Unit 40 Board Decides Against Weighted Grades


Published on March 11 2019 8:03 pm
Last Updated on March 11 2019 8:03 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The Effingham Unit 40 Board of Education Monday voted against weighted grades.

The Board has received information in recent months from district administrators and teachers, as well as from a group of local residents who have done their own research on the issue.

By and large, the district educators had recommended against weighted grades, while the local group had supported the concept. The vote by the Board was to keep the grading system as it is. The vote was 6-1 with member Patty Russell voting against the motion.

There wasn't much discussion at Monday's meeting. Member Todd Schaefer felt that the research and the involvement of the community was good. Russell and member Carol Ruffner said they had done some independent checking on the issue prior to the vote.

The Board also discussed the upcoming renovation of Effingham Junior High School. The stem-to-stern renovation is to take place over the next three summers.

The finished project will feature a new "front door" entrance to the building. The entrance will better identify the main entrance to the building, and will also control access to the building. Other highlights:

--closing the breezeway on the back of the building and make for easier use of the area by students

--complete the re-roofing of the building

--all new exterior doors and frames

--all new exterior windows

--replacement of the concrete stairs and railings leading in and out of the gym on the north end of the building

--miscellaneous brick veneer tuckpointing

--replacing the west wall of the "new gym" for stabilization

--new doors and frames in the 1939 portion of the building

--a new secure vestibule at the main entrance, which will lead into a refurbished office

--replace interior tempered glass with safety glass

--replace the science lab casework

--replace the security camera system

--replace the PA system

--asbestos abatement work

--locker room locker replacement while lockers in the hallways will be repainted

--flooring replacement

--electrical, plumbing and mechanical work

--replace the fire alarm system

As to the timetable for the work, bids should be opened on April 18 with a bid award on April 25. 

All of the abatement work will be done during the first two summers. Representatives of FGM Architects and Poettker Construction said there will be some 20 abatement phases and five or six construction phases.

Unit 40 Superintendent Mark Doan said work could begin as soon as next month on school calendars to complement the construction work. The forecast is for a longer summer this first year, a normal summer the second year, and a longer summer the third year, but no dates were discussed.

While the junior high project is the big project, work is also scheduled on South Side School, the Early Learning Center, and the high school sports complex.

The South Side work includes asbestos abatement. That work was awarded at Monday's meeting for $195,120, which was below the estimated cost of $220,000.

Other work at South Side includes:

--installation of lay-in ceiling tile and grid in areas requiring abatement work

--new lights in areas requiring abatement work

--new carpet tiles in areas requiring abatement work

--interior painting in areas requiring abatement work

--replacing wire glass with safety glass

--toilet partition replacement

The South Side work is already out for bids, with the bids to be opened on March 21 and awarded at the Board's March 25 meeting. The work is to be ready for the start of the school year.

The ELC work will include:

--roofing overlay and replacement for the entire building

--install lay-in ceiling tile and grid in the entire building

--new lights installed in the entire building

--HVAC return air duct work

Bids will be opened on the ELC work in mid-April.

As for the sports complex at the high school, the work will involve replacement of a rooftop heating and air conditioning unit, along with associated ductwork modification inside the building. The work should be awarded at the Board's April 22 meeting.

The ELC work and the sports complex work will be completed by the start of the new school year.

The Board also took action on several personnel items. One thing addressed was naming Obie Farmer the boys varsity basketball coach for the coming season. Farmer had been hired as the JV coach for the recently-completed season, then was named varsity coach upon the resignation of Rem Woodruff. The Hearts finished the season 17-6 under Farmer.

The Board hired Kristin Harvey as district transportation director. The position has seen several changes in directors in recent years. Also hired was Heather Batson as a paraprofessional, and Christina Tangman as a special education teacher for next school year.

Resignations were accepted from Jordyn Hartke as mentor facilitator at the high school as of the end of the school year and from Mindy McCollum-Boswell as high school volleyball coach.

Leaves of absence were approved for Jeff Schafer, Liliana Fulk, Sandy Wieneke, Megan Tylka, Judy Wall and Jason Fox under the Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as a leave for Denise Willenborg.

The Board also agreed to participate in the Illinois School District Liquid Asset Fund Plus, which is to generate a 2.45% rate of return on the bonds sold to finance the building projects in the district.