Here is a quick summary of the chronology and the recommendation that is ProjectLEAF.
Following the April 2013 County Sales Tax for School Facilities vote, the District 228 Board of Education engaged more than 330 community members in 5 different planning sessions held from January 2014 through May 2014.¬† In September of 2014, a Facilitating team of 12 members recommended to the Board of Education, their best compilation of the desires of the community that reflected both an innovative and comprehensive facilities improvement plan that was designed in the most cost-effective manner.
There are 3 main components of the plan:
Part 1 includes approximately $9M in Health/Life Safety projects that are included in a required 10 Year Survey that the District must conduct by statute.¬† The Illinois State Architect reviews and ultimately approves these projects, which then allow for the use of property tax dollars in the form of Health/Life Safety Bonds or through the regular Health/Life Safety survey tax levy.¬† The bonds can be issued in the amount needed, while the levy generates approximately $160,000 per year.¬† Obviously, in our case, we would need to issue the bonds to cover these necessary improvements.¬† The projects include items like a new roof at the HS, SW, MIL.¬† New flooring at the MS, new windows at Northside and many other energy efficiency, safety, security and accessibility issues.
Part 2 and Part 3 would include the numerous enhancements, alterations, additions and repair work at all the schools.¬† This includes projects such as a new 850 seat auditorium with state of the art sound, stage, storage and dressing areas at Geneseo High School.¬† Remodeled and repurposed areas for band and choir practices and classes, new 2D and 3D visual art space, and renovated and technologically advanced vocational/technical areas are also included in the plans at the High School.
A new 8 lane track, field turf on the Bob Reade Field, and new, handicapped accessible bleachers‚Äîwhich will seat 2500 home spectators is included in the project list.¬† Coinciding with the construction will be a new landscaped area to the west of the bleachers for more inviting and accessible concession and congregating areas.
The 3rd major component will be the addition of an All Purpose Room (gym) and new classroom space at Northside Elementary School is planned.¬† Additionally, hands on classroom additions are planned at Millikin and Southwest to accommodate a growing need for Science/Technology/Engineering and Math curriculum on the way.
The total cost of Part 2 and Part 3 is approximately $27.5M.¬† Conservatively we are planning on $11M of this being paid for by the sales tax revenues.¬† We can only use 80% of the total sales tax revenues, which is why the number may appear lower than anticipated.
This leaves the shortfall of $16.5M to complete the project, hence the reason for a referendum question requesting permission to issue $16.5M in general obligation bonds.
The good news is that after the 2015 tax levy in December, the school district will have repaid all of the construction bonds for Geneseo Middle School and all of the recent Health/Life Safety bonds that paid for all of the work completed with our last 10 Year Health/Life Safety Survey work.¬† Therefore, a successful referendum will allow us to complete all of the $36.5M construction projects mentioned without raising the existing bond and interest tax rate.¬† The more favorable the bond rate, and the more favorable the bids for work come in, the more the District could be even more sensitive to the overall tax rate.¬† But please note, this is NOT saying that the overall tax rate will lower.¬† There are many variables that determine the property taxes a property owner pays.¬† The overall equalized assessed valuation of district properties can fluctuate even if the District asks for the same dollar mount of the levy, which changes the tax rate.¬† The value of an individual owner‚Äôs property may change, also impacting their tax obligation.¬† But the Board of Education desires to keep the Bond and Interest rate as close to the current rate as possible.
We will continue to make available the most factual information we can.¬† The site we used previously for ProjectLEAF communications will be again utilized.