Archived Story

New Tech expansion one of district’s summer projects

Published 12:55pm Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Several projects are expected to take place throughout Niles Community Schools this summer, including the addition of classroom space for Niles New Tech, improvements to elementary school parking lots and a move to more efficient lighting in school buildings.

The cost for all three projects is around $1.26 million, which will be paid for with an interest-free government bond called a QZAB. The district will pay back the bond with money from its sinking fund, which business manager Tom Skarbek said can only be used for capital projects and not items like operating expenditures, purchase services or employee salaries.

“There are very specific uses for these funds,” Skarbek said.

New Tech expansion

Niles New Tech Entrepreneurial Academy will be enrolling about 125 new freshmen next year, bringing the total number of New Tech learners to approximately 250.

In order to make room for the incoming learners, the district will spend about $563,000 to transform 11 rooms at the high school into five New Tech classrooms and a multipurpose audio-visual room.

New Tech learners will use three of the new classrooms next year, while traditional high school students will use the other two next year. New Tech will move into the other two classrooms in the 2013-14 school year.

The project is the second phase of three-phase project with the purpose of creating enough space at the high school to house four grades of New Tech learners. The final phase is expected to take place in the summer of 2013.

The district budgeted $900,000 in QZAB money to complete phases two and three.

Pearson Construction, of Benton Harbor, will do the work for phase two.

Parking lots and lighting

The district designated $100,000 in QZAB funds to pay for parking lot improvements at both Howard and Ellis elementary schools. The work could include additional parking, improvement of existing parking areas as well as new signs and pavement striping for both schools.

Skarbek said the project would improve traffic flow, especially at pick-up time.

The district is also switching to more energy-efficient lighting this summer. Skarbek said the district’s lighting is becoming obsolete. He expects the switch to save the district $20,000 to $25,000 in electrical costs each year. About $600,000 in QZAB funds is designated for the lighting switch project.

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