With students out for summer break, District 91 is putting to work in a more aggressive effort some of the funds it has levied for building maintenance. Classes officially let out on Monday and administrators have a long list of projects for custodians to tackle at the village’s four public school campuses.
“We want to establish a practice of monitoring our buildings on an annual basis,” Business Manager Ed Brophy said. “They do that already. We’re just specifying that process from an accountability perspective.”
Instead of building principals issuing requests directly to maintenance staff-which must be approved by district administrators anyway-Brophy, Superintendent Lou Cavallo and Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Bob Laudadio walked through each building before the end of the year. From these tours, lists of maintenance items were compiled and prioritized over a 24-month schedule.
That schedule kicks in this summer and, according to Brophy, a centralized checklist for such projects will make it easier to determine what work still remains.
At a school board meeting on Thursday, June 12, administrators are expected to present estimates for several of the major projects at each campus. Funding for the bulk of the work at each school does not warrant board approval; however, anything that costs more than $10,000 must come for a vote.
Fencing surrounding the Grant-White Elementary School playground is likely to be moved this summer to help create more parking for staff. This project, along with others at Field-Stevenson Elementary and Betsy Ross Elementary, will likely be discussed at the June 12 meeting, according to Brophy.
Other more routine matters include painting walls, repairing doors, fixing pipes and patching carpets.
All of the items on the summer maintenance schedule will be paid for out of the district’s operations and maintenance fund, which is expected to receive a serious cash infusion in the coming year. Board members voted earlier this year to levy $1.3 million for this portion of the budget, a dramatic increase over the 2006 maintenance levy of $710,000.
The operations and maintenance levy is the second largest amount within the total $12.7 million levy for the district. More than $10.4 million was levied for the education fund.
For several years, the operations and maintenance fund has been bleeding a deficit of about $500,000. Administrators anticipate there will still likely be a negative fund balance in this ledger at fiscal year’s end, and it will take several years before the facilities – and the budget that supports them – are shored up.
Also slated for the summer is the construction and completion of three computer labs, one each at Betsy Ross Elementary, Field-Stevenson Elementary and the middle school.