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member explains his decision
for two new schools
Tue. Nov. 7th, the voters of Lincoln will be asked to
vote yes and build 2 new schools and receive $8+ million from the
State of Illinois. A no vote simply means the voters want nothing
done to the schools. Renovation is not an option on this ballot.
The question is simple. But there has been so much misinformation,
"disinformation" and downright untruths, that the issue
is becoming unnecessarily complicated.
a school board member, I am guided in my decisions by three main
principles. First, is the decision in the best educational
interest of the children, their welfare, and safety. Second, does
the decision give the teachers the materials and support they need
in order to carry out the job which the administration and board
has tasked them to do. And third, is this the best use of our tax
dollars. I try very hard not to be penny wise and dollar foolish.
And in my opinion, one should not be on a school board if his or
her priorities lie elsewhere. They should simply be on a different
how did I come to the conclusion that Lincoln should have two
brand new schools? Well, contrary to some rumors, my decision was
not made in haste. Although I made my decision almost a year ago,
the district challenges have been increasing much longer than
that. It should be understood that this is a solution for the
whole district, not just one or two schools. To me this is not an
issue about whether to save a building or not. This is an issue
about what needs to be done for the future in the most cost
effective manner without throwing away our hard earned tax
Washington-Monroe, and Northwest Schools are over crowded,
severely in some instances. The reason is not that there has been
an influx of students, but there has been an increase in programs
as a result of student needs. So to ask for some sort of
demographic study is to be totally ignorant of the cause of the
problem and merely a diversion. Labs are held in janitor closets,
small classrooms set up in the halls, sick kids are on benches in
the hallway because there is no other place. Should we undertake
more building projects to increase the size of the
Washington-Monroe and Northwest? Is that the wisest use of our tax
dollars? Can we find some other way to satisfactorily and more
economically resolve this problem? I think so.
a new larger junior high is constructed, it will serve as a middle
school. This means that 6th graders will be there also.
Since many 6th graders already go to the jr. high for
band, sports, etc., it will be much more convenient to have them
all there. This frees up 2 classrooms each at Washington-Monroe
and Northwest. These can be changed at minimal expense to help the
overcrowding situation without new more costly construction to add
onto the buildings. The construction of a new larger Central
school will help with the overcrowded situation there.
what happens to poor old Central school? Some of us have a lot of
fond memories and not so fond memories of attending there. I went
all 9 years there before attending the "new high
school", my kids went there, and my wife has taught there 14
years. The front looks good to some and ugly to others, just like
a Picasso. But that is just a matter of opinion and not fact.
Inside is a different matter. It is becoming unsafe as well as
impractical for the way we teach today as opposed to 85 years ago.
Walls are separating from floors, so much so that books can be
dropped down these cracks to wherever. Plaster has fallen from the
14 feet high ceilings and the suspended replacement ones have
collapsed from water leakage. Floors have become so sunken that
pillars have been temporarily put beneath them and furniture moved
to the perimeter of the room. The bookshelves around the room must
be shimmed because they lean so much the books fall off. No more
electrical service can be installed because the maximum limit has
been reached. The basement wall in the gym is bowed considerably
and it is believed this is what is causing the building to twist
slightly. This results in constant roof repair to fix leaks in the
flat roof. The boiler was installed for old Central school which
faced 7th street and was constructed in 1870. (not long
after the civil war) When new central was built in 1915, the
boiler was directed into it and old central torn down. Can all of
this be fixed, absolutely. Can it be done economically, not a
chance. This is major reconstruction. This is lead paint
abatement, which is very expensive. And this does not even
consider all the structural changes that would necessarily have to
be made for handicap accessibility as well as safe entrances. If
all of this work were to be done, the building would not even look
the same. And we would still wind up with antiquated buildings
that do not meet current needs much less those of the future.
Well, so what? We have saved a building! The kids, that’s so
do the kids go for a year or two for school while Central would be
worked on? They could certainly not remain in the building during
such a massive undertaking. Perhaps we could convince all the moms
to home school them for a year or two! Or better yet, let dad stay
home and do it. We learned from the fire experience at Jefferson
just how chaotic and disruptive to education that relocation is,
even on a small scale. The only viable option the board has is to
put temporary classrooms on Ralph Gale Field. The cost to the
taxpayers alone is more than a half million dollars. Is it worth
it? No, not for my money it is not. Central has many kids with
special needs and special classes. Try to imagine for a moment how
or where lunch would be handled or dispensing medication or
emergencies that arise all from a bunch of temporary facilities on
the ball field. In my opinion it is nothing sort of criminal
neglect or child abuse to willingly and needlessly subject
children to such unnecessary conditions. Obviously, the ball field
would be out of use for several years and since there are sink
holes on it, I am not too sure as to how many temporary classrooms
could be put there anyway.
