Highland News Leader

New indoor athletic training center added to Highland school facilities plan

The Highland School District has added another two years on to its five-year facility plan, which now includes an indoor athletic conditioning facility.

During the Highland Board of Education meeting on Nov. 27, the board approved an amended five-year facility plan which adds about $737,318 of facility improvements to be made by 2022.

“We’re starting our third year of our five-year plan. So we are just going to recycle and tag two years on the end of that,” said Director of Buildings and Grounds Jeff Williams.

Since the start of the plan in 2016, the district completed $8,296,019 of work spread out amongst the its various facilities and campuses.

“All that was done on schedule and under budget, significantly under budget,” Williams said.

The total cost of the projects left on the amended plan is about $2.85 million. The major costs in the plan are roofing and parking lot work. Other projects that total over $100,000 are purchases and replacements, asbestos removal, safety investments, HVAC improvements, and painting. Some of the newly added projects include installing new intercom systems at each school and replacing school radios. The other costs are made up of many miscellaneous projects.

Remaining costs per district location are:

▪ Highland High School: $837,534.

▪ Highland Elementary School: $768,623.

▪ Highland Primary School: $288,428.

▪ Lindenthal Campus: $258,010.

▪ Highland Middle School: $113,707.

▪ Alhambra Primary School: $87,852.

▪ Grantfork Elementary School: $122,868.

▪ Broadway District Administration Building: $373,304.

The plan will be paid through a combination of Health Life Safety Bonds, Tax Incremental Funds and monies from the districts Operating and Maintenance Funds.

The costs will be split up like:

▪ Health Life Safety bonds would pay $1,133,496.

▪ HLS-A bonds would pay $690,044.

▪ Operating & Maintenance Fund would pay $774,885.

▪ Tax Incremental Funds would pay $251,900.

Williams said that the plan does not include projects he wants to see lined up in the future. But as he gets more direction from the board he said he expects the plan to change over time.

“It’s a five-year plan, but I would really like to talk to you once a year — at least once every other year at a minimum — to where we could bring things back up and make sure there is the budget to do this,” Williams said.

Williams also included a list of proposed projects for the high school totaling about $2.4 million. However, these projects are not being pursued by the district at this time and would be a subject for future discussion.

Included in these projects was an indoor conditioning facility. The facility was proposed after the board decided not to pursue an artificial turf field at the high school. Williams acquired an estimate from FMG Architects for a facility similar to the one at Mascoutah High School. However, the estimate was about $1.5 million.

“It might be more than we are looking for. But at least it’s a line in the sand,” Williams said.

The other proposed projects include a circle drive student drop-off with flagpole, guest parking with handicap spots and a separate teacher and bus lot behind the school, locker room renovations and other projects.

“Those other items are more of the things that I would like to continue a dialogue, with what direction you would like me to go with that,” Williams told the board.

Another amendment

Before the plan was approved, the board decided to make an additional amendment. The replacement of Williams’ work car was moved up for the current year.

“That vehicle is beyond repair at this time,” Superintendent Mike Sutton said.

Instead of the $20,000 replacement cost in the plan, Sutton asked Williams if he would feel comfortable driving his own car, if he was compensated for the mileage. Williams said he would be comfortable with what ever the board decided.

The board voted to amend the plan to compensate Williams for using his own car for $300 a month or $3,600 a year for mileage.

“We will have to take additional action in December to authorize the payment to him, because it was not on the agenda in November, as such,” Sutton said.

Board members Robert Miller and Aaron Schuster were the two board members to vote against the amendment.

Miller said that Williams should not have to use his own car, because it reflects poorly on the district’s professionalism. He also said he would rather Williams buy a new car and recommended adding an extra $10,000 to Williams’ estimate.

“I’m afraid that we are going to end up with something that is not going to be as useful,” Miller said.

Miller said that if the district paid more money to get a more heavy-duty vehicle, it could be used for more things, and it would reflect better on the district to have a nicer looking vehicle.

Schuster said that he felt like compensating Williams would lose the district money in the long run. He said he believed a car would be paid off faster than if they were to compensate Williams for his mileage.

The other board members, David Raymond, Jim Gallatin, Zach Lewis and Rene Friedel agreed that compensating Williams was a safer move, because they could replace the vehicle in the future when the district is in better financial standings. Joe Mott was not present to give his opinion.

Megan Braa: 618-654-2366, ext 23, @MeganBraa_