The Fieldcrest Board of Education voted to demolish the former Presbyterian Church building next to the high school at their monthly board meeting Wednesday night in Toluca. The measure passed on a 4 to 3 vote with Minonk residents Kimberly McKay, Heather McKay and Jordan Meyer voting no.
The school bought the church building in 2009 for $40,000 but failed to use the building for any particular purpose other than storage. Due to a lack of maintenance the building fell into disrepair resulting in mold and falling plaster and cracked windows.
The board also approved a General Obligation School Bond Resolution for $300,000 by the same 4 to 3 vote with the Minonk board members voting no. Fieldcrest Superintendent Dr. Dan Oakley said the demolition of the church building will probably cost more than that since black mold has to be removed in the demolition.
Board member Jordan Meyer asked if the building is still structurally sound which Dr. Oakley replied that it was but said the windows are boarded up and need to be replaced and there is mold and falling plaster with asbestos in the building.
Board member Heather McKay asked if the City was given an opportunity to buy the building to which Dr. Oakley said the City did not want anything to do with the building.
Board member Kimberly McKay said there are churches looking for a place to hold services in Minonk and wondered if the church building could be offered to those wishing to bring a church to Minonk.
Board member Elizabeth Palm said she understands that the public doesn't want to see the church demolished and that it holds a lot of memories for people but added that no one has come forward to find a use for the church in over 5 years and said it is time to tear it down.
In other business board member Charles Lohr said engineers are going through the high school building in Minonk noting repairs and improvements which are needed. He said the other buildings will be inspected also and he expects a report on the cost for Life Safety improvements by November.
The board approved the following personnel action:
Certified Employment: Ehrnthaller, Gloria - 4th Grade Classroom Teacher, Manaxios, Mary - 3rd Grade Classroom Teacher, Whisker, Andrea - Intermediate Reading Specialist.
Non-Certified Employment: Bernardi, Carol - Primary 1:1 TA, Frei, Sonja - MS TA, Gravitt, Elizabeth - Primary Asst Cook, Pozzie, Laura - Intermediate 1:1 TA, Redenius, Julie - HS TA, Reed, Raelyth - Monitor.
Extra Duty Assignment, Cain, Angela - MS Asst Track Coach, Lisa Lindstrom - FMS Student Council,
Resignations: Gaspardo, Jennifer - Primary Cafeteria Aide,Korstick, Christa - 3rd Grade Classroom Teacher
No Board Action Required (Internal Transfer, same job category): Hamer, Heather - 5th Grade Classroom Teacher,Schubbe, Eileen - Intermediate TA,Shields, Marcia - Internal Coach (moving from 1â„2 to 1)
The board approved a Renewable Energy Resolution of Support which gives support to the potential new wind farms in the area that could bring up to $1 million a year in tax revenue for the school district, according to Dr. Oakley.
Dr. Oakley said the school enrollment is down by only 7 this year which is much less than previous years and suggest a flattening out of the enrollment rate. He said the Fieldcrest Primary school had an increase in enrollment which is a good sign for future enrollment size.
Dr. Oakley said the school district has received $90,000 from the County Facilities Sales Tax instituted last year. The amount represents 10 months of receipts or an average of $9000 a month. He said the board will need to decide on how to use this money. The school attorney said the money can only be used for building facility improvements and not for salaries or books.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kari Rockwell said the school has a way to increase its debt limit of $20.5 million to cover the potential Life Safety improvements cost of $25 million. She said the school can request the State Legislator to approve an increase in the debt limit and is done quite often by other schools.
The school attorney said the debt limit for the school district is computed at 13.8% of the property value in the school district. He said this formula is outdated and was made when the cost of buildings was much cheaper before air conditioning, sprinkler systems, and technical hardware was required.
Board member Charles Lohr asked who the school's nurse was. Dr. Oakley said the school district hires a nurse from Eureka Hospital who goes from building to building to take care of medical issues.
