District 15 wants to build 2 new schools
Palatine Township Elementary District 15 will ask voters in November to approve borrowing $130 million for the construction of two new schools, district officials announced Monday in a meeting with representatives of the Daily Herald editorial board.
The proposed schools, a K-5 elementary school in the district's northeast corner and a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school on property the district owns off Ela Road in Inverness, would make way for full-day kindergarten and reduce busing costs, District 15 Superintendent Scott Thompson said.
The additional schools also would mean moving to a sixth- through eighth-grade grade middle school curriculum, and reconfiguring the district's school boundaries and bus routes.
If voters approve the proposed bond issue in November, the owner of a $227,500 residence -- District 15's median home value, officials say -- would pay an extra $122 in property taxes each year for the 20-year repayment period.
"It's been widely accepted this should have been done a long time ago," Thompson said of the decision to take the issue to voters this year.
School officials have been in talks with the Palatine Park District on an agreement giving District 15 seven acres at Osage Park in Palatine for the new elementary school. In return, the park district would get the District 15's oldest school, Gray Sanborn Elementary School at 101 N. Oak Street in Palatine.
The new elementary school would serve 1,200 students in the district's northeast corner, Thompson said. Services at the proposed school would mirror those offered at the Winston campus community school, such as conversational English and computer classes for adults and extra homework help and mentorship for students.
Projected construction costs for the elementary school come in just under $70 million, and estimated costs for the middle school are about $58.6 million, according to district documents. The $130 million bond issue also would cover money the school district is paying to acquire the Osage Park site.
The recommendation to build two new schools comes from a District 15 facilities plan committee made up of district officials, school board members, parents and community members.
By building a new elementary school, the district would save $7 million in mandatory safety improvements on Sanborn Elementary School, officials say.
"It's hard to bring old buildings up to the level you want for 21st-century learning," school board member Jim Ekberg said Monday.
And while the district would add costs for hiring new staff members and maintaining an extra building, Thompson said the new buildings would reduce transportation costs.
The cost to build new schools increases about 4 percent, roughly $5.2 million, each year the district waits, Thompson said.
Building new schools would mean new school boundaries that, officials say, would more closely align the elementary schools with middle school and high school boundaries. Reconfigured bus routes also would keep buses from having to cross the Metra train tracks that run through Palatine, Thompson said.
The District 15 board of education is expected to approve a resolution Wednesday placing the bond issue referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Walter R. Sundling Junior High School, 1100 N. Smith St. in Palatine.