The DeLand-Weldon school district will start on a $2 million renovation project this spring that will include new heat for both of its buildings, installation of air conditioning, exterior brick repair and new windows.
"Basically it's going to be like new buildings when we get done with it," said Superintendent Gary Brashear, noting that the school board's decision to approve $1.7 million in life safety bonds last month came after a year of discussion that included public meetings and tours of the structures.
It will be the largest amount the district has ever borrowed, even more than the $500,000 loan to build the high school, which was finished in 1958. The elementary school was constructed six years later.
The project will also include upgrades in the electrical system to accommodate ever-changing technological needs. That's an important item for the rural district of 221 students, according to school board president Dean Bush.
"We are running at a maximum on our incoming power source," said Bush. "This will allow us to take advantage of other opportunities to help the district offer more in the area of technology in the future."
The school board was able to approve the borrowing without a voter referendum due to projected energy savings of $250,000 over the next 20 years. That qualifies it for an energy savings performance contract, and GRP Mechanical of Bethalto serving as the consultant and general contractor for the effort.
For district homeowners, it will increase the tax rate an estimated 21 cents per $100 of assessed valuation for the next 15 years, adding about $70 annually to the tax bill of residents with a $100,000 home.