Inspiring in everyone a passion to excel
Inspiring in everyone a passion to excel

Community Unit School District 200

130 West Park Avenue, Wheaton, IL 60189

P: 630.682.2000 F: 630.682.2227

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
What projects are included in the April 4 Referendum plan?
 
District 200 schools have significant facility needs. The Board is seeking voter approval to issue $132.5 million in bonds to help finance needed repairs, renovations and upgrades to 19 of 20 schools. Visit this page for a full description of projects. 

More than half of the identified projects are needed capital improvements across the District. Capital projects include paving, roofing, flooring, mechanical and electrical systems, doors, windows and plumbing.

Other projects include reinforcing secured entry access at 8 schools; significant improvements at three of our four middle schools including library and science lab projects; library renewals at our elementary schools; a tech lab at Wheaton North; a library renovation at Wheaton Warrenville South; and construction of a new early learning center.  
 
Why do we need to renovate our schools now? Like a house, there is a natural life cycle for our school buildings. Through our Facility Master Plan and capital projects planning, we are able to identify when key capital projects (roof, window, plumbing, mechanical and electrical upgrades and replacement) need to be completed. In District 200, many of our schools were built at similar points in time, and therefore are on a similar renewal cycle. Our facilities are due for major renewals and renovations.
 
We must upgrade and improve our facilities now in order to keep our schools in good, safe working order that our community expects. 
 
 
 
How will the referendum plan be financed?
Needed repairs, renovations and upgrades to 19 of our 20 schools will cost $154.5 million. The Board of Education is requesting to sell $132.5 million in bonds through a referendum question on the April 4 ballot. The Board has committed to fund the remaining $22 million in work out of reserves and future budgets. 

$154.5 million in projects
-$7.5 million in reserves
-$14.5 million from future operating budgets 
$132.5 million bond measure

A $132.5 million bond measure would initially cost the homeowner of a median home an additional $180 per year on the Bond & Interest portion of their tax bill.  Visit this page to view our Bond Measure Presentation. 
  
 Home Value   Tax Impact
 $200,000  $108
 $300,000  $167
 $322,300 (median)  $180
 $400,000  $226
 $500,000  $285
 
homeowner tax impact What is the tax impact on a median valued home over the years?
A $132.5 million bond measure would initially cost the homeowner of a median home an additional $180 per year on the Bond & Interest portion of their tax bill.

The homeowner of a median home currently pays $712 towards Bond & Interest (debt). With the proposed bond sale, that same home would pay $906 in 2018, $903 in 2019, $855 in 2020 and will continue going down to $531 beginning in 2027 through 2036.

A tax impact calculator is available on our website so that individuals can calculate their estimated tax impact by inputting certain data, like their home value. View the picture in a larger format on the Financial Impact section of our website.
 

What happens if the referendum isn't approved? What is “plan B”?
The current budget sets side about $1 million annually to address capital needs. If the referendum passes, starting in FY 2018, the set aside will be $2.4 million per year. If the referendum doesn’t pass, the set aside amount will increase to $6.5M per year. To carve out the additional funds will be very difficult to do without affecting extracurricular and core educational programs.
 
 
 
 
 
 
How will future capital needs be addressed? 
In January 2017, the Board of Education adopted a policy to utilize the research-based Sherman-Dergis model to forecast capital renewal costs over the life of a building. While the Board has maintained a Capital Development planning tool for several years, the resolution makes a commitment to provide a planned revenue stream for keeping up with future capital needs. The model was developed at the University of Michigan, and is used in several municipalities across the nation, including the City of Wheaton. It takes into account a building’s size, complexity, age and history.

The funding to meet the Sherman-Dergis requirement, should the referendum pass, is $2.4 million beginning in FY 2018. For the five years of referendum work construction, the Sherman-Dergis allocation will be applied to the proposed referendum work. After that, annual allocations will be set aside for future capital needs, avoiding the need for a future referendum of this nature.

If the referendum is not approved, the District will need to allocate $6.5 million annually, just to cover capital projects. That allocation would not cover improvements like secure entry, science labs, library renovations or a new early learning center. Additionally, to carve out the additional $4 million in funds will be very difficult to do without affecting extracurricular and core educational programs. 
 
Why is there so much work that needs to be done?
Many District 200 schools were built around the same time, in the late 1950s, early 1960s. Some of those buildings were renewed over the years, but nothing significant has occurred to the elementary or three middle schools since 1999 or longer. Hence, several of the schools are on a similar renewal cycle.

Since 2008, we have completed nearly $19 million in capital projects - a significant amount of work. That amount of work indicates that we have maintained our facilities, which is one reason we’ve gotten so much life out of them. We currently budget about $1 million annually for capital projects. Since 2008, we have lost more than $40 million in funding from the State of Illinois. That loss in funding, along with the uncertainty of payment of State funding, presents a challenge. Through that time, our Board has protected classrooms and programs, and has had to make difficult decisions to balance spending on areas like capital projects.  
 
