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School Board accepts bid for Middle School science lab

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GMS principal Jill Rosentreter presents the new social studies curriculum to the school board.

Members of the Community Unit School District 7 Board of Education voted Monday night to accept a bid of nearly $700,000 to construct a new science lab within Gillespie Middle School and replace doors in more than 50 classrooms in the Middle School/High School building. The board also approved hiring new faculty and staff members for the 2018-19 school year, including staffers for a new grant-supported birth-to-three program targeted underserved families in the school district.

On a motion by Bill Carter, seconded by Peyton Bernot, the board voted unanimously to accept a bid of $624,000 from Unterbrink Construction, Greenville, to build the new science lab in the west side of the northwest wing of the middle school, adjacent to the band room and across the hall from the chorus room. The lab will occupy space currently occupied by three separate classrooms. To gain square footage, the plan also calls for moving the east wall of the laboratory out, eliminating locker space in that section of the hallway.

The bid includes $20,000 to remove a set of fire doors between the high school office and high school gym and replace them with a lockable door system between the high school main entrance and middle school. The new doors will enable the district to control access to the high school and middle school during basketball games and other events in the high school gym. Unterbrink also provided a bid of $64,695 to replace more than 50 classroom doors for improved security, for a total bid of $688,695.

Unterbrink’s bid was the lowest of four bids opened Monday afternoon prior to the board meeting. The other three bids exceeded the architect’s estimate of $625,000 to $675,000 by upward of $100,000 each. School architect Tom Hyde had estimated a cost of $60,000 to $75,000 for the door replacement project. Korte & Luitjohan, Highland, offered a bid of $767,860 for the science lab work and $90,938 for the door replacement project. L. Wolf Contractors offered a bid of $767,000 for the science lab and $172,000 to replace classroom doors. The highest bids came from R. W. Boeker, Hamel, at $776,000 for the science lab and $144,000 for the classroom doors.

“I was nervous when the first bids were opened,” Supt. Joe Tieman told the board, noting that the winning bid was the last envelope opened. Upon seeing that Unterbrink’s bid was for than $100,000 less than the highest bid, Tieman said he immediately wanted know why there would be such a disparity. He said Hyde told him the company may have been more eager for the project than the other bidders or may have been more knowledgeable about the scope of work.

He said Hyde told him the company may have been more eager for the project than the other bidders or may have been more knowledgeable about the scope of work.

“Tom Hyde said he has worked with them on other projects and said they are reputable,” Tieman said. “They were the only ones who actually came to the site” and walked the proposed location for the lab.

Tieman told the board that a $31,000 asbestos abatement project approved in May has been completed and that actual construction on the project is expected to start on Monday. Because the bid letting was somewhat delayed, Tieman said there will be an emphasis on getting far enough along to not interfere with the start of the school year in August. He said a set of fire doors in the east wing corridor are “not up to code” and will be replaced and relocated as part of the science lab project. Relocating the fire doors before Aug. 20 will ensure access to a set of restrooms located to the west of the science lab site. Tieman also is insisting on making classroom door replacement a top priority prior to the start of the school year.

Tieman proposed replacing classroom doors during last month’s meeting of the board as a security measure. The current doors date to the construction of the building that feature wood louvers at the bottom which “could easily be kicked out,” according to Tieman, allowing a potential school shooter to point a weapon through the base of door. The current doors also have an oversized window with glass that is not shatterproof.

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“I will be thrilled to death to get those doors replaced,” Tieman said.

Since part of the science lab plans include removing lockers in the hall and relocating a wall to expand the size of the room. Tieman said getting the new wall in place prior to Aug. 20 also will be a priority, though he questioned whether that time frame is feasible.

“If it’s still a construction zone on Aug. 20, students will not be able to go down that hallway,” he said, meaning that band and chorus classes may have to be temporarily relocated.

He said money to pay for the project is likely to come from the Macoupin County School Facilities Sales Tax fund.

He said money to pay for the project is likely to come from the Macoupin County School Facilities Sales Tax fund. It will be financed with a five-year loan from United Community Bank with an interest rate of two percent. Servicing the loan, he said, will cost the district an estimated $148,000 per year for five years. Interest costs will amount to $80,000 to $85,000 over the life of the loan.

Tieman briefly mentioned that Hyde also is looking at ways to secure BenGil Elementary School during special events in the gymnasium/auditorium area.

“Tom is working on that. He’s trying to determine what is legal and what isn’t. You have different hall dimensions over there. It’s a whole different animal (from the high school),” Tieman noted. “With the state of affairs going on around our nation these days, anything we can do to improve safety is a step in the right direction.”

