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home : news : news   April 30, 2016

1/31/2013 6:22:00 AM
Tonica school potential site of state police training; Board votes against tax referendum

Amy Flanery
Lifestyle Editor

TONICA — Illinois State Trooper Jeff Gray visited the Tonica Grade School Board of Education on Wednesday night with a request. The state police want to use the school building for a training exercise called “Rapid Deployment.”
The training would take place over four days this summer, when no students are present, Gray said. It is intended to familiarize officers with the layout of the school and to prepare them to respond swiftly in case of a situation “where a delayed deployment could result in death or great bodily injury to a number of people.”
The department sometimes has these trainings at business facilities, but is particularly concerned with being prepared to respond to schools.
“There’s not the defense mechanism where there would be in other places,” Gray said.
The department selected Tonica for the training this year because it does not have “an immediate police force.” In the event of an emergency, the state police could very well be called upon to respond.
The size of the village could work in its favor as well, according to Gray.
“When you get a school in a smaller community like this,” he said, “people know each other. The finger’s on the pulse regarding what’s happening and what might be brewing somewhere.”
During the training, officers fire plastic rounds filled with soap so they can see where the “bullets” hit. Gray said they clean up after themselves, but prefer to have the sessions in the summer so the janitors have a chance to make sure none of the casings were overlooked. They look like real shells, he said.
 “It does become very realistic. That’s another reason we don’t do it when the children are in school.”
Superintendent-principal John Suarez was in favor of allowing the training.
“I just want the police to get familiar with where exits are, where hallways are,” Suarez said.
The school board will vote at next month’s meeting whether or not to approve the training.

Sales tax referendum

Even though it has already generated enough support to place it on the ballot this spring, the board voted against supporting the one-percent sales tax referendum for La Salle County schools.
Board member Jeremy Hillyer said it looked bad for the schools to ask for the tax when La Salle-Peru Township High School is planning to build an athletic complex, even though the tax money would not go toward that project.
“It’s bad timing on that if you ask me,” Hillyer said. “I’d like to have the tax money, but I think it’s bad timing.”
Board member Brian Marcinkus was most outspoken against placing the referendum on the ballot again.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” he said. “It got voted down in November. I’m against it.”
Kim Goodbred and Scott Obermiller were the only board members who voted in favor of the question going to the voters in April. Obermiller was not exactly in favor of placing the question on the ballot, but someone needed to second the motion to support placing it on the ballot in order for the rest of the board to vote against it.
“I’m for the tax,” Obermiller said. “I’ll vote for it when it comes up.”
In other business:
The board accepted with regret the resignation of part-time music teacher Christine Drag, effective at the end of this school year. Suarez said the board would have the option to leave the position vacant to save money if they chose to do so.
“We have no plans to cut programs,” Suarez said, “but with an opening, we might as well look at all available options.”

Amy Flanery can be reached at (815) 220-6975 or

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