By Megann Horstead | For The Bugle
The Community High School District 99 Board of Education will vote in December on a measure putting a referendum on the March 2018 ballot concerning a potential bond issuance to pay for facility improvements.
The measure, if approved, will allow officials to institute one of two solutions: to increase taxes over a 24-year period to pursue $136.6 million in upgrades or maintain current funding levels to seek an $81.6 million proposal outlining improvements.
If not, the district’s two high schools would not see taxpayer-backed reinvestment, and the result is a decrease in taxes of $132 per year for a $300,000 home.
District 99 recently hosted a series of community informational meetings and building tours, at which point residents had the opportunity to learn more about the situation the two high schools are facing.
Superintendent Hank Thiele said the district is at a “pivot point.”
Currently, the district has a 20-year bond issue that is nearly paid off. What’s more is that history shows interest rates are at near-record lows.
The district intends to take action in a manner that reduces the resulting impact on the taxpayers.
“What we have is an opportunity now to reissue those bonds or reissue those bonds plus some more and take on building plans, building projects,” Thiele said.
Renovations at the two high schools could consist of security enhancements, Americans with Disabilities Act improvements, air conditioning, updates to classrooms and science, culinary and visual arts labs, creation of a learning commons, and outdoor enhancements.
Other proposed upgrades specific to South High include the expansion and improvement of the auditorium, outdoor physical education space, and the relocation of the main entrance, whereas potential renovations exclusive to North High consist of the relocation of the loading dock, replacement of the original gym, and expansion and improvement of the cafeteria.
“We have some different facility offerings on each side of town, based on the history of how the buildings grew up, that we would like to close those gaps,” Thiele said.
The improvements would be phased in over time, with much of the work on the interiors of buildings completed during the summer months. Air conditioning, however, could be available to all students, faculty and staff before the start of classes next fall.
To date, 35 percent of the district’s classrooms do not have air conditioning.
For master facility plan updates, visit www.csd99.org.