The Examiner U-46 News Feed
Bartlett sports complex primed for U-46 vote
By Seth Hancock
Work on a sports complex at Bartlett High School could start this fall if the Board of Education in School District U-46 approves a proposal at its meeting on Monday, Oct. 16. The proposal was presented on Oct. 2.
The $1.6 million proposal with L.J. Morse Construction Company would go towards the first phase of the project for bleachers, a press box and stadium lights and would largely come from donations collected by the Bartlett boosters, but some public funding would also be included. The completion date is May 11, 2018 and would allow Bartlett to host football and soccer games and track and field meets among other events.
The administration said: “Originally the boosters were told they needed to raise 100 [percent] of the funding to complete phase one of the project, we applied for the QZAB (Qualified Zone Academy Bonds) funds as a way to help them close the gap between the funds they have raised and the funds needed to complete the first phase of the project.”
George Kantzavelos, the Bartlett booster’s director of the activity complex, said a check for $925,000 will be given to the district through private donations. Some of those donations included $500,000 from Eddie Greco and $125,000 from TJ and Sheila Bednarke.
Jeff King, chief operating officer, said there would be $281,934 coming from the district’s operations and maintenance fund as well as $466,270 through the QZAB which could end up being more if “more districts pull out” of the offering from the state. He said the QZAB funds have to go to “this project only.”
“This has been in the works for quite a while with extreme amount of help from the booster club and the administrators at the school raising the amount of money that they have to put towards this project,” said King who added the district has already paid for the design of the complex.
Kantzavelos said in 2010 a committee was formed by the Bartlett boosters to begin planning the project and in 2011 they received approval from the board to start fundraising. He added the project “has the full backing of our [Village President] Kevin Wallace and the Bartlett Board of Trustees.”
Last year a $25,000 donation by the Bartlett Rotary Club allowed for the purchase of a scoreboard, and Kantzavelos thanked the district for helping install the scoreboard and for doing work on the field which has allowed Bartlett to host one varsity football game as well as a handful of soccer games so far.
“We don’t intend to stop here,” Kantzavelos said. “Our fundraising efforts will continue until all phases of the project are complete.”
Sheila Bednarke said there are three phases including turf by the third phase.
Board members Sue Kerr and Jeanette Ward asked about the QZAB funds referencing a letter from the boosters stating its plan to repay $100,000 a year over four years to help repay the debt.
“It’s really to get the first phase off the ground so we can get started before winter break’s here,” King said of the QZAB.
“So the idea is not that this is financed entirely by donation. It’s a partnership then?” Ward asked which King said was “correct.”
Ward also asked why the district was not paying for the entire project which King said “most of our resources around capital need to go just to maintaining what we already have and to keep our buildings operating. We don’t even have enough funding to do that quite frankly.”
Board member Phil Costello asked about naming rights which King said there’s a “contractual process.” Bednarke said: “I think when we get that big check we will ask you to consider that.”
South Elgin High School opened its own stadium entirely through private donations but is still without lights or a press box among other amenities it had originally planned for. Kerr said “I saw the difference” at South Elgin after the stadium was opened and asked if the district will provide public funding towards other stadium efforts.
King said “we’ve been in conversation with South Elgin High School” in order to get lights and a press box for that stadium. He said at Larkin High School, which uses Elgin’s stadium, no conversations are currently being had as the school is landlocked with no easy location for a stadium.
On the South Elgin stadium, King said the district has learned from it not to guarantee advertising rights for future payments as two vendors didn’t pay up.
Costello congratulated the boosters and said “this is very exciting. From the Bartlett community especially, I’ve heard nothing but great things about it and the support and pride factor it adds to the community.”
“Clearly this would not have been done without the logistics and the support and the backing of U-46,” Costello added.
Board member Melissa Owens called it a “great example of community partnership.”
Also to be voted on at the Oct. 16 meeting is a $66,339 proposal with Heartland Business Systems, which will come out of the education fund if approved, to purchase 315 computers.