state program to apply for building grants came at the most
opportune time for we certainly will have to address the problems
at Central within a few short years. Life safety inspection by the
state occurs in 3 years and they will surely insist the building
be made safe and accessible. That work will all be done without
any vote from the public. Since it is life safety work, bonds will
be issued and the work done-whatever it costs. It will be
significant and totally at local taxpayers expense. But just as
important, one will still only wind up with a patched up school,
certainly nothing to be proud of going into the 21st
century. Therefore when I realized what could be had for much less
cost to us taxpayers as well as much less human cost to the kids
and teachers, I knew there was no way remodeling was even an
far as the "expert" from Chicago coming to Lincoln to
tell us "hicks" just how the big city boys would do it,
I am not impressed. How arrogant for someone, who has not even set
foot in a building, to speak about what and how something should
be done. I have toured several renovated Chicago public schools,
not all of them of course. But I was not overwhelmed with what was
done. If I am not mistaken, they had no option in most cases to do
anything other than remodel. They simply did not have the option
to build new. While the schools appeared adequate for now, they
did not serve as a model to me as something to which I would
aspire for the future. The school layout and classrooms simply had
to conform to the old structure rather than a new structure
conforming for the needs of today and future flexibility. I have
had the opportunity to investigate many, many schools, and not
just in Illinois nor just in the United States. In addition, each
year the district #27 School Board attends the School Board
Convention in Chicago. There we are afforded the opportunity to
tour Chicago public schools as well as meet with school board
members from the entire state to hear their problems and solutions
to them. To suggest that I am clueless about the differences
between renovated and new schools and have no point of reference
is just to be ignorantly biased.
have received a state grant to build 2 new schools with the state
funding about $8 million of the $12 million total cost, or about
2/3. This is what the grant approval is about, nothing more and
nothing less. There is not grant approval for any type of
remodeling plans. If Lincoln does not wish to go ahead with the
project, the next district on the list gets its share and so on
down the list. We are about 33 on the State approved list of about
147. The funding for these projects is approved by the legislature
for 2 more years. That is One more year beyond our expected date
of receipt in July, 2001. There are many more schools in line
after us. The money is not endlessly available in some sort of
Santa Claus fashion whenever we want it. Will the state
legislature fund more sometime in the future? Since this is
election time, would you count on there not being other projects
they deem more worthy of funding? Would you take a chance if it
were your money? Does anyone really know? "A bird in the hand
is worth two in the bush!"
decision made at the ballot box will reflect on the people of
Lincoln and their values. What is really more important to them-an
old building or the education of future generations of kids in
top of second column]
would like to secure funding for District 27 now
District 27 Voters:
reference to the district 27 referendum, I offer the following
should not be a strictly "bricks and mortar" issue. The
issue is - how do we plan now, and in the future, to educate the
children of our community.
issue is - now that we are on the approved list to receive
8.3 million dollars in funding to move our educational facilities
to the 21 st century - will we be a responsible community; or do
we put at risk the issue of when we will again be put on a
priority list to receive funding and at what amount. I am certain
that our number will come up again, but when. I opt for the
"bird in the hand".
of my very good friends favor renovation; I respect the sincerity
of their opinions. While not particularly thrilled with the
prospect of razing buildings, I temper this lack of enthusiasm
with the following thoughts. When would the renovation be done?
Obviously, when students are not present. Surely, we would not
consider using non-district facilities in various parts of town.
This leaves summer months; can contractors be found, who will work
around the clock seven days a week and at what expense? I truly
doubt this could be accomplished in one summer.
of this referendum will secure 8.3 million dollars for District 27
NOW if the referendum is successful. Support of this referendum
allows us to say to "our kids" WE CARE, we want you to
have what you need and deserve to move into the 21 st century.
force appreciates participation in vigil for domestic violence
members of the Logan County Domestic Violence Task Force would
like to express our gratitude to all who attended and participated
in our first Candle Light Walk and Domestic Violence Awareness
Vigil on Thursday, October 12, 2000. We were pleased with the
number of people who came out to take a stand against violence and
show support for victims.
wish to publicly thank Judge Donald Behle for his moving words,
the Kingdom Life Expressive Worship team for their interpretive
dance, the Lincoln Jr. High School H.Y.P.E. kids (Helping Youth in
a Positive Environment) for offering their time and service for
child care, and all of the task force members who put time and
effort into making the evening a success.
October is the national Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we plan
on making this an annual event. We invite everyone to get involved
and be an agent of change in our community. Concerned citizens,
domestic violence survivors, social service agency reps., pastors,
young people, anyone who wants to get involved and join the task
force, can call 732-7890.
you everyone who came out and participated.
