Urbana school board targets four schools for facility improvements

Urbana school board targets four schools for facility improvements

URBANA — Four Urbana schools can be expected to see significant building improvements within the next few years.

But upgrades at two elementary schools are probably still several years away.

The Urbana school board this week unanimously approved a list of four priorities for facilities work.

The board is committed to completing the projects on a pay-as-you-go basis— using money from Urbana’s share of the county sales tax for school facilities, as well as life-safety money — rather than asking district residents to pay higher property-tax bills to fund the work.

The first priority is installing central air-conditioning throughout Prairie Elementary School, a project that will complete improvements at that facility.

Superintendent Don Owen said Wednesday he expects the work to be finished in the summer of 2015.

No. 2 on the list is replacing the kitchen at Urbana High School, including upgrading the serving area, making the kitchen more energy-efficient and converting the food setup into one that would be more attractive for students. Owen said he expects that work to begin in 2015 and be completed by the summer of 2016.

The third priority is converting the student drop-off area at Thomas Paine Elementary School to serve separate bus and car traffic. Owen said this work will be finished in 2015.

The fourth priority is $7.1 million of improvements at Yankee Ridge Elementary School, including replacing the roof; building a new kitchen; adding a multipurpose room; adding central air-conditioning; replacing the school’s leaky windows; and constructing three new fine arts classrooms.

“The school board decided to pick one school as our next target, and commit to that school,” Owen said. “There was a concern over the age of the roof and the windows at Yankee Ridge. The windows are from 1957, and we spend money every year on window leakage. The roof was built in 1987. It is the oldest roof in the district.”

Owen said $700,000 of the district’s life-safety money can be applied toward the cost of the aging roof at Yankee Ridge. He expects the district to have that much money accumulated in its life-safety funds by 2017.

“Because of the age of the roof, we have to do that roof in a certain amount of time,” Owen said.

Owen said the design work at Yankee Ridge — including meetings between the principal, teachers and architects — would likely begin sometime in 2015.

Construction could begin by the summer of 2017.

Once the Yankee Ridge work has been completed and the school board has enough money available for additional projects, the school district would then tackle improvements at Wiley and Thomas Paine elementary schools. Each is projected to cost in the neighborhood of $7 million.

“In two years we will revisit the list of projects and available funding and pick the next school,” Owen said.

In other action, the board voted to increase the cost of milk this fall from 30 cents to 35 cents.
 

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