State grants help Vermilion County schools fix up buildings

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State grants help Vermilion County schools fix up buildings

When Oakwood school officials launched projects to install new windows and HVAC systems at the junior high and high school and reroof all three of its schools, they ran into some problems — masonry issues at the grade school and asbestos in ceiling-tile adhesive and window glazing at the high school.

Superintendent Karen Perry said a $50,000 state grant will go a long way in helping to offset those unforeseen expenses.

Oakwood is one of nine Vermilion County school districts that was awarded a school maintenance grant.

The Illinois State Board of Education announced on Wednesday it disbursed $39.2 million in matching grants to 691 districts and vocational centers to repair and improve existing facilities.

The grants, which provide up to $50,000 in matching funds for the maintenance of educational buildings, were given for the first time since 2001.

"This program offers much-needed support in this tough economy to make necessary improvements to our school campuses," State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico said in a release. "We know that much more needs to be done, but this helps districts get to projects that have long been on their to-do lists and might still be without these funds."

In addition to Oakwood, the Armstrong Township, Armstrong-Ellis, Catlin, Danville, Rossville-Alvin and Westville districts each were awarded $50,000. The Potomac district received $39,500, and the Jamaica district will get $17,700.

In Champaign County, these districts are receiving $50,000 grants: Champaign, Fisher, Heritage, Mahomet-Seymour, Prairieview-Ogden, Rantoul City Schools, Rantoul Township High School, St. Joseph Grade School, St. Joseph-Ogden High School, Thomasboro and Unit 7. Urbana was awarded a $35,000 grant, and Ludlow Grade School $10,140.

In Ford County: $50,000 each for the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley and Paxton-Buckley-Loda districts.

In Douglas County: $50,000 each for Arcola, Arthur, Tuscola and Villa Grove districts.

In Iroquois County: $50,000 each for Cissna Park, Iroquois West, Milford and Milford High School.

In Piatt County: $50,000 each for Bement, Cerro Gordo, Deland-Weldon and Monticello districts; $29,917 for Atwood-Hammond.

Perry said there are other repair projects that could be done with the state funding. But "right now, I'm still waiting to get a final cost on all of the work we've done," she said.

When Danville school officials applied for grant funding, they included a number of projects on their to-do list, including removing and installing coat-room doors, removing asbestos floor tiles and installing new flooring and replacing windows at Northeast Elementary Magnet School, the last of which is being done; removing and installing coat-room doors, stabilizing an interior masonry wall, excavating and replacing piping, and installing flameproof stage curtains and a new rigging system at Cannon Elementary School; and replacing plumbing fixtures in a boy's restroom, and replacing the roof at Edison Elementary School.

While the work far exceeds $50,000, "this grant is certainly welcome," Superintendent Mark Denman said, adding the district already received its money. "It will help us defray our costs in maintaining our buildings in these times of uncertain funding."

For a list of grant recipients, go to http://www.isbe.net/sbss/smp_grants.htm.

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