Highland News Leader

School board approves $750k for new projects. Here’s what Highland schools will get.

Southern Illinois school district uses community to shape new strategic plan

Highland Community School District is using its community to help shape a new strategic plan for the district.
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Highland Community School District is using its community to help shape a new strategic plan for the district.

More than 20 projects to upgrade Highland Community Unit School District 5’s facilities were approved last week.

The school board gave the nod to almost $750,000 of upgrades to district facilities outside of its five-year plan.

Roughly $1.7 million worth of projects will be undertaken next year, $952,000 of which were already part of the extended plan. Most cover basic maintenance or upgrades from new paint and carpeting and sidewalk repairs and restroom improvements.

“We have a five-year facility plan and we are on track,” Sutton said. “We are taking on a lot of stuff here. What I want to do is cover the items that are on this list that are not on the plan.”

That included a large array of projects at each of the district’s locations, including seven projects at Highland Elementary school, eight projects at Highland Primary, two projects at the middle school and two projects at the high school.

“We came in very under budget on some projects over the last few years which has given us the ability to look at some of these additional costs,” Sutton said. “

Among the projects are several areas that need “mudjacking,” a process that raises sidewalks away from the ground and several replacement and renovations throughout the district.

At Highland Elementary, sidewalks, restrooms and the school’s signboard will be replaced, while the exterior of the building will be painted. The complete cost of projects at Highland Primary will be roughly $306,000.

About $56,000 was approved for eight projects at Highland Primary that includes painting several parts of the building, a new time out room, remodeling and upgrading bathrooms, and removing and replacing carpet in some areas.

Of that amount, $19,000 will be covered by a grant for the school’s preschool playground.

New floors
This classroom at Highland Elementary School received a new Promethean Activpanel, as well as new poured surface flooring. The improvements were summer projects made as part of the Highland School District’s five-year facility plan in 2018. Provided by the Highland School District

At the middle school, sound dampening measures will be installed in the band room and the carpet in the administrative office will be replaced for a total of $21,000. At the high school, potholes will be fixed in the teacher’s parking lot for roughly $3,000 and a coffee shop will be built in the school’s library, paid for by a grant.

“We need to start moving to start getting these projects ready to go this summer,” Sutton said.

He added that the dollars spent on these projects do not compete for other funds throughout the school district.

“These dollars are not competing against the art position or teaching positions. These are funds in our operations and maintenance funds that could not be used for teacher salaries, books, computers or anything like that.”

Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.
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