District 205 kickstarts conversation about possible building projects
Elmhurst Unit District 205 has released preliminary cost estimates for up to $151 million in building projects that could be included in a future referendum question.
But officials stress it will be up to the community to decide this fall if the district should seek a property tax increase to pay for any of the proposals, including one to replace Lincoln Elementary School.
"This gives people some idea of what might be possible," Superintendent David Moyer said of a memorandum highlighting three scenarios. "It's the starting point of a conversation. The community would ultimately decide what it's willing to support, what it values and what its priorities are."
Moyer told school board members this week the cost estimates are very preliminary.
"We need some schematic designs to begin to get a more accurate picture of what things would actually cost," he said.
The district is planning to obtain those designs before launching a formal process to get input and feedback from residents and determine what they want.
"Based on the community input, there's a combination of anything from zero dollars and no referendum to $151 million," Moyer said.
The first scenario under consideration would cost $66 million to $101 million. Topping that list of possible projects is the replacement of Lincoln and a renovation of Field Elementary School.
Replacing Lincoln calls for a building that would be either 56,000 square feet or 70,000 square feet. The smaller design would cost $21 million to $24 million; the larger one would cost $27 million to $31 million.
Meanwhile, a major renovation of Field would cost $14 million to $18 million.
The list also includes a proposed addition to Edison Elementary School that would cost $7 million to $10 million. The building at 246 South Fair Ave. also would be renovated for $4 million to $7 million.
Moyer said Edison was included because it's a centrally located site that has the ability to expand.
Having more space at Edison would help the district respond to future enrollment growth. Expanding the school also would allow it to be used if the district implements an all-day kindergarten program.
Another priority project is a proposed upgrade of the auditorium at York High School for $4 million to $8 million. The project was removed from a 2000 referendum question due to cost. Now Moyer said there are "significant needs" with the auditorium.
"We literally do not know how we would possibly begin to pay for it just out of existing operating funds," he said.
The second scenario includes $23 million for 10-year building maintenance and $5 million to $10 million for major renovations to the Madison Early Childhood Education Center at 130 W. Madison St.
The third scenario includes $3 million to $5 million for additional middle school STEM spaces and upgrades, $1 million to $3 million for STEM improvements at York, $5.2 million for athletic field upgrades at York, and $3 million to $4 million for a new auditorium and library renovations at Churchville Middle School.
While the three scenarios list different projects, Moyer said the community will determine what projects the district should pursue.
"We may see some things take some shape after we get additional rounds of input," Moyer said.
School board President Shannon Ebner acknowledged that it's "really not up to the board" to decide what happens.
"It's up to the community," she said. "I don't have an opinion. We need to get approval from the people of Elmhurst."