Parents hear Dist. 15 plan for $130M referendum on 2 new schools
Parents on Wednesday night heard Palatine Township Elementary District 15's plan to ask district taxpayers in November to approve the sale of $130 million in bonds for the construction of two new schools.
The proposal involves a new K-5 elementary school in the district's northeast corner on land District 15 is hoping to purchase from the Palatine Park District, and a new sixth- through eighth-grade middle school on property the district owns off Ela Road in Inverness.
But the addition of the new schools would also mean closing the district's oldest school, Gray Sanborn Elementary School in downtown Palatine; switching to a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school curriculum districtwide; and revamping school boundaries and bus routes.
Barb Kain has lived in Palatine for 10 years and has two children at Sanborn Elementary School. Kain's children are able to ride their bikes or walk to school most days.
"We moved into the community downtown so we would be close to everything, and also the school," Kain said. "That was important to me, and why we picked to live there."
If Sanborn closes, Kain says moving, or considering other schools outside the district, isn't out of the question for her family.
Should voters approve the request in the fall, it will initially cost the owner of a $227,500 residence -- District 15's median home value, officials say -- an extra $122 in property taxes each year. That number would likely go up over the 20-year repayment period as the district's other bonds roll off, Superintendent Scott Thompson said.
Sanborn Elementary School parents, in addition to Kain, also voiced frustration that District 15 hadn't yet communicated with them about the school's potential closing.
Thompson said the district has held off on communicating with parents until it is sure it can secure the park district land, Osage Park, for the construction of the new elementary school. Plans for the new elementary school would be moot if the district was unable to secure the land, he said.
"We will reach out and listen to what they have to say," Thompson said. "But we have to do this so that it benefits the entire district. Boundaries are a very complex thing."
If voters don't approve the request in November, Thompson says the cost of building the two new schools is expected to increase by $5.2 million each year the district waits.
"It is the right time to do the right thing," Thompson said.