At the Oct. 5 District 65 Finance Committee meeting, Mary Brown presented a list of capital projects that administrators are recommending for fiscal year ending June 30, 2016 (FY’16), together with a list of capital projects for the next eight years. The lists prioritize projects, and include only those that the District can afford.

Absent a referendum, the District’s authority to issue bonds to pay for capital projects is limited by its Debt Service Extension Base (DSEB), said Mary Brown, assistant superintendent for business services. The District will have authority to issue about $6 million in bonds under its DSEB to pay for capital projects in FY’16, and it has about $500,000 of unallocated bond proceeds, she added. That would provide a total of about $6.5 million for capital spending in FY’16.

That is far less than the amount needed to fund all of the District’s identified projects. “We have $90 million of projects identified,” said Dr. Brown. “We have more needs than we have money.”

For the past eight years the District has been funding its capital projects through its DSEB. These projects have included classroom additions, added cafeteria space, roof and masonry repairs, boiler repairs, technology, and numerous other projects.

Projects Proposed for FY’16 and Subsequent Years

Administrators recommend that the District spend about $1.9 million for technology in FY’16, including payments on existing technology leases ($1.1 million), software maintenance ($450,000), and replacement of components and services ($400,000).

Administrators also recommend spending about $2.1 million on building projects for FY’16. The projects with the major expenditures are the Lincoln storm water project ($733,000), King Arts roofing and masonry work ($800,000), asbestos abatement and flooring ($395,000), and plumbing requirements ($245,000).

Dr. Brown said the roof work for King Arts is only part of the roofing work required for that school. “We can’t afford to do all of the King Arts work at once because funding through the debt service is extremely tight.”

After the 2016 projects are complete, it would leave only about $3.5 million to fund capital projects through the DSEB. An additional $2.5 million will become available in each future year, said Dr. Brown.

For the next seven years, FY’17 – FY’23, Dr. Brown listed proposed capital projects for each year, which she said could change based on building conditions and need. The amounts allocated for each year range from between about $2 million and $2.9 million.

Over that seven year period, most of the expenditures are for roofing and masonry and HVAC (air handlers) work. In addition to amounts to pay off existing leases of computer equipment, $850,000 is allocated each year to replace components, service the equipment and subscribe to software.

The amount allocated to technology is less than in prior years. Claudia Garrison noted that Dr. Brown’s memo said the allocation each year would enable the District to maintain “a minimum level of technology” and asked what that meant. Joe Caravello, director of technology services, said basically, “keeping what we have and keeping it working.” Dr. Brown’s memo added that under the schedule, “the District will not be able to sustain the scheduled equipment replacement cycle which is critical to provide efficient mandated testing. Devices that can no longer be repaired will not be replaced.”

Board members previously asked administrators to prepare a technology plan, including a plan showing how technology will be used for instructional uses. They want a plan that can be used to guide their decisions on technology spending. On Oct. 5 Jennifer Phillips and Ms. Garrison asked for additional information on the computer devices. Suni Kartha asked if there was a plan on what to do if there was not adequate funding to maintain the same level of computers. Mr. Caravello said, “no.”

Keeping expenditures within the DSEB “means that certain projects will be delayed and others may never be completed,” said Dr. Brown. “For example, the original roofing and masonry timeline for completion was ten years. This scope of work has now been spread out over thirty-eight years, in an attempt to reduce the impact on the DSEB in any one year, and still these projects cannot all be funded within the DSEB. If any of these areas deteriorate faster than anticipated, more of the DSEB will be needed to address this work earlier than planned.”

Dr. Brown added that there are more than $14 million of projects that were identified during the last 10 year life-safety survey in 2005 that have not been completed, and the next 10 year life-safety survey is planned for the summer of 2016, and it is likely to identify additional projects.

An additional $50 million of work has been identified and is not included on the eight-year project list. For example, the list does not include secure entrances for King Arts, Rhodes, Lincolnwood, Orrington, and Washington; a locker room addition at Rhodes; ceiling tile replacement; and many other projects. Ms. Kartha added that it does not include ADA accessibility for the buildings.

The plan is to bring the list of projects recommended for FY’16 to the Board for approval in the next month, and to then request bids on the projects. The hope is by asking for bids in the December of January timeframe, that the District will get more and lower bids for the work.

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...