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.
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.