By Steve Robinson | February 14, 2008 - 10:10 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

Unit 5NORMAL – Thanks to a contract approved unanimously by Normal’s Unit 5 School Board at its regular meeting Wednesday, Feb. 13, two more schools in the community will soon be able to rely on having underground based heat to keep students warm in winters to come.

Bloomington-based Mid-Illinois Mechanical, Inc. submitted the winning bids for each school project. The total cost of converting both schools will be $1,144,000.

Contractors have made suggestions as to how to complete the job more efficiently, explained Jim Gillmeister, Unit 5’s Chief Financial Officer.

By making improvements, Gillmeister said a total of $31,000 in additional savings in building costs can be done.

Referendum Voters Thanked: With the campaigning done, and the voting to pass the $96.7 million referendum on Feb. 5 complete, board members thanked voters for their passing the referendum.

“My heartfelt thanks to the referendum committee for telling our story and telling the truth about what is being faced by the district where growth is concerned,” said board member John Puzauskas.

Board members Gail Ann Briggs and Mark Pritchett thanked those involved on the committee that organized the campaign that got the referendum passed as well as gave a nod to voters who helped the measure pass.

Voters passed the referendum to issue $96.7 million in building bonds by a count of 12,049 to 8,543, or about 59 percent to 41 percent.

The property taxes increase proposal that was the second part of the referendum measure – increasing property tax rates by 10 cents per $100 equalized assessed valuation — passed 10,625 to 10,118, or about 51 percent to about 49 percent.

Unit 5, District 87 Sign Data Center Agreement: The board unanimously approved entering into an agreement for data storage with Bloomington District #87. The school boards were scheduled to meet on the same evening and approve the agreement at that time.

The contract calls for Unit 5 to pay District 87 $1,200 per month. The contract expires in August.

Normal Community West’s “Good News”: Diane Turek, director of orchestras at Normal Community West High School, was featured in the first of four “good news” reports presented to the Board at the meeting. Turek, a 29-year teaching veteran, has been awarded the 2007-08 “Outstanding School Teacher Award,” as presented by the Illinois American String Teachers Association.

Turek teaches Concert, Chamber, and Symphony Orchestras at Normal West. “She is a fabulous, fabulous teacher,” Normal West Principal Tom Eder said in introducing Turek to the Board at the meeting.

In turn, Turek thanked the Board, both its current members and past members for keeping orchestra on the school curriculum.

Unit 5 mapNormal Community High’s “Good News”: Normal Community High School had three pieces of “good news” to share with the board at Wednesday’s meeting.

First, NCHS recognized guidance counselor Camille Taylor for becoming the recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Adult Human Relations Award, an honor presented by the City of Bloomington. Taylor received the award last month at the 12th Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Luncheon, held at the Interstate Center in Bloomington.

In addition to being a guidance counselor for nearly 500 students at Normal West, Taylor also teaches a class offered to both Unit 5 students and Illinois State University students called “Introduction To Multiple Cultures Education.” The class is meant to help teachers understand and teach students of diverse backgrounds.

Two NCHS seniors, Ryan Smoot and Molly Sender, were recognized by the Board for also being honored by the City of Bloomington at the King Award Luncheon. Smoot and Sender were nominated for the award by Taylor for their efforts to fight discrimination and demonstrating leadership as members of NCHS’ Embracing Diversity Club.

NCHS’ recent mention in a national publication was the school’s last item of “good news” for the evening. NCHS was recognized as being among the best high schools in the country in a recent article in U. S. News & World Report magazine.

The article analyzed over 18,000 public high schools in the country.

In a memo to Unit 5 Superintendent Gary Niehaus about the recognition, NCHS Principal Dr. Jeanette Nuckolls wrote, “This recognition is due to the hard work of committed and talented NCHS teachers. Most deserving of this recognition are the students who put forth their best efforts to perform well academically and the support of their parents.”

Temples Named New NCHS Football Coach: It was announced at the meeting that Wes Temples will become the new football coach at NCHS this fall, replacing Hud Venerable who retired from the position at the end of last season. As defensive coordinator under Venerable, Temples’ experienced the Ironmen’s two-season 26-1 run, including winning the Illinois High School Association Class 6A Championship in 2006.

Same Day Enrollment Update: With the public voting to approve a tax increase to help build two new elementary schools and a new middle school, as well as pay for renovations for eight existing elementary schools, getting a same day enrollment comparison report shortly afterward had little surprises.

Enrollment numbers taken on Jan. 31 confirmed the growth of the population of Unit 5 schools from the same day a year ago. Unit 5 has a total of 12,498 students in its 15 Elementary, three junior highs, and two high schools. That is an increase of 377 schools – a 3.11 percent increase – over the same day last year.

The grade level with the largest population is one that has been anticipated by district officials in recent years – On Jan. 31, there were 1,001 children in Kindergarten classes. It is the first time there has been 1,000 children in Kindergarten across the district. That is an average of 22.8 children per 44 class sections.

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