Citing financial concerns, Grayslake Elementary District 46 board members have declined a consultant's recommendation to seek bids for air conditioning work at three schools in an effort to achieve greater savings.
Board members recently voted 7-0 in favor of a $790,500 bid to install air conditioning at Grayslake Middle School, which serves grades seven and eight, for the next academic year. Facilities engineer consultant Michael Linder said the price was well below what had been projected at $994,000.
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However, school board members didn't support Linder's recommendation to assemble another package to seek bids for Woodview and Meadowview elementary schools along with the middle school. Officials would have had to approve spending about $96,000 to solicit air-conditioning prices for the three buildings.
Linder contended the potential for significant cost savings because of a competitive business climate was a reason to expand the air conditioning project to the three buildings instead of one. He said the board could have dropped the idea if the bids topped $1.58 million.
"What I'm saying to you is, if we could save 20 percent on those original estimates, that would be $264,000," Linder said. "That's too big a potential savings to walk away from without some consideration."
Some board members questioned why the idea of air conditioning three buildings arose again.
In February, the board voted 5-2 in favor of adding air conditioning to the middle school for less than $1 million. There were not enough board votes to approve air conditioning for Woodview and Meadowview, which are buildings in Grayslake serving kindergarten through fourth grade.
"I appreciate the fact you want to be aggressive in this time," board member Shannon Smigielski told Linder. "We've already said 'no.'"
Board member Michael Carbone said given the recent news the district likely will receive $750,000 less than anticipated from its tax levy this year, air conditioning three buildings is unaffordable. Carbone then asked Superintendent Ellen Correll for her opinion.
"I don't think we could move forward with it at this time," said Correll, who also noted the tax levy revenue is unlikely to meet original expectations.
Board President Ray Millington had tried to convince his colleagues in February to approve air conditioning for all three buildings. He said students would be treated as "second-class citizens" if they are in the buildings still without air conditioning. Officials said the middle school was selected for air conditioning ahead of the other two buildings because its enrollment of more than 800 students is largest of the district's buildings.