With an uncertain financial future, Community Consolidated School District 200 Superintendent Brian Harris will explore means to fund repairs and renovations to each of the 23 buildings owned by the district.
Bill Farley, assistant superintendent of business operations, presented the board of education with a rundown of the needs at each school and building operated by the school district during a committee of the whole meeting May 25. Farley’s recommendations include new flooring, heating and air conditioning units, sidewalk and parking lot repairs as well as a call to sell the old Hubble Middle School building.
“We just need to sell that building,” Farley told the board.
Because the new Hubble Middle School building is a newer construction, Farley said that building was not in need of any renovation.
In his address to the board, Farley examined each building one by one, explaining the age of each building, previous repair work and current repair needs. Other than the need to sell the old Hubble site, Farley said the most pressing need is at Jefferson Pre-School, followed closely by the School Support Building. Farley said Jefferson is in need of an updated fire alarm system and new heating and air conditioning. However, due to the state of the building, he said the board needs to consider whether or not it’s more cost effective to renovate or build a new construction.
“(Jefferson) is a priority. It’s only had preventative maintenance and nothing big since it opened in 1958,” Harris said.
Although Farley said most of the facilities are in need of renovation or repair, his presentation did not include any financial estimates of costs – something some board members said they wanted to see.
Regardless of which route the district takes, the renovation or new construction at Jefferson, as well as the 20 other buildings, will carry a hefty price tag. Board members discussed several funding options, including holding a referendum, life safety bonds or performance contracting.
Harris said there is another method of funding recently approved by the general assembly, which gives county governments the option of passing a school construction sales tax. However, that is something he said has not been tried in DuPage County. He did not indicate whether such a tax is politically feasible in this tough economy.
The district traditionally paid for previous renovations and construction projects through fund bonds or referendums, Harris said. But, he said it could prove to be financially beneficial for the board to take a closer look at performance contractors. Performance contracting is a construction method that allows a facility to complete energy-saving improvements within an existing budget by financing them with money saved through reduced utility expenditures. Facilities make no up-front investments and instead finance projects through guaranteed annual energy savings.
Harris said it should not be out of the question for a performance contactor to put together a proposal for the district on some of the projects.
But some board members wanted to be able to weigh traditional methods of payment alongside the performance contractor method.
“I want to see an apples to apples comparison,” said school board president Rosemary Swanson.
Board member Jim Vroman agreed. He said he wants a matrix that indicates a breakdown of costs per building as well as a prioritization of costs.
“The devil is in the details and we need that information,” Vroman said.
Harris said he could put together the requested analysis and would enter into a conversation with some performance contractors for estimates in order to provide a comparison. He did not specify if the information would be available to the board by the June 8 meeting.