District 128 officials looking to increase spending in 2019 fiscal year

  • An indoor swimming pool that's under construction at Libertyville High School should be completed in spring 2019. The proposed budget for the 2019 fiscal year includes $16 million for the project, which has a total price tag of $21.5 million.

      An indoor swimming pool that's under construction at Libertyville High School should be completed in spring 2019. The proposed budget for the 2019 fiscal year includes $16 million for the project, which has a total price tag of $21.5 million. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • A rendering shows the exterior of the indoor swimming pool being built at Libertyville High School. An estimated $16 million for the project is included in the proposed budget for the 2019 fiscal year, which began July 1.

    A rendering shows the exterior of the indoor swimming pool being built at Libertyville High School. An estimated $16 million for the project is included in the proposed budget for the 2019 fiscal year, which began July 1. Courtesy of District 128

 
 
Updated 7/25/2018 4:34 PM

As they finalize a new budget, Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 officials are predicting a significant spending increase for the 2019 fiscal year.

Administrators have proposed a roughly $105.8 million budget for the year, which began July 1. That's up nearly 11 percent from the 2018 fiscal year's $95.5 million budget.

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Officials primarily attribute the jump to the construction of a new swimming pool at Libertyville High, and possible additions at Vernon Hills High.

The proposed budget includes $16 million for the Libertyville pool project, which began in October 2017 and is scheduled to be completed in spring 2019. The budget also sets aside $4 million for construction at Vernon Hills High.

The centerpiece of Libertyville's 38,000-square-foot natatorium will be an eight-lane, 50-meter pool. The project is expected to cost about $21.5 million, with spending spread over three years.

At Vernon Hills, officials are weighing building a second gymnasium and more classrooms and expanding the cafeteria, District 128 spokeswoman Mary Todoric said.

Those projects are being considered because of rising enrollment at Vernon Hills High and the Hawthorn Elementary District 73 schools that feed into it, Todoric said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

More than 1,400 students attended Vernon Hills during the 2017-18 term, up from 1,325 in 2012-13. Officials project enrollment could be as high as 1,750 in five years.

"We know those kids are coming," board President Pat Groody said. "Those aren't hypothetical numbers anymore because those kids are in Hawthorn (schools)."

The Vernon Hills construction projects don't have green lights yet and the scope of the work and a total projected cost haven't been determined.

"We are still gathering information," Todoric said. "No final decisions have been made."

Money for construction at Vernon Hills would come from district savings, which totals about $79 million, officials said. That's how Libertyville's pool is being funded.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

District 128 officials debated building a new gymnasium, dance studio, locker rooms and a weight room at Vernon Hills in 2016 but shelved the project because they were concerned about the district's spending habits and its dwindling financial reserves.

Since then, district leaders have worked to keep operating-related expenses in line with income, Groody said.

That allows the board to more comfortably use savings for one-time construction projects, Groody said.

"That's exactly what those reserve funds are for," Groody said.

On the revenue side of the proposed 2019 budget, income from property taxes, fees and other sources is expected to increase in the 2019 fiscal year -- but not as significantly as spending.

The plan predicts about $87 million in revenue this year, up about 4 percent from 2018's $83.5 million estimate.

The District 128 board will hold a budget hearing Aug. 13, and officials likely will publicly discuss the spending plan one more time later in the month, Todoric said.

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