Members approve relocation of district offices

By Donald Roth Jr.

DeKalb School District’s administrative buildings will be moved to the Eagle and Lehan building in DeKalb after lease negotiations are complete.

DeKalb School Board members gave their approval March 30 for the district’s administrative offices to be moved to the new location at 909 S. Fourth St.

The current location at 145 Fisk Avenue has housed the DeKalb School District’s administrative offices since 1973.

Charlie McCormick, Dekalb School District business manager, currently is in the process of negotiating the lease on the building.

DeKalb School Superintendent Bob Williams said, “We are glad the bidding is over, and we can concentrate on moving into the Eagle/Lehan building.”

The time window to occupy the new administrative building is between the day the lease is signed and ninety days thereafter, Williams said.

The move comes after a heated debate among school board members concerning district priorities.

Before the board considers administrative problems, it should also consider classroom needs,” school board member Martha Blitzblau said.

Showing preference to one building over another demonstrates the lack of a uniform plan on behalf of the school district, she said.

Blitzblau said the school board should be apprehensive about using the full five cent tax levy to pay for the project.

Many of our schools are near capacity. We should not have locked up the levy for its full 10 year use. There could be a problem down the road,” she said.

Other school board members have a different viewpoint. “The administration’s present home is unsafe, and a change needs to be made,” school board member George Shur said.

Shur said he was happy the funding was coming from a tax levy and not directly out of school funds, which could negatively impact programs.

“The bigger problem in all this is the state funding system,” he said.

The current system bases school funding on property taxes, which are unfair because of their uneven nature, he said.

“I would like to see a system based on state income taxes instead of property taxes. Property taxes place an unfair burden on the school system,” Shur said.

The shortage of classroom space could be solved by using buildings not currently in use by the school district, such as the Courtland building, he said.

One advantage of the new facility will be its parking capacity. It will increase from around 80 spaces to 140 spaces, Williams said.

The Eagle and Lehan proposal gives the school district $32,000 for expenses incurred during the move, he said. Some of the money will be used to update the administration’s telephone system.

“Overall, I am pleased with the school board’s decision. I hope we can move on and address other problems,” he said.

Williams said he expects to submit the final lease agreement to the school board for their approval between now and April 27.