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District 200, 89 referendum measures pass

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Two area school districts received the support they were seeking in the Nov. 6 midterm election.

In the face of a lawsuit, Wheaton-Warrenville Community Unit School District 200 again asked voters to approve a new early childhood center.

The referendum measure asking if the district should build and equip a new Jefferson Early Childhood Center without levying a separate special property tax to finance the costs was approved overwhelmingly, receiving about 71.9 percent of votes, or 24,554 votes, in favor, according to unofficial election results.

Lease certificates provide a way to borrow for improvements that allows for debt payments to come from the district's existing operational budget, not through a tax increase.

In her lawsuit, Wheaton resident Jan Shas had alleged that "Illinois law requires that when a school district desires to build a new school building or to borrow money for that purpose, it must first obtain voter approval to do so, through the referendum process."

Shaw dropped the suit after the District 200 Board of Education voted to place the measure on the ballot.

Voters in April 2017 had voted down a referendum that would have paid for a new $16.6 million facility at the Jefferson site. The district wanted to issue $132.5 million in bonds to help finance needed repairs, renovations and upgrades to 19 of its 20 schools. Prior to that vote, voters in 2013 rejected a $17.6 million plan for a new center.

Needs at the building, which was built in 1958 as an elementary school, include a secured entry, sufficient classroom and office space, and wheelchair accessibility.

Jefferson serves students with special needs as required by state and federal law. About two-thirds of Jefferson students have some type of special need or disability, and one-third of students are typically developing students who pay tuition to attend the school.

In the face of increasing enrollment and costs, Community Consolidated School District 89 had asked voters to approve a 40-cent tax rate increase.

The referendum measure was approved with 5,022 votes, or 51.74 percent of the vote, preliminary numbers show.

The district's enrollment has increased by 20 percent since 2012, and it is projected to grow another 13 percent in the next four years – an increase of nearly 700 students in 11 years, officials said previously.

Recent financial projections have shown the district will have deficits between $1.4 million and $2.3 million over the next five fiscal years. Those projections include the additional classroom teachers needed because of increasing enrollment.

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