- Posted by Barrington Hills
- On February 5, 2020
The next Community Information Meetings are as follows:
–Saturday, February 20, 2020 at 9:30 AM: BMS-Station Campus–215 S. Eastern Ave., Barrington
–Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 7:00 PM: North Barrington Elementary–24175 N. Grandview Ave, North Barrington
Open Houses are scheduled as follows:
Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at 7 PM: Grove Avenue Elementary–900 S. Grove Ave., Barrington
Wednesday, March 4, 2020 at 7 PM: BMS-Prairie Campus–40 E. Dundee Rd., Barrington
Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 7 PM: Barrington High School–616 W. Main St., Barrington
$147M school referendum draws support, criticism from
By Kaitlin Edquist | Chicago Tribune | February 3, 2020
Barrington School District 220 held the first in a series of informational meetings Wednesday about the $147 million referendum voters can expect to see on the March 17 ballot.
The referendum, if passed, will fund updates to infrastructure, building security improvements, the elimination of mobile classrooms, the addition of classroom space and more, according to Superintendent Brian Harris.
“A lot has happened since those buildings have had any significant renovation,” he said.
Harris led the first informational session, giving an overview of the referendum and the proposed projects and answering voters’ questions.
“The real issue is, ‘Is this the right time?’” Harris said. “The community is going to have to decide that. The board believes the time is now.”
Harris said if the referendum passes, the school would most likely start work on the projects in the summer of 2021 and possibly finish by 2025 or 2026.
His presentation was met with both support and skepticism from the crowd.
Voters originally rejected the district’s $185 million referendum in last year’s April 2 election. Following discussions with community stakeholders, the district decided to reduce the number of projects and lower the amount it would ask of taxpayers by $38 million.
A couple of the projects eliminated to decrease the cost included a new $12 million fine arts center and a $10 million project to turn a district-owned vacant lot into ballfields and parking, Harris said. A lesser architectural design work cost for the fine arts center remains on the new referendum.
After presenting the reasons for the referendum and the types of projects it will fund, Harris and Board of Education President Penny Kazmier answered questions from district parents, students and community members. Some questions revolved around the financial burden of the money the district is seeking.
According to Harris, the average owner of a $500,000 home in the district pays $602 per year in school district bond debt as a result of the last major renovation project approved in the 1990s. As that debt expires and is paid off this year, property taxes will begin to decrease – regardless of whether or not the referendum passes, officials explained.
If it does pass, taxes will increase again after the initial decrease but will still see an overall $75 net decrease, Harris said. If it doesn’t pass, taxes will continue to go down.
“That will be a significant impact on tax payers,” Harris said of the latter possibility. “But I guess the question is at what cost? That’s the issue.”
Some students, like Barrington High School junior Maggie Dillon, attended the informational meeting to ask questions about the proposed projects for the high school.
Dillon asked how the parking lot system would be improved to accommodate the students. One of her peers asked how traffic in and around the building would be improved, and another asked if the projects would create disruption in the schools.
“The quick answer is we’re going to work hard to try and minimize it,” Harris said in response to the disruption question. “That’s why it would probably take several summers to complete some of these projects.”
Supporters of the referendum, including Helen Lodowsky, leader of a local advocate group called “Yes for 220,” said the district needs this referendum to pass for the students’ sake.
“You guys are talking about money, I get it,” she said. “But these are the people who are our future.”
Brad Stetson echoed Lodowsky’s comment, saying he hopes to eventually sell his home, and in order to draw younger people to Barrington the schools have to stay “up to snuff.”
Others, like community member Bill Bishop, shared concern for the referendum. Bishop said he has a hard time supporting it currently because he doesn’t see a full strategic plan in place for how the district will adapt to changing needs in the community over the next 20 years.
The night ended with one looming question: “If this referendum does not pass, what happens next?”
Kazmier said the board has not discussed yet what exactly will happen, but it will most likely have to make some choices about which projects it can allow to decline or remain stagnant and which essential projects will require them to shift money around in order to fund.
“We will have hard decisions to make,” she said about the possibility of the referendum not passing. “There’s just not a lot of extra money laying around to do a lot of things.”