TEUTOPOLIS — Embarrassing bathrooms, pinging steel and aging buildings dominated the discussion at a Teutopolis Unit 50 school board meeting this week.
The issues center on a section of the school built in 1929, which has seen extensive additions and alterations. There are nine levels in the building, seven of which are being used by students.
To make the building wheelchair accessible will require $1.2 million, which will include removing bathrooms, installing an elevator and three chairlifts, according to the Upchurch Group. They are the architects undertaking the project.
The current building is 28,010 square feet and would cost $6.13 million in construction costs to fix. A replacement of equal size would cost $5.41 million.
However, the company noted the district only really needs 21,800 square feet and estimates the construction cost at $4.65 million. The total project cost was set at $5.58 million after contingency funds and engineering costs were added.
The board is planning to issue bonds for the majority of the cost, using existing funds in some areas.
A lot of attention went to the band room, which is on the second floor. Due to its size, the code requires an elevator be installed at a cost of approximately $500,000. The engineers split the space to put it under the limit space limit.
However, this would dislocate the band during games.
"I like them up top. They boom louder -- it's more impressive," said board member Brad Koester.
"But at what cost?" asked board member Troy Ozenkoski.
"Exactly. How much is that worth?" Koester asked.
The current plan would put the band in the bleachers, which Ozenkoski pointed out could lead to a problem as the gym is often at capacity during games.
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Ozenkoski said he wanted the input from the band on that part of the plan.
"The band is kind of taking a beating," he said, as they keep getting shifted around.
The board approved sending the plan to the Regional Board of Education for evaluation. If approved, it will then go on to the state board. The approval is expected to take four to eight weeks.
These building problems were echoed, almost literally, at the junior high. Recent work on the roof removed large amounts of ballast and resulted in repeated popping sounds.
Fritcher said he consulted with two different roofing companies, who said the popping was the result of the metal adjusting to a lighter load. The companies assured him it should resolve in time, Fritcher said. He said the company that did the work is required to make any repairs until 2019 and to have another company involved would void the warranty.
Board members wondered if it would effect on teaching.
"It's disruptive, but I think it's like living near a railroad track," said Fritcher, as students and staff get used to the noise.
The board took no formal action, but requested Fritcher update them when the current warrant ends.
The final concern was the fact the district is still short a music teacher.
Fritcher said they'll advertise for the third time and he will continue making personal appeals. He advanced the possibility of hiring an arts teacher, but noted that other local districts are unable to hire people in that position.
"I'm going to be honest -- I hate to give up fine arts. I think it's important for the kids," Fritcher said.
However, he may have to convert that time into a STEM period, he said.
Registration for grade school is set for 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Aug. 1 at the school.