Momentum builds for Elmwood I.A. building

For The Weekly Post

ELMWOOD – Not long after giving final approval for $2,345,889 in General Obligation School Bonds for an HVAC project, the Elmwood School Board on Monday heard encouraging news about another possible project.
The board voted unanimously to approve bond issuance for installation of a new HVAC system in the grade school. Several other outstanding bonds were also rolled into the total and Morton Community Bank was authorized to handle the sale.
While the HVAC system has been a decades-long topic of conversation, proposed construction of a new Industrial Arts building between the east side of the school and the football field is a relatively new topic.
Yet several board members expressed optimism about the project, which was first introduced in March by board member Claude Keefer. Keefer’s idea is to build a 30-foot by 100-foot structure that would provide more space for industrial arts and trades education.
Speaking for the building committee on Monday, board member Mark Davis said, “The intent is to start breaking ground in the spring of 2023, if we can.”
The finance committee also met to discuss the project and member Tom Conklin said, “We feel it’s financially doable in the spring. Let’s get bids and see where we’re at.”
Keefer’s original plan called for fund-raising to pay for the entire project. But it now appears the district will contribute to the project, reducing but not eliminating the need for donations from the public.
Less rosy was news for a proposed pavilion north of the school that could serve as an outdoor classroom. Parents Club members received bids that were twice as much as they had hoped for. The plan is to continue fundraising and hope construction costs drop in the next 6-12 months.
In other business, the board approved a $2 increase in hourly pay for paraprofessionals (to $15 per hour) and a $2 increase for non-certified staff (to $14 per hour).
Superintendent Chad Wagner said he hoped the increase would help recruit and keep staff, saying “we are just having a bear of a time keeping people employed.”
The board also approved Gorenz and Associates, Ltd. of Peoria to handle the school audit.
A detailed list of items in the consent agenda was not available.