PERSONNEL

Board members unanimously voted to post vacant positions for a Prevention Initiative Birth-Three program coordinator and two parent educators. Tieman said the initiative is a new program funded with a $222,300 Early Childhood Education block grant administered by the Illinois State Board of Education. BenGil Elementary Principal Angela Sandretto and staff members were responsible for developing the grant application and securing the grant, he said.

“It’s a competitive grant,” he said. “Some schools that had the program last year did not get a grant for this year.”

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Sandretto said the program is a community-based, not school-based, program that emphasizes providing education and resources for parents of young children identified as children at risk of failure when they enter the school system.

Sandretto said the program is a community-based, not school-based, program that emphasizes providing education and resources for parents of young children identified as children at risk of failure when they enter the school system. The local program will use the “Baby Talk” template, which was developed three years ago in Illinois. She said the program addresses parental needs for children from infancy to three years of age because “birth to three is such a critical time for child development.”

Parents and children enrolled in the program will meet once a month where speakers and facilitators will address such subjects as “how to play with their child,” breastfeeding and other topics. The goal is to improve parenting skills and improve interactions between parents and their children by providing training and resources. Because the program is community based “not all meetings will be at the school,” Sandretto said.

“Sometimes it may just be a day at the park where they can interact with other parents and their children can play together,” she said. “It’s all these things wrapped up together.”

The grant money, she said, will cover all costs, including salaries, purchase of toys and supplies, and other expenses.

The persons hired for the program do not have to have a teaching certification. Sandretto said she would like for the parent educations to have a background in education and/or social work. The coordinator, she said, should have a master’s degree or equivalent experience.

Tieman said that because the three new hires will not be certificated teachers, they will not be covered by terms of a contract between the school district and the local teachers union.

The board also voted to hire Shonda Ronen, Dorsey, as a Response to Intervention coordinator, a newly created position made possible as a result of $680,000 in new funding coming into the school district as a result of an “evidence based” school funding formula. The new staff member will assess students who need additional help in specific subject areas and work with teachers to develop plans for addressing those needs.

On Tieman’s recommendation, the board voted to post a vacant position for a school resource officer, a departure from earlier this spring when the board discussed establishing a combination resource officer/student services position. Tieman said that at the time, he and the three building principals had determined truancy to be a major problem in the district, which made combining the two positions a viable option.

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“In the meantime, there were several school shootings in our nation,” Tieman noted. “We decided not to fill that position and have a school resource officer instead.”

He said he hopes to contract with either the Gillespie Police Department or Macoupin County Sheriff’s office to secure applicants for the position.

“I am excited that the board had the foresight and vision to hire for this position, but saddened that we need the position,” Tieman said.

In other personnel action, the board:

  • Hired Elizabeth Thackery, Gillespie, as a first-year, non-tenured middle school math teacher for the coming school year.
  • Hired Amanda Dugger, Staunton, as a first-year, non-tenured special education teacher.
  • Hired Nathan Henrichs, Gillespie, as a first-year, non-tenured elementary teacher, and posted a vacancy for another elementary teacher for the 2018-19 school year.
  • Hired Greg Haggarty as a full-route bus driver, pending certification and background checks.
  • Hired Cathy Barylske, Benld, as a building secretary.
  • Hired Logan Knoche, Dorchester, as a volunteer football coach, pending certification and a background check.
  • Posted a vacant position for a paraprofessional (classroom aide).

SOCIAL STUDIES TEXTBOOKS

Following a presentation by Middle School Principal Jill Rosentreter and social studies teacher Jake Bilbruck, the board approved the purchase social studies textbooks from McGraw-Hill at a cost of $34,947.73. The purchase includes 30 textbooks for each grade level, plus 100 licenses to access online resources that integrate with the textbook materials and two sets of student geography books. Because of the online component, textbooks will remain in the classrooms and will not be taken home by students.

“The social studies teachers and I are very confident that this is the right social students curriculum for us, especially with our blended instruction,” Rosentreter said. She said she and teachers looked at two other publishers but went with McGraw-Hill primarily because of the online support which will permit updating materials over time.

“McGraw-Hill was the only one offering an online component at this time,” she said.

The program also utilizes a “Learn Smart” component enabling teachers to assess what students know about the subject and what they need to learn, Rosentreter said. With that information, the curriculum can be individualized to fit the needs of individual students.

Bilbruck told the board the program can be expanded to take advantage of future advances in information technology in the school district.

