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updated: 1/17/2014 3:37 PM

Dist. 200 considers issuing $10 million in bonds for school improvements

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The Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 school board is considering issuing $10 million in non-referendum bonds to pay for "immediate" facility needs at 18 of the district's 20 schools.

The board also is being asked to refinance existing bonds and address a slope in the current debt schedule.

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Superintendent Brian Harris said the $10 million would cover about $6.5 million in energy projects, such as heating, cooling and lighting improvements at every school except the newly built Hubble Middle School and Longfellow Elementary.

The bonds also would fund other facility improvements, including a new roof at Emerson Elementary School and blacktop replacement at Wheaton Warrenville South High School and Johnson Elementary, Harris said.

"It's kind of like home-improvement stuff. It's basically preventive maintenance scenarios," he said. "(The board members) all know the need. The issue is, how do we pay for it?"

More details about the facility projects will be presented to the board during a committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 22. A bond issue notification act hearing also is scheduled to take place at the meeting.

"If we don't do this we're just kicking the can down the road," Harris said. "We don't have that amount of money in our operating budget year to year to be able to do that type of work."

Assistant Superintendent for Business Bill Farley said the owner of a $300,000 home could expect to see the amount of taxes they pay to the district go up about $12 each year for the first five years if the bonds are issued. While there will be an initial increase, Farley said the restructuring ultimately will help taxpayers because the debt service will decrease slightly in 2018 and 2019 and then stay at a consistent level.

The last time non-referendum bonds were issued by the district was in 2009, Farley said.

A notice of intent resolution regarding the board's decision to move forward with the bond issue is scheduled to be published Jan. 23. If 10 percent of registered voters in the district's jurisdiction sign a petition within 30 days of the notice being published, the bond issue could go to referendum.

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