BROADLANDS – Superintendent Andrew Larson said he is still hoping the Heritage school district will break ground this year on two new gymnasiums and cafeterias, one at each of the district's two schools.
Larson said the architect's blueprints are being finalized and the district is waiting on health department approval of the plans. He said if these steps fall into place, he hopes bids will be let sometime this fall, and construction will start by late fall.
In another matter, a new floor was installed in the old gym at the elementary school before the start of the fall term. The floor had been damaged by flood waters in early June. The insurance agency initially denied the claim for a full replacement of the floor, but that dispute was resolved in favor of the school, and the cost was covered by the district's insurance plan, said Larson.
Plans are in place to complete the new baseball field at the high school. The school board approved spending of just over $1,100 for the outfield fence, field top coating, and mound. Larson said the new field should be ready by spring.
Larson said the district's finances are in good shape.
"We've added to our reserves in all of our major funds. We try to be fiscally responsible and this board of education has done a very good job of that. We want to make sure we have the facilities and supplies we need to educate our children," said Larson.
A tentative budget was approved at Wednesday night's school board meeting. The final budget will be considered at the next board meeting, directly following a public hearing scheduled for 6:45 p.m. on Sept. 17 in the library at the elementary/junior high school.
Starting this year, the district will be participating in a national writing program called "Because writing matters." High school business teacher Sue Fuller presented the program to the school board Wednesday night. Larson said she will be offering training in the program to teachers in the district, to help enhance their writing curriculum. Fuller participated in a writing project at EIU over the summer, said Larson.
"I think with the younger kids, we'll see more of an impact with this, since it's an ongoing project. We still want to expose older students to it, to give them a chance to improve their writing skills as well," said Larson.
Enrollment numbers at the two schools have stayed fairly constant, though a small graduating class and a larger incoming class means about 20 more students at the high school this year, he said.
Larson said two new teachers have joined the faculty at the high school, following the resignation of their predecessors. Anthony March replaced Jackie Deer as the high school math teacher, and Donna Jeno-Amici replaced Debra Welch as the biology and physics teacher.
The two teachers left because they had found positions elsewhere, he said.