How much does it cost to replace a high school cafeteria? Apparently $5.3 million, if you’re Lyons Township High School.
A modern, new and light-filled cafeteria on LT’s North Campus is the most expensive item in an estimated $18.2 million capital improvement campaign that will be completed over the next three years.
LTHS District 204 will issue between $19 and $20 million in bonds in the next few months. Architectural and engineering fees are estimated to be about $1.3 million. The firm DLA is school district’s architect.
But the school district’s portion on taxpayers’ property tax bills should remain stable, because the new borrowing approved by the District 204 school board in October will replace some $16.9 million in bonds that are being retired after being issued 10 years ago. LTHS generally issues bonds every 10 years to fund capital improvements.
“Thanks to the district’s excellent financial condition and stewardship of taxpayer money, LT is in a position to retire nearly $20 million in debt and renew the same over 10 years with no increase in the tax rate,” said LT District 204 Superintendent Timothy Kilrea in a statement. “The projects under consideration will provide much-needed infrastructure work as well as educational programming whose scope and scale could never be undertaken in any single fiscal year. The bond issue will allow the district to continue this proven financial practice for the betterment not only of our students, but our taxpayers as well.”
The current North Campus cafeteria is basically three rooms where there is little natural light.
“Only one of them has natural light,” said Jennifer Bialobok, the district’s director of community relations. “It’s pretty dark, very dungeon like.”
Students will notice a big difference when the new cafeteria is opened in early 2015. The $5.3 million will pay for demolition of the current cafeteria, reconstruction and expansion, said David Sellers, LTHS’ director of business services.
“Going from a dark, enclosed space and adding enough space to allow natural light,” Sellers said. “There will be a curtain wall of windows that will make it a bright, spacious area not only for student dining, but also community and other school events.”
Work on the new cafeteria is expected to begin in June 2014 and be completed by February 2015.
During next year’s first semester, students at North Campus will eat lunch in the Vaughan Gym, which located across Cossitt Avenue from the school in LTHS’ athletic center.
Meanwhile, the North Campus’ Reber Center for the Performing Arts will undergo a $3.7 million facelift, including a new stage, all new seating and new electronics.
“There’s going to be a large investment in the electronics of the facility, the lighting and the sound system and, unavoidably, that price tag includes a substantial investment in the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system which has been very problematic over the years,” Sellers said.
About $2.4 million is budgeted for roof replacements, mostly at the South Campus.
“We’re replacing roofs that are more than 20 years old,” Sellers said.
About $1.3 million will be spent to replace old galvanized steel water piping with new copper pipes.
Another $1.2 million is being budgeted to refurbish science labs and $1.2 million will be spent to put in an artificial turf field at West Field, located just west of the North Campus.
The tennis courts at South Campus will be refurbished or replaced for $850,000 and the North Campus locker rooms will be upgraded. Bandwidth will be added at a cost of $400,000, and the South Campus main entrance will be reconfigured. The school will also install a new fire alarm system.
Work will start in June 2014 and everything will be completed in three years, Sellers said.
Sellers said LTHS expects to issue the bonds in December and January and expects to have to pay significantly lower interest rate than it did 10 years ago, which will allow it to borrow more money than the district did a decade ago.