Community Engagement Session 3
1. Welcome, Opening Remarks
Nancy Eschker and Tom Erf, Community Co-Chair
2. Informational Presentation:
STR Architectural Firm
William Blair Financial Consultants
3. Introduction of Small Group Work Activity
Nancy Eschker and Tom Erf, Community Co-Chair
4. Small Group Work Activity
Vison 73 Participants
5. Small Group Reporting
Co-chairs and Small Group Spokespersons
6. Preview of Next Session (CES #4) —
NEXT Meeting: Thursday, June 9, 2016 • 7:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M. • East Prairie School Learning Center
Take a look at the "District Options" Presentation that was hosted by our Co-Chairs and Alan Armburst from STR Partners, Derek Ward from Gilbane and Kevin O'Kelly From William Blair Company
For your review, we have compiled all of the responses from the community for the various tasks that were completed.
Task #1: Identifying Initial Facility Option Preferences – Individual
Tonight you heard information about the initial option possibilities for East Prairie School. Based on your first impressions of the scenarios, which option do you most prefer?
As individuals, please take a YELLOW post it note and place it on the Facility Option Poster that you most prefer.
Option # # of Post-Its
Task #2: Identifying the Best Facility Option for Your Children – Table consensus
Discuss with your small group the advantages and disadvantages for each of the four facility options presented tonight. Then select the scenario that your group feels is the best option for your children, in other words, which option would you want your children to have for a school environment? Record the group’s top selection as well as the advantages and disadvantages.
Task #3: Planning for Community Engagement Session Four (CES-4) – Table Consensus
Our next session will focus on the financial considerations for a long-term facility plan and discuss more details about the financial impact of the various facility options and the impact it will have on you, our community.
As we begin to determine information to be included in the next presentation:
Listed by table #
What data and/or information would you like to be included in the CES-4 presentation concerning costs for a long-term facility plan?
Task #4: Identifying Closing Facility Option Preferences – Individual
Reflect on the information you have heard about the initial option possibilities for East Prairie School. After hearing the details and discussing the various aspects of the scenarios with your groups, which option do you most prefer?
As individuals, please take a BLUE post it note and place it on the Facility Option Poster that you most prefer.
Option # # of Post-Its
Question and Answer
During the session we asked for questions that you might have had during the evening. All of the answers to those questions, which were written on the pink sheets, are listed below....
Can a break out with detailed improvements for each option be provided including itemized costs?
Slides with this information from Community Engagement Session 3 are available on the Vision73.net website.
Why were the expansion joints and water issues not included in the price for light renovations or heavy renovations because those seem to be two of the biggest problems at EPS?
Since structural and water issues have been areas of concern they were isolated so that their impact could be discussed separately from the many other issues.
What is the worst case scenario for the soil study findings?
Worst case scenario is that findings reveal the soil is not suitable for building. In such a case, either a system of pilings are installed underground to ensure new construction sits on a stable base or unsuitable soil is removed and replaced.
Are there more than structural issues to be concerned about? What about any type of contamination of soil? Would soil study take place early?
Soil study would take place as a standard action by the architects and/or construction company. Based upon the geographic area of our school and surrounding neighborhoods, a soil study would be one of the first issues addressed. Extensive soil tests would reveal if there are any contaminated elements within the soil.
Can spaces which are reclaimed in the basement such as the band room be used as core instructional space, under future building codes?
Yes, as long as there is ample lighting, ventilation and space available, classes can be held in the basement level of a building. However, when building new structures, below ground level instructional spaces are not recommended for many of the same concerns we are experiencing, i.e. water, settling.
It was said that if we chose Option 2 it could last 15-20 years with regular maintenance costs. With Option 2, can you estimate how many years it would be before we ran into major repairs or renovations?
It’s not really possible to predict how many years it would be before we ran into major repairs or renovations if Option 2 were chosen. Life Safety inspections happen every ten years and those usually provide the districts with a list of items that are in need of change.
