Board, new committee tour school buildings

Monticello Middle School principal Brent Meier leads a tour of the building, part of visits to three school buildings by the Monticello School Board and the newly formed Facilities Committee. (Photos by Pete Temple)

Wiring for the middle school’s computer system is confined to a small room in the building’s lowest level.
School Board
Pete Temple
Express Associate Editor

     “We need to take a look at our buildings.”

     With that, Monticello Community School District Superintendent Brian Jaeger led members of the Monticello School Board and the newly-formed Facilities Committee on a tour of three of the district’s buildings.

     It was part of the school board’s monthly work session Wednesday, July 12. The purpose was to give the board and committee things to consider as they begin studying the future of facilities within the district.

     A theme repeatedly brought up by Jaeger during the tour was how to deal with the entryways to the school buildings. At the first stop, the high school, Jaeger explained why this is a problem.

     “When people enter this building, they do get buzzed in, but they don’t go into the office (as they enter),” Jaeger said. “You buzz in and you go into the cafeteria area. There’s not a whole lot of security involved with that.

     “It’s the same at our other buildings. And I really think that’s something we need to consider and be able to address going forward when we talk about facilities.”

     Jaeger pointed out the same thing at the Shannon Elementary School portion of the tour while standing near the main entrance.

     “You come in, you enter right here, and the office is over there. So again, you’re in the building without having somebody meet you right here,” Jaeger said. “You could be anywhere in the building in a couple of minutes and not meet somebody face-to-face.”

     Board member Bud Johnson added: “A lot of the schools that I visit, you go into a glass enclosure, the staff can see you, and then they’ll decide (whether) to buzz you into the office, so there’s a second layer of security that you have to go through.”

     Dennis Dirks, district director of buildings and grounds, answered questions throughout the tour and also drove the bus. He agreed with Johnson’s statement.

     “Your bigger schools have done that,” Dirks said. “You step into that (entryway) first, and then go no farther until you are buzzed in.”

     Those in attendance, numbering about 30, boarded a school bus to take the tour. They first rode to the high school, where they could see roof and brick damage caused by leaking.

     The longest part of the tour was at the middle school, where people walked through several classrooms, offices, the old and new gyms, the auditorium, and other areas.

     A number of issues related to the age of the 94-year-old building were pointed out, including uncovered wires, peeling paint, repairs to wall cracks, heating/cooling issues and more.

     “There are a lot of good things, but it’s also got some things that we need to improve if we continue to stay in this building,” middle school principal Brent Meier told the board and committee members.

     The bus then took them to Shannon School. Flaws were pointed out there as well, including the Panther Academy entrance, which is in the back of the building near a dumpster; and the large, glass window above some lockers that separates the music room from the hallway.

     After the tour, the board returned to the Administrative Board Room, where Jaeger asked board members for their impressions before the work session continued.

     During the remainder of the work session, the board heard reports about updates and other changes to the student and parent handbooks, and the faculty handbooks, for the high school, middle school and elementary schools; as well as the activities department handbook. The handbooks will be up for approval at the July 24 regular meeting.

     During a brief special meeting that preceded the building tour, the board approved the appointments of Deb Bowman as mentor facilitator and Jessica Hillers as EL summer program teacher.


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