Former Wheaton mayor endorses Jefferson plan

WHEATON —DuPage County Treasurer and former Wheaton Mayor Gwen Henry endorsed Community Unit School District 200's plans for a new Jefferson Early Childhood Center on Tuesday, according to a news release from Vote Yes for Jefferson, a campaign led by the Friends of the Schools parents' committee.

“I am supporting this referendum [measure] because a new Jefferson Early Childhood Center is sorely needed and provides the early intervention and education that is critical for our children with special needs,” Henry said in the release. “Additionally, I am convinced that plans to build a new school provide the only fiscally responsible solution to this challenge."

A referendum measure asking voters to approve the building of a new facility and the sale of bonds to finance it will appear on the ballot for the April 9 local elections.

The new $17.6 million facility would address many issues with the current Jefferson Early Childhood Center, including a lack of space and handicapped accessibility in the school, which primarily serves 3- and 4-year-olds in the district with disabilities.

In order to fund the new center, residents in the district will pay about half the cost of the project in taxes between levy years 2013 and 2022. The remaining $12 million will be paid in levy year 2023, the final year of repaying the Jefferson debt.

The property tax increase specific to the Jefferson project will increase that final year. But overall, the amount residents pay in property taxes to the district will decrease.

Following the Board of Education's vote Jan. 9 to place a referendum question on the spring ballot, District 200 held three informational meetings regarding the proposed Jefferson facility on Feb. 21, March 6 and March 11. Administrators were present at the meetings to discuss the plan and answer questions from community members.