1. What is the background on the Lincoln Junior High School construction project?
The Lincoln Junior High School construction project is part of a district-wide plan for ensuring our buildings and grounds meet the needs of our students now, and in the future. During the 2015-16 school year, District 69 conducted a collaborative process to develop a multi-year facilities master plan. This plan evaluated everything related to the district’s current facilities with an eye towards the future needs of the district. Based on this input, the Board of Education then prioritized the specific elements of this plan.
- In 2017 and 2018, the first phase of the facilities master plan focused on the elementary levels with construction that included the addition of classrooms, professional development space and high-priority, major renovations.
- Initially, work at Lincoln was scheduled for later but the significant needs of the building, the detrimental impact of these building needs on student learning, and the ongoing costs just to keep the doors open necessitated that Lincoln be reprioritized.
- In addition to work already done at Madison, the district’s master plan includes a future and comprehensive scope of work.
For more information and details, please see the district’s construction planning page found here.
2. Why build a new building at Lincoln? Why not renovate the existing building?
Lincoln is a very old building with significant structural and ongoing maintenance issues. While the district continues to address these issues, repair and replacement of everything needed would extend past the summer and significantly disrupt teaching and learning during the school year and far exceed the cost of a new building. Most importantly, constructing a new building allows the district to think ahead and provide safe and secure, exciting, and modern learning spaces that will support our students now and in the future.
3. Will any of the old Lincoln building be preserved?
The district is committed to our history and in collaboration with our educators, students and community members, our team is working creatively to develop plans to honor this history.
4. What is the cost of the new Lincoln building and where will the money come from?
The new Lincoln Junior High School building is projected to cost $45 million to build. In order to finance the construction, the District is utilizing a combination of bonds and a spend down of reserve funds that were intentionally designated for construction as part of a long-range savings plan. The Board has utilized this strategy for all phases of construction in an effort to minimize the impact on local taxpayers. The District is currently projecting a financing plan that will include $13 million in reserve funds and $32 million in bonds (definitions below).
5. How is the construction budget being monitored and is the project over budget?
The $45 million construction budget is being monitored by the School Board, District Administration, and the architect/construction team. As of January 2020, the construction project is projected to come in on budget and on time.
6. Will the new Lincoln building increase my taxes?
No, the $45 million for the new building is available to the district through our fund balance and the issuance of bonds. The bonds will be long-term debt that the district will pay back within the limits of our tax capped funds (Tax Limitation Law or Tax Cap). These funds include our debt service extension base which is utilized exclusively for bonds. As current bonds mature, new bonds will be issued within the limits of the Tax Cap.
7. Couldn’t we use this $45 million for other needs in District 69?
The $13 million from the district is reserved for this construction project. The $32 million in bonds are only meant for one-time costs such as capital improvements. Issuing long term bonds to pay for on-going operating expenses such as salaries, day-to-day operating costs, student bussing, etc. would create a structural deficit in the District 69 as opposed to the one-time expense of a capital improvement.
8. Will the new Lincoln building provide up-to-date safety and security features?
District 69 is first and foremost committed to the safety of our students and this guiding principle is the cornerstone of all of our work including our facilities master plan and all renovations and construction work. The district is working closely with the Skokie Police Department to ensure we are using up-to-date knowledge and advanced measures for safety as we design the building. Additionally, our architects, ARCON, have expertise in designing and constructing public buildings and have specialized in building educational facilities since 1979. They have extensive knowledge, experience and expertise to ensure the most up-to-date safety and security measures are included in school buildings.
9. Are teachers, parents and community members part of the planning process? It is important that especially teachers are part of the planning process to ensure the new school meets their needs and the needs of their students.
District 69 values transparency and engaging all of our stakeholders in a two-way dialogue to ensure we are doing the best for our students. Following are some of the key dates we have engaged with our stakeholders specifically around the work to be done at Lincoln:
District 69 Family and Community Opportunities to Provide Input
- October 2018 – Public Board of Education meeting to discuss the district’s facilities master plan – including discussion of moving up the work at Lincoln
- January 2019 – Public Board of Education meeting presentations on possible options for the layout of the Lincoln construction project and on the financing of the project
- March 2019 – Public Board of Education meeting to present revised options for the layout of the Lincoln construction project
- April 2019 – Family and community input session to hear from the community, answer questions and get feedback on the options for the layout of the Lincoln construction project
- June 2019 – Family and community focus group to gather questions and seek advice on what and how to communicate to district families and the broader community
- September 2019 – Lincoln Construction Project Town Hall Meeting
District 69 Faculty and Staff Opportunities to Provide Input
- September 2018 – Lincoln faculty meeting to review priorities in Master Facility Plan
- January 2019 – Lincoln staff meeting with a focus on the construction update
- March 2019 – Architects met with small groups of staff to discuss needs/wants in new building
- May and June 2019 – Focus groups with district educators to gather questions and seek advice on construction communication with families and stakeholders
10. Will the construction impact traffic, circulation and/or school drop off and pick up?
As the work on the Lincoln campus begins and progresses, we will be working very closely with our construction managers to coordinate and communicate all closures and changes to our regular operating procedures. We anticipate losing small sections of our parking/driveway space to separate construction traffic and staging from parent pick-up and drop-off. However, closures and changes will not happen without advanced coordination and notice.
11. What will the impact of construction be on the students and teachers during the school day?
There will be minimal interruption to the Lincoln school community and the teaching and learning process – this is a major advantage to building a new school rather than repairing the old school. The only impact on the building itself will that the small gym will not be available. And while the rest of the building will not be impacted, there may be some impact around the building:
- There will likely be some noise but during past projects, teachers and construction workers talked and were able to minimize the impact on the classrooms.
- Playing fields will be limited for use by PE classes and recess.
- The outdoor track will no longer be usable
12. What will the impact of construction be on after school and extracurricular activities?
The District has made arrangements to utilize Madison’s outdoor fields and Edison’s gyms, as needed, for after school and extracurricular activities.
13. How can I stay informed about the Lincoln construction project?
District 69 will continue to share information and involve the community in celebrating major milestones along the way in this exciting project to build the school of the future. To ensure you are up to date, look for these opportunities to stay connected and informed:
- The Lincoln School Construction home page found here which will have the most up-to-date information, links to important documents and key dates related to community input and the construction itself
- Periodic email updates to all District 69 families, employees, community members and other stakeholders and additional email updates to Lincoln families and employees
- Board of Education meetings held the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 7:00 P.M. at the Maier Administration Building, 5050 Madison, Skokie, IL 60077
- Follow District 69 on Twitter @SkokieSD69
14. Who do I contact with questions?
Please stay engaged! Read the website/board reports, come to events and meetings, follow us on twitter, and if you have any questions, please reach out.
The new Lincoln Junior High School is a tremendous asset for our community. We are excited to continue working together with all district stakeholders to ensure our students have the very best education now and for years to come!
Thank you for your support of District 69 and our amazing students and staff!