The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 safety reports set for vote after discussion
By Seth Hancock
The Board of Education in School District U-46 will be voting on the 10-year safety survey reports of 12 schools at its upcoming meeting on Monday, Feb. 5. The reports were presented on Jan. 22.
U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said it’s been “quite some time” since a 10-year safety survey report had been given to the board on district schools. Jeff King, deputy superintendent of operations, said the remaining district schools are also undergoing the process.
King said that “every 10 years a board is required to survey its buildings for health life safety code concerns” and “what we typically do is we hire an architect to do this.”
“What they do is they go into every building and identify the things that would qualify under the life safety amendment,” King added.
The total cost of issues identified as needing a fix is $8.4 million among the 12 schools surveyed.
There were 10 elementary schools surveyed: Sycamore ($1.9 million), Prairieview ($1.9 million), Centennial ($1.8 million), Hawk Hollow ($45,000) and Liberty ($21,840) all in Bartlett along with Carol Stream’s Spring Trail ($2 million), Hoffman Estates’ Timber Trails ($106,080) and Lincoln ($52,800) and Elgin’s Otter Creek ($85,680) and Hilltop ($7,800).
South Elgin High School ($335,040) and South Elgin’s Kenyon Woods Middle School ($44,400) were also among the schools surveyed.
King said identified issues are prioritized as A (must be addressed within year), B (within five years) or C (discretionary).
The amendments/surveys need approval by the board, state and regional office of education (ROE) and once approved the district can use life/safety funds to do the identified work. U-46 must receive permits from the ROE and possibly from the communities where the schools are located.
“On average it takes up to one year to complete the average evaluation and generated amendment due to the paperwork requirements and approvals that need to be granted,” King said.
Board member Sue Kerr asked where the life/safety funds come from.
“There’s a couple different ways you can do that,” King said. “We do levy 10 cents for life/safety which generates roughly about $3 million a year. You can also sell life/safety bonds and do it that way.”
Kerr asked if bonds would be able to be used for other capital projects beyond life/safety to which King said “strictly life/safety.”
Sanders said “if you’re asking do we actually have enough funds to cover the actual life/safety needs, and I think the answer historically is no” and King said “not even close.”
“It would take us at least three years to cover those based on what we are levying now,” said King.
Kerr also expressed shock in some of the issues, noting South Elgin High School’s need for a third egress in its gymnasium, because of the age of the schools.
“These are all new buildings,” Kerr said. “These are the newest buildings in our district.”
King said capacity calculations may have changed or rules changes may have occurred since the schools were built.
Board member Melissa Owens asked about Kenyon Woods where the janitor’s room was listed as needing action because there is no exhaust system leading to objectionable odors, to which King said the room being used was not designed for the purpose it’s being used for currently.
“So due to the space constraints at the school, that’s why we’re using it that way?” Owens asked.
“I’ll tentatively answer yes,” King said. “The custodian shouldn’t be parked where he’s parked…. We’ll have to decide whether we’ll leave him there and ventilate or we’ll move him.”
King added: “In the past where we’ll get notified by a building that they have a room that doesn’t have heating and air conditioning and we’ll get there and it was a storage closet, then we tell them ‘no, you can’t use that. It wasn’t designed for occupancy, you can’t use that space.’ I think that’s the same issue here.”
Board member Jeanette Ward asked: “So are we going to revise this then based on that?”
King said “this won’t get revised” and “we’ll just have to make the decision. If we move him, then we won’t need to modify it.”