Dist. 205 panel will keep Elmhurst residents up on building projects

Posted3/9/2018 5:30 AM
  • David Moyer

    David Moyer

After creating a list of up to $158.8 million in potential building projects, Elmhurst Unit District 205 officials must determine which of the proposals the public wants in a master facility plan -- and a possible referendum question.

To do that, they're enlisting parents, staff members and residents to serve on a Community Advisory Team that will help develop plans to educate the community about the project ideas and gather feedback.

"We've got a lot of pressing needs," Superintendent David Moyer said Thursday. "We need to find a way to address them, and we want to get it right. We want to make sure we know what the community thinks."

Officials say the Community Advisory Team will include 20 to 25 members and be asked to:

• Ensure messages and materials related to the master facility plan are clear and easy to understand.

• Help anticipate community questions and concerns.

• Offer suggestions to ensure the district uses every opportunity to reach stakeholders.

"They're going to help us craft a message and process the feedback," Moyer said.

The advisory group will meet about once a month starting March 19. Its work is expected to be finalized by the summer.

The community outreach effort, meanwhile, is expected to begin in April; a deadline hasn't been set for when it will be completed.

"It's going to take as long as it takes us to figure out what the community is interested in," Moyer said.

School board members last month reviewed several construction scenarios.

The least expensive would address only maintenance work such as roofing, boilers and water pipes, and electrical upgrades at various locations, including the district office. It would cost an estimated $26.1 million.

The most expensive scenario would cost an estimated $158.8 million, with $71.5 million going to comprehensive improvements to Lincoln, Field and Edison elementary schools. It also would include $18.3 million for maintenance and $44.8 million for "building specific" upgrades at other schools. In addition, $24.2 million would be used for "future-ready" upgrades, including media centers and STEM spaces.

"These are the initial ideas to get the conversation started based on what we've been hearing for two years, what our educational alignment study is telling us about our instructional needs, and what experts are telling us about our infrastructure needs," Moyer said.

School board members have said it will be up to the community to decide if the district should seek a property tax increase to pay for any of the proposals.

"The community may tell us they're not ready," Moyer said. "They may tell us they don't like these ideas and we have to start over."

District 205 residents wishing to join the Community Advisory Team are asked to visit http://bit.ly/2FUbShu_CAT and fill out the Google form. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Wednesday.

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