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District 200 facing $51M in facility work over next 3 years

WHEATON – Capital improvements have long been high on the to-do list for Community Unit School District 200.

In the next few years, they may shoot to the top.

The Board of Education received an updated report Wednesday on its facilities and got a $51.3 million projection of high-priority work to be done in the next three years.

"We drafted an overview of this part of our master plan so that we can have a succinct ability to communicate with our stakeholders about what the overall needs are and where they exist," said board Secretary Brad Paulsen.

Most of the pressing needs involve roofing and electrical and mechanical systems, he said.

The update added Hubble Middle School, Woodland Elementary School, Jefferson Early Childhood Center and the School Services Center as areas to monitor for potential work.

The possible capital needs of each relevant building were rated by condition on a scale of one to three. Those rated three were low priority, and projected to be stable more than nine years. Buildings rated two would likely require attention in four to eight years and those rated one need to be addressed in the next three years.

Just to address high priority items, the district would need to spend about $10 million in 2016, $10.1 million in 2017 and $31.1 million in 2018 for a total of about $51.3 million. The district would be accountable for an additional $87.1 million for condition two projects down the line, according to district documents.

Jefferson could require $5.6 million – nearly all – of its work in the first year of the projected three-year condition one timeline. Some of its issues present safety concerns, said district Director of Facility Operations John Robinson.

Robinson said last year the school's 58-year-old boiler gave out one weekend. Though staff was able to repair it before the day was through, the school could have had to close for weeks while waiting for a temporary boiler.

Paulsen said the costs were rough estimates providing a roadmap of what needed to be done, and that the district would lean on feedback from schools and the community moving forward.

Robinson said the district could complete $489,144 worth of work across nine schools using capital reserves in 2015, including adding another boiler at Jefferson and asphalt replacement at seven schools.

The district intends to hire an architecture firm to work on its master facility plan in May, said Superintendent Jeff Schuler. Then plans will progress to bidding and specific pricing.

Schuler said there are pressing projects on the horizon.

"That work has to happen, because if not you're going to encounter some conditions within buildings that cause you to need to continue to do some emergency solutions and that might not afford you the ability to use dollars wisely to address both physical needs and programmatic needs," he said.

Though the board did not act to fund anything Wednesday, future costs weighed on some of its members.

"The reality of it is what concerns me, and that's how do we get there?" said board member Jim Mathieson. "That's the challenge."

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