Champaign County: How healthy are your schools?

April 01, 2017
  • By Parker Perry
  • Staff Writer

Champaign County school inspection reports indicate that all of the buildings in each of the county’s five districts are healthy.

The Champaign County Health District inspects the 12 schools in the county twice a year to comply with state law. Those 12 school buildings service more than 6,700 students. The Springfield News-Sun reviewed the inspections for every district in Clark and Champaign counties, and published an article on Clark County school inspections last month.

MORE: Clark County: How safe are your schools?

No complaints were filed with the Champaign County Health District in recent years, according to the office.

“The schools are really good at taking care of their issues on their own prior to a building inspections and if you do find anything they are on top of it right away,” said Mark Petty, an inspector at the Champaign County Health District.

Though there are no laws that require schools to follow instructions and recommendations from the health district, their guidance is essential to keeping student safe.

“Yes, there is value to the inspections,” Urbana Superintendent Charles Thiel said. “Although we do implement regular monthly monitoring, it is always good to have another set of eyes on the building looking for issues. We use the inspections to address issues and to modify our internal monitoring program.”

Urbana’s inspection report came out relatively clean. Two of the four buildings in the district had no observations listed as needs for change. South Elementary had some flaking paint issues in one of the classrooms.

The district plans to repaint that classroom during spring break this year when students aren’t around, Thiel said.

“The performance of the district on these inspections is a direct result of the great work of our maintenance and custodial staff,” he said.

MORE: Urbana schools working to prevent future carbon monoxide incident

Urbana High School had a carbon monoxide late last year that sent about 40 students to the hospital. Thiel said the leak was caused by a boiler in the building and it has been fixed.

The only other issue at the district was a scoop in one of the high school’s ice machines was broken. That issue was shared with Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools, the only mark on that district’s inspections report.

“The ice scoops have to be in an approved container because if you just throw it back in there, it could develop bacteria,” Petty said. “Who knows how many people handle that scoop. It needs to be in an approved container and washed every four hours.”

Other schools in the county also did well on their most recent reviews. Graham Local High School and elementary school had no observations listed on its inspection report. The district’s middle school did have some tile issues that needed to be replaced. That was fixed quickly, Superintendent Kirk Koennecke said.

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“I credit our review performance to a strong operations and maintenance department working well with staff to ensure safety regulations are met,” said. “These inspections help us evaluate and monitor our own safety plans, which we review twice annually. It’s also good to keep relationships with our community partners on safety plans and compliance, which helps us to plan ahead for staff training with our partners.”

Graham grandparent Lawrence Albert said he believes the schools in the district are clean.

“They’re good,” Albert said. “The teachers and staff keep it safe for the students.”

Triad Local Schools didn’t have anything reported on their inspection sheet and neither did West Liberty-Salem.