Are there any State or Local funds available? Are there grants available? Corporate sponsorship?
Yes, there are limited state and federal funds available as well as grants. However, they are hard to come by these days. Part of the process would be to apply for any and all available funding. At this time the State is slowly releasing funding to the applicants from grants approved in 2007.
Is there a way of reaching out to a broader section of the community? What about those families who are first generation to EPS? How can information about changes be communicated to our community in a clear way not appearing as junk mail?
The group from VIsion73 has mailed flyers to the larger community, sent multiple email blasts to all school parents, published information in the school and district newsletters, met with small groups of parents, and conducted a massive door to door campaign within the district to spread the word about this project. We will continue to identify and reach out to all members of our community. The Vision73 encourages all members of the community to help by inviting friends and neighbors to the next meeting on June 9th. We need to work together to share the information and ideas for communication.
Is information offered in other languages such as Arabic?
Yes. The pages that are online are linked to a language translator. It is located on the top right hand corner of the page. Also if someone needs the site translated, they can go to the site http://translate.google.com, paste the site and then select the language in which they wish to view it in.
Is school looking into acquiring more land in the vicinity?
The District acquired three of the four properties that sit on the north side of Dobson Street approximately 15 years ago. As the Community Engagement process has progressed, inquiries have been made regarding the status of the privately owned house on this block not owned by the District.
What about EMF Safety ( Electromagnetic Fields) or radiation ?
In CES 3, participants identified two main areas for a new structure. If, by EMF safety, we mean power lines and the effect they may have on school safety, there are no large power lines on the present or proposed site . The large power lines that are north of the tracks on Hamlin are roughly 1400 feet away from our present site. The site suggested by community participants on Howard does not have power lines.
What is the current district bond rating?
The District’s most current bond rating is Moody’s “A1”
What are the minimum required improvements covered in option 1?
The document detailing these improvements is located on our Vision73.net website under Session 2. It is titled, Facilities Assessment Report and is an in depth accounting of needs and pricing at 2015 levels.
What is the time frame for Option 4 including planning, demolition, and occupancy of a new structure?
Using a November 16 referendum pass, Option 4 would have an estimated occupation timeframe of Spring 2019.
What are the relative life expectations for each of the options 1-5 ?
Options 4 and 5, as new schools, have a useful life expectancy of 50 to 75 years. Renovations, Options 1, 2 and 3, are dependent on the systems renovated and will be continuously in a state of renovation for the various systems. For example, the existing 12 year old Chiller Unit would not be replaced as part of these options but will need replacing in 15 to 20 years.
What is the warranty on construction; how many years?
This would depend on if the facility was a new facility or a remodel. On most jobs, there is a 1-2 year warranty on the labor and installation of the construction project. After that, all warranties are dependent on the product warranty.
Everyone I know who has built from scratch has delays and projects are always late. How is this addressed? How could we guarantee building could be done over the summer?
This design and construction team has enough experience to program only the amount of work that can be reasonably constructed over a summer. By only doing what can be achieved, they have never not opened school in the Fall.
We thought the cracking/structure and flooding were the big issue” so when saw them as additions to cost we were confused? Do the other issues have to do with school code?
Yes, some of the other issues have to do with school code but they also include other issues such as, security, safety, energy efficiency, and general maintenance.
I would like to see engagement with other Skokie schools who have recently gone under renovations, to gain knowledge on the difficulties , recommendations and concerns with structure being built on swamp and in what areas was money spent most wisely?
We reached out to the other Township districts and gained valuable feedback. One item they stressed was the importance of choosing the “right” architect who had experience working in this area. STR, our choice of architects, has done work in within our township and understands the unique needs of this area. Other responses included the increased use of natural light gained by renovations and building and maximizing flexible spaces within the classroom.
Have there been studies done on how a new or newer facility impacts the academic achievements of children, which should be our #1 commitment?
