Endorsement: Yes on River Trails District 26 building proposal

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted10/19/2016 1:00 AM

Voters in River Trails School District 26 will decide whether to increase their taxes so the district can build a $29 million Early Learning Center to provide preschool to all students, not just to students learning English or requiring special services, and relieve crowding at its elementary schools.

The school district and its board chose the proposal from 10 options (all outlined online), which included building a new facility on another site or renovating existing facilities; it wasn't quite the most expensive option. Park View School (and the Montessori school it houses) would be razed, and a new building with 20 classrooms, indoor and outdoor play spaces, a student reading room and a community room would emerge.

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The new building would serve up to 400 students, essential, the district says, as two enrollment projections it obtained show the number of students will stretch existing schools beyond their limits. The cost to property owners is not huge but not cheap, either.

The district says homeowners would have to pay an additional $34.75 per $1,000 of their current tax bill over 20 years. The district has been thoroughly transparent in all of this, even offering online calculators so homeowners can estimate their increased costs.

Online it details the final proposal that includes environmental features, arguing energy costs would be lower in the long run. Could the school district cut some corners to lower the cost? Perhaps. But we have no reason to doubt the concern about crowding. We don't see a reason for it to make costly repairs to Park View School, after which an expansion might be needed later. And we can't find fault with its desire to offer preschool to more children.

We endorse a yes vote.

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