Fruits of voter funding approval to be seen this summer in District 76
Voters in Mundelein-based Diamond Lake Elementary District 76 this summer will see in earnest what their approval last spring of an $11.4 million borrowing plan means for schools.
The school board on Tuesday approved selling $3.63 million in bonds to investors to fund projects mainly at Diamond Lake and West Oak Middle schools to begin May 28.
A new key card security system at all three schools and a monument sign and minor roof repair at West Oak already have been done. Bids are out for an estimated $4.7 million in projects, including upgrading all student and staff restrooms at both schools.
"We've got some big stuff to do this summer," board President Lisa Yaffe said.
Absent from the list for major work is Fairhaven School, with pre-K through first-grade students, that the board previously determined would close as of fall 2019.
"Fairhaven was inefficient and expensive to upgrade," Yaffe said. "We are able to use the taxpayer referendum (funds) in a more significant way in two buildings rather than three."
Bonds previously had been issued for about three-quarters of the approved total. The district had planned to wait until next year to issue the remainder but acted sooner based on recent market volatility.
"It really is the last step to getting all the money from the referendum," said Eric Rogers, the district's director of finance and operations.
The money will be invested and available as needed to pay contractors. Most of the work will be done during the summers of 2018 and 2019, with the hope that favorable bids will allow other projects to be added.
Rogers said updates will be posted regularly on the district website.
Besides the restrooms, upgrades of three gyms at both schools are planned this summer. At West Oak, corridors that have not already been addressed will be renovated with new flooring, paint and signage and lighting, and a flagpole will be installed on the monument sign.
At Diamond Lake, boilers will be replaced, air conditioning addressed, corridors updated and a new roof installed.
Districtwide improvements include reconfiguring classrooms and upgrading library areas, cafeterias, fire alarm/PA systems, and learning spaces.
Superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis thanked voters for supporting "much-needed facility improvements" to enhance safety, security and teaching and learning environments.
"Our plan is intended to maximize the referendum dollars to benefit the most students," she said.
The district plans to reorganize three schools into two but will maintain a three-school model. Details of what becomes of the Fairhaven building and property at 634 Countryside Highway in Mundelein are to be determined.