Endorsement: Yes to school upgrades in Lake Villa District 41
It was almost a year ago that voters in Lake Villa Elementary District 41 hammered a two-question, $50 million ballot issue to expand, renovate and maintain the district's five school buildings.
A resounding three-quarters of voters opposed each question. Too expensive, too confusing, too little consensus in the community and on the school board, were reasons later cited for the thumping.
So, district officials revised the request after holding dozens of public meetings to solicit input and discuss building and maintenance needs.
The result is a more streamlined pitch for authorization to sell bonds and fund school projects in a proposal that district officials say is less expensive, easier to understand and has more support.
Voters will see one request to authorize borrowing $30.7 million for projects at four buildings -- bigger ticket items include new safety and security work at Hooper and Palombi schools and a new roof at Martin school. Dropped from this proposal was a request for $4.4 million in work at Joseph J. Pleviak Elementary School, which the district owns but doesn't use. Planned cafeteria renovations are now more modest.
The school board was divided a year ago in voting to put the questions on the ballot, but for this proposal, the support was unanimous. And, the vocal organized opposition in the community has mellowed, and former opponents now say their concerns have been addressed.
One constant is that the district's outstanding debt will drop as money borrowed in 1997 and 2000 is paid off. If no projects were proposed or money borrowed, the tax bill for the owners of a $250,000 house would fall by $773 annually. The decrease would be $368 per year if the referendum request passes and the money for projects is borrowed for 15 years.
This proposal provides money to address needs in aging buildings while being more in line with what the board and the community will support. We recommend a yes vote.