Arlington Heights District 25 takes first steps on full-day kindergarten, building plan
After a narrow victory at the polls, Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 officials have taken the first steps for planning and financing a $75 million full-day kindergarten and capital building program.
At its first meeting since the Cook County clerk certified the referendum results, the school board Tuesday night approved a contract for village-required traffic and parking studies related to the additions needed at six elementary schools to house a total of 25 new kindergarten classrooms.
The $58,900 civil engineering contract represents just a small portion of design costs the district is paying for now, but expects to get reimbursed once the first of two expected bond sales occurs Aug. 30, and proceeds are received Sept. 22. As such, the school board Tuesday also approved a so-called reimbursement resolution that expresses its official intent to use the future bond money for current expenses.
At its next meeting Aug. 23, the board will take a vote to authorize the initial sale of about $60 million in bonds; the other $15 million is expected to come next spring, based on the construction schedule and federal tax law requirements on when the money must be spent.
Also Aug. 23, the board likely will consider extending contracts to a construction management firm, architect and engineer for the massive building program. Once the detailed designs are complete, District 25 will submit those plans to the village for review and approval by the design and plan commissions, and ultimately the village board.
In addition to the new kindergarten spaces, the infrastructure work includes gym expansions at Westgate and Dryden elementary schools, and building upgrades across the district over the next five years. That will include new heating and cooling systems, boilers, electrical, roofing, plumbing, security and paving.
Superintendent Lori Bein said she expects the phased construction process to begin at the first three schools next spring, followed by the last three schools.
She said her staff will develop the daylong kindergarten instructional programming to present to the board by December 2023, so that parents will know what to expect when they begin registering for the 2024-2025 school year. The first full-day classes are set to begin in August 2024.
Under the preliminary financing plan, the district is expected to make $5.2 million worth of annual principal and interest payments over a 22-year time period. The bond sale authorized by voters -- by a mere 50-vote margin when the clerk completed its canvass July 19 -- will cost the owner of a home valued at $400,000 an extra $293 in property taxes a year, according to Liz Hennessy of Raymond James, the district's financial adviser.
Some residents who voted "no" at the polls came to the meeting Tuesday to ask the board to reconsider the building expansion plans, or at least scale them back.
"I thought that the referendum gave you the authorization to go forward if you chose to go forward," said William Boodro. "With the vote the way it was so close, I thought you guys would be reconsidering whether or not this should or should not be done. The fact that you can do it, that you have the authority to do it, doesn't mean you should do it."