On April 28, the District 65 School Board approved issuing bonds in the amount of approximately $6.9 million to cover the cost of construction and other capital projects this summer and the cost of technology for the 2014-15 school year.

The work includes masonry work at Chute; soffit and roofing work at Washington and Oakton; secure entrance work at Chute, Kingsley and the Joseph E. Hill Administration Building; replacing the metal gates at Chute with glass; upgrading the electrical system at Chute; asbestos abatement and flooring replacement at Chute, Dewey, Walker, Haven and Washington; parking lot/fencing at Lincoln; HVAC at Chute, Kingsley, Nichols, Rhodes and the warehouse; security cameras at Haven and Nichols; and various other work.

The bond issue will also finance $1.7 million in technology expenditures.

The Board’s Finance Committee has discussed these projects and technology costs on many occasions during the past year. To reduce costs, the Committee has often narrowed the scope of work and sought options other than those initially proposed.

Shortly before the Board approved issuing the $6.9 million in bonds, Mary Brown, chief financial officer for the District, told committee members that the District could issue bonds to pay for capital projects up to $12.5 million under its Debt Service Extension Base (DSEB), without the need for a referendum. That amount increases by about $2.5 million each levy year.

Deducting the $6.9 million from the estimated DSEB of $12.5 million, leaves an estimated balance of $5.6 million. Currently that is the maximum amount the District may borrow without a referendum.

Dr. Brown said the projects recommended for the summer of 2014 represent only a small portion of the District’s capital needs.

As an example, she said the total estimated cost of roofing and masonry work is $23.9 million, which has been prioritized and scheduled to be done over an 18-year period in attempt to keep capital costs within the District’s DSEB. “If any of these areas deteriorate faster than anticipated, more of the DSEB will be needed to address this work earlier than planned,” said Dr. Brown.

She also said there was more than $16 million of remaining projects that were identified during the last 10-year life safety survey that was conducted in 2005-06 school year. The next 10-year life safety survey will be needed in the 2015-16 survey “which is likely to result in additional identified projects,” she said.

Dr. Brown added that while funding through the DSEB is “quite limited,” the District could substantially increase the amount of borrowing to pay for capital projects through a successful referendum. The Board’s Finance Committee has discussed in very general terms the prospect of a referendum to increase the District’s ability to issue bonds to pay for capital projects and also to increase its operating revenues.

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...