District 205 administrative offices to move to former AMCORE headquarters on Seventh Street
Online Staff Report
Rockford Public School District 205 administrative offices will be moving to the former AMCORE Bank headquarters, 501 Seventh St., after the Rockford Board of Education voted Aug. 23 to spend $1.825 million from its reserve fund to purchase the property.
The move comes as the district had planned to spend $1.76 million this year on repairs to the current administration building, 201 S. Madison St. Those repairs included a new roof and windows. An additional $1.1 million would have been required to update the heating and cooling system and make electric upgrades to the building.
School board members Lisa Jackson, Ronnell Moore and Laura Powers voted against the plan. Powers and Moore said the timing of the plan was poor as the district continues to work on a contract with the teachers’ union, the Rockford Education Association. Meantime, Jackson was concerned about the district’s growing deficit, which stood at about $3.8 million prior to the meeting.
During the public comment period, two of the four speakers were opposed to the proposal. The meeting was held at Auburn High School.
The former AMCORE 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 the district was required to spend on temporary fixes to its current administration building.
The seven-story office space was built in 1983 and has more than 142,000 square feet. Harris Bank will continue to occupy the first and second floors of the building through 2015, generating at least $1.2 million in the next four years for the district.
Prior to the Aug. 23 board meeting, 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.”
The current Administration Building was built in 1912 as Rockford High School. The space, which features about 68,000 square feet, has served as the district’s headquarters since the 1950s.
In 2010, the district borrowed $10 million in bond sales for district-wide repairs. According to officials, the money that was to be directed toward repairs to the Administration Building will be put toward paying down the maintenance debt.
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