THIS BLACKTOP PATCH on the south side of Washington Elementary School in Pana may look inauspicious, but below, problems are occurring. The asphalt covers the roof of the school’s former coal room and over the course of years, water is seeping through the roof and causing problems in the school.
It was discussed at the Pana School Board meeting on Monday night, July 20, to do away with the room by shoring up the inside of the school’s basement wall, filling in the room and concreting over the top.
(Tom Latonis Photo)
During the Pana School Board meeting on Monday, July 10, members approved a resolution which will allow for the sale of the Tower Hill School and the former bus garage property on Saturday, Sept. 12. The vote was 7-0 in favor of the resolution as all members voted in agreement.
The auction will be conducted by Price-Spracklen Auction Service of Pana. The sale will begin at 10:00 a.m. Bidding will open at $5,000 for the school and property surrounding it – approximately 6.7 acres on Benton St. in Tower Hill. The other piece of property, on Michigan St. across from the Tower Hill Post Office will have an opening bid of $500.
In addition, it is also planned to auction some other surplus property of the district including but not limited to desks, chairs, tables and other school room equipment.
On the south side of Washington Elementary School is the old “coal room” where coal for the school’s boiler was delivered. It sets outside the footprint of the building and for years, its roof has been covered by asphalt. The outside roof is not a safety hazard or weak, but it allows water to enter into the underground room.
School engineers, BLDD of Decatur, is assessing the situation and will come up with specifications on what needs to be done. Lori Ade, Buildings Grounds and Transportation Director, says the best option may be to close it off from the basement of the school, back fill the room and concrete over it. A ballpark estimate to do the work ranges between $25,000 and $30,000.
The money used from this project will more than likely come from the 1% sales tax income which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. After Shelby County voters approved a similar referendum, the district began receiving money from them as well.
Thus far, the district has collected about $602,500. Around $548,000 has come from Christian County and nearly $54,500 from Shelby.
These funds have paid for some large repair projects such as new roofs at Washington and Lincoln school sand the Unit Office and Bus Garage.
Two groups were in attendance to present ideas for new high school sports in the district. They are bass fishing and cross country. Both would be financed by outside sources, not using any school district funds.
Students Dagen Mizeur, Brady Fitzpatrick and Hunter Shelite spoke to the board in favor of adding bass fishing to the line-up of sports. It is a co-ed sport.
The trio was confident they could get support from tackle shops, local fishing clubs and possibly professional bass fishermen to finance the venture. They also would plan fund-raisers to raise the money.
Students would have their own equipment and they were confident they could get boats to use. An adult would be needed to drive the boat and they must be insured. Area schools which participate in the sport are Taylorville, Shelbyville, Hillsboro (only South Central Conference school) and Macon Meridian. They also discussed plans to start a junior fishing club to stimulate interest in younger children.
Board members appreciated the job the students did in bringing their idea before the board. They did request the students come back with a proposed budget and number of participants who may be interested in the sport. Athletic Director Gary Ade said the district has until Feb. 1, 2016, to file with the Illinois High School Association if Pana will have a team this season.
For cross country, the time line is a lot shorter. A decision needs to be made by a Sept. 6 deadline to inform the IHSA.
Mark Magnussen, rural Oconee, asked the board to re-instate the sport which has not been contested since the mid to late 1980’s. The sport had also been offered in the early 70’s.
Magnussen, a runner himself and former cross country and track athlete in high school and college, volunteered to coach the co-ed sport. He thought five to eight runners would make a good team for this season this fall.
Many South Central Conference school have the sport as do Taylorville, Shelbyville, Rochester and Effingham. He said Pana would not host any meets and a Panthers team would mainly run in invitational meets on Saturdays.
Likewise, he was asked to present a budget and to come up with some participation numbers for the sport.
Both matters were tabled until the August meeting which will be Monday, Aug. 17.
Until then, any student who may have an interest in participating in either sport is encouraged to contact Ade at 217-562-6602. Leave a message with the student’s name and class and telephone number.
Members of the board seemed receptive to the sports, saying the more students participating in extra curricular activities the better. School Superintendent Dr. David Lett said both proposals would enhance the school, but could not in good conscience recommend adding the sports – despite the money coming from outside sources – while the district is deficit spending in the Education Fund.