Do we spend millions of dollars renovating Maple School—our 67-year-old middle school—or do we replace it? This is the big question that a Citizens’ Task Force of local business, civic and educational leaders recently tackled. The group included both parents and non-parents within District 30.
In doing their homework, the Task Force met with the district’s architect, ARCON Associates, to review a comprehensive Master Facility Plan and tour the middle school (Maple School). The recently completed Master Facility Plan was created through an exhaustive process involving architects, an education consultant, construction management professionals, principals, teachers, students, parents, district leadership and other stakeholders. The Task Force was also given the opportunity to discuss financing options with the district’s financial advisor.
The 34-member Task Force was specifically asked, “If we’re going to conduct a mail-in survey of registered voters in District 30, what specific facility improvement proposals should be tested?” The group unanimously decided that voter feedback should be gathered on one proposal focused on replacing the middle school, rather than renovating it. The Task Force also recommended that the proposal include state-mandated Health/Life Safety upgrades, additional instructional space and parking lot/site improvements at District 30’s two elementary schools (Wescott School and Willowbrook School).
The Task Force was in agreement that spending millions of dollars on repairs, renovations and “Band-Aid” fixes to the aging middle school, now and in the future, was not a fiscally responsible solution, especially since the renovations would not address the district’s current and long-term instructional space needs.
One facility improvement that the Task Force eliminated from the proposal was district office space at the new middle school. In an effort to stay below the district’s bonding capacity, the Task Force decided that instructional space needs at the elementary schools outweighed the need for administrative offices. While the group realized that the district’s offices would need to be demolished to help make room for a new middle school, they recommended the district develop alternative strategies such as leasing office space or pursuing these improvements if the total project came in under budget.
Other factors that the Task Force took into consideration were the following:
- Renovating the middle school—rather than replacing it—would be much more disruptive to students and staff given the amount of time it would take to tackle the improvements.
- The replacement proposal would allow classes and District 30’s summer school program to continue in the existing school building while the new school is built on the same site. Once the new building is completed, the old middle school would be demolished and the campus would be fully developed.
- District 30 is currently debt free, borrowing costs are near historic lows and construction costs continue to increase.
- If a middle school replacement project and elementary school improvements are not pursued, or voters turn down funding for these improvements, the district will still need to address about $18 million in Health/Life Safety and long-term maintenance improvements at its three schools.
- The district recently invested about $4.1 million in Health/Life Safety improvements at its two elementary schools, and it would use another $5.2 million in existing reserves toward the new middle school and elementary school upgrades.
- In the late 1990s, the Glenview Naval Air Base was closed and redeveloped into The Glen. The Glen has used a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District since 1999 to finance redevelopment. This TIF sunsets in 2022. At that point in time, District 30’s equalized assessed value (EAV) is projected to increase by about $88 million. This higher EAV would lead to a lower tax rate of about 14% on any outstanding voter-approved bonds. The District will also collect roughly $2.8 million in additional revenue under the Tax Cap, making it unlikely that a future operating referendum will be required.
- Trying to renovate the middle school, such that it is comparable to a new school, is roughly the same cost as building a new one. There are renovation options that are less expensive, but they fall well short of the district’s instructional space needs and result in ongoing expenses tied to Health/Life Safety needs.
The estimated total cost of the middle school replacement and improvements to the two elementary schools is $44.7 million. However, the total proposed request is $39.5 million, given that the district would allocate
$5.2 million from reserves.
For homeowners within District 30, the estimated annual tax impact of the $39.5 million proposal is $51.76 per $1,000 of property taxes paid.
Nothing is set in stone at this time. Your input on the facility improvement proposal being considered is critical. Over the next few weeks, you will be receiving additional information on District 30’s facility needs and proposed solutions. The district will also be hosting additional community outreach meetings and tours of Maple School—located at 2370 Shermer Road, Northbrook, IL 60062—on the following dates and times:
Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 6:00 pm
Tuesday, November 1, 2016, 6:00 pm
Saturday, November 5, 2016, 10:30 am
A public opinion survey will be mailed to all registered voters in your household early next month. Your participation in this important survey is greatly appreciated.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about District 30’s planning efforts, facility needs and proposed solutions through ongoing communications and at www.D30facilities.org. You can also learn more by reviewing a summary of our facility issues and potential solutions to our highest priority needs.
If you have questions regarding the proposal being considered, please contact me at your convenience. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and the District Office phone number is 847-400-4190.