MORTON — More than 200 Morton School District employees are making less than $15 per hour.

With a new state law mandating an increase in the minimum wage from the current $8.25 per hour eventually to $15 per hour by 2025, the district is looking an estimated $500,000 cumulative increase in personnel costs by 2025.

That was one of the more eye-opening facts presented Tuesday to the School Board at a special meeting.

District Director of Operations Rodney Schuck and Chief Financial Officer Lisa Kowalski, administrators and architect Jeff Keach took a deep look at the district's facilities maintenance and capital improvement needs and finances.

"Thankfully, we're in good shape financially to handle the impacts of the minimum wage law," said board member Tom Neeley. "A lot of other districts around the state aren't as fortunate."

After School Board approval in May of the $2.08 million first phase of a two-phase renovation of Morton Junior High School, the board now will be looking at proposed improvements at Morton High School.

Superintendent Jeff Hill and incoming high school Principal Deidre Ripka said short-term plans include transforming a conference room into a STEM lab in response to class enrollment needs, creating more student and staff collaborative space, and expanding the weight and art rooms.

Long-term plans include an estimated $4.7 million renovation of the canopy entrance to the Potterdome gym that also would create more restrooms and locker rooms, renovations of student space areas in the cafeteria and library, and updating science and tech ed classrooms.

Neeley suggested also looking into the installation of new bleachers in the Potterdome that would be more accessible for senior citizens and those with mobility issues.

Hill said he's contacting companies that could do a study of security needs at the district's six schools and the district office.

Board member Bart Rinkenberger expressed concerns about a lack of sufficient outdoor lighting at Lettie Brown Elementary School.

Hill said outdoor lighting would be studied at all of the district's buildings as part of the security survey.

Board members were hoping for public input after the presentations, but no audience members spoke.

 

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