Bement superindendent will step down in 2009
BEMENT – School Superintendent Darrell Stevens has announced he will be retiring effective July 1, 2009, ending what will be a 20-year career at the helm of the school district.
Stevens, 53, said his tenure in the district has been a marvelous opportunity for him and his family. "If I had to do it all over again, I'd do exactly the same thing," Stevens said. "No regrets at all."
Stevens came to the district to be principal at the middle school and elementary school and after serving in that role for 15 months, he became superintendent.
Stevens gave the board two years' notice because of a stipulation in his contract, and also because he said the board will need the time to conduct a search outside the district for a new head. No one from within the district has the necessary certification to be superintendent, he said.
Stevens, who is a native of Lovington, said his wife will be retiring at the same time, and he said in addition to having the time for recreational pursuits, he will be doing volunteer work.
"I feel it's a good time for giving back," he said. "I will have the freedom to volunteer and serve the community and I'm looking forward to doing those kinds of things."
Stevens and the board have just recently begun exploring the creation of a cooperative high school with the Arthur, Atwood, Lovington and Cerro Gordo school districts. He said early indications are that the board will direct him to contact those districts to see if they'd like to join in a feasibility study.
Meanwhile, the Bement board learned that the science lab is in vital need of being renovated and that cost estimates are three times as much as expected.
Stevens presented two bids for the science lab renovation – $152,350 and $184,563.
At the January meeting, the bids were estimated at $52,000 and architectural planning costs $9,700.
He said the bids are too high for the school sponsors. He said he is planning to meet with them to see if they would be interested in a long-term funding of the project. He suggested that the project be rebid within the next two years or sooner if construction grants are available.
Mark Somer, who heads the maintenance department, said the higher-than-expected bids are due to additional ventilation and related work that would have to be rerouted. He listed asbestos removal as a concern as well. Somers said all the extras were cut out, and the bids were for the nuts and bolts of the project.
Support Our Schools President Michelle Gross said the lab isn't being used to its full extent due to inadequate ventilation, and the children are missing out.
"It has to be done. We can't educate kids for the future in that lab. It's not right," Stevens said.
Gross said she would ask the Bement Education Foundation and Bement Alumni for their support.
"We want to see this project succeed," she said.
Those interested in donating toward the project can get more information on the school Web site – www.bement.k12.il.us
In other business, the board seated re-elected members Jeanne Strack, Linda Leitz, Jeff Funk and Todd Scott. Strack was elected president, Scott will be vice president and Kyle Rogers, secretary.