• Overview

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    Lyons Township HS District 204 is excited to embark on Groundwork for a Brighter Future, a multi-year journey to modernize our two campuses and enhance the learning environment for all of our future Lions. We understand that the quality of educational space is critical and has a direct impact on ensuring that our students graduate prepared for life, career, and college success. 

    Groundwork for a Brighter Future reflects our District’s commitment to ensuring that our facilities support high-quality in-class learning and extracurricular activities that foster the academic, physical, social, and emotional growth and well-being of our students. This journey also aligns with Goal 5 of our community’s strategic plan to upgrade District facilities to support modernization of our classrooms and school to better meet the 21st Century learning needs of students and staff, including the development of additional collaborative spaces. 

    Overall, we expect Groundwork for a Brighter Future to include two phases, with our initial Phase 1 projected to be a 3-year (2024-2026), approximately $40 million renovation to both campuses.  Phase I includes projects at both campuses; however, the primary focus for Summer 2024 will include projects at South Campus.  We anticipate that North Campus projects included in Phase I will begin in Summer 2025. While the planning for Phase II has not yet begun, the facilities and mechanical assessments and community input process has identified approximately $85-100 million worth of facilities improvements that will be necessary following the completion of Phase I in 2026.

    On this web page, you will be able to learn more about Groundwork for a Brighter Future, including community engagement, information on each phase and project plans/renderings, projected costs, funding sources, and more. It is our hope that you find the web page informative, and that it allows you to follow along as we bring Groundwork for a Brighter Future plan to life. 

    We also encourage our community to reach out with questions, clarification or input at any time by emailing us at ltenews@lths.net.

  • Planning and Input

    From 2019-2021, District 204 began conducting a comprehensive facilities mechanical assessment to evaluate our current facilities.  This assessment was the result of building and site-walk-throughs by representatives of DLA Architects, Ltd and Berg Engineering Consultants.  The assessment was intended to identify building systems and assemblies, which over time, require repairs, maintenance, or replacement. The facility assessment became a living document that is reviewed on an annual basis, and is critical in maintaining high quality ,safe, educational environments.The assessment found that LT’s facilities are well cared for, clean and regularly maintained- a tribute to the District’s staff, students, and maintenance staff. Ultimately, the facility assessment completed from 2019-201 served as a stepping stone for repairs and maintenance at both campuses and completion of a variety of capital projects (A/C installation at South Campus, Roof Repairs at NC, etc.) during the summers of 2020-2023.  

    While the facilities mechanical assessment is reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis, the District also completed a community engagement process in Fall 2022 in order to get stakeholder input regarding the current conditions of our facilities, as well as to help identify potential future facilities projects and priorities for both campuses. 

    As a result of the community engagement process in Fall 2022 and the facilities and mechanical assessment completed from 2019-2021, the District identified the following broad objectives for future facilities projects:

    • Modernization of existing classrooms to meet 21st century learning needs.

    • Development of additional collaborative spaces for students and staff;

    • Accessibility and life safety upgrades;

    • Improvements and additions to student and community athletic and wellness facilities;

    • Upgrades to HVAC systems and further installation of air conditioning for improved temperature control 

    Our goal was and continues to be to prioritize projects that will enhance and modernize the teaching and learning environment with new ways to use technology and spaces for collaboration, while also identifying critical maintenance and infrastructure needs to minimize long-term costs and potential damage to our facilities.

  • Phase 1

    Identification of Potential Projects

    In Winter 2023, the District utilized the facilities and mechanical assessment, community engagement process, and development of broad facilities objectives to identify seven potential projects to consider for Phase 1 of Groundwork for a Brighter Future. These projects, and projected costs as of February 2023, included:

    • South Campus - Construction of Cafeteria and Collaboration Spaces 

    • North Campus - Classroom Modernization and Installation of Additional Air Conditioning 

    • North Campus - Restrooms and Accessibility Upgrades

    • South Campus - Restrooms and Accessibility Upgrades 

    • North Campus - Installation of Turf Field at WestField Athletic Complex 

    • South Campus - Installation of Turf Field 

    • South Campus - Maintenance on D-Wing Roof 

    Conceptual Design

    Throughout the Spring and early Summer 2023 the conceptual design stage for the projects outlined above began to take shape.  The District’s architects from DLA, Ltd. continually met with our students and staff to gather input and worked to develop concept designs that were presented to the Board in June 2023.  

