CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign school board voted 6-0 Monday to go ahead with several improvements, many of which will be paid for with money from a working-cash bond issue.
The board approved a $9.6 million contract with Control Technology Solutions of St. Louis to install new geothermal systems and windows at Franklin and Jefferson middle schools and new lights at those schools, as well as at Edison Middle School and Central High School.
Board member Kristine Chalifoux was absent.
Those improvements will be made using about $9 million from working-cash bonds.
In the contract, the school board also approved new window air-conditioners for Edison Middle School, but those will be paid for with money from the school facilities sales tax. That project will cost about $597,000.
CTS' Mark Graves told the school board it has also been awarded a $90,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation for the geothermal system at Jefferson, and hopes to be awarded the same amount from that organization for the geothermal system at Franklin Middle School.
The school district has also been awarded $200,000 more in grant money from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for other improvements to be made under the contract, Graves said.
Board member Jamar Brown asked what will happen with budgeted money left over because of the grants, and Logas said it will be used to pay for other school improvements.
Logas said CTS hopes to finish this summer Jefferson's geothermal system and new windows, air conditioning at Edison and possibly lights at Jefferson, Franklin, Edison and Central, although Graves said CTS may end up recommending Central's lights be completed next summer. Wells at Franklin will be dug this fall, and the system finished and windows installed next summer.
CTS has agreed to pay for any overtime required to finish the project this summer, so that cost is not passed on to the school district, Logas said.
CTS is also guaranteeing that the digging of the wells will cost about $900,000, and if it comes in at less than that, the savings will go to the school district. If it comes in at more than that price, CTS will pay the difference, Logas said.
The school board voted in February to issue up to $14.5 million in working-cash bonds; still on its list of improvements are wireless technology in all buildings and a new transportation facility.
If the school board issues the full $14.5 million in bonds, it would raise property taxes by about $25 each year for the owner of a $150,000 home.
The bond issue has been controversial; more than 2,300 community members signed petitions in March, asking the school board to put it on the November ballot.
But many school board members have said that while issuing the bonds is a difficult decision, they believe the improvements are best for the school district's children and need to be completed as soon as possible.