School board to consider purchasing former AMCORE headquarters as new District 205 administration building
Online Staff Report
Rockford Public School District 205 Board of Education is expected to vote at its meeting Aug. 23 to spend $1.825 million to purchase the former AMCORE financial headquarters building at 501 Seventh St., Rockford.
If the board votes favorably, that means the district won’t have to spend $1.7 million on temporary fixes to its current administration building at 201 S. Madison St. that are mandated by the state.
The district plans to use the former AMCORE building to house its administrative offices and may centralize some functions, such as professional development, that it now has to operate in multiple facilities.
The building comes with an existing fixed-term lease that is expected to generate at least $1.2 million in lease payments through its expiration, resulting in a net purchase price to the district of $625,000, compared to the $1.7 million that the district was required to spend on temporary fixes to its current administration building.
Interim Superintendent Dr. Bob Willis said: “The $1.7 million in repairs we would have to make to our current administration building if we stay there were the bare minimum needed to keep the building open and did not even include a new heating and air conditioning system. Our air conditioning was installed more than 40 years ago, and we have 67 window air conditioning units because the heating and cooling system is so inefficient. The building needs a lot of work to keep it functional, and, even then, there will still be significant problems with it. For about a third of the cost, we can move into a building that is much more efficient and will serve the district, its students and parents very well for many years to come.”
Todd Schmidt, chief operations officer, added: “The current administration building was built in 1912 and was part of the original Rockford High School. It was not designed to be used as an office building. Much of our furniture is falling apart. The building is old, inefficient and immediately needs, at a minimum, its original wood windows and 40-year-old roof replaced. Those things are very expensive. The new solution is perfect from a cost and usability standpoint.”
Schmidt adds that the cost to operate the former AMCORE building is comparable to what the district is currently paying to operate its existing building, yet will provide more than twice the square footage at 142,000 square feet of space. The former AMCORE headquarters building is owned by the FDIC and approximately two floors are currently leased.
“That lease helps provide cash flow for the purchase of the building and operational costs afterward,” said Board President Harmon Mitchell. “We are thrilled to bring additional energy to that area of the city. Moving our administrative offices to a larger, more efficient building that better suits the district and the community’s needs is part of RPS 205’s long-range vision. We’ve looked at five or six buildings since I’ve been on the school board, and this one, by far, is the best option we’ve seen in an economic climate that provides the district with a very cost-effective opportunity.”
Willis added: “The AMCORE building is centrally located within the district, with easy access to public transportation. There’s wonderful parking, much more efficient use of space, and even the possibility of turning the basement cafeteria into an adequate space for board meetings with capacity for more than 200 people. Moreover, this building gives us opportunities to centralize services such as professional development and family support into one location, which will allow us to be more efficient in how we deliver services. We hope to start moving staff in almost immediately. It truly is a perfect solution for the district, our parents and the taxpayers.”
In addition to purchasing the building, the district will purchase all of the existing furniture, fixtures and equipment, valued at $200,000 to $250,000, for $50,000.
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