Harrisburg school board President Scott Berry offered up a letter to the public at Tuesday's school board meeting saying the Class of 2016 will be the last to graduate from the current Harrisburg High School building and proposed five solutions for holding future classes.
The letter indicates the board had planned on a new school being built in time for the 2016-2017 school year with a $29,000,000 bond issue which the taxpayers voted down this spring. That bond issue was to be paid off with the 1 percent sales tax for Saline County school buildings that taxpayers approved in 2012. Since the vote the board has indicated it plans to spend the 1 percent sales tax money and health/life safety bonds on improvements to the aging building each year, but Berry's letter indicates use of the building for teaching students will be discontinued at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.
"Due to the condition of the high school buildings and the results of the bond referendum vote this past spring, the class of 2016 is expected to be the last class to graduate from our current campus. In the fall of the 2016 our high school students will need to attend classes somewhere else," said Berry.
He listed five possible solutions that he calls Project CHIEF, an acronym for Changing Harrisburg Illinois Education Forever. His proposals are:
"1. Deactivate Harrisburg High School: Change Harrisburg CUSD No. 3 to a K-8 School District. Our graduating 8th graders would receive a 'tuition voucher' to be used at an area high school of their choice. This would be a tremendous tax savings for our citizens. The school district would never have to build a new high school or maintain a high school building, offer transportation for high school students, maintain our own sports programs, sports facilities, music programs, etc. This could be accomplished easily and even before the fall of 2016.
"2. Dual Use of Harrisburg Middle School: Use our current middle school as both high school and middle school. High school students could attend in the mornings from 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and middle school students in the afternoon from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. This schedule would allow us to meet state requirements for hours of education daily. This again would be a savings for the tax-paying citizens of the district with only one main building to maintain, heat, and cool. This idea might require some portable classrooms to be placed at the middle school campus for overflow as more office space and classrooms would be needed since the middle school is currently designed for only three grades.
"3. Portable Classroom Campus: Set up a full high school campus of portable classrooms on property at the middle school. These 'portables' would be newly constructed with new HVAC systems and plumbing. This new campus could be paid for without property tax increases. It would also provide for a more secure campus. The current campus at 333 West College Street was not built with the security problems of the 21st century in mind. As a school board, it is our responsibility to provide a safe environment for our students and our present buildings do not.
Page 2 of 3 - "4. Consolidation: This question of consolidation has been posed many times. To accomplish this, CUSD No. 3 and other districts would have to vote to combine. A new school would have to be built. This could not be accomplished within a three year time period. This would also require a bond referendum to be passed. I believe the voters have already told us: No
"5. From College Street to College Road: SIC was once housed at HHS Why not house HHS at SIC? This idea is exciting for all involved. SIC campus is spacious, secure, and has many educational opportunities for our high school students such as facilities for vocational education, nursing, and dual credit course offerings. High school students could graduate from HHS with several college credit hours already earned. This would be a great costs saving to parents and students. In addition, the tax payers have already provided these buildings so no "new" tax increases would be necessary. Currently Harrisburg CUSD No. 3 administration and SIC. administration are holding discussions to see if this plan could be implemented.
"I know no one of these ideas is perfect, but something has to be done. Thinking "outside of the box" is a must as the current campus will no longer meet the safety and educational requirements for Harrisburg CUSD No. 3 and simply doing nothing is not an option."
Other board members offered no comment on the letter.
Ed Kerkhover spoke about issues concerning the repair of the current high school building. He reported that tuck pointing of Davenport Gym has revealed deterioration of the brick walls beyond what he had hoped for.
"Dust is being blown out the backside of the walls," he said.
He proposed tinted glass for the replacement of glass in the gym.
"We are a little under budget and we would be okay," he said.
Window replacement would be done by mid-October for the high school, East Side and West Side. The cost for the high school would be $152,400; East Side and West Side windows would cost $94,900 he said.
He said that work on Taylor Field was progressing as planned.
Kerkhover reported on roof replacement for the high school. Listing the agricultural shop roof, the library roof and other roofs at the school he said he wanted some guidance as to how much to spend on the roofing. Kerkhover pointed out that the warranty on the roofing governed the cost. A 25-year warranty was more expensive than a 10-year warranty. Superintendent Dennis Smith said he would have an answer at the next meeting.
During the meeting:
The board adopted the prevailing wage ordinance.
The board named Banterra Bank as the depository of District funds.
Kelly Wren and Cheryl Angelly were authorized to make deposits, withdrawals and write checks.
Page 3 of 3 - Blue Cross/Blue Sheild rates were approved for 2013-2014.
Bid of $347,300 by Glass Doctor was approved for window replacement.
The September meeting of the board was moved to Sept. 24.
Resignations of Jenny Vise, science teacher; Rick Walter, high school ag teacher; and nurse Cara Bramlett were approved.
The hiring of Adam McKinney as high school science teacher was approved.
Maternity leave for Krystal Wilson was approved.
Dismissal of Sharon Milligan, three-hour cook, was approved.