The West Aurora School Board this week awarded three contracts as part of its $84.2 million building campaign.
West Aurora District 129 voters in April approved a building bond referendum to fund capital improvements, which will include installing geothermal heating and cooling systems, classroom additions at five schools and the building of a new Hill Elementary School.
The contracts totaling $6,230,329 for drilling geothermal system fields at 10 schools across the district were awarded to three companies in Illinois. The geothermal technology essentially is an alternative method for heating and cooling buildings that uses the natural heat found in the ground. Residents were told prior to the referendum that air conditioning, which the majority of schools do not have, is a byproduct of a geothermal system.
“This is basically for the drilling to start,” said Angie Smith, assistant superintendent of operations.
The construction is scheduled to begin around November when children are not outside for recess and fall sports programs are finished.
The size of the fields will range in size from 44 to 562 bored holes depending on the size of the school buildings, each with depths of 400 feet into the ground.
Those fields will be in locations near the school buildings but in areas that won’t disturb playgrounds or athletic fields, officials said.
The district approved an intergovernmental agreement with the city of Aurora to receive up to $1.7 million in Qualified Energy Conservations Bonds for energy-efficient upgrades in school buildings. It is a federal bond program that enables government issuers to borrow money at lower rates to fund energy conservation projects like the geothermal initiative. The district also successfully applied to receive Kane County’s entire allotment of $3.2 million of the bonds.