Glenbard District 87 ask voters to back $183 million in bonds for facility improvements at aging schools

Chronicle Media

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Glenbard District 87 is seeking voter approval in next month’s primary election to issue $183 million in bonds to help fund facility improvements at four high schools.

The funding, if approved, would be part of a 10-year, $312 million plan for improvements at buildings that range from 51 to more than 100 years of age.

“For generations, Glenbard District 87 students have benefitted from an outstanding high school experience. We want to continue this tradition,” the district stated in a referendum information summary. “Our four high schools … have numerous capital improvement needs. The March 19, 2024 referendum seeks to secure funding necessary to make crucial facility improvements.”

Glenbard District 87 would fund $129 million of the plan from its operating budget.

The referendum will be on the March 19 primary election ballot in communities served by the district.

According to the 2022-23 Illinois Report Card, the district serves nearly 7,800 students spread between Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn), Glenbard East (Lombard), Glenbard South (Glen Ellyn) and Glenbard North (Carol Stream).

If approved, the owner of a home with a market value of $300,000 would see an increase of about $4 per week, according to district estimates.

The proposed improvements will address significant needs for buildings that a structurally sound but “old and out-of-date,” according to the District 87’s web site.

“We are committed to ensuring our buildings support today’s best practices in curriculum and instruction,” said Seth Chapman, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations. “The referendum is a path forward that continues our history of responsible planning. We spend less on buildings and operations; carry less debt; and have a lower tax rate than most districts in the metropolitan area,”

The majority of the projects identified in a new 10-year Facility Master Plan fall into the following categories:

  • Continue to upgrade and renovate, where needed, building infrastructure – items like roofs, windows, electrical systems, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems
  • Enhance safety and security systems and entrances throughout the district
  • Upgrade out-of-date science labs
  • Modify classrooms to support current best practices in curriculum and instruction
  • Upgrade cafeteria space to provide flexible learning and program spaces and eliminate overcrowding

The district saidInvesting in community assets is critical as it maintains approximately 1.6 million square feet of space and continues to demonstrate fiscal stewardship by the low amount of the total budget allocated toward debt payments (roughly 2.2 percent).

“This is an exciting chapter in Glenbard’s history,” said Superintendent David Larson. “I look forward to moving forward with this proposal. We have many facility needs, and we are eager to launch the 10-year facility master plan to address those needs.”

In February 2023, Glenbard District 87 engaged Wold Architects & Engineers to develop the new 10-year facility master plan. The previous 10-year facility plan concluded with summer 2023 capital improvement projects.

In 2014, District 87 committed to spending $100 million over 10 years on the facility needs. However, the district exceeded that commitment by spending $154 million over the past 10 years ($35 million from 2014 referendum) while maintaining balanced budgets.