Maries R-1 School Board updated on construction work on campus, why big hole, fill was expensive

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 11/10/21

VIENNA — The Maries R-1 School Board received some good answers at the October meeting after they questioned the price on digging a hole and filling it back up with rock.

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Maries R-1 School Board updated on construction work on campus, why big hole, fill was expensive

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VIENNA — The Maries R-1 School Board received some good answers at the October meeting after they questioned the price on digging a hole and filling it back up with rock.

Present to discuss the issue with the school board were Christopher Swan and Nicole Shaul of BRP Architects of Springfield, and L.D. Curran, Project Manager for Bales Construction of Waynesville. At the time of the meeting the soil remediation work done by Bales Construction had not yet been paid. The company billed Maries R-1 for $33,900 extra on the hallway/concession stand project for soil remediation. Also $6,063 was charged by FCI, the company that did the soil test. 

Board member Mike Kleffner said they thought $39,000 was a lot of money for digging out dirt and putting in chat.

Curran said FCI was a third party on the project, a soil testing firm, which will be paid by the district as a unit price. He said it sounds like a lot of money but there was a lot of hard digging. He said the soil might be suitable for a street to set on but they were not going to take any chances on the unsuitable fill. He said, “It would not have held your foundation.” Curran added it was “insurance for you” and that Bales “did not make a dime.” He said they don’t want the school to have extra costs but it was in the school’s best interests to make sure its something solid. 

He told the board members about a 13-year-old structure he knows of that heaved up six feet and cost a half million dollars to fix. He said making sure the soil is suitable is cheap insurance for down the road. The company still is not done with the foundation. “We won’t pour concrete on unsuitable soil,” he said. 

Swan said they will come back and do remediation. Previously when this area of the R-1 campus was worked on, a bunch of fill was put in and not compacted properly. 

R-1 Superintendent Teresa Messersmith said originally they were talking about a lot less digging and fill and ended up with eight feet. They were told every trip ticket from Capital Quarries was there, plus there were charges for dirt removal, hauling spoils and filling it back up. There will be more to dig out, the board members were told. Kleffner asked how big the hole will be. Shaul said 556 cubic yards down seven and a half feet. Messersmith said 50 loads of gravel. 

Also on the bill was a charge of $8,100 for RC 88, which the board members were told was a subcontractor’s price for an excavation piece of equipment. There also was a charge of $2,325 for use of a skid steer. 

The board members seemed satisfied with the explanation of what happened. “There was nothing we could do. It had to be done,” Kleffner said. “We’re doing a lot of work but we want it done right, but we’re on a budget, too. It just seemed like a lot for  what you did.”

Board member Joe Barnhart asked if it was chat or gravel and Curran said it was all base rock. 

Swan said with the remaining concrete work the steps should be okay and they will look at the retaining wall. Kleffner said they want it done right the first time and while everybody is here. Swan said they don’t know until they dig.

In other campus construction news, Messersmith said that very day Reese’s Equipment Company of Dixon, while working on the playground stairwell hit a water line, which has been repaired. She said it was the oldest section of pipe on the entire campus and controls the water in the elementary school and the cafeteria. She detailed the Reese’s change orders. The ADA sidewalk has been poured and completed. The doorways, retaining wall and FACS room were poured that day. The elementary ADA parking spaces have been completed. The holding area was filled in with gravel around it and the sidewalks were finished. 

The parking lot paving is finished. All the concrete blocks were put on the back side of the lot and none remain in the middle where they were previously. Messersmith said she thinks this will reduce the number of back-up accidents as without the concrete blocks there students can pull forward instead of always needing to back out. The dumpsters are fine where they have been placed in a new area on the west corner of the parking lot. They plan to put some curbing around the area and fix the wet spot in the bus area. 

In other business at the Maries R-1 School Board meeting:

—Messersmith said individual student MAP results have been sent home. She will have a presentation for the board in December when she can talk about the results.

—Messersmith reported applying for two grants to help recruit teachers. The Grow Your Own Grant is $8,000 and it helps the school promote students making a career in education. There is a teacher shortage. The goal is to work with two to three students in the school district choosing education as their career. Students from the school district are more likely to come back home to teach after they graduate with a degree. 

Also, a grant for $20,500 retention and recruitment was applied for. It includes money to pay teachers for tutoring, which gives the teachers an opportunity to make a little bit more money. The grant money provides incentives for teachers to come to Maries R-1 to work and to stay here. 

—Messersmith said they have a bus driver substitute list. She’s made sure these drivers have all they need to be qualified to drive a school bus. There are eight hours of training involved and they need to keep track of their training hours.

—The board approved the Safe Return to School Plan, which they must do every 30 days. 

At the next April election two board members are up for election. Also on that election ballot is the position of newly appointed member, Matt Novak, who filled Cindy Petershagen’s board seat when she moved out of the district.

—The board approved hiring Misty Weakly as the District’s Parents as Teachers (PAT) educator. Elementary Principal Shanda Snodgrass said several people applied for the job. They scheduled three interviews and she recommended Weakly for the job.

—The board approved a new part time position of post-secondary advisor. Messersmith said they can use ESSER money to pay for it and its possible the district may not be able to afford this position after the three-year grant expires. This position is a person who will assist the high school counselor with career and college planning for the students. It requires no emotional counseling. Students need help filling out scholarship and college applications, FASFA and more. There is no guarantee the district will receive this grant, which is specifically for rural school districts. It pays for 20 hours of work a week. Messersmith said the state has not told them what the qualifications will be. She said a part time worker doing the important tasks with the seniors will take a load off of the work load of High School Counselor Natalie Martin. This is one of the things they asked for with college and career planning.

Barnhart asked if this is needed. High School Principal Ian Murray said there is so much involved with dual credit. And, with the seniors there are tasks such as helping with class schedules, career options, college days and visits, FASFA help, college and career planning. “It’s a lot,” he said. 

Kleffner said every year the board members hear complaints about transcripts not arriving on time but he knows the counselor has a lot to do. Messersmith said the counselor also works with the A+ program, and social and emotional issues among the students. Board Secretary Beth Hollis said Maries R-1 sends the transcripts and the delay may be at the college or university. 

The cost of the position will be about $5,000 a year. Barnhart said it will be a good thing and asked if the budget is there. Messersmith said he thinks so as it’s not a huge amount of money. The grant is $75,000 over a three-year program. She thinks the first year Maries R-1 may not receive it but will have a better chance the second year. 

—In the financial report, the Oct. electric bill was $6,839.86, which is more than Oct. 2020 and $2,000 above the two-year average. Messersmith said its been warm and the doors and windows have been open during the construction work, plus the construction workers are using electrical equipment.

Oct. Formula/CTF revenue was $110,265.26. Prop C revenue was $45,225.27, and Transportation revenue was $13,546, which was almost double what the district has received in the past four years. Messersmith said she’s not sure why these funding sources went up so much.

—In closed session, the school board stood by its previous decision about the co-op between Maries R-1 and Visitation Inter-Parish School (VIPS) in regards to extracurricular participation by the parochial school students. To participate at Maries R-1, a VIPS student must be enrolled at the public school as a part time student, taking two classes at Maries R-1. This is the way they did it last year. 

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