Mt. Vernon Register-News

October 10, 2013

District 80 pursues major grants

By TRAVIS MORSE travis.morse@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — District 80 will apply for two sizable state grants to help fund maintenance and energy efficiency projects at its facilities.

Superintendent Mike Green gave a presentation on the grant opportunities at Wednesday night’s meeting of the District 80 Board of Education.

After some discussion, the board authorized Green to pursue the grants, which are from the Illinois State Board of Education.

“They’re important and we feel very fortunate the state is offering this money to local school districts as we try to maintain our structures for our students and employees,” Green said. “We want (our buildings) to be safe and secure and up to current standards.”

One grant, for up to $50,000, would help fund school maintenance projects. The other grant, for up to $250,000, would be for energy efficiency improvements.

Each grant offers 50 percent matching funds. So if the district identifies $100,000 worth of needed maintenance repairs, the state grant for that work would provide $50,000.

“You don’t want to pass up an opportunity,” said District 80 board member Merle Hollmann.

District officials are still deciding on which projects to seek funding for, Green said.

If received, the maintenance grant would likely go toward roof improvements and asbestos removal on multiple district buildings, Green said.

“The goal is eventually to get all the asbestos out of the school,” Green said.

The energy grant would likely be used for new air-conditioning units, windows, and exterior doors at the Casey Middle School administration building, among other potential projects.

Green said he will have to submit the grant applications by Nov. 27. The actual construction work would not start until the summer of 2014.

Also on Wednesday, the District 80 Board was set to discuss the sale of the Benjamin Franklin Early Childhood Center during closed session.

A decision had not been reached on this issue as of press time.

In addition Wednesday, the board heard from local parent Mandy Bejma, who expressed concern about the length of time her child spends on the return bus ride home from the Primary Center.

Children are supposed to be dropped off within an hour after school ends. However, Bejma said her daughter was brought home around 5 p.m. on several days, which is too long, she said.

“There’s other neighbors that have the same concerns, but they couldn’t come tonight,” Bejma said.

Green took down Bejma’s information and said he would look into the matter. Sometimes delays like this occur because of a substitute driver getting lost, Green said.

Other board actions Wednesday included:

n Hearing of a Red Ribbon Proclamation by Primary Center students.

n Hearing of reports on the Dr. Andy Hall Early Education Center and the Head Start program.

n Discussion of the upcoming parent-teacher conferences.