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home : news : local   April 30, 2016

10/17/2013 6:10:00 AM
Is Washington washed up? Board won't sink millions into old Peru school

Kevin Caufield
NewsTribune Reporter

Washington School’s days are numbered. Whether the depression era structure is selectively demolished, completely torn down or somehow repurposed, its use as a school building within the Peru Elementary School district will soon come to an end.
Peru Elementary School Board members made that point clear Wednesday after hearing a long-term facility plan created by the district’s architect, Jacob Been, of Healy, Bender & Associates, Inc., based in Naperville.
“I don’t think anyone here is considering refurbishing Washington,” said board chairman Jim Renk. “Why would we spend that much on an 80-year-old building?”
Been’s study of the district’s building needs revealed Washington School may look in great shape aesthetically to the passer-by, but it needs about $5.5 million in recommended upgrades with another $2.1 million in enhancements.
The study showed a long list of needed construction work such as replacing all of the building’s electrical wiring, most of its plumbing and nearly all of its heating and cooling systems.
“(The building) looks nice but it doesn’t meet all of your educational needs,” Been told the board. “Power strips, for example, are not a permanent solution to having more power outlets.”
The district expects in the coming weeks to receive an $11 million Illinois Capital Development Board grant to use for building needs as the district wishes. The grant is reimbursement for its construction of Parkside School.
Superintendent Mark Cross said the district board could consider using the grant to pay down its existing debt on Parkside. But he and board members have decided it would be more prudent to use the money to address other facility needs at Northview and Washington schools.
“If we used the grant money to pay down the debt on Parkside we would just have to go back and borrow more money to pay for needs at the other two school buildings,” Cross explained.
For example, the facilities report revealed Northview is in overall good condition but has $1.4 million in recommended upgrades with another $2 million in enhancements.
School board members will hold a special public meeting in the coming weeks to officially decide how the district will proceed with using the $11 million and officially decide the fate of Washington school.

Kevin Caufield can be reached at (815) 220-6932 or

Related Stories:
• Peru school district focuses on Northview addition, leaving Washington

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