Education

Belleville school board increases tax levy for next year

Students wish school leaders a happy ‘Honky Tonk Christmas’

Students from Washington School sing songs from their Christmas concert, including Alan Jackson's "Honky Tonk Christmas."
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Students from Washington School sing songs from their Christmas concert, including Alan Jackson's "Honky Tonk Christmas."

Residents could see a slight increase in their property tax bills next year because the Belleville District 118 School Board increased its tax levy.

Board members voted on Tuesday to levy 4.24 percent more in property taxes.

District water update

Assistant Superintendent Ryan Boike said testing of the district’s water revealed a few areas that had slightly elevated levels of lead. Those water sources have been taken out of service.

“Most of the places that came back elevated were low-use,” Boike said.

Of the 271 sites that were tested, 29 had elevated levels of lead, according to Superintendent Matt Klosterman. Ten of the sites with elevated levels were sinks, none of which were used for food preparation, and 19 were water fountains, none of which were located in hallways.

The sinks were used mainly for hand washing or purposes other than drinking or cooking. The water fountains were located largely in classrooms and were “low-use,” Boike said, because most teachers tell students to use the water fountains in the hallways.

Boike described the results as positive given the number of facilities in the district and the age of some of the buildings. “We were cautious because we have some old buildings,” he said.

Facilities plan update

The school board heard an update from Ittner Architects on the changes planned for Union Elementary School, Abraham Lincoln School and West Junior High School.

Abraham Lincoln and West Junior High, which will be designed as a campus rather than two separate buildings, will have added classrooms, a new administrative suite and a multipurpose gym with bleacher seating for about 240 people. There will also be playground and parking lot renovations and an expanded nurse’s station.

The estimated cost is $9.7 million for the two schools.

At Union, a new gym and administrative suite, which will become the entrance to the school, will cost an estimated $5.8 million.

The architects are also adding doors in strategic locations to create “controlled entry” into the buildings, which Klosterman said will please the parents who are concerned about access to the schools.

“I’m really excited that you guys were able to work that into all three pieces,” Klosterman said during the meeting.

Abraham Lincoln and West Junior High, for example, will have a new door that forces visitors to enter the school’s main office before gaining entry to the area where students are.

Klosterman said the architects are hoping to put the projects out for bid in the first two weeks of February.

New teachers

On Tuesday night, the board hired seven teachers effective Jan. 4, including the following:

▪  Celina McBrayer, full-time pre-k teacher

▪  Tyler Jewell, full-time music teacher

▪  Ann Wade, part-time teacher

▪  Amanda Hudak, paraprofessional

▪  Cassandra Price, part-time paraprofessional and parent educator

▪  Amanda Konradt, part-time paraprofessional

▪  Laura Dewitt, part-time paraprofessional

‘Honky Tonk Christmas’

Pre-k students from Washington School entertained school board members with songs from their recent Christmas concert.

The five children sang Alan Jackson’s “Honky Tonk Christmas.” Most of them also strummed on paper guitars and wore paper cowboy hats. One student played a paper saxophone.

They also performed the nursery rhyme “Chubby Little Snowman.”

School board members meet next at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at 105 West A St. in Belleville.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes

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