School Board Debates Facility Repairs, Funding
Apr 01, 2014 02:08PM
● By Steven Jack
The pool at OEHS is in need of more than $200,000 in repairs. Photo courtesy District 308
In a School District with many new facilities, costly repairs still need to be made.
The District 308 School Board Monday night discussed some of those repairs, and how they will go about funding them. Administrators brought forward a proposal that could total up to $7.8 million, but have settled on an appreviated list costing $3.6 million
Many items on the larger list of repairs can wait, according to administrators; however, nearly $1 million is needed now to repair heating and cooling structures at both The Wheatlands and Fox Chase elementary schools. Other high-dollar improvements include: more than $1 million in pavement repairs across the district, $500,000 in track upgrades at OHS, $250,000 in roof work also at OHS and $210,000 in repairs at the OEHS pool.
How the district will pay for these improvements was a matter of discussion between board members and administrators. Superintendent Matthew Wendt said because the district does not have a large and dedicated facilities’ maintenance fund in its annual budget, $3 million left over from savings realized from the construction of the high school additions could be used.
Board member Greg O’Neil disagreed, saying any money left over from the addition bonds should be returned from where it was borrowed. He said not doing so was a betrayal of taxpayer trust.
“Is that the intended purpose of that debt?” O’Neil said. “Our debt is pretty high in Oswego and borrowing money to make incidental repairs doesn’t seem like a prudent course of action to me.”
Wendt agreed, but argued using the left over funds is the best “plan B” for that money.
“I don’t know if I agree with that. I think the best Plan B is to return the money to the banks,” O’Neil said. “… I don’t think the voters would approve.”
Board members again also debated whether to overhaul the track at OHS. The track currently has seven lanes and the proposal would be to add an eighth and resurface. A seven-lane track precludes the school from hosting regional events because those events require an eight-lane track.
“I have to ask the question, if we have to have that, will it pay off?” said board member Brent Lightfoot.
OEHS has an eight-lane track and also has never hosted a regional meet, he said.
Pool repairs at OEHS also are high on the list. Associate Superintendent Paul O'Malley said the facility is nearly unusable without removing and replacing the plaster finish of the entire interior of the pool and other repairs around the deck .
The fate of all projects, which would be completed over the summer, will be decided at the board’s April 14 meeting when a final vote is set. For a complete list of the projects proposed, download the .pdf file attached at the top of this article.