Parking lot rehab discussed for D-W

A total revamp of the DeLand-Weldon parking lot is being proposed, but due to cost could take several years to complete. The school board on July 24 felt that, even though drainage work is needed as part of the effort, the first phase could include a resurfacing of the playground area.

Initial estimates ranged between $25,000 and $30,000 for the playground work, but Superintendent Amanda Geary said she is still gathering additional information and pricing, noting that there is no timetable for work to begin.

Board members Shannon Summers and Dean Bush, who have construction backgrounds, performed much of the groundwork on what the total parking lot rehab should entail, including improved drainage patterns to alleviate standing water.

“This is going to be a lot of money,” Summers told the school board. “I feel like we don’t want to rush into anything.”

But she agreed the playground work could be done outside of the overall project because it “does not have anything to do with drainage, and since Amanda has done such a great job to get that playground to look the way it looks presently with new playground equipment; I thought that if we did that playground area, that would be one things we could check off that list.”

The playground portion could include relocating basketball hoops, as well as reinstalling the tetherball poles. Summers also suggested installation of a fence to block off a narrow path to the north of the cafeteria that is not readily visible to playground supervisors.

Board members were on board with the initial proposal for entire-lot resurfacing, which would likely be phased over several years. Joshua Shofner did ask if the board should consider hiring an engineer, something Summers and Bush felt was not needed and could add $50,000 to the overall price tag.

“The one thing that I am running through my mind that I’m not entirely comfortable with at this point is, we are looking at a multi-year, multi-phase project. Should it be engineered?” said Shofner.

Bush, who manages a ready-mix plant, responded, “this is pavement. It’s not rocket science, it’s drainage. Water is going to the lowest point and we’re going to drain it that way, and we’ve already shot grade.”

Summers, a union laborer for 19 years who has worked on her share of road, sidewalk and parking lot jobs, added, “this is not the first time I have been involved in a phased operation, but that hasn’t been my money. This is the school’s money.”

Shofner emphasized “don’t take that as a negative, it’s just what’s running through my head.”

Bush said there are resources available to help the district without hiring an engineer, giving the example of the Illinois Concrete Association.

“So we can get some help,” he added.

Shofner said he did like the idea of “phasing this out.”

Budget
The district ended the 2017-18 school year with a budget surplus of $566,000, and superintendent Amanda Geary said the tentative budget for 2018-19 also predicts a positive balance at years end.

“Expenditures should be down because last year we didn’t collect about $70,000 in DeWitt County taxes and we will be receiving those this year, and also our food service contract with Aramark went down,” said Geary.

The tentative budget has been placed on 30-day review at the district office, with the final budget to be acted on at a future meeting.

Math teacher, basketball coach
The board was introduced to John Yeakel, the district’s new high school math teacher and boys basketball coach. He has taught at other districts in the area, including in Atwood and Villa Grove.

Yeakel said he was certified in “all social science, all mathematics, junior high and high school. You name it, I’ve done it,” including coaching at both levels and boys and girls squads. He was named an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association seventh grade girls coach of the year in 2014-2015 while at Villa Grove, a year in which his squad advanced to the Illinois Elementary School Association 2A state tournament.

“We’re very excited to have him on board,” said High School Principal Matt Goldman, who called the search for a math instructor “challenging.”

In other news, the board:
–heard of some summertime achievements of D-W students. Abigail Trimble won Best of Show in the pet picture contest at the Farmer City/DeWitt County Fair, as well as being named grand champion for her pineapple upside down cake.

Kaylee Wegrich also “faired” well, taking top honors in senior showmanship for rabbits, best of show in foods preservation and plants and soils in Farmer City, and qualified as a state fair alternate in animal science.

–was told the district has taken down some seldom used chalk boards, which have given way to white boards and smart boards. When asked what to do with uninstalled chalkboards, Geary was told to see if any teachers wanted them before finding another way to dispose of them;

–hired Veronica Long as a lunchroom aid. She will work in addition to current aides, who are sometimes needed on the playground as well;

–approved up to $10,000 to install a fence to the front of the school to keep cars off of the grass; and

–was told that installation of telephones in all classrooms is nearly complete.

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