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updated: 2/7/2014 5:23 PM

Glenbard Dist. 87 seeking taxpayer support for facilities plan

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  • Glenbard High School District 87 is asking voters in a March 18 referendum to approve borrowing $35 million as part of a $100 million facilities plan to improve its four high schools, including 88-year-old Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn.

       Glenbard High School District 87 is asking voters in a March 18 referendum to approve borrowing $35 million as part of a $100 million facilities plan to improve its four high schools, including 88-year-old Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

 
 

Glenbard High School District 87 is asking taxpayers for approval to borrow $35 million to help fund $100 million in facilities repairs and improvements.

Voters will see the referendum question on the March 18 primary ballot.

The proposed improvements, to be done over 10 years, would include classroom and common area renovations at the four high schools as well as infrastructure work to outdoor facilities, upgrades to science labs, work to roofs and ventilation systems and adding air conditioning to Glenbard West and East.

The district's newest school, Glenbard South, was built in 1972 and its oldest, Glenbard West, was built in 1926.

"These are old, tired buildings that are functional assets of the community that are used not only by students and teachers but by a variety of community groups," Superintendent David Larson said Thursday during a Daily Herald endorsement interview. "There comes a point where you need to do something."

The plan is close to three years in the making, dating to 2011 when the administration first began a comprehensive review of facility needs.

Should voters approve the borrowing plan, the loan would be phased in to replace existing loans that will be paid off between now and 2024. District officials say taxpayers would not see an increase in their tax bills as a result of the new loans.

If voters reject the plan, the owner of a $265,500 home -- the median value in the district -- would pay $24 less in property taxes starting with the 2018 tax bill, a reduction that would escalate to $61 over time as the existing debts are paid off.

The remaining $65 million of the $100 million facilities plan would be funded through the district's operations and maintenance budget. Already, the district has $45 million earmarked for projects in the facilities plan and has begun borrowing the remaining $20 million, which will be repaid with the district's existing tax revenue.

The school board in August approved borrowing the $20 million. The first $10 million already has been borrowed; the district will close on the remaining loan before the end of June.

"We felt like we wanted to try to accelerate some of the work," said Chris McClain, the district's assistant superintendent for business services. "We get the cash up front to improve the sites sooner."

District 87 is the third-largest high school district in Illinois, serving 8,421 students.

"It sounds like bricks and mortar but indirectly these improvements are profoundly affecting student achievement," Larson said. "We feel we've been very methodical and deliberate through this whole process."

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