What is the implementation timeline for projects and their financing?
Implementation Timeline
After carefully analyzing the 19 construction projects, we considered many criteria to most effectively complete all work within a 5-year timeframe, with the financing of the work concurrent with the work itself. Recognizing that with an April 4, 2017 referendum, there is simply not time between mid-April 2017 and the last day of school 2017 to design, bid and award construction contracts for summer 2017 work. While some projects like two secure entries with minimal design work and some capital renewal will take place in summer 2017, the year 2018 effectively becomes Year 1 of implementation.

Two key objectives were to 1) accelerate the schools with the secure entrances as early as possible and to 2) prioritize larger projects at middle schools and the new early learning center to minimize the impact of cost escalation on budgets for the program. With a deeper analysis of the District’s Capital Development Plan there were opportunities to pull different priorities of work forward and blend the educational improvements with the capital improvements to realize economies of scale and construction efficiencies. Finally, the timing of when students are in school and balance of the number of sites under construction at one time were taken into consideration.

In order to avoid unnecessary interest payments, bonds will be sold when the money is needed to pay for the projects. The current schedule is:

2017 (2018 tax year): $45,500,000
2019 (2020 tax year): $37,400,000
2020 (2021 tax year): $22,700,000
2021 (2022 tax year): $26,900,000
 
How much will the new bonds actually cost?
The Board has asked the community for approval to sell $132.5 million in bonds. The total cost of those bonds, including fees and interest is projected to be $206 million. Detailed financial information can be found on the Financial Impact section of our website.

Will District 200 reach its debt limit if the referendum is approved?

No. The District’s long term debt ceiling is calculated based on a percentage (13.8%) of overall Equalized Assessed Evaluation (EAV or local wealth) of property in the District. At the end of FY16, the District’s long term debt was $163,830,407, or approximately 43% of available debt.

Why do we have an early learning center?
Federal and State mandates require school districts to provide an appropriate public education for children with special education needs beginning on their third birthday. Districts are also mandated to educate children with special needs in the least restrictive environment (LRE) - an age-appropriate educational setting with a suitable number of typically developing peers. In our District, we uphold that mandate by offering a tuition paying program and programs for at-risk children that are funded by Federal grants. Both the tuition and at-risk programs are cost neutral to the District.

What are the benefits of early learning opportunities?
The highest rate of brain development occurs during the first five years of a child’s life. Research demonstrates that the early years are a particularly sensitive period in development which lays a foundation for later success in the areas of cognitive functioning, self-regulation, social skills, behavior, and physical health.For every $1 invested in early childhood education $7 to $10 is saved on remedial education, health and criminal justice expenditures. Investing in early learning for ALL children produces great returns to individuals and society in better education, health, economic and social outcomes - not only saving taxpayers money, but increasing economic productivity. Approximately 90% to 95% of children exiting Jefferson attend kindergarten at their neighborhood school. Many students require a lower level of special education service support and some children no longer require special education services.
 
What alternatives were considered for the proposed new early learning center?
Over the course of the facility master planning process, almost 20 alternatives were reviewed with two different sets of architects, construction managers, Board committees and the community. Those alternatives included renovation and addition of the existing Jefferson facility; test fits on other current District properties, including Hubble Middle School; intergovernmental use of park district space; and renovating vacant buildings within District 200 boundaries. After much review and analysis, the most cost-effective solution was to build a new building on the current site.
 
How do our tax rates compare to neighboring districts?
 
What are capital improvements? 
Approximately 2/3 of the projects that are prioritized in the Facilities Master Plan are capital improvements at 18 of our 20 schools.
 
These improvements are grouped under eight major categories (Paving, Roofing, Flooring, Mechanical, Electrical, Doors/Hardware, Windows and Other). The ‘other’ category includes: casework, ceilings, concrete, fencing; improvements in fixtures, furniture and equipment; fire protection, plumbing, siding, masonry and other items not otherwise classified under the seven major categories. A large number of District facilities (13/20) were constructed largely during the same time frame (between 1950-1970). As such, many facilities are seeing the need for improvements that come with the standard life cycle of a building (roofing, mechanical, electrical, etc).   
 
MS auditorium How does the proposed auditorium at Monroe Middle School compare to the auditoriums at the other three middle schools?  
The proposed auditorium at Monroe Middle School will be comparatively sized to the auditoriums at Edison and Franklin Middle Schools.  View the middle school auditorium comparison picture as a PDF
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
How is District 200 funded? 
District 200 receives our funding from three main sources - 11% from the State of Illinois, 4% from the Federal government and 84% from local sources that includes property taxes and fees. District 200 spends right at the State average per pupil ($12,636 District 200, $12,821 State avg.). We have worked diligently to be good stewards of public tax dollars. We have passed seven consecutive balanced budgets and continue to be recognized by the State Board of Education in the Financial Recognition category, the top category possible. 
 
 
 
 
  
What is a Facilities Master Plan?  
The Facility Master Plan (FMP) is a physical and educational assessment of our buildings. District 200 schools have physical assets like roofs, windows, plumbing, doors and fixtures that need to be repaired or replaced within the next few years. Many of the spaces in our schools don’t match the needs of future ready, 21st century learners. A FMP is a long-term view of our facility needs both now and in the future.
 
CLOSE