Austin Jones, Benjamin Busby and Matteo Vasquez

Three Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School students — from left, Austin Jones, Benjamin Busby and Matteo Vasquez — pose with Jacob Lewis of Collinsville-based Environmental Consultants LLC during Wednesday night’s PBL school board meeting. Lewis, far-right, presented each student with a $1,000 check and a letter of appreciation from Environmental Consultants in return for them serving as student interns as asbestos abatement and demolition were completed last fall at the site of the 94-year-old former PBL Eastlawn School building in Paxton.

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PAXTON — Three Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School students each received a $1,000 check from the consulting firm that oversaw the demolition of the PBL Eastlawn School building during Wednesday night’s school board meeting.

The pay was awarded to the students — Benjamin Busby, Austin Jones and Matteo Vasquez — in return for them serving as student interns for Collinsville-based Environmental Consultants LLC. They did job shadowing with the firm as asbestos abatement and demolition were completed last fall at the site of the 94-year-old former school building in Paxton.

“These guys spent a little time with us,” architect Mike Ewald of Environmental Consultants told the board. “We went out to the site and walked around the site (with them) when demolition was going on ... and we tried to outline the work that was being done and why.”

Ewald said the job shadowing was offered to the students so they could “get a feel for if environmental services is something they would want to study in school to further their education.”

Ewald noted that each student was “very professional” and “very respectful” and “represented PBL very well when they were with us on site.”

In addition to receiving a $1,000 check, each student was presented with a letter of appreciation from Ewald and Environmental Consultants’ Jacob Lewis.

Ewald said the job-shadowing program began around 2004, when Environmental Consultants was completing a two-year project at Fairfield High School in Wayne County. The first intern was Michael Bartley, who needed to raise some funds to help pay for his college education. Bartley ended up enlisting in the military and was killed while on deployment in Iraq.

“That’s really stuck with us,” Ewald said,” so we’ve tried to do that internship program several other times through the years.”

Demolition of the PBL Eastlawn School building at 341 E. Center St. was completed in December. Once the weather warms back up, Ewald said, grass seed will be spread at the backfilled site.

“The seeding of the lawn is basically the only thing remaining,” Ewald said, noting that the only other “punch-list” item remaining is the replacement of a section of concrete sidewalk that was damaged by heavy machinery used in the demolition project.

Meanwhile, the board approved making a sixth payment to the contractor that did the demolition work — Paxton-based Lee Farms Excavating — during Wednesday’s meeting. The firm was hired last year to tear down the 70,000-square-foot building for a cost of $1.15 million.

According to Ewald, Superintendent Cliff McClure signed a change order for the project, as well. The change order reduces the project’s total cost by $50,000 — from $1,156,180 to $ 1,076,180 — as a result of a $50,000 “contingency allowance” being deducted, Ewald said.

Only $30,000 in costs for the project remain due to be paid to Lee Farms, Ewald said — $15,000 that will be paid once the seeding is completed and $15,000 in “retainage” that will be paid after the project is closed out.

The PBL Eastlawn School building was torn down following the construction of a 63,400-square-foot addition to Clara Peterson Elementary School. The only remaining work related to the new school addition includes some touch-up painting, the installation of handrails and the installation of some furniture, McClure said.

“We’re closing out contracts as soon as we can,” McClure said.

Other business

Also at Wednesday’s board meeting:

➜ McClure said the school district recently received its final property tax extension payment from Ford County for 2019.

➜ Victor Vasquez presented a $2,860 donation to the district from the Knights of Columbus to be used toward special-education programming.

➜ The board approved new and revised policies as recommended by the district’s policy review committee, including a new capitalization policy, a new sexual harassment policy, a new policy allowing the board to discuss volunteers and vendors in closed session, and a policy related to the administration of medical marijuana to students at school.

➜ The board approved the rescheduling of its next meeting from Feb. 12 to 6 p.m. Feb. 13 in the board room at the unit office.

➜ The board heard a brief report from McClure on the 2020 “extended school year” and summer school at PBL High School and PBL Junior High School.

➜ McClure provided the board with a draft of a proposed school calendar for the 2020-21 school year. The board is expected to approve the calendar in February.

➜ The board approved the administration of the Illinois Youth Survey to students. The survey helps identify “destructive behaviors” and also gives the district “an opportunity to teach students about these destructive behaviors and how they should be avoided,” McClure said.

➜ McClure said he plans to apply for a maintenance grant through the state prior to the Feb. 14 application deadline. The “matching” grant awards up to $50,000 toward maintenance-related projects, McClure said. Two projects have been identified as potentially being completed using the grant funds, McClure said: (1) the installation of additional power outlets in classrooms at the high school and (2) the repair of pavement in the parking lot at the high school and junior high school. The board made plans to formally authorize McClure to apply for the grant at its Feb. 13 meeting.

➜ The board approved the purchase of new math textbooks for grades two through five at a cost of $68,835. McClure said new math textbooks for students in kindergarten and first grade and sixth through eighth grades would likely be purchased this summer. The K-1 textbooks can be purchased using Title I funds, McClure said, while the other textbooks must be purchased using local funds. Also this summer, the district is expected to purchase new social studies textbooks for grades six through eight at a cost of $31,800, McClure said. At some point, new textbooks will also need to be purchased to accommodate a new high school math class, McClure said.

➜ The board approved an agreement with GFI Fleet Management to service the district’s printers at a monthly cost of $605.

➜ The board approved a “capitalization” threshold resolution at $2,000.

➜ The board accepted the resignation of Jake LeClair as PBL High School’s assistant football coach. LeClair had been a football coach at PBL for 10 years.

➜ The board accepted the resignation of PBL High School math teacher Dan Turkowski, effective at the end of the first semester of the 2019-20 school year.

➜ The board accepted a Family and Medical Leave Act request from Lisa Niewold, a fourth-grade teacher at Clara Peterson Elementary School.

➜ The board approved Kyle Pool as a volunteer coach for high school boys’ baseball.

➜ The board voted to accept the following donations to the district: a $218 donation from the Warehouse at Paxton LLC toward the high school’s robotics program, a $75 donation from the Roberts Fire & Rescue Department toward the junior high school’s band, a $2,218 donation from Environmental Consultants toward the restoration of trophy cases, and a $1,271 donation from the First United Methodist Church toward PBL’s Special Olympics program.

➜ McClure said he plans to invite to the February board meeting the three PBL High School students participating in the newly created Prairieland CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) program. “I want them to come and give a short presentation,” McClure, “because I think that’s really an exciting program.” The Prairieland CEO program offers high school students a chance to experience the real world and develop life skills through networking opportunities with entrepreneurs, business professionals and community leaders.

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