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Keeping BV students safe

MANLIUS — It’s been a long time since Bureau Valley North has had a life-safety survey.

That was one of the pieces of information that came out at this week’s meeting of the Bureau Valley School Board.

Every 10 years all Illinois public school buildings must be resurveyed by an architect, and David Henebry, district architect, was at the board meeting to share the results of those surveys.

Henebry presented the surveys from Bureau Valley North in Walnut, Bureau Valley South in Buda, Bureau Valley Wyanet and the alternative school in Manlius. The high school was not due for a survey.

Henebry said the Walnut school had not been surveyed for at least 17 or 18 years, and there was extensive work that needed to be performed.

Henebry said there was one downstairs corridor designed as an emergency exit that is blocked due to broken doors.

“If a kid’s stuck down there, they have no chance of getting out,” he said.

Other problems included a ceiling that is too low at the exit from one basement classroom, padlocks on doors at the shop, the doors in the gym/cafeteria, storage rooms that need heat detectors, more exit lights and emergency lighting, a plumbing issue with the boilers, and low hot water temperatures.

In addition, Henebry said there were a “ton” of door closures that needed to be replaced. For a non-sprinkler building, doors have to close and latch in order to be able to protect students from a fire for one hour.

The total for the work at Bureau Valley North was $160,200, but Henebry said that included having the work contracted out and not performed by district employees.

At the Manlius building, with one exception, the biggest issue was door closures. There was also a problem with one exit where the narrow doors and concrete stoop make it inaccessible for someone in a wheelchair to exit.

The exception is the former central office, which was gutted by a fire in July 2010. Henebry said to bring the former office up to life-safety code could cost as much $115,000, bringing the total for the building to $142,400.

That was not good news for the board, which had hoped to use the area for storage.

“I’d just as soon tear it down as spend $115,000,” board member Don DeWaele said.

Henebry added the roof would also be due to be replaced in a few years.

At the Buda facility, door closures and a padlocked storage area at the back of the stage were the only concerns, and the estimated cost to repair was $20,200.

The Wyanet building was in even better shape, and need only a couple of door closures replaced and a Knox box at the front of the building, so the fire department can have a master key to all the classrooms. Estimated cost of repairs was $2,880.

Henebry said there were different timetables on when the work needed to be done. Some projects should be completed before school starts in August, while others need to be done within the next couple of years.

After the board approved the surveys, DeWaele said the building committee will meet and prioritize the work.

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In other business

The board also discussed the relatively large number of Freedom of Information Act requests received by the district.

Superintendent John Bute said many of the requests came following the construction of the new central office building. He said such requests, regarding issues such as prevailing wage, were relatively common following new construction.

However, there was also a lengthy FOIA request from attorney Rick Porter of Chicago regarding the high school’s wind turbine. He asked for all financial information and data regarding the wind turbine, including purchase, installation and maintenance, electrical bills, insurance liability, projected and actual revenues and projected and actual savings.

Bureau Valley Board President Keith Bolin said it had taken many hours to comply with Porter’s request, and that the request was designed to “tear down” both a revenue stream for the district and wind energy in Illinois as well.

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