Orion schools planning facility improvements

by Mindy Carls correspondent
school busses lined up

Orion classrooms will be receiving new door closures, which allow anyone inside the room to press a red button to engage a deadbolt, Superintendent Joe Blessman told the school board on Wednesday, March 17.

If a student should lock a teacher out of the classroom, the teacher’s key for the classroom door will work on the deadbolt, the superintendent said.

Orion High School will have new doors from the commons leading into the halls, Blessman said. The music room door and outside kitchen door will be replaced.

Projects for spring break and summer include installing ceiling fans in Orion Middle School labs, a sink in the C.R. Hanna Elementary School art room and triangle shades for the OMS learning garden.

The district wants to replace damaged roofs on the athletic buildings at OHS, as well as the rotting wood panels on the sides, Blessman said.

In the OHS student parking lot, the district wants to remove islands on the north edge that used to have trees, he said. The islands make it hard to clear snow, and they have grass that needs to be mowed.

With COVID-19 funds, the district plans to buy Chromebooks, smartboards, cleaning machines, and HVAC upgrades, the superintendent said.

Personnel changes

Board members hired Jeff Ferry as the head wrestling coach at OHS.

The board accepted the resignation of Zach Catour as the assistant baseball coach at OHS and hired Trevor DeJaynes as the new assistant.

Christofer Dhabalt was hired as the seventh-grade girls basketball coach.

Kim VanDuyne was approved as a volunteer coach for OMS track. Volunteer coaches approved for OHS were James Matson and Kevin Weatherell, baseball; Dennis Frenell, Doug Martin, Tony Stiles and Jon Stockton, softball, and Ashton Lee, volleyball.

Mitchel White was hired as the school bus and general mechanic beginning Tuesday, April 6.

Michelle Burge was approved as a middle school cook.

In other business

• Jennifer Maertens, an English/language arts teacher at OMS, asked the board to consider waiving out-of-district tuition for teachers’ children.

• To conform with conference guidelines and state minimum wage requirements, the board approved pay increases for OHS athletic workers and OMS athletic officials and workers.

• OHS Principal Nathan DeBaillie said the tentative date for prom is Friday, April 23. Instead of a dance, students may have a formal dinner.

• OHS will present one-act plays on Thursday, April 29; Friday, April 30, and Saturday, May 1.

• Graduation will be at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 23, at Charger Field. Eighth grade promotion will be Monday, May 24, with details depending on the Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines in effect at the time. Promotion may be at Central Park.

• Orion PTA needs a new president for 2021-22, C.R. Hanna Elementary School Principal R.C. Lowe said. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the organization will not host a Meet the Candidates Night.

• OHS students honored as Students of the Month at the Area Career Center, East Moline, were Nathan Monzon, Extended Campus Health Occupations I, and Maddix Moninski, Welding I.

• Orion senior Emily Canterbury was named an Admiral’s Scholar at Monmoouth College. The scholarship covers full tuition, valued at more than $160,000 for four years.

• Except for students with a doctor’s note saying they are at risk, the district will not have remote learning this fall, Blessman said