D-428 OKs elementary school building projects

Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – DeKalb School District 428 will use a $21 million construction grant to build new entrances at Littlejohn and Malta elementary schools.

The DeKalb school board gave the administration the go-ahead Tuesday to begin seeking bids on projects that would cost the district an estimated $785,000. District leaders want to rebuild five elementary school entrances because of security concerns; two of the projects had been approved previously using other funds.

District leaders applied for the state construction grant while building DeKalb High School, but did not receive the money until after it was finished. They vowed to use the money for educational purposes, declining to put it toward the district’s $2.3 million deficit.

For months, the district’s finance and facilities advisory committee – a group of residents, community leaders and district officials – has been considering how to reduce the district’s costs and how to spend the grant.

Tammy Carson, the district’s facilities operations manager, said the committee found the lack of secured entrances at five of the district’s elementary schools to be a top priority.

“Entrances that are not secured allow visitors to get past a staff member,” Carson said. “We run the risk that someone could bypass the office and go right into the school building.”

The district also is planning to build secured entrances at Lincoln and Jefferson elementary schools. Those four projects are scheduled to begin as soon as school ends, Carson said.

Tyler Elementary School also lacks a secured entrance. The advisory committee is exploring a pre-kindergarten or early childhood program that would be housed in either Tyler or Cheseboro elementary schools, Carson said.

“It didn’t seem appropriate putting in a secure entrance not knowing what the final layout would be,” Carson said.

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