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Fieldcrest Board Approves Life Safety Upgrades

Wednesday, January 15, 2020 - Posted 9:22:55 PM

The Fieldcrest Board of Education approved spending measures to meet the Health/Life/Safety mandates of the State of Illinois in a board planning meeting at the Wenona Middle School Wednesday night.

The school's architects from Basalay Cary & Alstadt gave a slide presentation of the Health/Life/Safety costs. The presentation included the costs for just doing the HLS repair and also the cost for replacing the existing buildings. The estimated HLS repair cost for the middle school was $13,418,100 while replacement cost would be $19,369,245. The HLS repair cost for the high school in Minonk was $11,387,160 while replacement cost would be $20,301,112.

After the presentation, the board heard comments from the audience. Some of the public comments were questioning the need to keep a middle school in Wenona. James Liner said that there was enough space in the secondary school in Toluca and the primary school in Minonk to house the middle school students. Fieldcrest Superintendent Dr. Kari Rockwell disagreed saying there is not enough space to house the students in the other buildings.

After discussing the various options, the board approved a motion to demolish the older 3 story building at the middle school and replace it with a new foyer/entrance that will have built in security features. All of the other HLS costs in the study done by the school's architect were approved. The estimated cost of this would be roughly $10,534,562.40 (HLS Repairs minus the 1923 repairs $7,228,802, 1923 demo $500,000, secure entrance/office addition of $1,050,000; 10% contingency of $877,880.20, and 10% fees of $877,880.20).

Then the board approved a motion to add a ag shop to the existing high school building in Minonk and implement the other HLS updates recommended by the architect. The estimated cost of this would be roughly $13,039,020 (HLS Repairs of $9,489,300; Ag shop addition of $1,376,550; 10% contingency of $1,086,585, and 10% fees of $1,086,585).

The total cost for the HLS upgrades would be $23,573,582.40. For a detailed description of costs prepared by board member Jordan Meyer, click here.

The meeting started with a presentation from Stephen Adams from the financial firm PMA which helps schools in issuing bonds. Given the estimated cost to satisfy the Life Safety mandates, the school will need to borrow in excess of $20 million. Mr. Adams emphasized that having a financial adviser saves money when going into the bond market.

Mr. Adams said the school's debt capacity is $20,235,000 as of December 1, 2019 based on the formula of 13.8% of the school district's EAV. The school's authorized limit of working cash bonds is $7,138,436.

A presentations was shown on what the tax rate would be for the school to issue a bond of $20 million for Life/Safety costs and issue a $5 million dollar working cash bond for 20 years. Below is a chart showing the different tax rate scenarios.
Tax consideration Scenario 1
No Windfarm revenue
Scenario 2
1 Windfarm revenue
Scenario 3
2 Windfarms revenue
Increase in tax rate 0.623 0.0376 0.0
Increase in tax on $100,000 home $170.23 $102.64 $0.0
The amount of interest and principal paid out on a $20 million dollar bond would be $29,778,308 after 20 years.

Dr. Rockwell said the space formerly occupied by the Presbyterian Church building will probably be used to expand the school's parking area. She also replied to those who asked what would happen if the school did nothing on resolving the Life/Safety mandates. She said the school would lose its state funding and also would be unable to participate in sports.

The next step is to start the process of securing a bond to pay for the HLS cost which could take up to 30 or more days to complete. School Board President Mykin Bernardi said the board will start very soon to implement the Life Safety upgrades and fixes. The next steps will be creating a timeline with BCA. Dr. Rockwell said she estimates the upgrades will start the summer of 2021.