Barrington District 220 pushing voter registration ahead of March referendum

Building referendum will be on March ballot

Barrington Area Unit District 220 officials are encouraging parents, students and others to register to vote as part of an effort connected to next year's $147 million referendum to fund building projects.

"I'm not sure how many people we actually will get," District 220 Superintendent Brian Harris said, "but it's at least worth the opportunity to engage people in their constitutional right."

Voters last April rejected District 220's request to borrow $185 million for facility upgrades. The district will try again in the March 17 primary with a ballot measure seeking $147 million for improvements at all schools in areas such as safety and security, plumbing, electrical, roofing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

The April voter turnout was just 11% in Lake County, 14% in Cook County, 10% in Kane County and 10% in McHenry County.

Harris said the district's goal is to have employees qualified to perform voter registration at all 12 schools and the administration center on Main Street in Barrington, with the hope of boosting turnout within District 220's boundaries in March. That idea was endorsed by school board President Penny Kazmier at a recent meeting.

"It's a nice kind of community service, I think," Kazmier said.

As part of the initiative, the League of Women Voters volunteered to offer registration at Barrington High School's homecoming festivities Oct. 5. Harris said the district intends to make voter registration available during parent-teacher conferences at the elementary and middle schools this month.

"I know our teachers at the high school level are actively pursuing all of our (eligible) students to register to vote," he said. "It's very important. We also want to do that with our community members."

The district expects to pay off some debt in 2021, so even if voters approve taking out new loans, the owner of a $500,000 home still would see a net decrease of about $75 a year compared with the 2019 tax bill.

But if voters reject the request, the same homeowner would see a reduction of about $468 on the annual bill.

In addition to basic improvements, the extra money would go toward construction of a physical education and wellness center at Barrington High School, additional classrooms at the district's two middle schools, and new classroom space at all elementary buildings for science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes, as well as students with special needs.

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