Fieldcrest Middle School Principal Nate Lorton and his staff gave a demonstration on a social learning project instituted in the school which hopes to improve social harmony among the students.
Cindy Cunningham Guetschow: Makes me sad. So many memories.
Edgar Bevins: I sure hope they incase that building in plastic to keep all the asbestos contained so it doesn't just become airborne for all the surrounding residents and there pets to breath in. Not to mention all the mold. If demolition is done properly it's going to be a very big cost factor to demolish that building. I would think that renovating the building so it could be used would be a much cheaper bill to be charged to the school district. Just saying.
Chad Gubitz: Paul Davis Restoration are the ones to do it. We set up containment and HEPA air scrubbers in those situations.
Edgar Bevins: Bottom line is the cost to demolish v/s the cost to rehab the building so the school district could use it or even resell it. Either way the cost falls on the tax payer for the school district. I know the cost to rehab the building is much lower than the cost to demolish it. Then the building can be repurposed.
Joyce Limbaugh: Edgar Bevins or it could be sold "as is" with a stipulation that the new owners bring it to code within a certain time frame. So sad.
Lynn Barth Manning: Joyce Limbaugh the seller is responsible for removing the asbestos and mold before it can be sold. After that is done the likelihood of someone wanting to purchase the building for what it costs to remove those things is pretty slim. Especially in Minonk or the great state of Illinois ðŸ˜‚
Edgar Bevins: Lynn Barth Manning still lot cheaper than the cost to demo the building. Then they could use it for the school. I just find it a shame to just tear it down.
Joe Limbaugh: Lynn Barth Manning this is negotiated as part of selling commercial property every day. The bigger issue in my view, is that the property wasn't properly marketed. The decision was made in a vacuum.
Edmund Johnson: I don't understand the superintendent wants to spend over $300,000 to tear down a building that a local church group is interested and renovating to have their services in it. I see two pluses and giving it to the church save yourself over 300,000 and keep our landfills empty. Unless there was somebody on the take
Josh Jones: This is Just another example of the school not maintaining buildings. That's why the school district is in the position it's in. The money the school gets from tax payers is not used wisely!
Sonja Frei: What an unbelievable waste of a beautiful old building! Why can't we take that money to have it restored, rather than to demolish it????
Debra Wiechman: My childhood church...makes me sad
Elaine Stephens: I was surprised this said asbestos did nobody know that it is a problem before the district decided to purchase it?
Joe Limbaugh: I can personally dispute Ms. Palm's assertion that no one has come forward in the past five years with an interest in the church. I personally contacted the superintendent a couple of years ago and asked if the school would be interested selling the property. I told him I would be interested in discussing any opportunities after learning of the plans to demolish it. He told me that he would talk to someone and let me know. A few days later he emailed to say that the decision had been made to demolish it, and they were not interested in discussing. At the time my wife and I, who worshiped there when we lived in Minonk, were looking for an historic property as a project and potential investment. We had thoughts about renting it as a venue or donating availability for non-profits. I'm still amazed that the school would rather spend $300k instead of earning revenue on a sale. I must be missing something. In my view, the character of a small town is enhanced by its structures, and this neglected building will be missed. I don't know how the Board can't grasp that in order to have a thriving school enrollment a town must be desirable for people to inhabit. This appears woefully short sighted from where I sit.
Myrna Havener Kettwich: Joe Limbaugh I sure wish you would ask them again. I love that old church!
Joe Limbaugh: Myrna Havener Kettwich I appreciate it. The reality is that the current Board must now mop up after the previous Board. There are tough decisions to be made like this one, and all should be sensitive to it. I am encouraged that there is new energy and youth representing Fieldcrest. I have no doubt that they will make their mark.
Magin Judd: As someone who went into that building while at school there, it's not really saving much. The rehab of the building would most likely cost an outlandish amount of money and last I was in there it was just random stuff stored on the main level with some theater materials in the basement (reason I was in there). It makes me sad for the sake of old memories, but I can understand wanting to tear it down.