Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

July 11, 2013

Firm recommends demolishing oldest section

Bill Grimes Daily News
Effingham Daily News

---- — TEUTOPOLIS — The oldest section of Teutopolis High School is 84 years old and still being used for classroom space. But a representative of a St. Louis contracting firm said Wednesday the Unit 50 school district might want to consider tearing down the old building as part of a long-range plan to shore up Unit 50 facilities.

Demolition of the old building was one of several recommendations offered to the Unit 50 Facility Study Committee Wednesday. John Loraine of Control Technology Solutions said the high school uses more energy per square foot than either Teutopolis Junior High or Grade School.

Loraine, who toured the school in May, said the old school needs a number of repairs to make it compatible with modern technology. But he said the presence of asbestos — commonly used in early to mid-20th century buildings — could make repair costs prohibitive in some respects.

"It will be a big issue," Loraine said.

There are some things the school district can do to make the high school more comfortable, according to the report. Loraine said the school district should, for example, think about replacing the existing climate control system in the cafeteria; add cooling in areas not presently cooled; install additional electric outlets in classrooms to accommodate modern technology demands; and replace all of the old single-pane windows with double-pane windows that would enable the district to cut energy costs.

The CTS report also suggests that secure entrances be installed at both the high school and junior high to enhance student and staff safety.

Superintendent Bill Fritcher said the school district has been phasing out use of the old building as enrollment continues to decline. Nevertheless, Fritcher said, several classrooms are still located in the old building.

The 1929 building has been added onto six times since its initial construction.

Committee member Paul Rhodes questioned whether any significant renovations should be done in the old part of the high school, if demolition is the best option.

"Are we throwing good money after bad?" Rhodes asked.

Fritcher said the school district has been primarily in a reactive mode when it comes to repairs at the old school.

"We're careful about not putting too much money into the old high school," he said. "We have to set goals so school board decision-making is easier as well. We need to determine what needs to be fixed and how much it will cost."

No cost estimates have yet been prepared for CTS' proposals.

Wednesday was the committee's second meeting. Fritcher said after the meeting that the purpose of the committee is to help the school board make more informed facility decisions.

"We just want to gather information to have the school board make informed decisions about the future of our facilities," he said.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.