New facilities by themselves have not been proved to have significant academic impact. But, new facilities designed to enhance and facilitate 21st Century teaching and learning pedagogy have been documented to significantly improve learning. In other words, new buildings can enhance learning when coordinated with state-of-the-art teaching and learning techniques; older facilities often stand in the the way.
What would the energy and the maintenance cost savings be on a renovation of the existing building be versus new construction?
A new facility, according to ASHRAE and the new energy code, can be expected to be 40% more efficient than your current buildings. Renovation, depending on extent, would fall somewhere in between.
Is a swimming pool an option in the new construction not just for our children but for the community, as Niles West for meets, lessons, etc.? Could we have a kitchen?
Because of site constraints, a swimming pool is probably not likely to be included in new construction. Should plans move forward for a new structure, it is possible to consider including a kitchen area for cafeteria use in the plans.
What happens if we are not able to secure the funding needed? Or if a referendum does not pass?
Should we not be able to secure the funding for our first preference, or if a referendum does not pass, decisions would need to be made on how to proceed. Sometimes it takes more than one time for a referendum to pass and the language is placed on an upcoming ballot with modified language.
What happens if there is no support from the community to borrow money plan “B”?
The purpose of these meetings is to gauge support from the community and gather community input before any decision is made in form of a Board recommendation. Plan B would be to maintain the facility as is.
Where does the revenue come from?
School districts considering renovations or additions sell municipal bonds to support the revenue needed for funding. The District has some non-referendum bonding options however, the maximum available over 20 year without referendum is approximately $7.6M
Would we need a referendum for all of the options, 1-5?
Can we lock in a rate for municipal loans now?
Not for Options 1-5 because the authority to issue these bonds comes from referendum approval.
Assuming we have funding, what are the time frames for option 4 or 5? When would construction begin?
Construction of a new school in either option can begin approximately 9 months after a successful referendum, and in Option 5, assuming site acquisition.
How are interruptions to instruction handled? Isn’t it difficult to build on site and continue the learning process?
One purpose of a Construction Manager is to create and execute a plan to minimize impact to instruction. Plans are made for transportation, working around construction, keeping students safe, traffic patterns, etc.
What is the cost of building on a new site VS. existing site not including land purchase?
Although we do not have exact costs for something like this, our consultants have told us it is easier and less expensive to build on a new site, excluding land purchase costs.
Is there a predictive amount of money historically spent for 10 year life safety assessment work?
No there is not a standard amount. The process recognizes this by requiring individual inspections every 10 years.
How will “NEW SCHOOL” affect property values?
While there is never a 100% guarantee, typically, the state of a school is a determinant of property values. Good schools are a strong driver for improved property value.
Is there a possibility of a TIF?
We are currently awaiting for an answer to this question.
Are there are options for contractor bidding?
Can we partner with NTDSE to help expand the number of classrooms to guarantee revenue?
At the present time, we rent one classroom to NTDSE. Although no one can predict the future, this is certainly an option to explore.
For option 4 what kind of financing do we really need to make it possible (bonds, referendum )?
Bonds would have to be approved by a referendum process.
How do we go around 10Mil. debt limit when need 40 Mil for new school?
There are three options: 1) exploding enrollment exception to the debt limit where enrollment grows year over year by 10% or 200 students; 2) referendum is approved by 67% of the registered voters of the District and 3) special legislation is approved for an exception from the statutory debt limit.
Why is option 2 so much more than 1? Why so little difference in cost between option 2 and 3?
Option 2, unlike Option 1, enhances the educational environment. Classrooms are proposed to be completely renovated to enhance 21st Century teaching and learning based on promoting creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking. This accounts for the cost difference between Options 1 & 2. Option 3 includes all of Option 2 but physically replaces portions to achieve additional enhanced learning. We should all understand that final solutions may fall in between these initial concepts for the amount and goals of the renovations.
How will drop off improve with a new site?
