There’s a little-known provision in Illinois’ school code that some say is being abused, with taxpayers picking up the cost for schools’ energy efficiency efforts.
Illinois School Code Article 19b allows school districts to approve contracts for energy-efficiency upgrades that will pay for themselves over no more than 20 years. Two former Ball-Chatham school-board members are suing a performance contractor, alleging there’s no verification of projected savings in a 2010 contract for that central Illinois district.
Attorney Don Craven said the $2.2 million contract indicated that the savings would not be measured.
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“With those stipulations, with those schedules, they essentially gutted every protection that’s built into the statute for the school districts.”
An Illinois News Network investigation found similar contracts at other districts, but with change orders in one case increasing the cost by a factor of 66 times the original agreement. In Taylorville, change orders raised a $181,000 window-replacement job to more than $12 million without being re-bid.
FGM Architects President John Ochoa said the intent of the law is being abused.
“You’re seeing many sorts of things that are well beyond building envelope or mechanical equipment getting included into these projects.”
INN found several other school districts where contracts didn’t include efficiency-savings audits, with change orders increasing costs by millions of dollars.
The full investigative report goes live Sunday at ILNews.org.