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Upgrades in District 428 could cost up to $11.6 million

DeKALB – DeKalb school officials saw a timeline of all the different upgrades that could be made to DeKalb School District 428’s elementary schools, upgrades that would cost at most $11.6 million.  

The presentation the school board heard Tuesday was an informational item, as the board will consider and vote on each project separately.  

“The main purpose behind all of this is, each year, we can put in front of the school board the timeline of this and build into each of the budgets,” said Andrea Gorla, the assistant superintendent for business and finance.

The timeline is a culmination of the work done by the district’s finance and facilities committee – a group of school officials and community leaders who brainstormed different ways the school district can save money and wisely use its $21 million construction grant.  

“The purpose of forming this committee, and this timeline, was to bring the options on how we could possibly spend some of the $21 million,” board President Tom Matya said. “I feel now we have a platform where we could start to make those decisions.”  

The major projects the board has considered, including the creation of a pre-kindergarten/early childhood education center and updating the condition of the various buildings, came from the committee.   

“We’re going to continue to focus on building safety,” Matya said. “We want to make sure we get that done as best as we possible can, then continue on building parity. A third component is how are we going to introduce technology in the classroom?”  

Matya said a good portion of these proposed projects would be funded by the district’s construction grant.

Gorla said in an interview that $800,000 of that grant will be used for building secured entrances at Littlejohn and Malta elementary schools.   

If all of the projects were approved by the board, the district would be spending between $11.1 million and $11.6 million, depending on whether they approve a full renovation of Chesebro Elementary for the pre-K/EC center and how they reconfigure the middle school schedule.  

Gorla said some of these project costs are estimated, while others have been fleshed out. An example is the renovation of Tyler Elementary School, a project that has gone from $2 million to $3 million.   

Most of the projects would occur between the 2014-15 school year. Adding onto an existing elementary school, which the committee has talked about, has a $4 million price tag, but no set date for starting this project has been listed.

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