    A significant component of the conceptual design stage involved the review and consideration of two options for the construction of a South Campus cafeteria and collaborative space. In addition to presenting an option of renovating the existing cafeteria, our architects from DLA presented an option of constructing a new cafeteria in the main courtyard and music area, and relocating the existing music area to the existing cafeteria. This option provides the ability to have a cafeteria in the center of South Campus, and ultimately will positively impact climate, culture, and student safety.  As a result of discussions in June, DLA began focusing on this option during the bid specifications stage. 

    Following the conceptual design stage and Board discussions, the Board of Education authorized DLA to begin preparation of bid specifications for each of the projects.  

    Development of Bid Specifications

    Throughout Summer and Fall 2023, DLA continued to gather input, produce more specific designs, and develop bid specifications, with the initial focus being placed on the following projects beginning in Summer 2024. 

    • South Campus - Construction of Cafeteria and Collaboration Spaces

    • South Campus - Relocation and Renovation of Music to existing Cafeteria 

    • South Campus - Restrooms and Accessibility Upgrades

    • North Campus - Installation of Turf Field at WestField Athletic Complex

    This process included a Board of Education discussion on Monday, December 4 that included updated cost projections, timelines, and renderings for each of the above projects. 

    Updated Cost Projections (December 2023)

    Throughout the process, the District maintains a focus on being responsible fiscal stewards, which requires a continual review of projected costs related to each of the planned projects. While actual costs are not known until bids are received and awarded and projects are completed, the cost projections, as of December 2023 for Phase I of Groundwork for a Brighter Future are as follows:

    • South Campus - Construction of Cafeteria and Collaboration Spaces ($11.25-12.25 million)

    • South Campus - Relocation and Renovation of Music Area ($6-6.5 million)

    • North Campus - Classroom Modernization and Installation of Additional Air Conditioning ($8.5-10 million)

    • North Campus - Restrooms and Accessibility Upgrades ($3.5-4.1 million)

    • South Campus - Restrooms and Accessibility Upgrades ($1.65-1.9 million)

    • North Campus - Installation of Turf Field at WestField Athletic Complex ($3-3.5 million)

    • South Campus - Installation of Turf Field ($2.5-3 million)

    • South Campus - Maintenance on D-Wing Roof ($1-1.2 million)

    In addition to the projects outlined above, a variety of smaller projects were identified during Summer and Fall 2023 to include within Phase I. Those projects are outlined below.  

    • North Campus - Replacement of Community Room Air Handler ($150-175K)

    • North/South Campus - Interior/Exterior Door Replacement ($750-875K)

    • South Campus - Replacement of Pool and Fieldhouse Lighting ($630-735K)

    • South Campus - Installation of Ticket Booths at Bennett Field ($90-100K)

    As of December 2023, the updated total cost projection for Phase I of Groundwork for a Brighter Future is $40.05-45.65 million.  

  • Phase 2

    Phase II

    District 204 recognizes that our campuses should reflect 21st Century learning and support our amazing students and staff, and we recognize facilities work must be future focused. District 204 will remain committed to continued improvements and enhancements to our facilities and realize that bringing this Groundwork for a Brighter Future to life will expand beyond the completion of Phase I in 2026. 

