CUSD 200, new pre-K building despite taxpayers saying “NO”

 

According to the Daily Herald, posted 10/30/2017 “District 200 could build a new Jefferson school after all” despite taxpayers defeating referendums for this twice (2013 & 2017).  Listed on the next school board agenda is approval of the time schedule & start of work.

  • Regular Board Meeting
  • Wednesday, 11/8/2017
  • 7:00 PM
  • Sandburg Elementary School (1345 Jewell Road, Wheaton)

 

According to the article D200 plans to build a new Early learning Center (pre-k) at the existing site for $17.3 million without asking texpayers and without raising taxes.  “[T] he new plan calls for the district to pay for a new Jefferson by dipping into reserves and borrowing money through so-called lease certificates for a term of up to 20 years.”

 

I (Jan Shaw) placed a couple couple comment on the page.  I have also sent info to the board (no responses from board members)

I have often wondered why the district hasn’t hired an architect that specializes in refurbishing old buildings for an honest estimate in fixing the existing building, perhaps with a small addition. In 2007 the district estimated this option as costing $7.4 million. Applying the Turner Building Cost index, that same work should cost $9.1 million now. Other buildings in the district have been renovated. Why must Jefferson be new?

 

The district currently provides services for all special needs 3 and 4 year olds whose parents want the services. Why do we need to build a larger building with more capacity? Note; these students attend 4 days per week for 2-1/2 hours per day.

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In 2017, the pro-referendum group would have us believe that all buildings were falling apart and that if we didn’t approve the referendum our children would be attending schools that resembled a third world country. Now, they decide that the new pre-school is the top priority and everything can be afforded out of current income. WHAT CHANGED?

 

 

If the district had cut other spending, this might make sense. But, the district just missed a golden opportunity. Approximately 50 administrator contracts renewed last summer. I spoke to board suggesting that ALL end-of-career bonuses should be cut. Administrators can receive up to $25,000 lump sum when they retire & start their large pensions – Why was that bonus ever approved? The teacher contract renews June 2018. Administrators should give up their end-of-career bonus first, establishing precedence, for the teachers doing the same. I also suggested that administrators pay their own pension contribution as well as the same amount for other benefits to match what teachers pay.

 

As for spending reserves, we know that last year the state of Illinois was behind on its payments. At the low point for the year the total fund balance for all funds on 5/31/2017 was $6,340,889. We also recall that not too many years ago CUSD 200 was issuing tax anticipation warrants each May in order to make payroll. Then the state sent CUSD 200 a check on 5/7/2012 for $14,462,317.00 (for the 2003 high school construction grant). If the district now has plenty of reserves, it is due to that check and the state catching up on money it sends the district. If we spend the reserves and promise future revenues to pay for a new pre-school, what happens if the state is late with its payments (again) or if some of those fixes they said were desperately needed last year actually become urgent?

 

 

To see the board meeting agenda:  Go to cusd200.org then click on “board of education” and “meeting agenda “ in the drop down menu. On the calendar, click on the Nov. 8 date, the agenda for the next meeting will appear.

Action Item #3 is “Approval of Timeline for Early Learning Center

This item says “The Board of Education has reviewed multiple scenarios to find a resolution to the Early Learning Center (ELC) need. The Board has directed staff to begin the process of moving forward with Scenario F, which is the construction of new building on the current Jefferson site. The Board would pay for the work by issuing lease certificates which would be repaid from the operating budget and cash reserves (fund balance).”

Attached to it is the schedule of work, starting with “Start of Schematic Design Phase (9 weeks)” on Nov. 9th.

 

 

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