A/C coming to two Woodland schools
Two Woodland Elementary District 50 schools are in line for air conditioning for the 2014-15 academic year.
District 50 board members have approved a $3.6 million contract with Siemens Corp. to install central air conditioning at the Woodland Elementary East and West schools on Gages Lake Road in unincorporated Lake County.
Officials said the work will start in the summer and will be finished when the school buildings reopen in August for the 2015-16 academic year.
Superintendent Joy Swoboda said there will be an immediate improvement in air quality at Elementary East and West, which serve grades one through three. The work will involve installation of a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
"Air conditioning our schools has become a necessity as more of our children and staff face challenging health conditions," Swoboda said. "They deserve to be taught in an environment that is truly conducive to learning."
Gurnee-based Woodland board members last week voted 4-1, with one abstention, in favor of paying the $3.6 million to chill Elementary East and West.
Officials said existing revenue will be used for the Elementary East and West project. However, voters will decide an April 7 referendum question that includes a proposal to air-condition Woodland Primary School on Gages Lake Road, which is for prekindergarten and kindergarten students.
Voters will decide whether to allow a temporary, one-year tax cap of 5 percent. The recently announced Consumer Price Index would otherwise set the cap at 0.8 percent for the 2015 levy.
If the measure passes, District 50 officials said, it would add $57 for every $100,000 of market value on property owners' 2016 tax bills. An owner of a $300,000 home would pay an additional $171.
Money from the increased tax collection would go into the district's operations fund pay for air conditioning at the primary school and enhanced classroom technology and capital improvements on a districtwide level.
At a presentation this month, Woodland officials said a five-year, $15.5 million capital improvement plan would need to be reviewed and prioritized if voters don't approve the additional funding.
District 50 board member Vincent Juarez was the lone vote against paying for the Elementary East and West air conditioning. While the air conditioning is necessary and in the best interests of the children and employees, he said, the district should have sought voters' permission next month to pay for chilling all three schools without it.
"With state funding and pensions an unknown, the financial picture of the district should be more known before spending ($3.6) million," Juarez said.