News

Building Committee learns how district's facilities proposal would save money on life-safety projects

Todd Moore
Posted: Sep. 23, 2014 7:21 am Updated: May. 13, 2015 6:28 pm

By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The Quincy School Board's Building Committee received clarification Monday on the projected costs and savings associated with the district's $89 million facilities bond issue appearing on the Nov. 4 ballot.

If voters approve the bond issue, the district would use the money to build five new elementary schools along with an addition at Quincy High School to accommodate freshmen -- all without having to increase the district's current tax levy.

One issue that has generated many questions involves the $66 million in estimated life-safety projects the district will face during the next 20 years if nothing is done to improve the district's older facilities.

Todd Moore, an engineer who headed the design team that crafted the facilities master plan, said the district would avoid having to spend about $50 million for life-safety projects if the bond issue passes. This is because several existing elementary schools would be taken out of service.

Moore said the remaining $16 million worth of projects would still have to be completed over the next 20 years at Quincy High School, Quincy Junior High School, Baldwin Intermediate School and the Early Childhood and Family Center.

Joel Murphy, the district's business manager, said this life-safety work is not a part of the $89 million bond issue. He said the district would likely pay for the $16 million in costs by tapping into revenue from the district's five-cent fire prevention tax levy, which generates between $400,000 and $500,000 a year. In addition, some of the life-safety costs would be offset by an estimated $11.2 million in operational savings from closing several buildings.

School Board member Scott Stone asked Murphy if that meant the district would not have to issue any additional bonds beyond the $89 million in facilities work identified in the Nov. 4 election.

"Hopefully not," Murphy replied.

Life-safety bonds have been used for many building-related repairs in recent years -- all of them related in some way to guarding the safety of students. Moore said $52.5 million was spent on life-safety work during the past 20 years, with virtually all of those costs financed by the issuance of bonds.

Moore said many the life-safety costs projected for the next 20 years involve the repair or replacement of things that gradually wear out over time, such as roofs, mechanical systems and doors. However, it also would include needed asbestos-removal work, security enhancements, handicapped-accessibility issues, electrical and plumbing upgrades, and a variety of interior and exterior repairs.

Dave Schlembach, an architect on the design team, said a review of the district's roofing systems shows one-seventh of the district's existing roofs -- roughly 100,000 square feet -- are more than 20 years old. Within two years, he said, an additional 100,000 square feet of roofs will become 20 years old, which is typically how long a roof lasts before it may have to be replaced.

Moore said the district also is facing big costs for upgrading mechanical systems in some of the older schools.

The boiler system used for heating Madison School must be replaced at some point, and installing a more efficient system is likely to cost at least $1.3 million. The exterior masonry at century-old Dewey Elementary School will need tuckpointing before long.

Both schools would be closed if new schools are built in Quincy.

-- ehusar@whig.com/221-3378