District 220 working on details for new referendum in March
Barrington Area Unit District 220 board members are planning to place another referendum on the ballot early next year seeking voter permission to borrow money to fund building projects.
While specifics are not yet finalized, the planned March 17 referendum would be the second time in about a year the district went to voters for funds. Voters in April defeated a measure seeking to raise property taxes to pay for $185 million in building projects.
School board members Tuesday night agreed to rank proposed building projects ahead of an Aug. 13 meeting to help in their final decision. When they gather for that next meeting, elected officials are expected to formally vote on which projects to include in the plan and the dollar amount to seek.
Rooted in a community process called Blueprint 220 that began in 2017, the basic part of the plan calls for all 12 of the district's schools to receive improvements deemed essential, including upgraded safety and security. Bathroom repairs, new roofs and improved heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems are among the proposed basics.
During discussion about the potential projects Tuesday, board member Angela Wilcox expressed concern about getting rejected at the ballot box again.
"I think these are such important upgrades in our buildings to protect our children, to protect our teachers, to protect our staff," she said.
Wilcox said it could be preferable initially to seek just enough money to cover the basics and eliminate mobile classrooms, then at some point place another ballot measure before voters in an effort to fund proposals not on a "Level 1" list, such as a $14.2 million, 800-seat fine arts center at Barrington High.
However, board member Barry Altshuler questioned the idea. He said revised cost estimates already are 5% higher than what was proposed in April.
"We're going to come back with a much bigger request a couple years down the road and defer things that are really needed now," Altshuler said. "So I have trouble with that, but I also understand we have to be reasonable in what we're asking."
Other possibilities in a draft plan include a physical education wellness addition and a "21st-century" library renovation at Barrington High, plus sensory and therapy rooms and kitchen renovations at elementary schools.
Totals from Cook, Lake, Kane and McHenry counties show voters rejected the April request by 4,077 votes to 3,909.