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posted: 6/28/2013 8:46 AM

Glenbard planning $100 million worth of improvements

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Glenbard High School District 87 is planning $100 million worth of facility improvements at its four schools, a portion of which likely will require voter approval.

The improvements include classroom renovations and additions, adding air conditioning to remaining areas at Glenbard East and West, and other mechanical work.

The proposed renovations were identified during a master facility planning process that began in 2011.

The projects would take 10 years to complete and would be funded with a combination of annual district operating funds and proceeds from bond sales and extensions.

"When you have 1.5 million square feet of building space and buildings that range in age from 40 to 80 years, it's a significant amount of dollars just to maintain that investment," said Chris McClain, the district's assistant superintendent for business services. "It's not like we're going to spend $100 million in one or two years. It would be over a series of years to make sure we maintain our buildings and have a good instructional and learning environment for our staff and students."

Voters might be asked to approve $35 million of the total $100 million cost through a referendum question. And while it wouldn't result in a tax rate increase, district officials are proposing the extension of existing bonds that are due to expire in 2017 and otherwise would result in a tax rate reduction.

One proposal is for the district to extend the bonds for a 20-year period, McClain said.

If approved by voters, the owner of a $265,000 home -- the median value in the district -- would pay $25 extra a year to help fund the facility improvements.

Asking voters to approve funds for the capital projects is still a proposal at this point, and the school board is expected to make a decision in November on whether to follow through, McClain said.

If it does, it's likely the district would try to get a referendum question on the ballot in 2014 or 2015.

"The board has been very clear that while we're still pulling out of a pretty tough economy, they've said we do not want a tax rate increase," McClain said.

The remaining $65 million project cost is proposed to be funded through the district's operations and maintenance budget. Of that amount, $20 million would be provided by taking out alternative revenue source bonds intended to accelerate project activity. Officials are proposing separate $10 million bond issues in 2013 and 2014. The district would then pay $2.4 million in annual debt service from 2015 through 2024.

Glenbard is planning community forums at each school in September to get feedback on the proposal.

The master facility plan developed by Legat Architects proposes $179 million in improvement projects over the course of 20 years. For now, the district is proposing $100 million worth of projects in 10 years.

"We're trying to get within a timeline that's more actionable," McClain said. "We framed a 10-year plan of attack."

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