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Education

Elmhurst District 205 board opts to go to referendum in Nov. 6 election

Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 Board of Education President Kara Caforio speaks at the Aug. 20 board meeting, during which the board unanimously voted to go to referendum in the Nov. 6 general election.
Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 Board of Education President Kara Caforio speaks at the Aug. 20 board meeting, during which the board unanimously voted to go to referendum in the Nov. 6 general election.

ELMHURST – Elmhurst residents will have a chance in the Nov. 6 election to determine how Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 will fund its facilities needs, the district's Board of Education decided at its Aug. 20 meeting.

Following three years of community engagement related to the future of the district, the board unanimously approved a motion to place a $168.5 million facilities bond referendum on the November ballot. If the referendum is approved, district residents would pay $29.80 annually per $100,000 of their home value, according to district estimates.

The referendum question will ask if the school district should "build and equip two school buildings to replace the Field and Lincoln Elementary School Buildings; build and equip additions to and alter, repair and equip existing buildings, including but not limited to improving security, providing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) facilities, improving energy-efficiency and technology infrastructure and adding classrooms for full-day kindergarten; improve sites; acquire, improve and equip a building for educational purposes and acquire the site thereof" by issuing $168.5 million in school building bonds.

If the district does not have a successful referendum, it would need to pull from the operations and maintenance fund – one of five district operating funds, which are limited by tax laws – in order to fulfill the basic maintenance needs that would cost $26.1 million for the next 10 years, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Chris Whelton said at the Aug. 8 school board meeting.

Whelton said the revenue going to the education fund also would need to be reduced in order to increase the operations and maintenance fund revenue.

The board had delayed the vote regarding the referendum after learning Superintendent David Moyer applied for a superintendent position in another school district, board President Kara Caforio announced at the Aug. 14 board meeting.

Caforio said in a prepared statement Aug. 20 that after she, board member and chairwoman of the Performance Management Committee Karen Stuefen, and Moyer met on Aug. 16 and the board held a closed session special meeting with Moyer on Aug. 17, the board is "confident in Dr. Moyer's commitment to District 205."

"This past week I have been reassured that the District 205 Board of Education shares the vision and mission that our educators have worked so hard to implement and fulfill," Moyer said in a prepared statement at the Aug. 20 board meeting. "Independent of the success or failure of any future ballot initiative, knowing that the Board is committed to our efforts to ensure District 205’s place as a National Leader in Future Ready Learning, I can comfortably say, without hesitation, that I am committed to seeing this work through and reaffirming my commitment to District 205."

If the referendum is approved by voters on Election Day, district committees that include architects, construction experts, administrators, parents, staff and community members will help guide the implementation of the Master Facilities Plan and referendum goals, according to an Aug. 22 district e-newsletter.

Bev Redmond, the district's executive director of communications and public relations, said the district will provide information on the referendum before Election Day.

"We [district employees and board members] cannot lobby or promote a side or say, 'Vote this or that.' Our job is solely to give information," Redmond said.

She said board members and employees can, however, promote a particular side of the referendum on their own personal time, without the use of district resources.

Redmond said the district will hold information sessions for the community. Session details will be posted on the district's website and social media pages.

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Know more

To learn about the referendum, visit the district's website at elmhurst205.org. For information on the Master Facilities Plan, visit elmhurst205.org/MasterFacilityPlan. Informational meetings will be held this fall, according to the district. The district's Facebook page is at facebook.com/ElmhurstD205.

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