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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • New weight room a possibility for Harrisburg Middle School

  • HARRISBURG - Many people who attended Tuesday night's regular meeting of the Harrisburg School Board commented that the meeting, which began at 6 p.m., was quite possibly the shortest Unit No. 3 meeting they had ever attended. The meeting was held at Harrisburg Middle School as usual and ended just before 9 p.m.
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  • Many people who attended Tuesday night's regular meeting of the Harrisburg School Board commented that the meeting, which began at 6 p.m., was quite possibly the shortest Unit No. 3 meeting they had ever attended. The meeting was held at Harrisburg Middle School as usual and ended just before 9 p.m.
    The item on the agenda that required the most discussion was the possibility of the construction of a new building at Harrisburg Middle School to be used as a weight room and for other fitness activities by P.E. classes.
    Though the proposal was brought to the board by Middle School Principal John Crabb, the plan has been in the works practically since the new middle school was built, before Crabb became the principal there.
    The proposal is for the construction of a 40-feet by 80-feet metal building to be built on the west side of the school, perpendicular to to where the maintenance building will be constructed. The rationale behind the proposal arose out of the difficulties involved in instructing between 60 and 80 students at a time in the current gymnasium. A fitness center would give the two P.E. instructors the opportunity to take half the students to the new building and keep the other half in the gym, allowing more space for activities. A fitness center would also allow instructors to teach units on physical conditioning and the proper use of exercise equipment.
    "The fitness center could be the centerpiece to a healthier and happier middle school," the proposal read.
    Funds have been raised for the building over the past several years, which currently amount to over $38,000. The projected cost of the center is a little over $32,000, meaning the construction of the fitness center could be done at no cost to the district.
    The Building Trades program at Southeastern Illinois College has offered to construct the fitness center for free as their fall project, but this still has to be approved by SIC's administration. In addition, District Architect Ed Kerkhover has agreed to assist with the project for free. Local electricians, plumbers and other contractors have also agreed to do some work for free or for a lowered rate.
    The proposal did not include an estimate of what it would cost to maintain the fitness or how much it would be to heat and cool the building, which was a concern of several board members. Though some equipment has already been acquired, additional equipment would need to be purchased over time to make the fitness center a worthwhile project.
    Crabb said grants are available for purchasing fitness equipment, but he can't apply for them until the building is already in place. He also hopes to see the community donate old equipment to assist the project.
    "I think anything we can do to help the health and wellness of our students is a good thing," Crabb said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Though the construction of the building itself could be done without the use of district funds, board members still had concerns about maintenance costs. Additionally, there were questions about liability, both for students and volunteer workers who could get hurt. The board decided to table the issue, but will have to hold a special meeting 6 p.m. Oct. 30 to make a final decision because if they wait until next month's board meeting, they could lose the opportunity to have the SIC Trades class construct the center. The board would like to see more exact figures on how much it would cost to maintain the building and have formal agreements from contractors who offered to do free or reduced cost work before they vote on the proposal.
    The only other issue that was discussed at length by the board during the meeting was budget cuts for the next school year. Superintendent Dennis Smith was instructed to prepare a list of possible reductions and how they would impact the schools. The next step would be for the board to choose how much funding they want to cut from the budget and which programs or positions would be lost in the district.
    During the meeting:
    The board approved the resignations of EOC aide Jarinne Fletcher and Robin Newcomb as the boys' assistant track coach at the middle school.
    The board also approved employing Robin Newcomb instead as the girls' assistant track coach at the middle school.
    The board approved the District Title 1 plan.
    The board briefly discussed an issue involving district resident Sandra Smith who is circulating petitions against bonds for building a new high school. According to the superintendent, she has successfully petitioned bonds in the past. She will need 612 signatures of registered voters in the county in order to force the board to place a referendum on the April 9 ballot asking permission from voters to use the sales tax funds for construction, which was the purpose for the sales tax originally stated when voters voted in favor of the tax in the primary election.

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