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STUDENT FEES, STUDENT HANDBOOKS & COMMODITY BIDS

On a motion by Jenni Alepra, seconded by Weye Schmitt, the board approved a schedule of student fees for the upcoming school year that is virtually the same as last year’s fee schedule with few exceptions. Food service prices will increase from $1.30 to $1.40 for breakfast and from $2 to $2.10 for lunch for students, and from $2.80 to $2.90 for breakfast and from $3.30 to $3.40 for adults. The fee for milk will remain and 30 cents per cartoon. Students eligible for reduced price breakfasts and lunches will continue to pay 30 cents and 40 cents, respectively.

In addition, high school students will pay a newly implemented fee of $5 per student for a Student Agenda/Handbook. The textbook fee for students in kindergarten through 12th grade will remain at $75, and parking sticker fees will remain at $60. Lab fees and material fees for specific high school class will remain the same as the previous year.

With one dissenting vote, the board approved student handbook content for the elementary school, middle school and high school. Dennis Tiburzi said he voted against the measure because a printing glitch prevented High School Principal Shane Owsley from presenting the board with a complete copy of handbook for Monday night’s meeting.

On a motion by Alepra, seconded by Carter, the board approved a contract with Kohl Wholesale, Quincy, to provide food service commodities for the coming year. Kohl has provided commodities for the past several years for the school district.

Supt. Tieman reported to the board that insurance broker Donna Rice, Jerseyville, had secured a price for health insurance for district employees that is 1.36 percent less than the previous year from Blue Cross-Blue Shield. Blue Cross-Blue Shield is the current insurance provider for the district’s more than 150 employees. Tieman said Rice also obtained bids fro Aetna and United Health Care, neither of which would guarantee that their rates would not raise.

“This is a win, win for us,” Tieman noted.

Tieman also reported that the former Lyric Theatre Guild has disbanded and chosen to donate its remaining funds to the school district to be used for the school musical. The amount of the donation is $4,302.94.

“This speaks well of our district,” Tieman said. “There are plenty of other places they could have donated that money.”

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In other action, the board approved the annual prevailing wage resolution, a mandated measure that obligates the district to use contractors who pay their employees prevailing wages as determined by the Illinois Department of Labor.

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Progressive Club to celebrate 90th anniversary

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Benld Entreprise

The Wilsonville Progressive Club will celebrate and host a 90 year Anniversary Party on Saturday, May 11. The party will include a catered dinner, a live band, and fireworks.

Doors will open at 2 pm with a catered dinner being served at 4 pm.  The Shane Kessinger Experience (live band) will play at 5 pm, and a grand fireworks display will be held at dusk.

The Progressive Club was originally established in 1934 by the Progressive Miners and was located on the northwest side of Wilsonville’s main street. The Club moved to their new building in January of 1949 and today this is still the current location at 212 Wilson Street in Wilsonville.

Wilsonville was founded in 1917 when Superior Coal Co. Mine No. 4 was sunk and this was the most modern mine in the Superior field. At that time, the little settlement which grew up around the mine was called Wilson. One day a worker paused and asked, “What are we going to name this town?” President Wilson was in office, thus the town was then and there named Wilson until 1919 when it was incorporated and the name expanded to Wilsonville.

The Wilsonville Progressive Club is operated and maintained by an elected panel of trustees and loyal members.  The Club is open to the public and membership is always welcome.  The large outdoor covered pavilion and manicured grassy side lot offer an attractive and convenient venue for any event along with inside facilities. 

If you are interested in renting for any kind of event, call 217-835-3122 during open hours which are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 4 pm to close, and Sunday doors open at 2 pm.  Every Sunday afternoon at 4 pm is the Queen of Hearts drawing and the Club is on Facebook as well.

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Gillespie Police Report: April 14-20, 2024

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SUNDAY, APRIL 14, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of East Oak Street in reference to a dog bite.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Abba Street to pick up a found item.

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of East Maple Street in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Chestnut Street in reference to a burglary.

An officer was out in the 200 block of North Macoupin Street in reference to a motorist assist.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Schmidt Street in reference to a 911 call.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of South 1st Street in Benld in reference to a domestic dispute.

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An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of Broadway Street in reference to a medical call.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of South Illinois Street in Benld in reference to illegal burning.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of South 5th Street in Benld in reference to an animal complaint.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of Horizon Street in reference to a 911 call.

MONDAY, APRIL 15, 2024

An officer was dispatched to Gillespie Police Department to speak with a male in reference to a theft in the 100 block of South Main Street in Benld.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of West Osie Street in reference to a violation of an order of protection.

Nicholas O. Landolt, 36, of Gillespie was arrested on multiple warrants including one out of St. Clair County for possession for methamphetamine, a second one out of Montgomery County for failure to appear for driving while license was revoked, and a third out of Macoupin County for failure to appear for methamphetamine.

