Edison, athletic-facility upgrades face Champaign school board vote

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Edison, athletic-facility upgrades face Champaign school board vote

CHAMPAIGN — The price tags for a pair of Champaign School District renovation projects will go up significantly if the school board gives its blessing tonight.

The larger of the two increases would bump the budget for upgrades at Edison Middle School from $15 million to around $25 million.

Also up for vote: $45,000 more than planned for athletic-facility improvements at Spalding Park, the new home of Champaign Central Maroons baseball. That would bring the project's cost to about $3.9 million and cover the cost of a "batter's eye" screen — a dark outfield backdrop to help hitters better see the ball.

Both the Edison and Spalding projects were approved by taxpayers in November 2016, part of a six-school, two-field $183.4 million referendum.

Unit 4 district officials say money for the unplanned upgrades would come from "approved alternate funding sources."

In Edison's case, Unit 4 Chief Financial Officer Tom Lockman told News-Gazette Media last week, the funding source could be the district's reserves and/or arbitrage money (interest from bonds it sold in 2017).

For now, the renovations at 105-year-old Edison are limited primarily to minor site work and classroom improvements, an expansion of the gym and a new cafeteria. If $10 million is added to the project, it would go toward electrical and plumbing, windows and a fire-safety system, among other things.

District officials received mostly positive feedback when they floated the revised Edison plan by Unit 4's citizen referendum oversight committee last week.

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