Parking at Monticello High School is being described as a challenge, but school and contractors said the current construction project at the high school/Washington Elementary campus is going as smoothly as can be expected.

With the main student parking lot out of commission for now, vehicles are spilling into on-street spaces, including Kratz Road behind the school.

The positive? Student drivers know they need to arrive on time, if not early.

“If you’re here around eight o’clock, you’re going to be parking way out on Kratz Road. And if it’s a day the marching band is here at 7:30, you’re going to be far away regardless of what time you get here,” High School Principal Adam Clapp told the school board on Aug. 21.

High School start and dismissal times have also been moved up five minutes, allowing for more monitoring of parking and traffic ahead of start and stop times at adjacent Washington Elementary School.

Construction managers told the board that some aspects of construction are ahead of schedule, with others lagging slightly behind. For example, a delay in obtaining precast panels for the new gymnasium prompted a push for getting the masonry close to the ground done several weeks early.

Chris Uhlarik of Petry-Kuhne said the delays and advances are pretty much canceling each other out at this point of the $35.2 million, two-year construction timeline.

“I’m not going to say we’re ahead of schedule. We’re able to push some things ahead of schedule, but to say that we’re ahead of schedule right now is probably premature,” said Uhlarik.

“But we’re not behind,” he added.

“The biggest challenge to this timeline has been the precast panels,” admitted Superintendent Vic Zimmerman. He noted the ones for the mechanical room addition were feared to be the wrong color, prompting a two-week delay. They are now installed, and the delay netted the district a $10,000 credit.

That should not be an issue for the gym’s outer walls being manufactured off-site in Iowa. Personnel will watch the first one come off the production line this week to make sure it is up to snuff prior to the remainder being fabricated.

The steel frame for the high school science classroom and lab addition should be up by the end of this week, and underground work for the new gymnasium is also complete. The soil pad for the elementary school classroom addition is installed and awaits compaction test results before rock and piers are installed.

In the high school auditorium, work continues on the extension of the stage and installation of a balcony.

The first change order of the project was approved by the school board, and reflected several changes that actually resulted in a 71,433 credit to the district. The largest savings are coming from the need for fewer foundation piers than expected – saving $21,000 – and a change in flooring ($16,000 savings).

Washington Elementary School Principal Nancy Rosenbery was asked if construction was a distraction to students, and she said most teachers were closing curtains and blinds to keep the focus inside.

But when they are outside? That curiosity is being encouraged as instructors explain some of the work that is going on to students who could be future construction workers and designers.

“We’re hoping to use it as kind of an outdoor classroom,” she said.

Rosy picture for replacement tax

Zimmerman said estimates are that Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax proceeds for the district could exceed expectations by $1 million this fiscal year. That according to figures recently released by the Illinois Municipal League.

Zimmerman said he would add about $800,000 of the increased estimate to the proposed district budget for 2019-20, which is scheduled for approval at the board’s Sept. 18 meeting. He noted it will balance most of the budget’s operating funds for this fiscal year.


First day enrollment at Monticello was 1,621 students, a slight drop from the 1,654 who started the 2018-19 school year. Zimmerman said the district cyclically fluctuates between 1,500 and 1,700 students. Over the past decade, overall enrollment figures have ranged from 1,583 to 1,707.

Monticello High School started the fall with 509 students, down from 542 last year, while the middle school has 348 students, less than the 365 in 2018-19.

In other action, the board:

–approved a memorandum or understanding to accept a grant from 3 Circles to fund out-of-school-day hours for high school agriculture teacher Elizabeth Rost. It will fund 200 additional hours for the 2019-20 school year, which will likely focus on greenhouse work and community outreach;

–approved a contract furniture design service contract with BLDD Architects, which will get a list of needed furnishings related to the construction project ready to bid out;

–was told by Zimmerman that the new phone and paging system was installed and being used to school staff;

–heard the school district will provide lunches for the Head Start program in Cisco, which will generate about $6,000 for this school year;

–approved the hiring of: Ashley Adams, long-term high school French teacher and middle school French Club sponsor; Paige Albrecht, high school pep club sponsor; Nick Bailey, Lincoln Elementary special education aide; Lynne Bruhn and Amanda Helms, Lincoln Elementary mentors; Brianna LaPlant, White Heath Elementary mentors; Nickey McFadden, middle school part-time cook; Donnette Ploch, Washington Elementary part-time cook and breakfast supervisor; Julie White, White Heath Elementary media aide; Richard Wilson, Washington Elementary part-time cook; Sophia Pellum, crossing guard;

–approved the resignation of Nickey McFadden as middle school lunchroom supervisor;

–approved the transfer of Billie Sinclair from part-time cook at the high school to part-time cook at the middle school; and

–approved the following volunteer coaches: Michael Brand, high school boys soccer; Stephanie Stoddard, high school golf; and Kinsie Victor, high school volleyball.