Larson: Glenbard District 87 continues responsible planning with finances

In Glenbard High School District 87, we have a long history of responsible financial planning. We spend less on buildings and operations, carry less debt, and have a lower tax rate than the vast majority of districts in the Chicago metropolitan area.

The March 19 election is fast approaching, and Glenbard District 87 has a facilities improvement referendum on the ballot. It is important that we address critical facility needs in our aging high schools. Our four high schools vary in age between 51 and 101 years old.

Glenbard District 87 is asking voters to approve a $183 million bond issue to fund the new 10-year facility master plan. If approved, the referendum will cost the owner of a $300,000 home about $4 per week.

Our history of sound fiscal stewardship is demonstrated by our continual commitment to:

• low debt (impact to taxpayers);

• high use of annual operating budget toward improving facilities;

• balanced budgets.

Low debt

When compared to peer school districts, Glenbard has uniquely low long-term debt. Glenbard is one of the least leveraged school districts in the state (debt tax rates), even after making $154 million of capital improvements over the past 10 years.

• Lowest debt tax rates of seven DuPage County high school districts (2022)

• Fourth-lowest debt per pupil out of 13 districts (high school and K-12) in DuPage County, as of June 30, 2023.

• Less than 2.5% of Glenbard’s total budget is allocated to debt service payments.

• Since 1971, Glenbard has maintained minimal referendum debt: $90.9 million total for an average of $1.75 million per year.

The taxpayer debt rate has dropped for eight consecutive years. The tax today is 36 cents lower than it was in 2015. Our bond proposal would add 20 cents to the Glenbard tax rate.

If voters approve this proposal, it will keep the district’s total tax rate 16 cents lower than it was in 2015. Also, District 87 is paying more than 40% of the total cost of the proposed improvements with operating revenue over the next several years.

Efficient spending

Glenbard provides exceptional value to the community through efficient spending. Our district spends less per pupil, on instruction and buildings, than most other area high school districts; yet our students perform at a very high level. We spend less and get more in return.

Glenbard maintains one of the lowest Operating Expense Per Pupil among our peer school districts. We spend nearly $5,000 less per pupil compared to peer districts.

• Operating Expenditure Per Pupil comparison (2022)

$25,156 = average spent across 19 peer Chicago-area districts

$20,782 = Glenbard District 87 (2nd-lowest of 19 peer Chicago-area districts)

Financial recognition

District 87 continues to be recognized for fiscal stability.

Our AA+ bond rating (Standard & Poor’s) enables us to receive favorable borrowing rates.

Glenbard has a perfect 4.0 Financial Profile Score from the Illinois State Board of Education, and has received financial recognition from ISBE for 17 years in a row.

Bond details

Our bond proposal involves issuing 20-year bonds. Regardless of the timing of the bond sale to pay for facility improvements, the duration is limited to 20 years. This bond structure allows us to make incremental spending on long-term projects.

Importantly, there is not a correlation between referendum approval and when the cost appears on taxpayers’ tax bill. If voters approve the March 19 referendum, taxpayers would first see an impact no earlier than the first tax bills distributed in 2025.

The full amount of the referendum would be estimated to be allocated over a seven-year period, with the majority of the benefits provided to our students and the community by 2027.

We plan to sell the bonds in two installments (likely 50% each), which will stagger the timing and impact of the full referendum. This would allow us to be the most efficient with the referendum funds.

• Aligns funding with the timing of projects

• Takes advantage of securing competitive interest rates

With this proposal, our community has the opportunity to protect the quality of our facilities and keep our total expenditure on buildings lower than what is average for the Chicago metropolitan area.

Referendum summary

On the March 19 election ballot, Glenbard District 87 is asking voters to approve a bond issue to fund Glenbard’s new 10-year facility master plan.

If approved, the referendum will cost the owner of a $300,000 home about $4 per week.

The proposed improvements would address facility needs in our four high school buildings — which are between 51 and 101 years old. We must make sure our educational spaces support today’s best practices in teaching and learning.

Be sure to vote on March 19, or vote early via mail-in ballot or in-person early voting. For more information about the referendum, visit

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