Dist. 200 board OKs $50 million loan application to help fund projects

 
 
Posted1/14/2016 5:15 AM
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Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 board members agreed Wednesday to submit an application to the Illinois State Board of Education for $50 million in bonds with little to no interest that could be used on qualified school construction projects.

School boards of districts across the suburbs, including Glenbard High School District 87 and Batavia Unit District 101, have approved and sent in applications for the so-called qualified school construction bonds this week, to meet the Friday deadline.

The bonds were created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The state received approximately $500 million in the bonds. School districts are each limited to requesting a maximum of $50 million. Selected districts will have 18 months to issue the bonds.

Board member Jim Mathieson said the purpose of the bonds is to avoid full interest costs.

"If we were to get the full $50 million, that would save us potentially $2 million a year, at a 4 percent rate," he said. "It's not a $50 million grant; it's potentially we could save $2 million."

Some of the "shovel-ready" projects District 200 wants to use the money for include: replacing or updating roofing, bathrooms, fire alarm systems, generators, brickwork, electric and mechanical systems and concrete.

"Should the board choose to move forward with any type of bonding, that would be a separate action," said Bill Farley, assistant superintendent for business operations. "This is only throwing our hat in the ring, as a board."

Farley said the state board of education estimates it will select the districts that will receive the bonds by next month.

He said he believes, however, that the decision will be delayed, due to the number of schools applying for some of the $500 million available.

If delayed, the decision could align more closely with District 200's completion of a master facility plan, which is currently being brainstormed and discussed at community engagement sessions, the next of which is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20, at Monroe Middle School. Funding for the projects being discussed at the sessions is yet to be determined.

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