Lake Zurich-area school leaders will begin discussions Thursday on whether to pursue a bond referendum next year to fund building repairs and upgrades.

The talks come as members of the Lake Zurich Unit School District 95 board of education sift through feedback received during six community engagement sessions in October, as well as responses from about 1,000 residents who took part in a phone survey.

"In the end, it's really the citizens that will decide," Superintendent Kaine Osburn said. "We're just there to communicate what the community has shown us so far."

According to district documents, 74 percent of those who gave feedback want the district to build Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, or STEAM, labs for middle and high school students; 66 percent want the district to install air conditioning at the schools that don't already have it; and 60 percent support renovating or replacing the 100-year-old May Whitney Elementary School.

When it comes down to how the district will pay for the improvements, Osburn said a majority indicated they would support a bond referendum so long as it does not raise property taxes.

"One option that's overwhelmingly gained support ... is to issue new bonds at referendum at a slightly lower cost than what the taxpayers are currently paying," Osburn said. "It was a good middle ground. Certainly some folks said they were willing to raise taxes to cover the cost, but overwhelmingly the community said they were willing to fund a referendum as long as they were able to get a little tax relief in the process."

A referendum, if the board decides to pursue it, would go on the March 20 ballot.

The board will meet at 6:15 p.m. Thursday, at May Whitney Elementary School to discuss the findings. The board will continue those discussions of at their meetings on Nov. 30, Dec. 7 and Dec. 21.

"Our most important thing is (that) in the end, our community is informed about what the options are and the board is transparent in its deliberations," Osburn said.