The Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95 Board of Education is poised to pass a resolution next month to issue $7.5 million in construction bonds in order to fund preliminary work related to major expansion projects at both Brook Park Elementary School and S.E. Gross Middle School.
At the same time, according to Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski, the school board is contemplating refinancing bonds issued back in 2006 in order to see some savings resulting from lower interest rates.
Refinancing the 2006 debt will save the school district between $450,000 and $585,000 over the life of the bonds, which are scheduled to be repaid in full in 2026. The school board could also choose to shorten the term of the bonds.
Once the school board passes the resolution authorizing the new bond issue on Nov. 9, the bonds would be sold within two weeks and the proceeds available to the district by the end of 2017.
The school district would conduct a second bond issue of $12.5 million in 2018, to complete the $20 million issuance of new debt, which voters approved by referendum last spring for the construction of a classroom addition and new gymnasium at Brook Park School and a major renovation and construction of a new gymnasium at S.E. Gross Middle School.
In addition, District 95 officials in 2018 plan to issue another $15 in non-referendum bonds, which will be repaid using operating funds already available to the district.
School district officials will appear before the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission on Oct. 26. The school district is asking for a special use permit for the work at S.E. Gross School, which sits on land that is zoned for both commercial and residential development.
District officials will appear before the LaGrange Park Plan Commission in December, said Kuzniewski, once the district receives storm water management approvals from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
Work at S.E. Gross School in Brookfield is expected to begin with asbestos abatement and the demolition of the auditorium/industrial arts wing, which will undergo a dramatic makeover beginning next year.
That initial work is expected to begin in mid- to late-January 2018. As a result, the band room will be moved to a second-floor conference room at the school and the woodshop will be relocated to another area, which has yet to be determined.
But, according to Kuzniewski, the wood shop won’t be returning after the end of the 2017-18 school year. The class’ longtime teacher, Tim Rost, will retire next June.
“I don’t think the wood shop will be picked up and reinstated somewhere else,” Kuzniewski said.
Instead, the administration is working on a plan to create an elective STEM curriculum that could be housed in the newly rehabbed wing, which will also include a ground-floor “cafetorium” – combination cafeteria/auditorium – and a band area.
“When the new space is done, we’ve planned for an elective curriculum rooted probably more in the 21st century than in circular saws.”
Even before the asbestos and demolition work begins at S.E. Gross, ComEd may be at each of the school later this fall to relocate underground electrical cables.
Construction on the additions at both schools won’t start in earnest until June 2018. The new spaces are expected to be completed and open for use by the start of the 2019-20 school year.