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Education

Wheaton-Warrenville District 200 to survey community following referendum defeat

District residents can answer the survey anonymously through May 19

Supporters of the Wheaton-Warrenville Community Unit School District 200 referendum watch the results as they are updated on a projection screen 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.
Supporters of the Wheaton-Warrenville Community Unit School District 200 referendum watch the results as they are updated on a projection screen 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.

WHEATON – Wheaton-Warrenville Community Unit School District 200 is conducting a community survey to help determine what steps the district should take after 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.

District residents can answer the survey anonymously through May 19. The survey is posted on the district's website, cusd200.org.

The survey asks residents to answer questions about the referendum and to rate each project in the facilities plan. District residents also can provide comments on how they think the district should move forward with facilities planning.

"The responses received from this anonymous survey will make an important contribution as we identify the next steps to address our facility needs," Board of Education President Jim Vroman said in an email to district residents.

In addition to the survey, Vroman said the board plans to update enrollment projections and the district's capacity analysis, develop a process to prioritize projects in the current facilities plan, and review cost containment options for fiscal year 2018 and consider an increase in student fees, both in order to allocate more revenue for capital renewal projects.

According to official results, the referendum received 8,903 "no" votes, compared to 7,460 "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.

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.

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