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posted: 11/14/2013 4:45 PM

Glenbard to vote on facilities referendum, iPad rollout

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Glenbard High School District 87 is slated to vote Monday on a proposal to fund $35 million of a $100 million master facilities plan through a referendum proposal.

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

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The district has discussed the plan since 2011, held community forums on the issue at each of its four high schools this fall, considered feedback at a recent meeting and had its legal team draft language for a March 18 ballot question.

If voters approve, the $35 million would be funded by the extension of "sunsetting" bonds due to expire in 2017, keeping 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.

The board in August authorized 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.

At its Nov. 4 meeting, the board unanimously approved the design work for $9 million worth of facility upgrades.

Facilities work could begin next summer at the schools.

"This is the beginning of many years' worth of work," Superintendent David Larson said.

Also on the agenda for Monday, the board will be asked to approve a plan to put iPads in the hands of all incoming freshmen by next fall.

Under the proposal, the students could either bring their own iPads or rent one from the district at a $189 annual rental fee plus $85 for purchasing digital curriculum. The current rental cost for textbooks, novels and workbooks is $195. The rollout would only apply to freshmen next year with other classes phased in.

Families who currently qualify for textbook rental fee waivers based on federal poverty level guidelines would be waived from iPad rental fees. Officials have said the program will require a district investment of $500,000 to $600,000 annually, but project that expenditures will be reduced by a minimum of $300,000 by year four as it phases out traditional desktop computers and reduces spending on textbooks.

The district has conducted several iPad pilot programs over the past two years, including a "bring your own device" policy this fall that allows students to use smartphones and tablets in class.

The district cited a national survey by Interactive Educational Systems Design that showed more than 80 percent of officials from 500 districts said they use or plan to use iPads over the next two years. Area schools that have started rolling out iPads for its students include Downers Grove District 58, Schaumburg, New Trier and more than 60 Chicago public schools.

The board also is expected to take action on adoption of the 2013 tax levy. The proposed property tax levy submission, excluding the bond and interest levy, is $115.8 million, representing a 3.8 percent increase over the prior year's aggregate tax extension.

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