Danville district to consider buying Holy Family School

DANVILLE — Danville schools officials are pursuing the purchase of the former Holy Family School, which will house the district's alternative education program starting this fall.

If school board members give the green light on Wednesday, officials will notify Holy Family officials that the district plans on exercising its option to buy the building at 502 E. Main St., which it has been leasing for the past few months.

"For a very good price, we would be getting a very good facility to serve our alternative education needs," Superintendent Mark Denman said.

The Danville school board will meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Jackson Building, 516 N. Jackson St., Danville. A copy of the agenda is available online at http://bit.ly/Jh5H2R.

The Catholic parish closed the pre-K-through-8 school in May 2011, and then joined with St. Paul's School and Schlarman High School to form Schlarman Academy.

Under the agreement, the district agreed to pay the parish $18,000 to lease the property from February to June 30, 2013.

Denman said the district would pay the parish $120,000 in earnest money, according to the terms of the agreement. That money and the $18,000 in rent will go toward the purchase price of $246,200.

In turn, the parish has agreed to demolish the original St. Patrick's School, the two-story section on the west end of the property, and transfer electrical services from the old building to the remaining one.

The newer part of the building has about 12,000 square feet of classrooms, offices, a gym, kitchen and cafeteria and restrooms and is in good shape, officials said. But earlier this month, members of the district's alternative transition committee recommended its purchase so that the district can move forward with some necessary work.

Building renovations, estimated at more than $40,000, include turning two locker rooms into instructional spaces and isolating one of the showers for student use; remodeling two large classrooms to create four smaller ones for middle-school programs; creating an office for a social worker and creating a teachers' workroom.

Officials also would need to add security cameras and intercom and entry-access systems, which could run more than $33,000. If the district takes over the existing security system, that could save the district $9,000-plus.

The site allows the district to bring all of its alternative programs, which have been scattered, under one roof. The high school's preparatory and Truants Alternative and Optional Educational Program are run in the basement of the Jackson Building, which houses administrative offices, and the middle school prep and special education alternative programs are run at the Laura Lee Fellowship House.

Also at the meeting, board members will vote on whether to approve piloting one of two options for a standards-based report card for K-2 students next year.

The new cards would list specific skills in English/language arts and math that students are expected to know and, for first and second graders, replace letter ratings with number ratings. Officials said the cards would provide students, parents and teachers with a more detailed look at whether students are exceeding, meeting or falling below learning standards.

Earlier this month, some board members questioned report cards without letter grades.

"We have made a slight change," Denman said, adding both options include the number ratings. He said one option would give first and second graders overall letter grades for English and math as well.

Students would still receive letter grades for science and social studies, art, music and physical education.

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