District 95 exploring building projects, how to pay for them

 
 
Posted4/22/2016 5:45 AM
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  • Lake Zurich Middle School South on Cuba Road would receive a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics laboratory under a recommendation from Lake Zurich Unit District 95's facilities committee.

      Lake Zurich Middle School South on Cuba Road would receive a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics laboratory under a recommendation from Lake Zurich Unit District 95's facilities committee. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

While Lake Zurich Unit District 95 officials agree building repairs and upgrades are necessary, they'll need to figure out how to finance the potential projects.

All eight schools, District 95's administration building and the professional development center would be targeted for the capital projects listed in a report from an advisory facilities committee. The committee members said the projects will be needed for the district to move students into 21st-century learning.

"Buildings and classrooms are designed for 19th- and 20th-century instructional practices," according to the committee's report presented at a District 95 board meeting last week.

Vicky Cullinan, the district's assistant superintendent of business and operations who's part of the eight-member facilities committee, led a review of the study. She said the potential $40 million price tag in the report is in today's dollars and might not apply for construction work that could be several years away.

One way to pay for the projects over roughly 13 years would be by using a typical $3.3 million for capital expenditures allotted in District 95's budget, Cullinan said. Another option would be to sell bonds to reissue expiring debt for the work to be done in four to six years.

Board member Eileen Maloney said officials also should consider inquiring whether the community would support a tax increase to gain more money for projects when feedback is sought from residents on the tentative facilities plan, likely in the fall. She said residents could tell the district to "pound sand" in response to such a question.

"A segment of the population wants to ramp up the quality of the facilities and ramp up the quality of the services that we're offering, and they want us to take a more aggressive approach," Maloney said.

District 95's buildings are well maintained but are aging and in need of continual and increasing maintenance, according to the facilities committee report. The committee outlined needs including:

• Science, technology, engineering and mathematics laboratories at Middle School North in Hawthorn Woods and Middle School South in Lake Zurich.

• More secure main entrances at Lake Zurich High School and May Whitney Elementary School, also in Lake Zurich.

• A handicapped-accessible cafeteria at Seth Paine Elementary School in Lake Zurich.

• High school library renovations.

• Technology infrastructure upgrades at all buildings.

District 95 board President Doug Goldberg complimented the work performed by the facilities committee, which has experts in engineering, architecture and finance who have met periodically since September. He asked the committee to continue occasional meetings so the school board can have more information before making a decision.

"I think it's incredibly important that we be fully transparent with folks in what we're doing, to make sure we receive input," Goldberg said. "And it's all about crafting what kind of information we're trying to get back and educating them on the benefits. Everything has to be phrased, 'What's the benefit?' If I'm going to spend the money, what's the benefit?"

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