By TRAVIS MORSE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON – Summer is a time when schools are cleaned and painted to prepare them for the next batch of students in the fall.
But two area grade schools, Ina and Rome, have special projects lined up this season that go beyond routine maintenance.
Ina Grade School will complete a $5,000 project to redo the flooring on the 15-by-40 foot stage in the gym and in the two rooms to each side of the stage.
The current flooring is in bad shape, said Monte Jo Clark, superintendent for Ina C.C.S.D. #8. The stage area doubles as a classroom for chorus and band students and often the children sit on the floor. This fact makes the flooring project all the more important, Clark said.
“The old flooring was ugly and stained,” Clark said.
Funding for the stage work comes from a three-year grant from the Illinois Arts Council. This is the second year of the grant.
Last year's grant amount was $75,000, and the current year's grant is for $42,000. Next year, the school will receive $25,000.
“We are one of the few grade schools in the area that actually have a very strong art and music program,” Clark said. “Drama and theater are really big here.”
Aside from the stage project, the Arts Council grant has also been used to turn a classroom into an art lab and to purchase new projectors and software. Also, the funding has allowed the school to buy a new laminating system and poster printer, as well as interactive musical playground equipment.
Work will begin on the stage in mid-June and the project should be completed within a few days.
Also this summer, Ina Grade School has several safety improvements planned, including plumbing and electrical work. These projects come in the wake of a recent health life safety survey that was conducted.
Rome Grade School plans to replace the roof on its covered walkway between the district office and the school, said Superintendent Dwain Baldridge. Work is set to begin in late June, early July, and will take about a week to finish.
“It's been leaking when it rains for years,” Baldridge said of the walkway. “It offers sheltered walking between the two buildings for kids and parents.”
In addition, Rome Grade School is installing a new awning over the pre-k entrance to the facility. This will be more convenient for parents picking up their children, Baldridge said.
The Rome projects will cost a total of $6,000, which will be taken from the district's Building Fund.