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West Elementary tennis courts' condition a worry for D-427

SYCAMORE – The Sycamore School District 427 board could look to partner with the Sycamore Park District to maintain deteriorating tennis courts at West Elementary School after members expressed concerns about the cost of revamping the area.

The dilapidated tennis courts have caused concerns in the past four years and could pose a liability for the district if someone were to be injured on the cracked and broken surface. But costs of improving the area may be too much, members said Tuesday.

Kreg Wesley, director of operations, presented three options to the board that included resurfacing the courts with a competition surface, demolishing the area or revamping the area to include tennis and basketball courts.

Resurfacing or demolishing the area would have cost more than $40,000, but converting it into a tennis-basketball court area would cost only $27,000 – a price still too steep for board member Diane Tyrrell.

“I have a hard time spending money like this because of the financial times we’re in,” she said.

Board member Jeff Jacobson said the district should first gauge the interest the Sycamore Park District has in the property before deciding what should be done with the area.

Board President Jim Dombek said if the district cannot strike an agreement with the park district, the area should be converted to exclusively basketball courts because it would be more beneficial to elementary students.

Either way, Dombek said it is good to finally “see the light at the end of the tunnel” for courts that have caused problems for years.

“Hopefully we will be able to arrive at a solution with the park district,” Dombek said.

The board also took its next step in approving a $63.5 million budget Tuesday, authorizing the superintendent to prepare the budget for a public hearing.

The proposed budget carries a $2.6 million deficit as state support continues to plummet. Reserves in the education fund are expected to drop from $9.4 million to $7.1 million.

The largest expense in the budget is salaries and benefits at $30.8 million, but the support staff salaries decreased by $180,000 – or 13 percent – and the administration salaries decreased by $184,000, equal to 10.6 percent.

Teacher and custodian salaries increased by a combined $444,581. A public hearing date has not been set on the budget.

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