Endorsement: Yes in Lake Zurich District 95
Lake Zurich Unit District 95's $77.6 million referendum is a big ask, with the school board seeking to fund a plan that would offer something for all eight schools -- including a new elementary school to replace the May Whitney School that dates back to 1929. Voters are choosing between borrowing money to pay for the improvements or realizing a property tax reduction of $236 for a home valued at $200,000. The proposal to replace an elementary school gives us pause, given 10 years of declining enrollment in the district. Yet, other parts of the plan seem essential, including security upgrades and air conditioning, which is imperative for students with asthma or other health concerns and for making buildings usable year around. Rounding out the proposal are renovated media centers for every school plus middle school and high school labs emphasizing science, technology, engineering, arts and math. We recommend a yes vote, while reinforcing the need for the school board to keep its word not to come to voters with another building referendum during the 20-year term of the new loan. Proponents defend the new school by pointing to a slight uptick in enrollment and to space consumed by the move to all-day kindergarten this year. Because the school district is paying off existing bonds, taxes would drop $28 for a home valued at $200,000 even with the new borrowing from the ballot proposal. Meanwhile, a new policy will require the board to address annually whether taxes can be abated to the community. That approach helps allay our concerns. We advise a yes vote.