A new school designed on an adequately sized site will allow for great improvement in safety during drop-off and pick-up. Best practices include:
What are the timelines for approvals and referendum ?
Election Date: November 8, 2016
Election Type: General Election
Resolution Deadline:August 27, 2016
April 4, 2017
January 15, 2017
March 13, 2018
General Primary Election
December 24, 2017
November 6, 2018
August 25, 2018
April 2, 2019
January 13, 2019
March 10, 2020
General Primary Election
December 21, 2019
How will this affect seniors? If the Homestead Act prevents senior citizens’ taxes from increasing, will the amount increase proportionally for other taxpayers?
Additional exemptions exist for senior citizens. The Senior Citizens Homestead Exemption annually reduces the EAV on residences owned and occupied by senior citizens. At present, the maximum exemption in tax year 2013 and beyond is $5,000.
The Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption freezes property tax assessments for homeowners who are 65 and older, reside in their property as their principal place of residence and receive a household income not in excess of $55,000.
This exemption grants to qualifying senior citizens an exemption equal to the difference between (a) the current EAV of the residence and (b) the EAV of a senior citizen’s residence for the year prior to the year in which he or she first qualifies and applies for the exemption, plus the EAV of improvements since such year.
Each of the exemptions affect the equalized assessed value of the home, not the tax rate. So if the tax rate goes up, seniors will have a tax increase as well as non-senior homeowners. For a similar market value home, their assessment will be less than a non-senior homeowner so they pay less to begin with. However, the increase in tax rate due to bonds will increase their tax bill as well.
Can we get a breakdown of the impact on taxpayers’ options for 20, 25, and 30 years?
Yes. The District is limited to a 20 year payback by statute. The District may want to ask for legislation allowing not only a debt limit exception but also an exception to the 20 year length of maturity
What is the recommended time frame to pay back loans?
The rule of thumb is that the average life of the bond repayment is no greater than the average life of the assets being financed. With buildings, it is likely that life of the facility will exceed the repayment of the bonds.
Will EPS’ current debt be paid off before a new loan payment would come due? Yes How will that affect property taxes if the other debt is paid off?
The last debt payment is 12/1/2017 which is associated with the 2016 tax levy. The 2016 tax rate for bonds is estimated at .26 per $100 of equalized assessed valuation.
When would the new amount be included in our tax bills?
If a referendum is successful in either November of 2016 or April of 2017, the first levy impacted will be the 2017 tax levy payable in 2018. The District taxpayers would experience the impact of this tax bill first in August of 2018.
What is priority list of what will be done?
This will be determined by the choice the participants make. A clear list of priorities will be developed based on the option chosen.
Can funds can be generated from new businesses in Skokie?
New businesses in our district boundaries will help bring in tax monies to support our district. They are included in our school budget as revenue. We submit a levy (request) for taxes in December of each year with designated areas being identified. Although it is considered an increase in revenue, it is not enough to support new construction.
How long to firm up cost estimates?
We expect to have more detailed information for CES 4. Please make sure you attend.
How were the architect and building company hired? Were there many firms interviewed?
A standard Request for Qualifications was published in local newspapers from the school district. Many firms applied, a committee narrowed the candidates down to 4 for interview purposes, and of those four, STR was chosen unanimously. The process to hire a Construction Manager was accomplished through interviews and committee review. All professional partners are being asked to go through this type of process in order to be consistent in our practices and transparent in our decisions.
Some people mentioned the lot on Howard as a possibility for Option 5. How much does that lot cost? Is it zoned for a school? If not, can that be changed? How much is the current property worth, in case we would build on a new site?
The site on Howard Street just east and adjacent to Skokie Park District’s Tot Learning Center (TLC) is currently zoned M3 Industry District. There is a process in place under the Zoning Ordinance for either rezoning or becoming a permitted use. District 73 would work with the Village of Skokie during this process. Should this be the preferred option, conversations surrounding costs would be initiated with the Village.
STR PARTNERS OPTIONS