District 200 looks at policy to fund building improvements

Updated 12/23/2016 6:19 PM

Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 is considering a policy that, if approved, will commit future boards to set aside specific amounts of money for capital renewal projects.

The proposal has been posted for public review on the district's website at cusd200.org.


The district currently budgets about $1 million a year for such work, including projects involving roofs, mechanical equipment, doors, windows and paving.

If voters approve a proposed $132.5 million spring referendum question, many of those types of projects will be completed over the next five years.

But according to the Sherman Dergis formula -- a methodology used by taxing bodies nationwide to shape long-term plans for capital needs -- the district still would need to start setting aside an estimated $2.4 million each year to prepare for future renovation projects.

The situation if voters reject the referendum is much more dire.

The formula shows the district would need to start setting aside about $6.5 million each year to complete such projects. In addition, none of the other work that is part of the referendum, like a new early childhood center, secured entryways and updated libraries and science labs, would be completed.

Last week, the school board spent nearly an hour debating the wording of a proposed policy, which states the district will use the Sherman Dergis methodology.

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Board member Barb Intihar said she's worried that if the district strictly follows the policy, it could tie the hands of future boards.

"I think we should make every effort, and I think we could commit to the minimum," she said of hitting the Sherman Dergis recommendations. "But there are other ways to get money to do the things we need to do than to commit to this policy that we're going to make severe and drastic program cuts in order to fund brick and mortar."

Other board members, including Jim Gambaiani, said it's important to stick to the policy if the board decides to adopt it.

"We are where we are now because this has been ignored," he said. "You either live by it, or you don't have the policy."

The board will vote on the proposed policy and a referendum question in January.

Board member Chris Crabtree said she has heard a lot from community members in recent weeks who have asked what will happen if the referendum doesn't pass. Board member Brad Paulsen said the community needs to see the district has the Sherman Dergis policy in place before the referendum.

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