Batavia artificial turf off short-term projects list -- for now

Posted1/13/2016 5:40 AM

For the next four years, the Batavia school district intends to focus its spending for buildings and grounds on projects required to meet safety laws and those that maintain assets, not "improvements" such as an artificial-turf field at Batavia High School.

The school board Tuesday accepted a committee's recommendation to do so.


The projects plan calls for spending about $1.5 million a year.

It would include replacing wall partitions at Louise White and H.C. Storm elementary schools, replacing the outdoor track at the high school, and replacing the plumbing at J.B. Nelson Elementary. There's repairs or replacements on air handlers, replacement of parking lots, cabinetry replacement and more on the list.

But there is still the possibility artificial turf could leap on to the to-do list for this year, as the district is due to open bids Friday for one.

For that to happen, the board would have to decide whether it wants artificial turf. Then it would have to decide whether the district should pay the whole cost, or whether it should require private contributions to share the bill, and how much of it.

Bond application

The board also decided to ask for permission to borrow nearly $12 million for work at six schools, through a federal program that could save the district money on interest costs.

The district is applying for an allocation of qualified school construction bonding authority. Applications are due to the state school board Jan. 15. The state board intends to announce in February what school districts will be permitted to issue the bonds.

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The bonds were created in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The federal government assigned Illinois the ability to allocate $495 million (excluding Chicago Public Schools, which got its own allocation.)

But state officials did not act. The state board gave the authority to the governor's office under Gov. Patrick Quinn. That office gave the authority back to the state school board in November.

The bonds would pay higher interest to the purchasers. The federal government would reimburse the district for at least part of the cost.

If requests exceed the amount available, the state will consider how much of a district is low-income; how much local money it has available to draw on, per-pupil; the age of the buildings; and the square-foot-per-student capacity of the buildings, compared to the national average.

The West Aurora district hopes to get $50 million to, among other things, help replace a 128-year-old school. Batavia's oldest building is Nelson, built in the 1950s. About two-thirds of West Aurora's students are low-income; Batavia, 18.9 percent.

"The odds of us getting this money are very low," said Anton Inglese, the district's chief financial officer.

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