A five-year capital improvement plan to fund $27 million in repairs and upkeep for the 60+ acre Evanston Township High School campus was approved by the District 202 School Board at its Nov. 14 meeting.  Of that, $3.6 million will be spent in 2017 on various window, roof, and tuck-pointing projects, as well as adding and updating elevators and resurfacing a parking lot.

Future plans include repairing football turf, updating the outdoor track facility, remodeling the Physical Education entrance (door #3), and additional windows and bathroom repairs among other projects.

“The future plan does change as we go along,” said Mary Rodino, District Chief Financial Officer. Funding sources never match needs, she said.  While $27 million in improvement needs have been determined, only $21 million in funding sources have been identified.

Funding sources include bonds, grants, and monies raised by the ETHS Foundation.  “In addition, as two major TIF Districts within the City of Evanston close, additional funds [that may be used for capital purposes] will be available,” says the written report presented to the Board.

The District does not have “adequate bonding capacity” to keep up with annual capital improvement needs, Ms. Rodino told the Board.  “The District’s annual depreciation expense is just over $2.6 million.   We should be spending $4 million on capital improvements annually but we can only afford $2 million or $3 million per year.” 

Board member Gretchen Livingston pointed out that the District relies “heavily” on the Foundation. Heritage Hall, for example, was a Foundation-funded project, she said, as were the planetarium update and manufacturing lab.

“The Foundation targets projects and is able to reach out to alumni. They are very successful,” said Ms. Rodino. “We couldn’t do all these projects without them.”

“The scene is changing every day,” Ms. Rodino said when asked about interest rates. “We have been frugal so we are not looking to borrow now.”