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An officer was dispatched to East Walnut Street in reference to a suspicious noise.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Abba Street in reference to a juvenile issue.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of Broadway Street in reference to a medical alarm.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a theft in the 200 block of West Oak Street.

An officer spoke with a female at Gillespie Police Department in reference to criminal damage to her property.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to identity theft.

An officer spoke with a female in the 100 block of North 7th Street in Benld in reference to a neighbor dispute.

An officer spoke with a female at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a violation of an order of protection.

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An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of Southern Street in reference to a suspicious person.

TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 1100 block of South Macoupin Street in reference to criminal damage to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 900 block of South Macoupin Street in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of East Walnut Street in reference to criminal trespass to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of North 7th Street in Benld in reference to criminal trespass to property. Melissa J. Hughes, 49, of Benld was arrested on a Montgomery County warrant for theft/larceny.

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of East Maple Street in reference to criminal trespass to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of Francis Street in reference to a traffic crash.

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An officer spoke with a female at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a civil issue in the 700 block of Rose Street in Benld.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of South 5th Street in Benld in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of East Pine Street to assist the Department of Children and Family Services.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of Broadway Street in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of East Central Avenue in Benld in reference to a 911 call.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17, 2024

An officer spoke with a female at Gillespie Police Department in reference to fraud in the 200 block of South Macoupin.

An officer was dispatched to a business in the 500 block of East Elm Street in reference to criminal trespass to property.

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An officer was dispatched to Route 4 and Staunton Road in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of Gillespie Street in reference to unwanted solicitors.

An officer was dispatched to High Street and Gillespie Street in reference to a suspicious noise.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of High Street in reference to unwanted solicitors.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a civil standby.

An officer was flagged down at Elm Street and Clinton Street and spoke with an individual in reference to a civil issue.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of Mt. Olive Road in Eagarville in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a suspicious circumstance.

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THURSDAY, APRIL 18, 2024

An officer was dispatched to a business in the 400 block of South Macoupin Street in reference to a panic alarm sounding.

An officer was dispatched to the 1300 block of South Second Street in reference to a civil standby.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Osie Street in reference to a dog bite.  Heather L. Kimberlin, 47, of Gillespie was issued a citation for dog at large.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Baker Street in reference to a juvenile issue.

An officer was out with a suspicious vehicle in the alley in the 500 block of Park Avenue.

An officer was dispatched to East Walnut and South Main Street in Benld in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to the Veterans Memorial Park in Benld in reference to a suspicious vehicle that had been parked there for a couple of days.

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Gillespie Police Department was requested for traffic control by the Gillespie Fire Department for a fire on Eagarville Road.

FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of East Walnut Street in reference to a traffic crash.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of South Street in Gillespie in reference to a juvenile issue.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Litchfield Road in East Gillespie in reference to a suspicious person at the storage units. Kathy J. Henderson, 49, of Sawyerville was arrested on a Macoupin County warrant for failure to appear for bad checks

An officer initiated a traffic stop at Maple Street and Macoupin Street. Kenny L. Fults, 18, of Belleville was issued a citation for possession of cannabis.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of Mt. Olive Road in Eagarville in reference to civil standby.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of West Burton Street in reference to an animal complaint.

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SATURDAY, APRIL 20, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Abba Street in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of North 7th Street in Benld in reference to criminal trespassing. Timothy J. Dalpozzo, 57, of Benld was arrested for criminal trespassing to residence and a Macoupin County warrant for criminal trespassing to a residence.

An officer initiated a traffic stop at South Street and Chestnut Street and charges are pending crime lab results.

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of East Maple Street in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to Macoupin Street and Elm Street in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of Osie Street in reference to a dog at large.

An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of North 8th Street in Benld in reference to medical assist.

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An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of West Spruce Street in reference to a suspicious person.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of West Baker Street in reference to criminal trespass to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of Park Street in Benld in reference to a medical call.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to an ordinance issue.

All subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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HSHS St. Francis Hospital offers volunteer opportunities for feens

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LITCHFIELD, Ill. — HSHS St. Francis Hospital is offering service opportunities to area teens this summer through the 2024 Junior Volunteer Program. Applications are being accepted now through May 1.

Applicants must be high school students maintaining at least a “C” average, be a minimum of 14 years of age by June 1 and be willing to volunteer at least two hours per week during the summer program. Junior volunteers will perform a variety of duties in various hospital departments. 

Registration materials are available on the hospital’s website volunteer page at https://www.hshs.org/st-francis/community/volunteer.

All participants in the program will be required to present proof of immunizations for MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), and Varicella (chicken pox). An additional requirement includes attendance at a hospital orientation.

A limited number of positions will be available. For more information, contact HSHS St. Francis Hospital at 217-324-8200.

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