Architect at Unit One

Project Manager Ryan Dodd gives a presentation to the Unit One school board showing plans for a new county-wide elementary school.

Massac Unit One school board members got their first look at a possible new elementary school at Monday night’s board meeting, where Ryan Dodd, project manager from Baysinger Architects in Marion distributed project books and went over the design of a building.

The building would be large enough to accommodate students from Franklin, Jefferson and Unity Elementary schools and would also house a separate administration wing, with a separate entrance.

The proposed design would have a safe room in the event of a natural disaster such as a tornado or in a situation of an active shooter.

There would be an 800 seat auditorium and a 1000 seat gym. Dodd said it would accommodate the needs of the district while going beyond that to give the district some wants.

The proposed location being looked at is just northwest of Massac County High School and west of Massac Junior High School. The proposed cost for the 40 acres of land is $500,000 or roughly $12,500 per acre.

According to Dodd, the back of the book contains the survey information taken from the teachers. In total, they received feedback from 88 staff members.

The total square footage will be 146,605 and the total cost the elementary building is estimated at $39 million. But, Architect Michael Baysinger said he had just learned the Capital Development Board has increased the percentage paid by the state. In the past, the projects were funded at 75%. Now, the projects would be funded at 87%, leaving the district responsible for paying 13% of the project.

That would leave a cost to the district of only $5 million.

There was brief discussion among the board that Unit One has $19 million in bonds. Superintendent Jason Hayes said the district could sell around $15 million in bonds, without using any tax dollars.

Districts can start applying for the grant around the first of March, and turnaround is expected to be rather quick.

According to Baysinger, the Capital Development Board will start with the Tier One Schools, which includes Massac.

Hayes said Unit One is at 63% adequacy for this school year. Based on the Illinois State Board of Education’s formula for funding a school system, Unit One would need to add an additional $8 million to it’s $21 million dollar annual budget in order to be funded properly.

As a comparison, Hayes points out there are northern school districts operating at and above the 200% adequacy level, meaning they are spending twice the amount the state formula has calculated for them to be at adequacy. “The huge discrepancy is why the EBF was created. It is meant to help level the playing field of public education in Illinois,” said Hayes.

According to Hayes, it is relevant to the construction grant because there are rumors Tier I schools will receive a larger match from the state than Tier II and Tier III schools. “Any match that we provide locally will have to come from our bonds, which would not raise property taxes at all. The bond levy is determined by state law. We receive roughly the same amount in the bond levy every year, aside from the slight adjustment for inflation that is also determined by state law. We can’t increase this bond amount, so we have to be sure that we build a school we can cover whatever the matching funds total. In effect, we can’t raise any property twaxes to do this. The law doesn’t allow this because we are a tax capped district. This is why this potential increase,” said Hayes.

The design accommodates for 20 students per grade. “The classroom capacities match the EBF formula, which is 20 students per classroom in grades kindergarten through third grade for no-Title One schools and 25 students per classroom in grades fourth through sixth grades for non-Title One schools. Low income or Title One schools have lower limits than this,” explained Hayes.

In Hayes’ report to the board he said the revenues had dipped slightly and are at just under $3 million for the month. So far this school year the district has taken in revenues of $15,281 and have had $13,248 in expenses.

According to Hayes, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s budget address was good for education, but, there were several things tied to education and it appears funding could be held back if the graduated income tax does not pass.

The district has done 536 classroom walkthroughs so far this year. The district is also keeping close watch on the enrollment, and Hayes said all of the projections that have been done, still indicate a decline.

According to Hayes, the high school gym bleacher project is on hold at the moment. He said worst case scenario, the project is done after graduation.

Under unfinished business was the decision of whether or not to accept the bid for fencing around the Unity School playground. There was only one bid, from Jones Fencing. To fence three sides of the playground, the cost would be $8,582 and to fence four sides would be between $12,000 to $14,000. Hayes said because of the district’s intention to move forward with a construction grant, his recommendation would be to hold off on fencing. A motion was made and approved to table the fencing.

In other business

• Approved a motion for the amended 2019-20 school calendar to reflect the change in half-day and parent teacher conference.

• Accepted the proposed school calendar for the 2020-21 school year, which Hayes said is similar to this year’s school calendar, except spring break will come after Easter next year and a teachers inservice normally held after Christmas, will be moved to later in June.

• Accepted the resignations from: Laurie Glass, MCHS Lady Patriots golf coach; Melissa Griffith, Brookport teacher aide, effective immediately; Kaitlyn Scott, MCHS science teacher, effective at the end of the school year.

• And, acknowledged the retirement of Roger Miller, as MCHS auto mechanics teacher, since the late 1980s, at the end of the school year.

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