When voters head to the polls Apr. 9, they'll be asked whether they'd support District 200 in bonding $17.6 million to build a new Jefferson Early Childhood Center.
Shall the Board of Education of Community Unit School District Number 200, DuPage County, Illinois, build and equip a new early childhood center to replace the existing Jefferson Early Childhood Center, improve the site thereof and issue bonds of said School District to the amount of $17,600,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?
Voters will also elect four people to the District 200 Board of Education, who will be part of the decision-making process of building a new school if the referendum passes.
District 200 will host three informational forums on the Jefferson referendum to explain to residents what the new school would cost them. The first forum will be 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, at Wheaton North High School.
Patch asked the nine candidates to include their stance on the Jefferson Early Childhood Center referendum in their candidate questionnaires. Five of the candidates responded that they support the referendum. Two of the candidates, James Mathieson and Kyle Nenninger, do not indicate whether they support or oppose the referendum. And two of the candidates, Harold Lonks and Jan Shaw, respond that they do not support the referendum.
Take a look at what they said:
"I am 100 percent for passing the Jefferson Referendum. The current facility is unacceptable for the students it serves. It will be paid off in 11 years and with our current bond debt will only increase the average homeowner’s taxes by $20 - $50 a year."
"I support the referendum."
"I support building a new Jefferson based on our community’s belief that facilities should support the instructional program and promote student learning. The current building is an encumbrance for today’s program; it is unlikely that it will be able to support future special education mandates. I believe asking for the community’s support at this time was prudent. Financing costs may never be lower and construction costs are most likely to rise."
I support the referendum to build the program driven design of the Jefferson Early Childhood Center.
My stance on the referendum is not related to why I am running for school board or how I feel about Jefferson. The current school board approved the bond referendum so now the voters decide whether to borrow $17.6m or not. Jefferson was not built or updated for 3 to 5 year old students and especially those with special needs. I am for a new Jefferson but not for spending $24 million on a $17.6 million referendum.
"At this point, the voters will decide on whether the referendum will pass.
"The challenge of the near term future will be to develop a building maintenance plan, not only on the conditions of Jefferson, but to other buildings in deteriorating status. The current budget merely addresses the operating status quo without planning for these types of building conditions and/or deficiencies in technology.
"The board’s responsibility is to plan to future."
"I took a tour of Jefferson during school day and in my view the building is not up to CUSD 200 standards. However, in order to analyze whether a tear-down and rebuild (i.e the referendum) makes sense I require: (1) CUSD 200 to clearly communicates the actual cost to voters, which they haven’t done, and (2) a complete understand why less expensive refurbishment options were rejected by the BOE."
"I understand that early intervention provides long-term benefits across the District. I have been involved in the design of early childhood centers and understand the unique challenges of special needs students – and how an appropriately designed building will benefit student learning and teacher collaboration. I believe the existing Jefferson facility creates barriers to students and teachers. I have reviewed the overall proposal and feel the plan and financing approach is reasonable. I support the referendum."
"I am opposed.
The $14.46 million capital grant is enough to build an appropriate early childhood center without the referendum. Overall district enrollment is down (about 8 percent since 2001)."
Which candidate said it best? Tell us in the comments below.
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