The Highland School Board agreed to issue about $450,000 in bonds to help partially fund health/life safety work needed throughout the district.
The bonds will be used to fund work identified in a recently completed 10-year health life/safety survey required by Illinois School Code (ISC). The newly issued bonds have yet to be earmarked for any specific projects. The district has more than $8 million in health/life safety work that has been identified.
According to the ISC, all school districts in Illinois are required to contract with a licensed architect to conduct a comprehensive Life Safety survey every 10 years and submit it to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) for approval, along with a list of identified projects needed to comply with current Life Safety codes.
Identified items are classified in the survey as being:
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▪ Urgent (must be completed within one calendar year from the date of ISBE approval);
▪ Required (must be completed within five years of ISBE approval); and/or
▪ Recommended (not a threat to health or safety).
The district hopes to pay for most — if not all — of its health/life safety projects with Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCB) offered through the state.
“I’m hoping to hear back about our QSCB application in February,” said Highland Schools Business Manager Tim Bair.
In the meantime, Bair recommended the School Board issue the $450,000 in health/life safety bonds, just in case the state enacts a freeze on property taxes. Senate Bill 318, which passed the Senate in August and has gone to the House, would impose a two-year property tax freeze, putting all counties under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law. If that were to happen, the district would not be able to raise its levy enough to pay for the bonds.
In December, the School Board hired GRP Mechanical Contractors out of Bethalto as the contractor to perform all its health/life safety work over the next several years.
“We will work with them to identify the exact projects that we want to complete and they will submit a price before a contract is executed,” Superintendent Mike Sutton said. “The district will then decide to enter into the contract or not at that time.”
Jeff Williams, director of building and grounds, said his staff will be able to do some of the projects internally, saving the district “quite a bit of money.”
“But the performance contractor will perform the lion’s share of the work,” he said.
Highland Schools Facilities Spending Plan
The Highland School District is considering a number of building improvements it plans to make, starting next summer. According to the recently completed five-year facilities plan, the district is proposing to spend:
▪ $3.94 million at Highland High School;
▪ $2.98 million at Highland Middle School;
▪ $206,999 at the Lindenthal campus;
▪ $1.23 million at Highland Elementary School;
▪ $312,000 at Highland Primary School;
▪ $351,139 at Alhambra Primary;
▪ $125,000 at Grantfork Elementary; and
▪ $1.09 million at the administrative center.
Health/Life Safety Total: $8.19 million
Operations and Maintenance Total: $1.14 million
TIF Total: $929,000
Grand Total: $10.26 million