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Article posted: 11/5/2013 5:30 AM

District 87 close to vote on facilities referendum question

Glenbard High School District 87 voters are likely to see a question on March ballots asking to spend millions on improvements around the schools.

Glenbard High School District 87 voters are likely to see a question on March ballots asking to spend millions on improvements around the schools.

 

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

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Glenbard High School District 87 is only a formal vote away from sending a proposal to fund $35 million of a $100 million master facilities plan to the ballot box.

School board officials recently had their legal team draft language for what a referendum question would look like in March, and at Monday's meeting held discussion on it.

If voters approve, the $35 million would be funded by the extension of "sunsetting" or expiring bonds.

The proposed improvements, to be done over 10 years, would include classroom and common area renovations, work to outdoor facilities and adding air conditioning to Glenbard West and East.

The district has held community forums on the issue at each of its four high schools and considered feedback at its last meeting. Citing a timeline dating back to early 2011, Superintendent David Larson spoke of the long process to this point.

"Really, we've been on a three-year journey," Larson said. "The past three years we've studied, looked at options and navigated through a transparent methodical journey. We've looked at numerous options and funding scenarios. We didn't just drum this up. This has been a three-year journey of hard work."

The board voted unanimously in August to authorize the sale of $20 million in bonds to help pay for the capital improvements, with another $45 million in projected costs funded by annual district operating funds.

The extension of bonds due to expire in 2017 would keep tax rates at their current rate instead of allowing them to decrease.

The owner of a $265,000 home -- the median value in the district -- would pay $25 less in taxes annually if the measure was rejected.

Glenbard District 87 is the third-largest high school district in Illinois, serving 8,421 in its four high schools, the youngest of which Glenbard South was constructed in 1972. Glenbard West, the oldest, was built in 1926.

"In this case it's a lot of needed infrastructure work on four old, tired assets of the community," Larson said. "It's going to take a lot of ground level work."

The board is expected to take the issue of a proposed referendum to vote at its Nov. 18 meeting.

The deadline to register a referendum question with the county is mid-December.

Board President Rich Heim spoke to a process that included numerous public meetings, staff and community input, needs assessment and a review of funding options.

"We've been talking about master facilities for a long time," Heim said. "We've been saying what the funding mechanism is going to look like. This is a culmination of a number of meetings."

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