MORTON — Morton School Board members last month approved a low bid of $2 million for Phase 1 of a two-phase renovation project at Morton Junior High School.

On Tuesday night, board members gave architect Jeff Keach the go-ahead to begin working on designs for Phase 2 of the project, which is highlighted by the construction of a new gymnasium with a seating capacity of 800.

Keach was asked to explore options for making the new gym a venue for music performances to alleviate a space crunch in the district for those programs.

"September is a realistic goal for going out for bids for Phase 2," Keach said.

Phase 1 includes the construction of a new main office and new main entrance on the north side of the junior high, replacing the current main office and main entrance on the east side of the building.

Improved security and safety are the major reasons for that work. Those also are the driving forces behind a new traffic pattern that will make the drop-off of students on school mornings less hectic.

Also Tuesday, board members learned the results of random drug testing of Morton High School students done this school year. The drug testing program was launched in 2008.

There were 339 urine tests done during 2018-19, with 11 positive results for amphetamines and seven positive tests for marijuana.

Activities Director Scott Jones said all 11 amphetamine positives were for students who were taking prescribed medications for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Students who test positive for non-prescribed drugs like marijuana, alcohol, barbiturates, cocaine and opiates are offered counseling and are subject to activities code penalties.

Not every student is eligible for drug testing. By law, only those who are involved in extra-curricular activities or have a campus parking pass can be called for a test.

Superintendent Jeff Hill said administrators are comfortable with the drug testing program and no changes are needed.

"The program sends a message to students that we have standards of conduct and behavior," he said.

Board members also approved raising the pay rate for substitute teachers from $12.50 to $13.50 per hour, or $87.50 to $94.50 per day. Based on 2018-19 substitute hours, the district is looking at an additional cost of $17,500 next school year.

"We haven't raised our sub pay rate since 2016, and this change will place us in the middle of several area districts we surveyed," said Assistant Superintendent Craig Smock.

"We'll have to get to $15 per hour by 2024-25 (to comply with a new state law)," Smock said.

 

Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.