    The facilities and mechanical assessments and community input process conducted from 2019-2022 identified approximately $85-100 million of additional improvements that will be necessary following the completion of the Phase I projects.  These areas include:

    • Completion of A/C to ensure that 100% of both campuses is temperature controlled;

    • Completion of Classroom Modernization project to ensure that 100% of classrooms at both campuses are renovated;

    • Additional physical welfare and athletic program facilities improvements;

    • Additional collaborative spaces for students and staff;

    •  Replacement and maintenance of mechanical equipment, roofs, etc. 

    Throughout the next several years, the District looks forward to continued planning, input, and dialogue regarding our campuses, and this effort will continue following the completion of Phase I of Groundwork for a Brighter Future. 

  • Funding Sources for Phase 1

    The primary source of funding for Phase I is via proceeds from the District selling bonds, which the District typically does every 10 years. The proceeds from an October and December 2023 bond sale provided the District with $27.4 million to be utilized for Phase I.  

    In addition to the bond sale, the District typically allocates $2.5-3 million annually toward the completion of facilities renovations and capital improvements.  This will provide an additional $7.5 million toward Phase throughout the 3-year period. 

    Finally, the District anticipates the utilization of $6-10 million from the District’s fund balance/reserve account to be used toward the completion of Phase I.

    Through bond sale proceeds, annual capital improvements expenditures, and expenditures from the District’s fund balance/reserve account, the total funding source for Phase I is anticipated to be $40.9-44.9 million. 

  • Bond Sale 

    Just like at home, you may decide you need to build a new garage, or want to renovate the kitchen. The question is how to pay for it. You could pay cash out of savings, or you could take out some sort of loan.

    School districts face the same questions and have the same options. They may want a new school or need to renovate an existing building.  

    A very common way a school district may borrow money is to issue a bond which works like a loan and ask taxpayers for a Bond Levy, or an increase in property taxes. The increased amount of taxes pays back lenders or bond holders and the interest on the loan.

    The State has to approve most of these levy requests, especially ones the State provides matching dollars or contributes. A bank or a financial institution will sell and administer the bond.

    The basic steps:

    1.     A school district gets consent from voters to raise taxes to pay for a loan or a bond.

    2.     A financial institution sells the bonds, another name for an IOU, and gives the money to the school district.

    3.     The tax money pays back the bond and the interest over several years to the bondholders.

    Bond Sale Update

    At the November 20 meeting, the Board was provided with an update on the first of two bond sales. The district had previously decided to sell the bonds with two sales so that we can issue smaller amounts (less than $15.0 million) to avoid arbitrage issues with  interest earnings on the bond proceeds. This first sale took place on October 17, 2023. The sale incorporated a competitive bidding process with bidders submitting bids containing their proposed interest rate. The sale attracted six bidders with the lowest interest bid being submitted by Mesirow Financial, Inc. with a true interest cost of 3.875%, not including the cost of issuance. Having six bidders is an excellent number and is attributable to the District’s recently affirmed AAA rating. This sale produced total proceeds of $14,402,773 which will be used to fund the upcoming capital projects. The second sale took place on December 19, 2023 and was also involved a competitive bidding process.  This sale attracted five bidders with the lowest bid being submitted by Janney Montgomery Scott with a true interest cost of 2.77%, not including the cost of issuance.  This sale produced total proceeds of $12,597,227 which will also be used to fund the upcoming capital projects.  

  • A Look at the Future of LT

  • Mechanical and Facilities' Assessments

    The three assessments started the process of evaluating our current facilities and what improvements would be ideal in the future.

    The January 2023 Assessment included Paving Assessment Report, Roof Assessment Report, Mechanical and Electrical Report, Life Safety Report, Physical Security Report, Capital Projects Report. Sustainability and Wellness was taken into consideration as both are an ongoing priority of the District.

    Executive Summary

     

    Community Engagement 

    Community engagement has been a critical part of this process.  With the help of many stakeholders, we were able to identify potential future facilities' projects and priorities for both campuses. 

