Morton facilities report delayed

Steve Stein
sstein@pekintimes.com

A report to the School Board from the District 709 facilities advisory committee originally scheduled for Feb. 18 has been moved to March 4.

“Two School Board members (Kelly Scarfe and Tim Taylor) couldn’t make it to (the Feb. 18) meeting, so the presentation was moved to the next meeting,” said Superintendent Lindsey Hall.

“It’s not a big deal to wait two weeks. It won’t make or break the report.”

The 19-member committee — made up of district administrators and teachers, School Board members, parents and residents — studied the district’s facilities, visited schools in other communities and were provided projections of future district enrollment by consulting firms.

Three options will be presented to the board next month by committee Chairman Mike Vlahos and Hall.

The options are building a new high school, building a new middle school (grades 5-8 or 6-8) or building a new junior high school (grades 7-8).

In each case, work also would be done on other district schools. Estimated costs for the options range from $88 million to $111 million.

“Mike and I will discuss the pros and cons of all three options,” Hall said.

The board met Feb. 18 at Lincoln Elementary School following its annual get-together with the school’s teachers.

Board meetings normally are held at the Education & Administration Center and live-streamed on the district’s website.

But there is no live-streaming because district crews were televising Morton High School boys and girls basketball games.

The board’s only action was approval of issuing $1.155 million in working cash bonds that will be used to pay for facilities improvements.

During a discussion about the possibility of the district losing more state funding, board members urged residents to express their concerns to the area’s state lawmakers.

And Hall said she’s “incredibly disappointed” that equitable school funding isn’t a discussion topic in the gubernatorial primary races.

“One of the most important — if not the most important — jobs a state has is to educate its populace,” she said.

Updates given:

• Bus Facility — Operations at the bus facility are going well. Transportation Director is pleased with operations.

• Facilities Advisory Committee will present to the board on March 4.

• Facilities Committee (Tom Neeley, Tim Taylor and Dr. Lindsey Hall) met recently. Plans are moving forward to join forces with the Morton Park District and Morton Girls’ Softball Assoc. to build a fourth softball diamond at Birchwood Park.

Board Reports:

• President Clint Heinold reported that the board had a good meeting earlier in the evening with the Lincoln School teachers. Also, several board members were recently involved in a training provided by the Illinois Assoc. of School Boards held at the Morton Education and Administration Center. The workshop was entitled “The Critical Role of School Boards in a Democracy.”

Approved items:

• Resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of working cash fund bonds in the amount of $1,155,000 and providing for the levy and collection of a direct annual tax to pay the principal of and interest on those bonds.

• Maintenance grant application

• Overnight trip for girls soccer team

Board meeting highlights