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updated: 11/19/2013 6:57 AM

Glenbard Dist. 87 OKs iPad rollout, referendum on facilities

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A proposal to fund $35 million of a $100 million Glenbard High School District 87 master facilities plan through a referendum is headed to the ballot box.

The board on Monday unanimously approved a resolution to place a question on the March 18, 2014, ballot seeking voter support of issuing $35 million in bonds for the facilities renovations.

The proposed improvemements, which could begin summer of 2014 and would be completed over 10 years, would include upgrades to classrooms such as science labs, infrastructure work to outdoor facilities and adding air conditioning to Glenbard West and East.

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

"A lot of this is really necessary upgrades," Superintendent David Larson said. "It's important to take care of these buildings, to protect a community asset. These buildings have been here an awful long time and we want to maintain that investment."

If voters approve the ballot question, 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 voted 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 plan is close to three years in the making, dating back to early 2011, with the administration putting together a comprehensive review of facilities needs. The district held community forums on the issue at each of its four high schools this fall.

The board also unanimously authorized a plan to put iPads in the hands of all incoming freshmen by next fall.

Students could either bring their own approved iPads or rent one from the district at a $189 annual rental fee plus $85 for purchasing digital curriculum. The current cost for textbooks, novels and workbooks is $195. Families who currently qualify for textbook rental fee waivers as according to federal poverty guidelines would also be waived from iPad rental fees.

The plan would require an annual investment of $500,000 to $600,000, but district officials said reduced expenditures would save at least $300,000 by year four.

Larson said families of incoming freshmen will soon receive a letter notifying them of the iPad requirement. The rollout will only apply to freshmen next year and will slowly extend to the other grades.

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