    Community Survey

     

    Sustainability 

    District 204 is committed to improving our facilities using eco-friendly materials and building options.  Energy efficiency, conservation, and sustainability has been an important part of the planning process. 

    See the drop down below for specific components included within the Phase I planning, as of December 2023.

  • Sustainability Specifics

    • LowE Glass SHGC at Music Wing = 0.38 minimum [0.19 specified]

    • LowE Glass SHGC at Cafeteria = 0.61 minimum [0.19 specified]

    • U-Factor = 0.38 minimum [0.28 specified]

    • Addition of skylights to Staff Café for natural daylighting

    • Large overhang at South Commons wall helps reduce direct sunlight

    • Additional exterior wall insulation to new Music Wing / Existing Cafeteria

    • Auto flush valves within all remodeled restrooms

    • Low to Zero volatile organic compounds for all new interior finishes

    • Exterior facades are 100% recyclable – post consumer

    • Economizers specified on all new roof top units.

    • LED lighting replacement at Fieldhouse and Swimming Pool

    • Water Sense plumbing fixtures, which will result in reduction in water use and use of water heater/booster

    • Use of multi-functional equipment, which reduces cookline footprint, less utility use and reduced ventilation requirements

    • Energy Star Rated appliances (8 total)

    • Reduced Annual Walk-In Energy Factor for walk-in coolers and freezers

    • Variable speed fan on condensing units (CU)

    • Drain Water Energy Recovery (DWER)

  • BOE Actions

    The District 204 Board of Education has had numerous discussions to date regarding this long term plan.  Please refer to the Board Actions tabs below for a more in depth look at these discussions.

  • October, 2023 BOE

    Approval of Bond Parameters Resolution 

    The Board of Education approved a parameters bond resolution authorizing the issuance of not to exceed $27M general obligation limited tax school bonds. The District held a public hearing on the issuance of the bonds on August 7, 2023 and published a notice of intent to issue the bonds in the LaGrange Suburban Life allowing a 30-day petition period which expired on September 8, 2023 with no petitions received. The resolution allows for the issuance of the bonds with no further board action subject to the parameters in the resolution. The parameters include a repayment of bonds through December 15, 2035 with a maximum levy of $3.375M, maximum principal amount of $3.35M per year and maximum coupon rate of 5.0%. The proposed financing schedule allows for the final bond sale to occur no later than the 18th day of March 2024 and issued in one or more series of bonds. By splitting the issue into pieces of $15M or less in December and January, the District may qualify for the small issuer exception to arbitrage rebate. This will allow the District to take advantage of the high short-term investment yields currently available in the market without limitation to the arbitrage yield on the bonds. The additional interest earnings increase the amount available for capital projects.

  • September, 2023 BOE

    Authorization of Bid Specifications for Summer 2024 Projects

    The Board approved the development of bid specifications for the following projects to start in summer of 2024. These projects are in addition to the projects that are related to the bond sale funds.   

    · Replacement of exterior doors and frames at both campuses

    · Replacement of various interior doors at both campuses 

    · Replacement of the lights in the South Campus Fieldhouse and Pool

    · Replacement of the air-handling unit that serves Room 140 at North Campus

    · Replacement of D-Wing roof at South Campus

    · Addition of ticket booths at Bennett Field

    It is anticipated that these projects will cost $4.0 million. Actual costs will be known once bids are received in the beginning of Calendar Year 2024. At that time, the Board of Education will decide on which projects/contracts to approve in order to complete the work.

  • August, 2023 BOE

    Bond Sale (Special Meeting)

    The Board of Education held a Public Hearing and approved a Resolution of Intent to sell up to $27.0 million of Working Cash Bonds. The hearing and resolution are the initial steps in the process of selling Bonds. Typically, District 204 sells bonds every ten years in order to fund capital improvement projects. The proceeds from this bond sale will fund improvements to both campuses, including a new cafeteria at South Campus, upgrades to athletic facilities at West Field (North Campus), and classroom renovations at North Campus. During the upcoming September meeting, the Board of Education will consider a Parameters Bond Resolution which will set the terms for the actual sale of the bonds.  

