Niles releases update on bond projects
Published 10:15 am Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Niles school officials unveiled a clearer picture of what residents can expect to see during the implementation of two bond projects totaling $40 million that were approved by voters earlier this year.
The bond projects are being broken into two phases with the first phase set to begin in the spring of 2016 and the second in the late spring/early summer of 2017.
Supt. Dan Applegate said the plan is to have all construction completed by the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
“The hope is that it will be done in the 2018/19 school year,” he said.
Because of the projected end date, school officials are dubbing the bond project “Niles 2020” and tying it into the creation of a new three- to five-year strategic plan.
“It is about our vision for the community heading out toward 2020,” Applegate said. “What are we going to look like structurally and strategically? What are our kids going to look like and what is our school system going to look like — both by conceptual vision and actual vision?”
The first phase includes work at Howard-Ellis Elementary, Ring Lardner Middle School, Eastside Connections and Ballard Elementary. The second phase involves the Northside, Oak Manor, Niles High and Southside buildings.
New renderings and designs for each of the projects in phase one were released during Monday’s regular meeting of the Niles Community Schools Board of Education.
In addition to providing more information about the bond projects, school officials also explained how the cost to taxpayers would be less than what was originally projected.
Niles Community Schools received an improved credit rating during the summer, allowing the district to receive an interest rate of 3.88 percent for the bonds rather than the expected 4.75 percent.
School officials say this will result in savings to local taxpayers over the life of the bond to be around $8.8 million.
The majority of the information released Monday involved work on Howard-Ellis Elementary because it is the furthest along in the design schedule.
Below are some highlights for the Howard-Ellis project, which will include the closing of Ellis Elementary and an addition and renovations to Howard Elementary.
• Full sized gymnasium with office, storage and restrooms
• Five new classrooms
• Four new kindergarten classrooms with separate restrooms contained in each room
• New secured entrance near the remodeled administration area
• New driveway with extended drop-off lane
• Relocated staff parking
Applegate said residents should receive an update on the bond projects mailed with their tax forms.
More information can be found on the district’s website or at future board meetings.
Applegate is encouraging people to take a survey as part of the district’s strategic planning process. It is located on the district website.
Also, the district is hosting a strategic planning community forum from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3 at the Westside Administrative Center, 111 Spruce St., Niles.
The information gained from the survey and the forum will be used to develop the district’s three to five year strategic plan.