Elwood school district officials will put a total of $38 million in capital bond projects before residents for approval this November.
Elwood’s board of education voted unanimously Sept. 28 to put forth two propositions for a vote next month. Proposition 1 includes $34.5 million for health and safety improvements across the district. A $3.65 million Proposition 2 would go toward enhancement of the athletic fields.
“Over the course of the next two months, I look forward to as much community participation as possible,” Superintendent Kenneth Bossert said. “We want to provide as much information as possible to residents so that they can make an informed decision at the polls on Nov. 28.”
The first proposition focuses on major projects in each of the four school buildings — Harley Avenue Elementary, Boyd Intermediate School, Elwood Middle School and John H. Glenn High School — including replacing the roofs to fix existing leaks and flooding issues, fixing sidewalk and pavement cracks, renovating cafeterias and auditoriums and including air conditioning in some spaces.
The second, if passed, would allow for enhancements to the district’s athletic facilities including a concession stand for the high school fields with an outdoor bathroom, a synthetic turf field, sidewalks to make the fields compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a new press box and a scoreboard for the varsity baseball field.
The major issue of debate at the Sept. 28 board meeting came down to prioritizing items on the district’s list of alternative projects. The list is a compilation of recommended building renovations and upgrades that may be possible to complete if Proposition 1 is approved by voters, and there are additional funds remaining after the outlined construction is completed.
“The alternative list are all projects that were removed from Proposition 1 in order to bring it down to a level where taxpayers could be comfortable with [the tax increase],” Bossert said.
The district’s original building repair survey had recommended approximately $60 million in needed construction and safety upgrades to the buildings.
Some of the alternative projects the district will put forth to the state which aren’t included in either proposition include a new districtwide satellite clock system for $105,000; a backup generator for the computer systems at $125,000; air conditioning for office areas at $710,000; replacement of heating and ventilation units for $110,000; wall paneling at $170,000; locker room renovations for $625,000 and landscaping a playground for $40,000.
“I would like to see some things that the students will be impacted by moved up to the top of the list,” trustee Heather Mammolito said. “In an ideal world, I’d like to see locker room renovations bumped up and some others, like wall panelling, lower on the list.”
Mammolito’s comments were echoed and supported by other members of the board, who reached an agreement to re-evaluate it before posting it for district residents.
The superintendent stressed that the alternative projects list is highly flexible and “not set in stone”, as the renovations would only be possible if there are surplus funds and, which ones move forward would be dependent on how much of the bond is left.
“Often as is the case with construction, there are unanticipated costs,” Bossert said. “We may have to add projects to our list.”
The alternative projects list must be compiled as it has to be approved by voters and sent to the state, according to Bossert, so that if there are funds leftover after major projects are completed the district would have authorization to do work on these projects.
School officials have plans to host walk-through tours at each of the school buildings prior to the November vote so residents can evaluate first-hand the proposed projects. The dates have yet to be announced.
The Nov. 28 vote will be held from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m at the district’s administrative offices. This a change from the district’s traditional 2 to 10 p.m. polling hours, approved by the school board, in order to offer more hours for working taxpayers to vote and more aligned with general election polling hours.