground equipment that the school purchased. He said the installation will be delayed for 2 months because the contractor is back logged due to the excessive rain this past spring. He said the equipment is being stored at SMF until it is ready for installation. Mr. Chaplin said the area where the equipment will be installed will be fenced off until installation can be completed. He said the equipment has been purchased through a fund drive that was started 5 years ago.

Dr. Oakley gave a presentation illustrating the positive impact the area's wind farms will have on the school's finances. He said the current wind farm east of Minonk has 75 wind turbines and generates almost $1 million dollars a year in revenue for the school district. However, since the school's state aid is inversely correlated with EVA per pupil and since the EVA per pupil is increased by the wind farm revenue, the state aid is cut to where the school ends up with around $550,000.

Dr. Oakley said there are 2 new wind farms that are getting ready for construction within the school district next year. He said when these new wind farms are in production, the school district could get up to another $1 million a year after state aid reductions. He cautioned the school board not to invest this additional money into long term financial commitments since the state could change its policy on how it handles its state aid which could reduce the revenue from the wind farms. He said this additional money should be used for construction projects, maintenance and one time purchases.  He encouraged the support of the wind farms because of its economic potential for the school district.

The full text of Dr. Oakley's presentation can be viewed at this link.

Dr. Oakley said he contacted the various Fieldcrest communities to determine the level of police protection. While Minonk has 24 hour coverage, Wenona has mostly night duty with sporadic day coverage while Toluca has night police protection only. Board member Charles Lohr asked Dr. Rockwell to look into the possibility of hiring resource officers to cover the various schools. Board member Jordan Meyer suggested contacting the officials in Wenona and Toluca to see if they would consider having day duty police protection during the week.

The meeting was concluded with a discussion on what to do with the former Presbyterian Church building that the school purchased for $40,000 12 years ago. Dr. Oakley said the building is in a state of disrepair and see he would like to see the building demolished sooner rather than later. He said the building is contaminated with mold and asbestos and will require expert removal of this material. He also said new funding will be required to pay for the demolition.

Dr, Oakley said the building was initially used for storage but in 2017 the furnace went out and he said it wasn't worth putting money into a new furnace at that point and so the building sat empty and unheated for several years.

Jordan Meyer asked if consideration should be given to selling the church. Dr. Oakley said that would put the school at risk at what type of neighbor the school would have.

Board member Elizabeth Palm asked if the outside walls are still structurally sound. Maintenance Supervisor Ron Kreiser said they were ok. Ms. Palm said if the walls are good, perhaps the inside should be gutted and then see how much that cost before deciding whether it is more economical to tear it down or perhaps redesign the inside into a useful building such as a performing arts center. She agree that decisions need to be made sooner rather than later.

Mr. Lohr thought the church building was an eyesore while other board members reserved their judgment.