District 300 losing faith in state's ability to pay them back

Officials from Community Unit District 300 aren't convinced the state will repay the millions of dollars it has owed them for more than a decade in time to pay for a new district headquarters.

As a result, district leaders likely will rely on debt to finance the $3.9 million administration building still under construction in Algonquin, not the estimated $35 million to $60 million expected from the state.

“It's not a surprise to me — I mean we've been waiting so many years, I kind of expected that,” said board member Dave Alessio, co-chairman of the district's finance committee.

The board of education has until December to decide how they'll pay for the administration building, and Chief Financial Officer Susan Harkin said through her assistant that officials won't make a decision before then.

The district was supposed to receive the Illinois money from a state school construction grant in 2004 to resolve a classroom space shortage caused by population growth in the 2000s. The district used money from a referendum instead to solve those issues.

Earlier this year, the district's legislative committee relaunched a campaign to get the missing money from the state. The effort included emailing local legislators and about 50 other school districts waiting on cash, said board member Kathleen Burley, who co-chairs the district's legislative committee.

There's been little interest and just three or four responses from the other districts, she said.

Burley's also not convinced the state will come though with the money by December. She hopes the state handles it in the spring.

“They would have to OK bonds for the money, and at this point the state just doesn't have the money,” she said.

Debt certificates are interest-bearing bonds that do not require a referendum to obtain. In May, the finance committee discussed the merits of using debt certificates to pay for the new building versus borrowing the money from the district's budget. Officials say neither method would raise the tax rate.

Harkin originally proposed using $3.2 million in debt certificates, but that was when officials thought the building would cost between $5 million and $5.5 million.

It turns out the project will cost $3.9 million and the district already has about $2 million leftover in debt certificates it issued last year for parking lot and mechanical projects.

Alessio said an updated amount for the debt certificates was not yet available.

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