Board grapples with construction decisions

By on August 28, 2009

by Susan O’Neill
With the completion of the new Kaneland middle school and renovations on the current middle school nearing completion, the School Board on Monday discussed the status of additional potential projects. The ability to pursue these projects was made possible due to construction estimates that came in at $10 million under the original estimates.

A portion of the money, $50,000, was set aside to replace one of the two well pumps that serve the Meredith Road campus. The pump was 26 years old and running at 15 to 20 percent capacity. The district spent $57,000 to resurface the Kaneland High School track, which will extend its use for another eight to 10 years.

This year, the district spent $500,000 to repave and repair some of the schools’ parking lots. The board will decide soon whether or not to allocate more funding for additional paving.

One project the board decided not to pursue was the renovation of the public restrooms below the press box at the Kaneland Peterson Field football stadium Although the initial project was for a more minor remodel, once new construction began, the school would have had to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility requirements by widening bathroom stall doors and installing hand rails. This would have created a net loss of one stall in each bathroom.

During the summer, the bathrooms were given a fresh coat of paint, and board member Ken Carter said he thought they looked fine for now.

Based on safety concerns, all board members present (Deborah Grant was absent) agreed that the $1.4 million to extend Esker Road to Wheeler Road would be money well spent. The extension provides for multiple exits to the new Harter Middle School, which will relieve traffic at the beginning and end of the school day.

An estimate of $1 million to build a storage facility at the Harter Middle School caused the board to decide to re-evaluate the need, use and design of the facility. The plan for the facility, which began as a storage facility to keep athletic and other equipment, was expanded to include a concession stand and bathrooms for athletic events.

“It’s being called the $1 million shed,” Board President Lisa Wiet said.

The board decided at Monday’s meeting to establish a subcommittee to study the need for the facility and its uses. Two board members, Bob Myers and Ken Carter, volunteered to work with members of the Facilities Planning Committee, (a citizens group that makes recommendations), potential users of the facility, as well as the administration to come up with a solution.

Although district adminstrators recommended another bond sale this fall, several board members suggested having further discussions about the remaining projects before another bond sale takes place. The next scheduled bond sale for $10 million is currently set for spring 2010.

“Before we have another bond sale, I really think we need to discuss what our priorities are and what we want to spend our money on,” Meyers said.