Batavia schools considering more staff, building work
The Batavia school board is considering speeding up its school fix-it list and adding the equivalent of 11 full-time workers with the additional property tax the district is collecting from the Chicago Premium Outlet Mall in Aurora.
The board's finance committee reviewed a proposal from administrators Tuesday afternoon, and the full board was due to discuss it Tuesday night. The projects are proposed for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which starts July 1.
The first proposal calls for $1.5 million of capital projects, including replacing the outdoor track at Batavia High School for $170,000.
The staffing proposal calls for adding two assistant principals at the elementary-school level, teachers at the middle school to reduce class sizes, and several other positions. The estimated cost is $750,000.
This is the first calendar year that the district will receive the full benefit of the increased value of the outlet mall, and several industrial properties nearby, after the tax increment financing district they were in expired in 2012.
Officials expect the land to add as much as $7 million to the district's account.
The board will vote on the proposals in March. Then the district would hire architects to draw up formal plans for the capital projects and bids would be sought.
Kris Monn, the district's assistant superintendent for business, cautioned that other factors may affect what the district can do, especially the negotiation of new contracts for teachers and support workers. The district also is awaiting a final report on a state-mandated life-safety inspection. The proposed list includes about $300,000 of life-safety work.
Board members Jon Gaspar and Melanie Impastato wondered if the track should be replaced now, because the district's overall capital improvement plan calls for adding an eighth lane to it.
Patrick Browne, buildings and grounds director, said adding an eighth lane can't be done without moving the main grandstand back, and moving that back involves removing a maintenance building. If and when that is done, the eighth lane can be added without tearing up the rest of the track. In the meantime, the track presents tripping hazards.
The district is looking for another place to have a maintenance building, including leasing space in an industrial park. The current building on West Wilson Street needs about $129,000 of plumbing and fire-safety work, including installing fire-suppression and fire alarm systems and removing combustible foam from beneath the roof deck and trusses.
"The track and the maintenance shed (fixes) are Band-Aids," Superintendent Lisa Hichens said.
The committee also discussed a proposal to replace the football field turf with artificial turf. Doing so is in the district's Comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan. The committee's consensus, suggested by board President Cathy Dremel, was that private donations should be sought to pay some of the cost, and the district should not borrow money for it.
"I personally would not back any borrowing of public funds for this," she said.
The district has not gotten an estimate for a natural-turf field. When the Geneva school district installed an artificial-turf field several years ago, the price was nearly double that of a natural field.