Beginning a process that will take some months to consider and then some years to complete, School District 202 chief financial officer William Stafford presented a $35 million five-year capital improvement program to School Board members on April 28.
“This is the District’s first proposed capital improvement program [CIP],” Mr. Stafford reported. “It is a comprehensive examination of the District’s infrastructure needs and a financing plan to address as many of those needs as the District can afford.”
A capital expenditure is “one that results in the acquisition or addition to a capital asset or fixed asset,” Mr. Stafford said. Fixed assets include many types of property that an organization owns and uses in its operations. He gave as examples land or rights to land; buildings; additions or renovations to buildings that exceed $25,000 and that will add value; improvements of more than $25,000 to land; equipment, vehicles and furnishings that have a life of more than one year and that cost more than $25,000.
The proposed expenditures will be in five categories:
Site Projects (sports fields and field house): $23.5 million
Mechanical, Electric and Plumbing: $6.9 million
Toilets: $1.5 million
Masonry and Windows: $2.7 million
The first projects, planned to begin this summer, are the sports fields, cooling systems, masonry and purchase of small buses. The expenditures for the 2008-09 school year are projected to be $5.7 million.
Mr. Stafford told the Board the funding for the projects will come from a variety of sources. Bonds supported by property tax will be the biggest source, at $18.1 million. Other monies will come from private donations, grants, proceeds of life-safety bonds and one-time revenues.
The recommendations for the proposed capital improvements came from a number of different sources, said Mr. Stafford. Departmental surveys, research by the Athletic Department and staff analysis provided some input, he said. In addition, OWPP, an architecture, engineering, interior design and consulting firm with offices in Chicago and Phoenix and a specialty practice in school design, provided review and analysis.
Mr. Stafford said the capital-funding process would be gradual, although some of the components are already in place. For example, the Board voted on March 10 to approve the contract for artificial turf for the Murney Lazier Varsity Football Field. Mr. Stafford said construction of the field will require removal of a significant amount of dirt, which would be most economically placed immediately on the other fields targeted for renovation but not yet approved.
Mr. Stafford said that the information presented at the April 28 meeting would “start the process.” If the Board approves the plan at the May 12 meeting, a public hearing about issuing the bonds would be scheduled for May 27, with the final approval for the first $10 million in bonds expected at the “first meeting in June.”
Frances Caan, the recently hired Evanston Township High School director of development, who also serves as executive director of the ETHS Foundation, told the Board she is working on a comprehensive plan for the capital campaign. With that campaign, she said, she hopes to raise $15 million in private donations. She said plans are in the works to name two prominent ETHS alumni to co-chair the effort, which would include numerous events and public relations.
At its next meeting, scheduled for May 12, the Board will vote on the 2008-09 CIP budget and the overall five-year plan and will decide whether to start the process for bond issuance.