Originally published Sept. 10 in the Quad City Times.
By Nicole Lauer, Lee News Network
Coal Valley school board members Monday approved a four-year contract agreement for the district’s support personnel and heard from Superintendent Lanty McGuire on future facility improvements that could include an overhaul to the high school’s physical education space.
Board members returned from a closed session to unanimously approve the agreement with the Moline Educational Support Personnel Association, with the agreement spanning from the current school year through the 2021-2022 school year. According to a district release, MESPA employees of the district will receive an average wage increase of 3.9 percent each year of the agreement and members will also receive a year of service increases to offset corresponding adjustments to health insurance benefits.
The district release said the “spirit of cooperation” between the board and the employees and bargaining units of the district is allowing the district to remain fiscally responsible and a strong educational system for the community.
Also on Monday, board members heard a report from McGuire on the possibility of prioritizing improvements to Moline High School’s physical education facilities.
McGuire presented a list of priorities set by past facility studies, which included such items as upgrading security at district buildings and upgrading restrooms at Browning Field. McGuire also showed several photos of the current state of Moline High School’s physical education classes, including photos of students walking outside for gym class or exercising in the building’s hallways when weather did not permit class to be held outdoors. His photos also showed students crowded in outdated weight rooms and an aging locker room space.
McGuire said he believed improving physical education space at the high school will increase building security and student safety, reduce distractions and make the district a more attractive choice for those who are coming in to the area and choosing between neighboring school districts of the Quad-Cities.
Moline-Coal Valley is in competition for students with other districts, he told board members. He said he would argue Moline does just as well or better than other districts, particularly when the graduation rate, poverty rates and diversity rates were considered, but he knows families are looking for modern facilities. To illustrate his point, he displayed photos of North Scott High School’s facilities, including the weight room that he compared to a college-level facility.
Board members are expected to hear more about the numbers for doing such work at their next meeting. McGuire said it was possible the physical education facility improvements could be about $3 million and replacing the high school pool could run about $15 million. McGuire said these were only ballpark estimates and more detailed information would be presented to the board soon
Monday’s meeting was held at Franklin Elementary School, and attendees were given a tour of the newly reopened building by principal Michele Pittington. The brief tour included demonstrations of the folding glass walls inside classrooms, the computer lab, the secure entrance and other features added to the building during its reconstruction following the September 2017 fire.
Pittington said students and staff alike were getting comfortable and getting back into their routine. She said as thrilled as everyone was to be back at Franklin, students were especially ecstatic to return to the school’s outdoor areas.
“One of the best parts of being home … our students are so happy to be back on the playground, the basketball hoops, the kickball area and the softball area,” she said. “They are enjoying every single moment.”
Pittington thanked the community, district and the school board for all of the support that she said Franklin continues to receive.
“You have carried us through a lot the last few weeks,” she said.