Wheaton students begin using district's brand new vo-ed facility

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wheaton students began moving into the R-III School District's new 17,300-square-foot vocational education facility on Oct. 14. Although equipment installation will continue over the next week, students are excited about the expanded classrooms and work areas.

"We are still moving in," said Superintendent Joe Layton. "It will be a very nice facility when we have all the equipment installed."

The new building, which is connected to the Wheaton High School through a newly constructed hallway on the west side of the high school building, features two state-of-the-art computer labs. When all equipment has been installed in the facility, the computer labs will offer over 30 networked desktop computers.

The facility also offers a large agriculture classroom that can be partitioned into two adjoining classrooms and a large shop with a state-of-the-art welding area that features a special exhaust system.

"We have a crane to install in the shop," said Layton. "We also need to finish all of the wiring."

The shop area and large agriculture classroom are divided by an office that will allow instructor Eric Roller to supervise both areas at the same time. The area above Roller's office will be used as an extra storage space.

The vocational education facility's remaining classrooms will be used for an agriculture meats lab and a FACS classroom. The FACS room offers students a large classroom space and several kitchen work areas.

The new facility, which was financed through a $1.7 million no-tax increase bond issue that voters approved in April, also features a maintenance workroom, restrooms and three large display cases, which will be decorated by students and teachers throughout the year.

On Sept. 18, during the Wheaton R-III School Board's regularly scheduled meeting, the board members received an update on the district's building project. The board also accepted a bid from Melvin Priest Construction for a gymnasium addition project.

The 500-square-foot addition will be used as a storage facility, which will give coaches an area to store extra equipment during athletic events.

"Right now, we have to roll the equipment out into the hallway during events," said Layton. "This will give them more room to store things."

In other business, during the September meeting, the Wheaton School Board:

* Heard a report on the district's preschool program presented by Angela Roller, preschool teacher.

* Voted to purchase two additional cameras from Central State Bus Sales.

* Discussed the possibility of offering full-time employees board-paid life insurance during the 2009-10 school year.

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