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December 11, 2018

11/14/2018 3:55:00 PM
Auditorium and Turf Among ETHS Capital Improvements
By Kelley Elwood

A five-year Capital Improvement Program totaling $32.6 million will move forward at ETHS after being reviewed by the District 202 School Board at its Nov. 12 meeting. Projects to be tackled in FY2019 include new football turf, lighting and sound improvements in the auditorium and other infrastructure needs to the tune of $5.8 million.

While not all of the projects identified in the plan can be funded at the current time, it is important to identify the needs and potential capital issues the District may have to address, Mary Rodino, District 202’s Chief Financial Officer, reported to the Board. There are $32.6 million in needs and only approximately $25.9 million in identified sources of funds currently.

Capital improvements are projects that are valued at over $25,000. ETHS has over 1.2 million square feet of building in 60 plus acres of Campus. “That’s a lot of roofs and fields and all kinds of stuff so it’s a big monster to tackle every year,” Ms. Rodino told the Board. Depreciation is about $3 million annually so to stay ahead we should spend at least that each year. ETHS generally spends between $2 million and $3 million.

Funding for FY2019 was approved allowing several large projects to begin this summer.   Auditorium Light and Sound renovations will be a multi-year project budgeted for $2 million over three years. 

“This is long overdue and necessary,” said Ms. Rodino. “The sound is bad in there as most of you have heard. The lighting is getting to a point where we have dimmers and things and a lot of the outlets are starting to fail and so we can’t use many of the lighting receptacles that are in there. I don’t know that it’s ever been redone in the 50-60 year history of the auditorium.”

Physical Education locker rooms will be remodeled in a multi-year project and football turf will be replaced. The turf is  “now 11 years old, and it had a 10-year life so by the time we replace it we’ll be starting into the 12th year. It’s held up well but it’s time,” said Ms. Rodino.

The District’s PA system is very old and will be replaced, and there will be continued work on replacing windows. “We do have leaks when it rains and it requires constant monitoring of certain areas because the water gets dangerous when it comes into student walkway areas.”

Funds will also be used this year on mechanical, plumbing and masonry work.

Last year’s biggest project – the new Entrance 3 --  is almost done and has received positive reviews from students and families. The elevator still needs to be completed as inspections have extended the timeline for completion.

Funding Sources

There are multiple funding sources, the biggest of which is the general obligation bonds which are pledged by the general revenues of the District. The District is looking into other options for the future as well including debt certificates. “They don’t go out quite as long as bonds so you get a better deal,” said Ms. Rodino. The District has used Qualified Zone Academy Bonds in the past on which it pays about a quarter percent of interest. The District also has some TIF dollars and The Foundation raises donations for capital projects each year. 

Due to extensive major (multi-year) projects that are necessary, the Board also approved a one-time use of Working Cash funds (an amount not to exceed $2 million) for projects to be completed in the summer of 2019. The District currently carries over $6 million in Working Cash funds. 

Future projects

Looking ahead, the District needs to fix the auditorium HVAC system, said Mr. Rodino.

“There are two temperature levels in there: off and cold,” said Ms. Rodino, “so you know people always ask can you turn down the air. No. It’s often cold. We did look into doing this last summer, and it came back a lot more expensive than we had anticipated and it’s

probably going to be close to $600,000. We’re trying to reevaluate to see if we can do anything other than a full-blown replacement so we’ll have some discussions over that in the next year.”

Softball and baseball turf are on the plan for 2020/2011.

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