District 211 making $17 million in building upgrades this summer

  • A major redesign of Conant High School's parking lot in Hoffman Estates is among approximately $17 million in capital improvement projects Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 is undertaking at its five schools this summer.

      A major redesign of Conant High School's parking lot in Hoffman Estates is among approximately $17 million in capital improvement projects Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 is undertaking at its five schools this summer. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, 2018

 
 
Updated 3/21/2022 4:54 PM

Renovations to Fremd High School's kitchen in Palatine, the original restrooms at Fremd and Palatine high schools, and the parking lot at Conant High School in Hoffman Estates are among approximately $17 million in major capital improvement projects Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 will undertake this summer.

But board of education members recently voted 4-3 against immediately moving forward on three more projects not currently in the district's 10-year plan for capital improvements.

 

Administrators suggested improvements to the student auditoriums, public address systems and the cooling of applied technology classrooms at four of the high schools could take place over the next several years for $18 million.

The district has identified an $18 million operating surplus from the past two years, when COVID-19 protocols cut down on costs. The relatively recent sale of 62 acres in Schaumburg to a home developer yielded the district another $17.8 million.

But after a board discussion on the value of waiting for the creation of a new strategic plan to decide the use of that money, members Kim Cavill, Mark Cramer, Pete Dombrowski and Tim McGowan voted against soliciting bids for the time being.

Improvements to the auditoriums -- including their accessibility -- had been estimated at $12 million, while the costs of the other two projects had been ballparked at $3 million each.

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Cramer suggested the district anticipate the impacts of inflation on future capital improvement projects.

But the same surpluses that drove the suggestion about adding the projects also led the board to approve two tax abatements -- $4.2 million from the last property tax levy in general and another $3 million from the operations and maintenance fund.

Among the other projects moving forward this summer -- some of which are still in the process of being bid -- are roof replacements at four schools, replacement of cafeteria rooftop units at Fremd, two HVAC unit replacements at Conant, exterior concrete restoration work to the stair and ramp walls at Schaumburg and Palatine, and replacement of demountable walls with drywall, as well as restoration of the swimming pool wing, at Palatine.

Over the next five yeas, the district is projecting capital improvements averaging $20 million per year without incurring any debt.

"Overall, we have been able to fund numerous facility improvement projects over the last several years free of debt and do so within our operating budget," Chief Operating Officer Lauren Hummel told the board.

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