    Additionally, the Board of Education approved a contract with Raymond James to act as the Municipal Advisor for this sale. The Municipal Advisor has many roles in the bond sale process. First and foremost, the Municipal Advisor has a fiduciary duty of care to the District to always act in the District’s best interest. Additionally, in the role of Financial Advisor, they recommend a method of sale (negotiated or competitive), oversee the preparation of the preliminary and final official statements, assist in preparing the rating agency presentation, review and negotiate all costs of issuance to the District’s advantage and coordinate closing and investment of bond proceeds. 

  • June, 2023 BOE

    Bond Sale Capital Improvements Beginning in Summer of 2024

    The Board reviewed preliminary plans and budgets for the building renovations that will be paid for with the upcoming bond sale proceeds. District 204 anticipates that the district will be able to sell $25.0 million of bonds in late 2023 or early 2024 to fund the renovations that were discussed. The process of presenting these projects to the Committee began with the creation of Goal Five of the Strategic Plan focusing on upgrading the District’s facilities to support 21st century learning needs of students and staff. With that goal in mind, we continued the process by surveying the students, staff, parents and community in September of 2022 about the condition of the current district facilities and the needs moving forward. Using the information from the survey as well as input from the District Administration and District architects, a revised Facilities Study was generated and presented to the Board in February of 2023. The revised Facilities Plan included recommended/needed renovations in multiple phases. The Phase 1 renovations in the plan were discussed during the June 5, 2023 meeting. All of the recommended Phase 1 projects were included for discussion with the exception of an additional elevator at North Campus. An additional elevator is needed at North Campus; however, additional research will be completed by the District’s architects in order to find an appropriate location for its construction.

    In addition to the aforementioned steps in this process, additional feedback was sought during the development of these projects. Over the last several months, student and staff focus groups were consulted regarding the specific needs of the renovated classrooms/areas of the buildings. These focus groups were led by our District’s architects and they were able to receive valuable feedback that has been incorporated into the drawings and plans presented. If the project costs provided are accurate, the District will need to contribute $6.0 - $10.0 million of additional funds above the $25.0 million that could be obtained through the bond sale process. Additionally, there will be costs for architectural services and for asbestos removal. The anticipated architectural costs will be in the range of $2.3 million to $2.7 million for the total project. The District will also work with an asbestos consulting firm to receive cost estimates in anticipation of the August meeting. The final determination of additional amounts needed above the bond sale amount will be determined after formal bids have been received and firm pricing for the projects. 

    On Tuesday, June 20, 2023 the Board of Education authorized the creation of bid specifications for the projects, as presented. 

    Summer 2024 Bond Sale Financial Information

    During the meeting on June 20, 2023  a discussion regarding the process of selling bonds later in 2023 or early in 2024 was started. The history of the District is to sell bonds every ten years and use the proceeds for capital improvements to the facilities. The current outstanding bonds will be paid in full in December of 2023 and the District will have the opportunity to sell bonds once again. Currently, the District believes it will be able to sell and receive estimated proceeds of $25.7 million, however, that number will continue to fluctuate until the day of the actual sale. The fluctuation is due to market conditions related to bond sales, including interest rates.

    Elizabeth Hennessey, Managing Director with Raymond James, was in attendance at the meeting to present information related to the bond sale including the timeline and process that needs to be followed. The District has successfully utilized Elizabeth’s services for prior bond sales and she is a leader in the industry. The Board anticipates taking action at the August 7th meeting to approve a resolution of intent for the bond sale. 

  • February, 2023 BOE

    At the February 20, 2023 meeting the leadership team presented additional details regarding the upcoming Summer 2024 facilities projects. This information included an overview of the facility assessment prepared by the District’s architects from DLA.

For More Information

  • If you have any questions, please email us.