Referendum Information

Dear Friends & Neighbors,

 

A sincere and heartfelt thank you to the Benjamin District 25 community for supporting our school district and helping us maintain strong schools, a strong community, and invest in a strong future for our students and families.

 

Yesterday’s referendum passed with an abundance of community backing and commitment which will enable us to move forward with plans to fund capital projects including safety/security improvements, educational improvements and building maintenance at Benjamin Middle School and Evergreen Elementary School. We are pleased that the effective  learning environment for our students will continue to be maintained.

 

Voter approval provides the district a unique opportunity to address these facility needs by paying off some debt and taking advantage of very favorable bond market interest rates.

 

We are thrilled with yesterday’s election outcome and excited to know that both students and taxpayers are the real winners.

 

Our thanks to the entire Benjamin District 25 community for your unwavering support, encouragement, and assistance as we work to ensure that our two neighborhood school buildings remain sources of pride, opportunity, enrichment and academic excellence.

 

Yours truly,

 

Philip Ehrhardt, Ed.D., Superintendent

 

We have received inquiries about a robo-call and a postcard opposing our

ballot proposal.  The source of the  robo-call and postcard is the Americans

for Prosperity, a political organization with the state office in Naperville

and the national headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.  We are uncertain why

this organization is interested in our local election on April 4.

School Finance 101

The Importance of Maintaining Our School Facilities Using Fiscally Responsible Strategies

 

Maintaining School Facilities

The Administrative team and Benjamin School District 25 Board of Education have worked diligently to maintain both Evergreen Elementary School and Benjamin Middle School and provide a quality learning environment for our students. 

 

Like older buildings, schools constantly need maintenance, repairs, replacements, and updates.  Roofs, blacktop, playground surfaces, windows and the technology infrastructure are examples of such projects.  Routine and preventative maintenance has been accomplished within the annual budget but the necessary funds are not sufficient to pay for significant capital projects.

 

Beginning in July 2015, an updated long-range facility plan addressing facilities’ needs and examining options to fund these projects was completed.   As a result of extensive planning, the Board of Education proposes to complete an estimated $6.9 million of capital projects including health-life safety, security, and building systems’ improvements. Educational programming project needs include upgrading the science and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) classrooms, upgrading technology infrastructure, and renovating the elementary cafeteria to also serve as a large-group instruction area and community meeting area.

 

Safety and security needs are estimated to be $3.8 million, educational programming upgrades $2.5 million and capital improvements $600,000.  A complete list of the proposed projects is shown on the school district website at www.bendist25.org.

 

Fiscally Responsible Strategies

Benjamin District 25 has a history of utilizing community resources in a prudent manner.  There have been two referendum requests in the past 22 years.  In 1995, there were three referenda requests for a $4.8 million school addition along with educational and operational fund rate increases.  In 2004, an education fund tax rate increase was requested.  The school community supported these requests to meet the needs of the district.

 

In addition, revenue is enhanced by cost-savings measures.  Since 2000, the district has recognized savings of more than $2 million by reviewing all costs for potential savings.   A complete list of cost-savings measures also may be found on the school district website.  The pursuit of independent, special foundation and corporate grant monies has resulted in the awarding of $189,630 from 60 grants since 2006.

 

In 2017, there will be a timely opportunity to sell $6.9 million bonds pursuant to a referendum while lowering the debt service tax rate for residents.  This means that the owner of a house assessed at $250,000 would experience an estimated $73 annual debt service tax rate decrease versus the taxes paid the year before.  This savings would continue through the life of the bonds.

 

Summary 

As a result of the proposed referendum, student learning environments will be enhanced and taxpayers will benefit from the annual debt service tax rate decrease.  Furthermore, the community’s investment in the school buildings will be maintained in a fiscally sound manner.

 

Tax Rate Graph

It is being proposed that the current annual outstanding debt service of nearly $1.2 million decrease to a $997,500 debt service extension starting in 2018.  The debt service extension would be capped each year by the lesser of the Consumer Price Index or five percent.