Blue Ridge utility system to be overhauled

By Kelly Youngblood
Journal-Republican correspondent

Problems with the Schneider Elementary heating and cooling system need to be addressed in the near future according to Champaign architects, but Blue Ridge School Board members want to see the different options available and the estimated costs before making any decisions. 

Architects at Gorski and Reifsteck proposed Health Life Safety Work projects to be completed at all three Blue Ridge schools this summer (excluding Mansfield Elementary since it’s slated for demolition). Replacing the HVAC system at Schneider Elementary was by far the biggest and most expensive proposed project.

Architects say the heating and cooling system in both the original Schneider Elementary building and the 1966 addition should be replaced. 

The board reviewed a report by the architects for proposed summer work for 2013 that totaled nearly $2 million, with $1.6 million earmarked for Schneider Elementary. However, they noted the heating and cooling system replacement at Schneider has options that could change the numbers significantly. 

The most expensive option would be to install a geo-thermal heating and cooling system.

Board members agreed to wait until architects came back next month with a cost-comparison of their options.

Wilson said the district has a $50,000 maintenance grant from the state. In addition, some of the work will be done by the district’s maintenance staff, which is covered by the Operations and Maintenance Fund. However, Health Life Safety bonds will need to be issued for the remainder of the work. Wilson noted the work at the junior high is already covered by construction funds. 

Tax levy approved
Blue Ridge School Board members approved the tax levy for 2012 at their regular board meeting. The total levy amount is $5,956,442. Nearly $4.5 million of that amount will be levied for the Educational Fund; $608,000 for Operations & Maintenance; $243,000 for Transportation; and $214,000 for Tort Immunity.

Following the discussion at a special meeting Wednesday night, board members later approved a resolution to transfer $280,000 from the Educational Fund to go towards the Bond and Interest fund. 

New school name chosen
Board members also approved the new name and address for the Mansfield campus, effective the 2013-2014 school year. The new name will be Blue Ridge Intermediate and Junior High School. The address will be 107 McKinley Street. 

Those interested in submitting a petition to be listed on the ballot for the Blue Ridge Board of Education were informed of the Dec. 26 deadline. There are a total of five seats open – four seats are for four-year terms and one is for a two-year term. 

Four candidates filed for the four-year openings: Incumbents Justin Otto and Franci MIller, along with newcomers Dawn Muth and Dion Lathrom.

Employment issues
School board members accepted the resignations of several district personnel at their meeting Wednesday including Leslie Whitehouse, English teacher at BRHS; Chelsea Pfiester, Spanish teacher, BRHS; Margie Fraley, Parent Involvement Coordinator, Schneider Elementary School; Mary West, Secretary, BRHS; Deb Leisner, Assistant Girls Basketball Coach, BRJHS; Dennis Boyce, school bus driver, Transportation Department. 

Following discussion in a closed session, the board hired the following employees:  Rob Wilkinson, 4th-8th grade principal at the Mansfield campus; Jennifer Kelley as part-time ECSE/Pre-K Teacher’s Aide at Schneider Elementary; Randy Grubaugh as school bus driver and Harmony Bray as BRJH Scholastic Bowl Coach. 






Categories (2):News, Education


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