By Harold Remme
ISD 88 Superintendent
When a situation exists that has an uncertain outcome, the following phrases are sometimes expressed: "Let's test the waters," or "Let's go fishing" to determine the level of interest.
Over the past 6-12 months, the school district has examined and discussed the following two issues: The need to upgrade the school system technology infrastructure and would there be any interest by an investor in assuming ownership of the school property currently known as the District Administrative Center located at 15 North State Street?
On the agenda for the April 26 school board meeting will be action items to allow bids to be received for a technology infrastructure upgrade and for the possible sale of the District Administrative Center property. By seeking bids for each of these projects, the school board will be able to decide if the district shall move forward with a technology upgrade or the sale of the District Administrative Center property.
The topic of technology upgrade bidding is simply a matter of determining what the cost might be to meet the district needs. If the cost is low enough, existing reserve funds could be used to finance the project. If the cost is too large for use of existing funds, a referendum would need to be included on the November 2012 ballot.
Future ownership of the District Administrative Center property involves many factors for school board consideration. About twenty percent of the square footage of the building is currently used on a daily basis. Heating and cooling costs are high on a square footage basis. The auditorium is used for school and community purposes. Alternate spaces would be difficult to duplicate but not impossible.
Maintaining access to the auditorium area would be a high priority for the school district should a successful buyer be found through the bid process. Current office spaces in the District Administrative Center would need to be relocated and the historic WPA mural would need to be preserved.
If the school district were to receive an acceptable bid for the property, the property would then be subject to local taxes. Possible developers could repurpose the space to meet a community need.
Time will tell if these actions to "test the waters" provide positive results.