Wheaton Warrenville District 200's $132M request defeated

  • Voters in Wheaton Warrenville Unit District rejected a request Tuesday to borrow $132.5 million to pay for building projects at all but one of the district's campuses. Part of the money would have gone to replace the aging and crowded Jefferson Early Childhood Center.

      Voters in Wheaton Warrenville Unit District rejected a request Tuesday to borrow $132.5 million to pay for building projects at all but one of the district's campuses. Part of the money would have gone to replace the aging and crowded Jefferson Early Childhood Center. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/5/2017 8:48 AM

Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 voters on Tuesday rejected a request to borrow $132.5 million to pay for building projects at all of its campuses except Hubble Middle School.

With all 87 precincts reporting, unofficial tallies show 54 percent of voters opposed the measure that would have allowed the district to increase property taxes to pay off the 19-year loan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The district sought a substantially larger funding request than a failed attempt four years ago to replace the Jefferson Early Childhood Center.

A five-year, $154.5 million plan by the current school board hinged on voter support of the borrowing request. The proposal called for construction of a new Jefferson Early Childhood Center in addition to repairs and renovations at 18 schools.

Board members -- two of whom won re-election Tuesday -- pledged to set aside $7.5 million from existing reserves and another $14.5 million from future budgets to fill the funding gap in their plan.

But opponents said the proposal was too expensive and suggested the district had underfunded maintenance in schools.

The property tax bill for the owner of a $322,300 home would have increased by $180 to $295 annually for debt service for the first nine years of the loan. After existing debt came off the district's books, that same owner then would have paid $531 annually in additional taxes toward the retirement of the new loan, expected in tax year 2036.

Superintendent Jeff Schuler cautioned that without the loan the district could tap about $6.5 million a year in operational funds for fixes to aging mechanical systems, roofs, plumbing and other infrastructure in schools.

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