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Election

Wheaton-Warrenville District 200 officials to consider options following referendum defeat

Voters on April 4 rejected $132.5 million referendum

Community Unit School District 200 referendum supporter Zoeie Kreiner and Board of Education member Brad Paulsen watch as results come in for the referendum and school board election April 4 at Warren's Ale House in Wheaton. Voters ultimately defeated the $132.5 million referendum to pay for improvements to District 200 facilities, including a new early learning center. Paulsen won re-election.
Community Unit School District 200 referendum supporter Zoeie Kreiner and Board of Education member Brad Paulsen watch as results come in for the referendum and school board election April 4 at Warren's Ale House in Wheaton. Voters ultimately defeated the $132.5 million referendum to pay for improvements to District 200 facilities, including a new early learning center. Paulsen won re-election.

WHEATON – Wheaton-Warrenville Community Unit School District 200 officials plan to begin discussing what to do now that voters on April 4 defeated a $132.5 million referendum to pay for improvements to the district's facilities, including a new early learning center.

Board of Education members are set to discuss the issue at their meeting at 7:30 p.m. April 12 at Monroe Middle School, 1855 Manchester Road, Wheaton.

"Certainly as it comes to evaluating the feedback from the community with regard to the referendum question, the board that gets seated on May 2 is going to need to spend some time determining where it is we go and what we consider to be the right solutions moving forward," Superintendent Jeff Schuler said. "And I'm confident that they're going to take some careful time and thought to do that. I know we need to take some time to step back and really take a look at this."

Earlier this year, school board members approved the Sherman Dergis Model, which is essentially a tool that helps a school district plan for future capital needs.

"We're going to have some budget planning to do around the Sherman Dergis Model," Schuler said.

Incumbent board members Brad Paulsen and James Mathieson were re-elected to the board. Joining them will be newcomers Rob Hanlon and Ginna Ericksen. The four of them supported the referendum.

After 20 years, with principal and interest, the total amount paid for the $132.5 million bond issue would have been about $206 million. The district's debt currently expires in 2025, and selling an additional $132.5 million in bonds would have extended the district's debt through 2035.

The bond measure would have cost the owners of a median home in the district valued at $322,300 an additional $180 per year on the bond and interest portion of their tax bill, district officials had said.

According to unofficial results, the referendum received 8,894 "no" votes, compared to 7,449 "yes" votes. The referendum would have paid for a new $16.6 million early learning center at the Jefferson Early Childhood Center site.

Voters in 2013 rejected a $17.6 million plan for a new center to replace the current building.

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.

Needs at the center include a secure entry, sufficient classroom and office space, and wheelchair accessibility.

Other projects in the referendum included secured entry access at all of the district's elementary schools, renovation of the library learning centers at the elementary schools and updated mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

Renovated science classrooms and laboratory spaces at Edison, Franklin and Monroe middle schools, roof replacement at the high schools, technology lab renovations at Wheaton North High School and library learning center renovations at Wheaton Warrenville South High School also were part of the referendum.

More than half of the projects identified in the referendum were capital improvements. The referendum would have helped fund $154.5 million in projects. The rest of the money – $22 million – would have come from district reserves and future budgets.

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