Rossville-Alvin looks at high school moves

Rossville-Alvin looks at high school moves

ROSSVILLE — Rossville-Alvin school officials are taking another step toward possibly moving the elementary school to the high school to improve the safety of students, among other things.

Today (Tuesday, Jan. 29), board members will meet with representatives of the CTS Group and Stifel Nicolaus to discuss the needed renovations at the high school and ways to fund them.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. at the elementary school, 350 N. Chicago St., Rossville.

Rossville-Alvin High School deactivated in May 2006. However, sections of the building — which sits directly across Chicago Street, also Illinois 1, from the grade school — have remained open.

Grade school students go to the high school to eat meals in the cafeteria, use a computer lab and occasionally use the gym, according to Superintendent Crystal Johnson. The high school also houses the district's preschool program and the private Mustard Seed Christian Daycare.

Now, officials are concerned with the boilers in both buildings. They're old and problematic, and officials are concerned that they might not make it through another winter.

"We're kind of in a position where we have to do something and invest money into a building for the longevity of the district," Johnson said.

"Also, neither building is designed to handle much technology," she continued. "We need to pick a building that we can make adaptable for the use of technology so we can have Promethean boards (interactive whiteboards) in the classrooms and move forward with having some kind of (one computer for one student) initiative in the future."

Though it's more than 100 years old, officials believe the high school is the better option. First and foremost, Johnson said, the 280 K-8 students wouldn't have to cross the busy highway.

"We have several crossings a day and safety is our No. 1 issue," she said. Occasionally, she added, the 20 to 25 preschool students go to the grade school for programs.

In addition, the high school is larger and has a large parking lot behind the building. "There's just not enough parking" at the grade school, Johnson said.

The board has signed a letter of intent with CTS Group, a performance-contracting company that focuses on energy savings, to study the high school, Johnson said. She said Stifel Nicolaus, a financial services firm, will present possible funding options such as issuing bonds.

"We're also looking at what grants are available. We want to do as many grants as possible for the project," she said, adding officials are in the early stages of putting together design plans and a budget that would best meet the needs of the district.

If officials decide to move forward with renovating the high school, Johnson said, she would like to see asbestos abatement start this spring and heavy construction work start in the summer.

"That would not disrupt any current schedule at the high school," she said. But "nothing is set in stone.

Various boards have struggled with what to do with the district's aging buildings for a number of years, as they have looked at how best to educate their students in the future.

"We've had lots of discussions about it," Johnson said. "We want to have a school district that represents our community proudly and make decisions that are in the best interest of the students."