Replacing an HVAC unit for one elementary school can cost close to $500,000, or about half of what the district receives in lottery funds each year. With the district’s existing facilities budget, it would take 24 years to replace all the units in the district. Add to that aging roofs, heavily worn floors, cracks in the concrete, and the cost of operations for the district’s more than 2 million square feet of building space can be overwhelming.
As our buildings age (our newest school was completed in 2010, our oldest in 1929), the district relies on a sustainable plan to tackle a growing list of maintenance projects. Created in 2019, that plan guides where our limited funds can make the biggest impact each year.
A facilities committee made up of community and district representatives helps identify needs, which are paid for by a combination of general, supplemental levy and lottery funds. This mix is important because Lottery Commission rules specify lottery funds can only be used for projects inside student-occupied buildings. This excludes maintenance of parking lots, sidewalks, tracks, non-school district offices and more.
Because of these restrictions, supplemental levy dollars are critical in reducing the district’s $7 million backlog of identified maintenance needs, although they aren’t sufficient to cover them all.
You’ll see some of those levy dollars at work this summer, albeit reduced due to COVID-related summer school and other extended opportunities.