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posted: 12/19/2013 5:30 AM

Voters to decide Round Lake High School expansion, building improvement plan

Improvements also will be part of referendum on borrowing $29 million

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  • Nanci Radford

      Nanci Radford

 
 

Voters will decide if Round Lake Area Unit District 116 should borrow $29 million for a high school expansion and a variety of building improvements.

By a 7-0 vote, District 116 board members this week passed a resolution authorizing placement of the borrowing question on the March 18 ballot. That day's election also will feature primaries for state and Lake County offices.

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"There is no tax (increase)," District 116 school board President Nanci Radford said Wednesday. "It is all restructuring debt."

Bill Johnston, the district's assistant superintendent for business, said current debt would be restructured and extended if voters approve the $29 million for the project. He said the move would allow District 116's debt-service tax rate to remain steady.

Round Lake High was built for 1,370 students, but it now houses about 2,055 teenagers, according to the district. Pupils are on two daily schedules because of the space problems, officials said.

District 116's resolution states the $29 million loan would go toward demolishing a portion of Round Lake High and construction of new classrooms and science, technology, engineering and mathematics laboratories.

In addition, the money would be used for a second gymnasium, new student commons, upgraded technology, improved security systems and construction to enhance student circulation within the high school.

District 116's ballot wording does not ask voters to approve a property tax hike to obtain the $29 million loan and repay it with interest. District 116 will receive the money by selling bonds to investors.

District 116's public money can't be used to promote a "yes" vote, so a volunteer committee has been assembled and includes Round Lake Beach Mayor Richard Hill and Hainesville Trustee Georgeann Duberstein.

In March 2006, voters approved a tax increase that allowed District 116 to borrow $17 million mostly for renovation of John T. Magee Middle School in Round Lake. Magee, which closed due to safety problems in 2004, reopened four years later.

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