How District 220 plans to address building needs, funding
Barrington Area Unit District 220 provided a look at potential school renovations during an informal event that included information on how the ideas would be funded.
At issue is Blueprint 220, a long-term strategy to provide recommendations on school renovations to meet today's education needs, in part through flexible spaces and better technology.
Roughly 200 people gathered Wednesday night for a special school board session that started in Barrington High School's auditorium with presentations and a performance by drama students.
In the students' mini-play, they looked to a future high school with a new performing arts center featuring dance studios, dressing rooms and state-of-the-art technology. They also showed the possibilities of a yoga studio, comfortable classroom seating and a student art gallery at the school, which debuted at its Main Street location in September 1949.
School board President Brian Battle told residents about how potential building renovations across the district would be funded.
Battle said debt from the district's last round of building projects will be off the books in 2021. For an owner of a house with a $550,000 median value, the construction debt payments have been about $750 annually, he said.
The annual tax bill would drop by about that amount when the debt vanishes, but residents could choose to again have money directed toward building needs, he said.
"Whether we, as a community, want to reinvest in our schools with replacing some of that (construction debt) money with a new (borrowing plan) to do facility improvements is a question that's not a board decision," Battle said. "That's a community decision. That can only be done in a referendum. That's not a board decision."
During small-group tours, visitors heard presentations about potential building needs for future-ready learning, physical activity and wellness, visual and performing arts, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics career pathways.
Brigid Tileston, the district's director of fine, visual and performing arts, said students would benefit greatly from space upgrades. She said middle school fine-arts spaces do not support large programs, and the busy 57-year-old high school auditorium is too small to accommodate modern needs.
"When we're looking at the possibility of improving, revamping spaces, it's not just for the fine-arts students," Tileston said. "There are all sorts of things. Athletic awards ceremonies, programs like this evening, speakers, elementary events that happen (in the auditorium)."
Barrington High School Athletic Director Mike Obsuszt and Babbi Barreiro, life-skills department chair and longtime varsity girls basketball head coach, said upgrades are sorely needed for physical education and wellness. For example, Barreiro said, a lack of space prevents the school from accommodating all students who want to be in dance classes.
"We're really at the point now at Barrington High School where we're pretty maxed out spacewise," Barreiro said. "Our (P.E.) curriculum is being driven now by our space. And that's just not what we want. We want to drive our curriculum with what's best for kids every single day."
School board members are to hold a panel discussion Nov. 7 with those involved in the Blueprint 220 planning process. Chicago-based DLR Group, an architecture consultant, has studied the physical condition of District 220's buildings and examined how they are used for education.