By WILL BRUMLEVE
GIBSON CITY — The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley School Board voted Monday night to accept a $618,950 bid from Eureka-based Blunier Builders to build a new maintenance shed.
The 60ft by 160ft Morton-style building – which Superintendent Jeremy Darnell described as “a steel panel frame building on a concrete slab” – will replace the old maintenance shed on North State Street opposite of the high school football field, which suffered damage to its brick foundation in last August’s flash flood and was deemed a total loss by the district’s insurance company.
The insurance claim resulted in a $689,000 payout to the district — funds that will be used to pay for construction of the new hangar in the coming months, Darnell said. Following lengthy negotiations with Darnell, the insurance company agreed to more than double its estimated original replacement cost of $74 per square foot to $170 per square foot, he noted.
“I was absolutely flabbergasted,” Darnell said, “because it literally took pushing back and saying, ‘No, that’s not correct’ and getting quotes from contractors (to confirm the correct value).”
Construction of the new hangar’s concrete foundation is expected to be completed this summer, Darnell said, followed by construction of the hangar itself this fall. Darnell said the project is expected to be completed by mid-December.
The school district has never used Blunier Builders in the past, Darnell said, but “several farmers and families in the area have.” The company’s offer was the lowest of four received, ranging from $618,000 to $847,000, Darnell said.
The school district will use the shed to store some of its vehicles – including its minibuses, driver education car and maintenance vehicles – as well as its lawn mowers and tractors. It will also be used for the storage of bulk cleaning products and dry goods, such as toilet paper. There will also be a workshop inside, allowing school district personnel to work on vehicles and other equipment.
“And he has room to grow,” Darnell noted. “We’re building it big enough to have space where as we add things we’ll have room to put them in there.”
Before its foundation collapsed in flooding last August, the old maintenance shed was used by the district to store supplies for the maintenance department, Darnell said, along with old furniture. , for example, that had been removed from schools.
The old maintenance shed was a Jehovah’s Witnesses church before the district purchased the building about 20 years ago and renovated it for use as a shed, according to Darnell.
Also at Monday’s school council meeting:
— The board voted to accept a $33,389 bid from Champaign-based Reliable Mechanical Co. to replace the high school’s water main and relocate it from the south side of the school to the Western coast. “It will move under the parking lot into the basement where the boilers are,” Darnell said. The old water main is being replaced and relocated, Darnell said, because it “has broken twice in the last few years and is actually moving directly under our cafeteria.” Replacing and relocating him, Darnell noted, “eliminates the possibility of a longer-term school disruption.”
— Council approved the purchase of a 2013 Chevrolet Suburban from Bradbury Auto Sales in Gibson City and the trade-in of a Chrysler 200. The difference of $29,275 will be donated to Bradbury Auto Sales. The purchased Suburban has about 19,000 miles on the odometer and will be used for small-team trips and towing the district’s 8-by-16-foot school supplies trailer, Darnell said.
— The council approved a natural gas purchase contract with Mansfield Energy. The district’s current contract with Mansfield Energy expires in June. Darnell said the district does not yet know what rate it will pay for natural gas under the new one-year contract, but the hope is that the district will be able to lock in a reduced rate once the “peak massive” natural gas. prices settle. The district has been using Mansfield Energy for five or six years, Darnell estimated.
– The board planned to approve an amended budget for the 2022 fiscal year – which ends June 30 – at its May meeting. Darnell said the “exact numbers” for the amended budget were not yet finalized, but he said he should have them “by the end of next week.” Darnell said he was changing the budget “because of the heavy insurance claim flows and additional costs, fuel and energy costs being so high.”
— The council approved the expenditure of $99,000 for a plan to replace and improve the technological infrastructure, as presented by MCS Office Technologies of Gibson City. The plan calls for replacing some of the cameras in buildings in the district — including all of the door cameras, which are “as old as the buildings” themselves, Darnell noted — and installing a few more cameras in the “ blind spots”, thus . The plan also includes a new platform into which the cameras are integrated, allowing district staff to monitor the cameras through a web portal on their phones or desktop computers. The $99,000 cost includes an annual license fee.
– Darnell said the district should receive a “huge jump” in personal property replacement tax revenue from businesses. The district is expected to receive $1.2 million this year, Darnell said, up from the typical annual amount of $500,000 to $700,000. The increase of about $500,000 will help with rising business costs, Darnell said, and maintenance projects that arise. The funds were not budgeted, Darnell said. Next year, the district is expected to begin receiving property tax revenue from the Ford County Wind Farm near Gibson City and Sibley, Darnell added.
— The council heard reports from council committees, principals, the superintendent, the director of curriculum and the director of the Ford County Special Education Cooperative. Summarizing the reports, Darnell said all seemed to be “looking forward to a factory reset in 2022-23” and “going back to traditional public school expectations.” Darnell said the next school year will feel a lot more normal than the last two affected by the pandemic. Expectations will also return to normal, Darnell said. “We’re going to go back to having high expectations, empowering people and supporting them through the process,” Darnell said.
– Darnell said he plans to start hosting “open mic nights” every quarter next year, each focusing on a specific topic or two. Darnell launched the Community Forum Series this school year to better engage the public. One was last fall and the other this spring.
— The board approved the destruction of the audio recordings of the closed sessions dating from the end of October 2020.
– The board voted to accept an anonymous donation of $1,500 for college field trips.
— The board approved a facility use agreement for the annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp July 25-28 at the athletic fields and at the college.
–The board voted to accept the resignations of Colton Leake as women’s basketball coach, Keri Dornbusch as head high school women’s basketball coach, Taylor Flynn as volleyball coach- eighth grade ball and Andrea Dibble as the middle school cheerleading sponsor, all effective immediately.
–The board has approved Cody Moody as the head wrestling coach for the GCMS/Fisher High School Wrestling Team for the 2022-23 school year.
– The board approved tuition reimbursement for Allison Case, Colton Leake and Danielle Kirby for their respective master’s programs at Eastern Illinois University.
— The board approved Taylor Flynn and Kaylee Petersen’s 12-week maternity leave requests.
–The board voted to accept an irrevocable retirement letter from math teacher Susan Riley, effective at the end of the 2024-25 school year, and provide a 6% salary incentive over three years.
— The board approved three-year contracts with high school athletic director Mike Allen (with a starting salary of $102,000 for the 2022-23 school year), Kyle Bielfeldt as GCMS high school principal (with a starting salary of $92,000 for the 2022-23 school year), Justin Kean as GCMS Elementary School Principal (with a starting salary of $103.00 for the 2022-23 school year), and Staci Lindelof as Associate Elementary School Principal (with a starting salary of $87,000 for the 2022-23 school year.
— The board has approved Katie Van Vickle as a social worker for the school district for the 2022-23 school year.
– The council voted to accept the resignations of Chrystal Little and Jordan Ryan as primary school teachers, both effective at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.
–The board has approved Ross Harden as head coach of high school women’s basketball for the 2022-23 school year.
— The board approved the hiring of Brynn Ginger as a math teacher for the 2022-23 school year.