R-III school celebrates start of new building

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wheaton R-III School District administrators, board members, students and patrons gathered west of the Wheaton High School at the site of the district's future vocational educational facility for a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 30.

"I appreciate you taking time to join us today as we launch the next phase in the physical aspect of our campus," said Superintendent Jim Cummins.

Cummins recognized several attendees who were instrumental in promoting the $1.7 million no-tax increase bond issue that voters overwhelmingly approved in April.

The approved bond will be used to finance construction costs on a 17,300-square-foot vocational educational facility that will house the district's business, family and consumer science, computer and vocational agriculture labs and classrooms.

Those recognized included: Donna Youngblood; board member Bobby Banks; board secretary Connie Banks; Shauna Banks; Adam Chapman; Lisa England; Becky Goostree; Dan Goostree; Sarah Goostree; Connie Griffin; Kendall Haynes; Tammy Haynes; JP Hickman; Brian Prewitt; school board president Larry Prewitt; Lisa Prewitt; Wa Yang; and Patrick Youngblood.

Cummins also recognized Craig Stranathan, of Sam Winn and Associates, who is serving as project architect, and Shane McDaniel, of Dalton-Killinger, the project's general contractor.

"I need to thank some (other) folks who have been instrumental in us getting to this point," said Cummins. "Barry Electric rerouted our electric lines so that when the project began this would be done. Jerry McBride has worked with us to locate the gas, sewer and water lines as needed.

"Lowell McInturff and Ronnie Senseney were on the board and voted for the project to go forward," said Cummins. "Ronnie also did some tree trimming work to help us prepare the site."

Cummins also thanked Gary Bertalotto, maintenance director, who helped prepare the grounds for the groundbreaking ceremony.

"In July of 2005, the school board and incoming administration were faced with some obstacles,"?said Cummins. "Less than ideal finances, staffing, morale, facilities, student achievement and vision.

"In the 28 months that have transpired since that time, it has been an honor to work alongside two new principals, a wonderful staff and a board that has united for the future of the district," said Cummins, "a district full of student who are some of the most respectful, well mannered young men and women with whom I have ever been acquainted."

Cummins noted some of the district's recent accomplishments, including: full accreditation; the passage of the Proposition C waiver; receiving a waiver for the fourth cycle MSIP; increasing test scores; a 13 percent increase in teacher salaries; and renovations in the elementary wing of the district's campus.

Over the next year, Cummins will be focusing on security in the elementary building, raising test scores and helping teachers and staff members learn new teaching methods for future generations of students. Cummins mentioned that his goal is for the Wheaton R-III School District to be recognized as a school of distinction.

"Today we celebrate with these students gathered around the beginning of our next step into the future of our community," said Cummins. "I look forward to a wonderful working relationship with Dalton-Killinger and am thankful for the good relationship we have built with Sam Winn.

"I encourage you to stay active in the school and share ideas with the staff and board members when you see areas where we can grow," said Cummins.

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