A potential capital improvement project in the Iroquois School District would include about $14 million in upgrades, but it likely won’t be presented for voter approval until late 2015.
Superintendent Douglas Scofield said a building conditions survey identified $40 million in “fix-it items” but the district cut nearly two thirds from the original price tag to focus on highest priority needs.
Most of the project will focus on health and safety items, such as new roofs, driveways, locks and heating units.
“We’re looking to do projects that won’t impact the taxpayers,” said Scofield. “We feel comfortable we can do that like we did with the last project.”
Scofield said the safety elements include reorganizing the front entrances so that visitors are more visible as they approach and enter the buildings. No additions are planned.
“There’s nothing glorious that we’re recommending,” Scofield said.
School districts are required by state education law to have a building conditions survey completed every five years.
The project, which is in its infancy, was presented to the Board of Education on Wednesday. Scofield said it could be placed before voters as early as December, but December 2015 was more realistic for feedback from the board and community.
Board President Charles Specht agreed, pointing out that the district doesn’t want to rush the process. “It’s important that we always have that input from our community,” Specht said. “To try and put something together for a vote in December of this year is an awfully short time. I don’t want anybody to feel that something is being shoved down their throat.”
Vice President David Lowrey also noted that because the project was just announced, it would be wise to wait until the district hires an architect and has designs available for public inspection before submitting a referendum to voters.
Scofield said he’s “always torn” with capital projects, noting timing is important with getting projects approved by the state Education Department, but communication with the public is vital.
“The issue we have is once you get approval … you want to get into a good bidding season and they take so long in their review and approval of the plans,” Scofield said. “We could always have a vote and wait, but if you’re waiting after you have the vote, why not take more time to inform the taxpayers?”