Grant will bolster fitness efforts at William Tell

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Students, community will be readied for walkers, bikers

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

TELL CITY - A $25,422 Safe Routes to School Grant awarded to William Tell Elementary School will complement a Sidewalks-to-Schools Grant received by the city, Principal Laura Noble announced at a school-board meeting April 14.

With the money, "we can prepare our students and prepare our community for having children riding their bikes to school and walking to school safely," she explained. "We can purchase up to 400 bicycle helmets ... and bicycle rodeo kits, which you can think of as obstacle courses we can set up in our back parking lot for teaching children at all levels about bicycle safety." The grant will also fund items such as bike reflectors, fitness guides, pedometers, signs to be placed along streets to alert drivers bicyclists are likely to be present and "I walk to school" T-shirts.

Parent and community clinics will also be offered, Noble said.

"We plan to do that in neighborhoods, to go to them instead of making them come to school," she told the board. "We think we'll get better attendance that way."

A radar-equipped sign will be among the purchases, to place along biking lanes and let drivers know when they're exceeding speed limits.

The purchases will help prepare the community "for, hopefully, the increase in number of children walking to school and riding to school," the principal said.

When his turn came to present a report to the board members, junior-high Principal Brad Ramsey directed their attention to displays of student work set up on the auditorium stage behind them. Many reflect multi-disciplinary efforts demonstrating various mixes of work from the areas of art, social studies, science, language arts and technology, he noted. "They do a great job, so we wanted to show off a little bit."

Schools Superintendent Ron Etienne said bids for work to be done at Tell City High School this summer were opened April 9.

"We had nine bidders very much interested in the job, all quality contractors," he said. "The bids on work that we thought was going to cost in excess of $1.5 million ranged from $983,000 to $1,289,000. We attribute that more than anything to the economy and the lack of work. Contractors are very hungry. It's good news for us; we're going to be able to do some more work other than what was in the base project."

As The News reported in February, the board approved a contract with the Veazey, Parrott and Shoulders architectural firm of Evansville to provide design services for $2 million in renovations determined to be the highest priority from among many identified by two committees over the last year.

Among them, special-education and health-occupation students will get new classrooms near the school's swimming pool, wheelchair users will gain access to restrooms and the top and middle floors of the original 1928 portion of the building will undergo improvements.

What should be added to the project was to be worked out with the architects and presented to the board next month, Etienne said.

Etienne said the low bidder was Weddle Brothers Construction Co. of Evansville, with whom he's had good experience in the past. The board approved their bid.

They also approved the voluntary football-coaching services of Art Schlichter for the 2009-10 year.

High-school Principal Dale Stewart reported a credit-recovery program he first announced in November has netted 21 credits for students earlier in their academic careers than those who attend the Perry County Learning Academy.

The number of credits earned "exceeds my expectations, and I usually have pretty high expectations," Stewart said. "We think we'll have 30 to 35 credits by the time the school year's out. We targeted ninth- and 10th-graders at the beginning of the semester, and now we're making sure all of our seniors have an opportunity if they can't get out to the alternative school."