AURORA — Athletic facilities at the high school may be in for some improvements, after the Board of Education discussed potential big-ticket items, along with enrollment, at a Jan. 11 work session.

While no votes were taken, Superintendent Pat Ciccantelli told the board there are several projects that will need to be addressed in the next few years. 

An approximately $500,000 project to replace the turf at the football stadium and updating the track was at the top of the list. Ciccantelli said he heard presentations from four major turf companies last week. He explained the foundation and the gravel will stay, but the turf must be replaced.  

School Board President Gerald Kohanski said the replacement is needed for safety reasons, because while it is still rated as safe, it is nearing the end of its lifespan. 

"You would rather replace your turf with five percent of its life left than go five percent over," Ciccantelli said. 

The 16-year old track would also be included in the project. Ciccantelli said the track is safe but it is "really getting close" to replacement time. He said if the district is going to disrupt the stadium to do a project, it should take care of both the turf and the track at the same time. Additionally, he said the district may save money by completing both at the same time. 

"Several of the vendors have sister companies and they give you a discount if you do both projects together because it saves some of the manpower and the machinery they have to bring in is already here so there is savings for them so they just pass that along." 

A major compressor that runs the HVAC system for the entire high school is also in line to be replaced. Ciccantelli said the replacement will cost around $250,000. The compressor is 22 years old and was rated for a 20-year lifespan.

He recommended the board wait until it breaks to replace it "because it may last five more years." Kohanski said the district has a "top-notch" HVAC expert who can also keep an eye on the system and advise the Board if it becomes time to replace it. 

Parking lots were another $250,000 project the superintendent said may be on the horizon. He said every year the district does some level of repair, but the time to grind them all the way down, repave and stripe the lots is nearing.

Ciccantelli said the parking lot in the worst condition is the high school student lot and that could cost upwards of $120,000 to revamp. He suggested waiting until summer break to patch it and ensure it is safe, but said the time to replace it is within the next four years. Once the lot is repaved, it should last up to 15 years. 

Officials also discussed enrollment. Ciccantelli said enrollment is generally steady but there are variations within grade levels.

He said Harmon Middle School eighth grade enrollment is at 240 students, while Leighton Elementary School’s fifth grade class is 210, which means Harmon will have 30 fewer students next year.

He also said Leighton’s enrollment was up 30 students from last year and will gain at least another 10 students next year. 

"I wanted the Board to be aware of that because we may be recommending one less teacher at Harmon and one greater teacher at Leighton," Ciccantelli said. "That’s just an adjustment that happens from time to time due to the variations in class sizes."

He also noted there has been an increase in special education students from 8.5 percent to 10 percent of the district’s population. He attributes this increase to families who have moved in the area, and he feels it speaks well of the district’s special education program. 

bbarker@recordpub.com

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