County Domestic Violence Task Force
directors have new proposal for tax allocation
Board of Directors for the Senior Citizens of Logan County,
Inc./Oasis Senior Center discussed and approved a new proposal for
the allocation of the Social Services for Senior Citizens Tax at
its Regular Board Meeting on October 19. We had hoped to present
this new proposal to the Logan County Board that same evening, but
we were denied that opportunity. We’d like the County Board and
the public to know what that proposal would have been. Here it is:
Levy the full 100% of the tax for Social Services for Senior
Citizens Tax. This will provide much-needed funding of $93,000 for
senior services in Logan County. We believe this is what the
Approve $50,000 of that funding for the Senior Citizens of Logan
County, Inc./Oasis Senior Center. We will seek funding elsewhere
for a 15-passenger van.
Approve $30,000 of that funding for the Central Illinois Economic
Development Corporation’s (CIEDC) programs for Logan County
Approve the rest of the funding to the Rural Health Partnership’s
mobile health unit.
plan will help all of us. We respectfully request the Logan County
Board to re-think the funding plan it approved on October 19, as
it’s obvious from observing that meeting’s proceedings that
the decision-making process for the allocation of this tax is not
an exact science.
Citizens of Logan County, Inc.
school board member and preservationist responds to Jim Wilmert's
Wilmert’s recent letter does not deserve to go unanswered. When
he accuses those who want to preserve and renovate Central and the
Junior High of distributing "disinformation" and
"downright untruths," he is dead wrong. Those of us who
want the save the schools have been extremely conscientious in
presenting only factual information, to the extent of our
knowledge, and in trying to get as much information as possible
before the public prior to the election.
is guilty in his first paragraph of the same "downright
untruths" with which he erroneously charges our group. His
statement, "a NO vote means simply the voters want nothing
done to the schools," has no basis in fact. No one who has
followed our arguments could believe this statement. Far from
doing "nothing" to these neglected buildings, we are
urging a much better solution than demolition. We want to see the
buildings renovated to state-of-the-art condition.
the rest of Jim’s letter, he is guilty of similar distortions.
Jim claims that the schools in District 27 are overcrowded,
despite the facts that the school population is "declining
slightly," according to the superintendent, and that the
teacher-pupil ratio is less than the state average. He says that
new mandated programs cause the overcrowding. But if student
population is not increasing and classroom size is below average,
then the obvious solution to this "overcrowding" problem
is not to tear the buildings down. Instead, the better solution
for our children is to reconfigure the buildings, moving walls and
reclaiming unused space.
Jim says that the schools are becoming "unsafe as well as
impractical." But every single example that he cites can be
corrected completely by renovating the buildings, according to the
District 27 architect. School Board President Bill Bates also
conceded this in a letter to the Courier. Dr. Kidd and the
architect have also stressed repeatedly at public meetings that
the buildings are definitely not unsafe at this time. We can
ensure they will not become unsafe in the future by renovating the
buildings to optimum condition and making sure they are properly
Jim claims that students would need to be relocated for two years
during renovation, at a cost of half a million dollars. This
statement is not true. The district architect projected a 12 to 15
month relocation period. And no one has ever felt that portable
classrooms would be an acceptable solution. This is a complete
"red herring" on the superintendent’s part. The
foremost expert in the country on school renovation, Bill Latoza
of BauerLatoza Studio in Chicago, has renovated many, many schools
without relocating children at all. Our own school board should
demand nothing less.
Jim says that those who want to relocate students (which we do not
think would even be needed) are guilty of "criminal
neglect" and "child abuse." I will not even bother
to address such careless rhetoric.
The only way that Jim and others know how to refute the expertise
of an architect with Bill Latoza’s credentials is to assert that
he is "from Chicago." All who attended Latoza’s
presentation know that he was never condescending and spoke solely
from his own vast experience in the field. He never claimed to
know more than the Lincoln residents about their own schools. The
irony here is that District Architect Dave Leonatti, whose
Springfield firm has very little actual school experience, relies
on the expertise of a partner firm in Indianapolis. Why is the
urban firm from Indiana credible when Latoza’s is not?
Jim continues to use the scare tactic of implying that the state
money will not be there for renovation if we do not pass this
referendum. This is simply not true. We have every assurance from
state officials that the School Construction Grant will be in
place for many years to come.
it is interesting that Jim and the Save Our Schools Citizens
Committee agree completely on his three major priorities, namely,
that the decision made on November 7:
of us who want to preserve and renovate the schools feel that
voting NO is the best means of achieving all of the above.
was a member of the District 27 Board of Education from 1982 to
1993. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Illinois
Association of School Boards for six years, chairing the State
School Finance Committee. She has a master’s degree in education
and taught school, grades 6 through college level, for 10 years.
For the past 10 years, she has worked in the field of
preservation-based community and economic development.
here for the letter to which this writer is responding]
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