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Rochester students impressed by new intermediate school .
By Debra Landis
State Journal Register
ROCHESTER - Principal Laurie Lundin stood in the gym of the new Rochester Intermediate School, smiled and asked the fifth-graders sitting in the bleachers, "Well, what do you think?"
"Awesome!" the students exclaimed in unison.
Rochester fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders, currently housed in Rochester Middle School, will move into the new school on the district's East Main campus on Jan. 10.
The intermediate school completes a series of construction projects in the last decade for the growing Rochester district. Included are a new athletic complex, a junior high, an auditorium, more high school classrooms and an addition to Rochester Elementary School.
A $26 million bond issue in 2008 paid for the $5.5 million athletic complex, which opened in August, and the $20.5 million intermediate school.
"In today's economic times, we are very fortunate to work for a school district steeped in a tradition of excellence and a community who supports and values education," Lundin said.
First look inside
On Tuesday, the students toured their new school - a "field trip," they were told. The tour included meeting briefly with Lundin, seeing their classrooms with their teachers, dropping off textbooks and finding their lockers.
The middle school will be converted to a second- and third-grade center, while Rochester Elementary School will become a prekindergarten through first-grade school effective with the start of the 2011-12 school year.
"I love it. It's very nice," said Dixie Stout, who was among parents visiting the new school Tuesday. Her son, David, is in the fifth grade.
"I like how big it is," said fifth-grader Chase Brown.
The new school spans 90,981 square feet, about 1 1/2 times as large as the middle school. It includes 30 classrooms, two computer labs, band and chorus rooms, a media center, two art rooms, two science labs, and two special education classrooms.
Because of the Rochester district's rapid growth, the middle school has experienced a space crunch, administrators and teachers said. Art has outgrown one classroom, and special education classes are held in a conference room and part of a technology lab.
"We now have two art rooms and will have classrooms for all special education," Lundin said.
The Rochester Parent Teacher Organization coordinated volunteers to help move band, chorus, and physical education equipment from the middle school to the intermediate school. Custodial and maintenance workers will move heavier equipment. New furniture arrived at the intermediate school earlier this month.
The current middle school is on the district's West Main campus. A previous middle school on the Illinois 29 campus, which had heating and cooling problems and wasn't equipped to accommodate new technology, has been demolished.
The new Rochester Intermediate School has wireless access, geothermal heating and cooling, and security cameras.
"It is pretty impressive. It's amazing," said fifth-grade teacher Chris Egan.
At a glance
A total of 571 students are enrolled in fourth, fifth and sixth grades in the Rochester School District and will attend the new Rochester Intermediate School. The school is built to serve 750 to 800 students.
Rochester Intermediate School will employ 40 teachers and 12 support staff. The new two-story school includes 30 classrooms, two computer labs, band and chorus rooms, a media center, two art rooms, two science labs and two special education classrooms.
Dedication of the new school will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9. Classes will start in the school Monday, Jan. 10, when Rochester students return from winter break.
Pay raises approved for Rochester school employees
ROCHESTER - Teachers and administrators in the Rochester School District will receive pay raises for the 2010-11 school year.
In approving a one-year contract, teachers had agreed to accept no pay increase if that would avert layoffs and cutbacks in student activities. However, also included in the new contract was a "memorandum of understanding" that said a wage increase would be discussed if the district's financial picture improved.
The financial situation improved enough that the Rochester teachers union and school board earlier this month approved a 2.9 percent wage increase for teachers for this school year, with an additional "step" pay hike for experience. Non-union employees also will get a 2.9 percent raise under action approved Monday by the Rochester Board of Education.
Details of the contracts were not released prior to their being approved.
The current contract for support staff calls for a 2.5 percent base pay increase, with an additional hike of up to 1.5 percent tied to performance evaluations, according to School Superintendent Tom Bertrand.
"In October 2009, we implemented major mid-year budget changes, including freezing supply and equipment purchases to curtail all expenditures because of the anticipated shortfall and delays in state funding," Bertrand said Tuesday. "Those actions, coupled with some good fortune in that we did not have to use up contingency funds in the budget that are set aside for unexpected expenses, led to the district coming in $700,000 under budget in expenditures in the operating funds.
"I think the board and I shared the belief that if we could afford to do something now for our staff, that we should because of the uncertainty of what next year will bring in terms of revenue from the state."
Negotiations on the next teachers contract are expected to start this spring.
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