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posted: 3/20/2013 4:40 AM

Jefferson school deserves yes vote

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Jefferson school deserves yes vote

I am supporting this referendum because a new Jefferson Early Childhood Center in Wheaton is sorely needed and provides the early intervention and education that is critical for our children with special needs. Additionally, I am convinced that plans to build a new school provide the only fiscally responsible solution to this challenge.

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Plans for the school were thoughtfully considered and are fiscally prudent. It would cover more than 59,000 square feet, and provide enough room for about 400 students. Additionally, the new building would allow the district to bring all its preschool students and staff under one roof, while allowing teachers and therapists more opportunities to collaborate. Also, every two classrooms would share one accessible bathroom.

I reject the idea of renovating the existing facility, which is old, out of date and lacks the necessary accessibility for children with wheelchairs and walkers. The idea that we are using broom closets for classrooms is unacceptable. The thought that bathrooms are inaccessible for children using wheelchairs or walkers is extremely troubling.

I feel strongly that trying to remodel the existing structure is the recipe for a costly disaster. Anyone who has ever attempted renovations to an old home knows that cost overruns are unpredictable and unavoidable. That doesn't even consider the challenge of trying to retrofit an old building never designed for this use.

This is a vote for our most important resource, our children, I encourage voters to vote "yes." For the cost of one cup of coffee a month for 10 years to the average Wheaton homeowner, we have the opportunity to be fiscally responsible, address a critical need and do the right thing. Moreover, the bond will be paid off in the 11th year without property owners seeing any overall increase on their property tax bill.

Gwen Henry

DuPage County Treasurer, former Wheaton mayor

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