Belleville District 118 is “using every nook and cranny” and is seeing the largest increase in enrollment in the district’s western boundaries, superintentent Matt Klosterman said after the monthly board meeting.
“We want to talk to you about space challenges and what types of capital projects we might want to do,” he said. A small group of administrators, including Klosterman and members of the buildings and grounds committee, will meet with the district’s architect in the coming month.
“What we would like to do .... is move forward with some conversations with architects to identify plans to move forward, evaluate enrollment and space, and look at potential capital projects,” he said. After the meeting, he said school boundaries might be one area the district could look at, but “moving boundaries can be emotional ... we don’t want to if we can avoid it.”
Klosterman told the board that on any given day during this school year, district-wide enrollment was up at least 80 students. He said the district has seen steady increases in the last few years, but this is the largest yet. Schools seeing the biggest increases are Union and Abe Lincoln, he said, but every school is seeing an increase.
“The increase in enrollment is putting a little bit of a strain on our space situation,” he told the school board assembled at district headquarters Tuesday evening.
Board member Keith Johnson asked if portable classrooms was a consideration.
“We priced those a few years ago,” said assistant superintendent Ryan Boike. “FEMA had a deal because of Katrina ... but to hook them up, it just wasn’t a good fit.”
Klosterman said some of the crowded schools are landlocked and have little room for portable classrooms anyway. He cited Henry Raab, with “limited to no green space, a limited asphalt area, and probably the smallest gym/cafeteria in the district ... even to put a portable, where do you put it?”
“In addition, many of our buildings are 50, 60... up to 100 years old” and the maintenance on systems including boilers “with Band-aid work” is getting more difficult because it’s hard to find the right parts for the aging equipment.
He said Abe Lincoln, built about 50 years ago, has had energy efficiency improvements, including replacing all exterior doors and some roof work.
▪ Franklin School’s Orion Partington, 12, and Jamal Black, 11, told the board about Franklin School’s spirit week and answered questions about PARRC testing. Orion said he preferred the second test but Jamal preferred the first, which principal Jim Slater said had more essays and long-form answers.
Slater is retiring at the end of June; he thanked the board for their focus on the students, saying “because of that it’s been a great place to be at and the girls and boys benefit.” He spoke highly of the sixth-grader Orion and fifth-grader Jamal, both of their school participation but more their commitment to their siblings. After sitting again, he quickly turned to the boys, saying quietly, “I’m gonna miss you.”
▪ The board voted to receive a settlement from the estate of Paul Quigley, a longtime volunteer at Union School. Quigley left $20,000 “to be used as they see fit” to the school.
▪ The board approved personnel for the Early Childhood Extended school year program, from June 1 to July 31. Certified teachers will make $25 an hour; paraprofessionals will make $15.
▪ The St. Clair County Transit Authority requested use of an easement to complete a bike path. The board approved the use during construction of a small part of the Douglas School playground for construction equipment to use; board member Gary Lawrence reported that the authority will enhance the grounds afterward, “should be better landscape than it is now”.