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Article updated: 12/2/2013 4:47 PM

District 116 forum on possible Round Lake High School expansion

Bill Johnston

Bill Johnston

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Round Lake Area Unit District 116 hosts a community forum Tuesday to include discussion on the possibility of a referendum to authorize borrowing for a high school expansion and renovation.

It'll run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Round Lake High School's theater. District 116's elected board members and advisory high school design committee will host the forum and solicit feedback from visitors.

Round Lake High was built for 1,370 students, but it now houses about 2,055 teenagers, according to the district. Two portable buildings are used for classrooms, and pupils are on two daily schedules. In November, members of District 116's school board finance committee received a presentation on debt structuring options for a possible $29 million loan that would be obtained through bond sales to investors.

District 116's assistant superintendent for business, Bill Johnston, told the Daily Herald on Monday that it's recommended the property tax rate remain at its current level if a ballot measure seeking the authority to borrow the $29 million goes to the voters and passes.

Board members have until Dec. 30 to vote on whether the borrowing question should be put to voters in a March referendum. Johnston said the District 116 board is expected to make its decision Monday, Dec. 16.

"At this point, we are still planning on a $29 million referendum question," he said.

Johnston said at a District 116 finance committee last month that financial projections are being made based on a forecast 6 percent drop in District 116's equalized assessed valuation. He said the district could have a "difficult time" maintaining a steady tax rate if the valuation declines more than expected.

As part of the district's long-range facilities plan, the school board approved exploring construction of an addition to include at least 33 classrooms to address crowding and improving the existing structure. District documents show the design goals include a desire for delivering "21st century learning" with upgraded technology, thermal comfort, sustainability and improved air quality.

Twitter: @DHBobSusnjara

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