On March 18, the District 65 School Board approved capital projects for this summer totaling about $1.65 million.
The work approved by the Board will provide safe entrances at Lincolnwood, Bessie Rhodes, and Orrington schools; abatement of asbestos at Lincolnwood, Bessie Rhodes, Orrington, Nichols and Willard schools; and replacement of mezzanine guardrails at Oakton school.
The Board struggled with a way to keep the 2019 summer projects within $1,025,000, which was the amount District leaders said they would allocate to capital projects from the Referendum funds during the period leading up to the referendum. Because the projects will be completed and paid for this summer – which spans two fiscal years – Board member Candance Chow suggested that funds for FY’19 and FY’20, or a total of $2,050,000, could be used to pay for the projects. This would, of course, reduce the amount left to fund projects in the summer of 2020.
Other factors supported taking this approach, including the desire to provide safe entrances to the remaining three schools as soon as possible and to take advantage of bids for the work which would likely be lower this year than next year.
Raphael Obafemi, Chief Financial Officer of District 65, said the District could refinance some outstanding bonds next school year, and that if it did so it could issue new bonds at a lower interest rate than the outstanding bonds, with significant savings to the District. The savings could be used to pay for other capital projects. Mr. Obafemi said the refinancing would not include increase the outstanding debt of the District.