Our facilities are aging. Believe it or not, Thompson and Martin, our newest schools, are almost 20 years old. Hooper Elementary and Palombi Middle School which have been through multiple additions are much older.
In 2015 the district architect working with our Facilities Team determined that Lake Villa 41 facilities required large-scale maintenance and repairs to address its aging infrastructure. The plan that was developed for these necessary upgrades was detailed in our 2015 Decennial Health/Life Safety and Capital Plan. (Each school district is required to file such a plan with the state and regional office per School Code.) You can see our plan here: 2015 LV41 Long-Term Facilities Plan – FULL – DRAFT 2015-11-18
Our 10-year plan identified $21.4 million of capital improvement work. Funding for these projects will come from various sources including cash reserves, the tax levy, and/or bonds. To date, $800,000 in completed projects which included district-wide interior/exterior doors improvements, asphalt work, playgrounds improvements, bathrooms renovations, flooring, LED Gym Lighting in Palombi, partial roof replacement, fire alarm and intercom systems in Hooper were funded by operating funds in our existing budget. In addition, $2.3 million will come from existing district cash reserves.
So why does the district need to issue Life Safety bonds? Our annual Operation & Maintenance budget simply does not allow us to address all the major facilities problems identified in our plan. We are very concerned about the safety of our buildings as well as extending their use for future generations. Issuing bonds is one of the few ways public schools have to access money for these repairs. Please understand that this $1.2 M in addition to what we have already spent is just the tip of a much larger iceberg. To keep our schools operational and safe, we have $21.4 M of work that needs to be accomplished by 2025.
Tonight the district will hold a public hearing in order to issue $1.2 million in Life Safety Bonds. These funds can be used only for facility improvements which have been identified in our plan. The $1.2 million will be primarily used to cover the cost of replacing the roof at Thompson Elementary School as well as other smaller projects listed and prioritized in the plan such as window replacement at Palombi, and replacing Hooper’s roof over the 1961 addition. Should the bidding process be lower than anticipated (and we hope it is) we will also be able to get a few more smaller projects on our plan completed.
A great deal of planning on multiple levels has gone into making the decision to replace Thompson’s roof. We have consulted with district architects as well as performance contractors. It has to be replaced since it is beyond mere patching. The cost of the roof right now is simply an estimate of the actual cost – we won’t know that fully until the bidding process has been completed. Per School Code we are required to go out to bid which we will do in September. That process will also be made public and the board will then award a contract to the lowest responsible bidder.
How much will it cost? The issuance of these bonds will cost the average homeowner in the district (value $233,300) an additional $60 annually for three years. The bonds will be paid off after three years. Delaying these necessary projects will only increase costs. Likewise a number of these projects will generate substantial cost savings by increasing efficiency and reducing energy costs. Most importantly our schools will be safe for students and staff.