District 205 School Board discusses 7-12 complex

The District 205 Board of Education held a lengthy discussion regarding the proposed 7-12 complex that was part of several plans for the district’s facilities upgrade.

Board members were shown several pros and cons for the plans compiled from the feedback received from the public forums held over the last month.

Superintendent Dr. John Asplund went over each list with board members. “The thing that I can tell you in big numbers is all three options had more negative comments than positive and some more negative than others,” Asplund said. He added that there were several insults as well.

Several board members voiced initial hesitation regarding the 7-12 complex. However, board members voiced support for the change.

Concerns raised to the board were discussed. Safety of students was a major concern, another was bus ride times. Board President Tianna Cervantez said that many of the district’s rural students are on the bus for an hour or more already. So parents in town that are concerned over longer bus times for their student’s should keep that in mind. It was also thought that with one drop off for 7-12 grades, it may actually reduce bus riding times.

Discussing ways to raise the additional funds for the more expensive building projects, Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Jennifer Hamm said that after looking over a few bond schedules. The expected tax rate would be between $1.19 and $1.23. Currently, the tax rate is $0.56, leading to a possible increase of $0.55. However, Asplund and Hamm both said they do not want to raise the tax rate, and would instead look to identify some funds within the budget that would reduce that tax rate increase. “The goal is the additional 55-cents could potentially be found within the tax rate of $4.95,” said Hamm.

Cervantez said that by November the board would ideally have a final plan to vote on, adding she didn’t want to push this onto another board. “Speaking from experience have having to deal with all the cans that were kicked down the road. I don’t want to do that to other boards. I was elected for a reason and if I have to make a hard decision, I’ll make a hard decision.”

Jeff Sandburg with Legat Architects said that November would be the latest the board could act to break ground as early as next summer. However, Asplund said that some health-life-safety work could be done if the board did not act on any plan until after November.

Asplund told the board that a Legat rep and Jennifer Hamm will be going to Springfield on Thursday to present the concepts to the State Board of Education to get approval. Asplund added that the administration chose to get the concept created first before getting state approval so that the district was not waiting on ISBE’s timeline to dictate when #205 could get started on the project.

No action could be taken but the board opted to hold more meetings over the next few weeks to get more public feedback and address some concerns.

The idea came from board member Maury Lyon who said, “I think we should not run from our community but run to them by doing at least one maybe two or three more [forums] in the next week or two weeks. And I think we should do it in one of the schools we’ve put some resources into, so people can see what a renovated newer place can look like.”

As of Wednesday morning, the district has not set a date, time or location for these additional forums.

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