Pay now, not later

By on April 30, 2009

Lower costs free up money from referendum
by Lynn Meredith
With a referendum in 2008 that approved $65 million to use in building construction projects and construction costs running lower than expected, the Kaneland School District finds itself with between $9.2 million and $11.6 million to use for other expenses.

The issue is how to prioritize the projects allowable under the referendum. At its meeting on Monday, the board approved a list of 15 projects that it would either like to gather more specific information on or obtain bids for, before it approves the spending.

At the top of the list are four items totaling $3,774,720, for Harter Middle School. One large ticket item is a storage shed to house not only athletic and maintenance equipment, but also provide concession and restroom space. The proposed structure would be 6,500 square feet with a large overhead door. Near it would be spaces to park 10 buses. The cost is estimated at $1,543,000.

An extension of Esker Drive to Wheeler Drive is estimated at $1,400,000. Tractors and maintenance equipment would run $111,000, and 110 additional parking spaces would cost $720,000.

Assistant Superintendent of Business Julie-Ann Fuchs said these costs have contingencies built in. They are likely higher than the actual costs.

“They are the most you would spend, instead of us coming back and asking for more because we underestimated them,” Fuchs said.

Other projects will be considered by the board when it gets more information, including replacing the roof on the high school and re-structuring and re-paving the driveways and parking areas as needed around the campus. These expenses are estimated at $3,797,000.

District officials said that due to the magnitude of costs from these projects, it would be nearly impossible to find money from the operational fund to pay for them.

“If we don’t use referendum money now, how will we pay for these projects (in the future)?” Fuchs asked.