District 200 Gets $14.4 Million Grant; Could Build New Jefferson Without Tax Hike

District 200 has received a $14.4 million capital grant check that could be used to build a new Jefferson - based on the District's own architect's plans - with no tax increase.

On May 7, 2012, District 200 received a check from the State of Illinois for $14,462,317, for the "School Construction Program."  (Check No. AA7703807)  That money is enough to build a brand new state of the art Jefferson Preschool, just as originally planned by the District's own architects, without raising property taxes.  Yet the District 200 school board chose to hide the money, and instead is seeking a tax increase referendum.  District 200 and the referendum supporters are using emotional appeals to promote the referendum, and hope voters overlook the Board's diversion of these capital funds.

District 200 is setting up a false choice for the upcoming referendum, by claiming that a tax increase and borrowing are needed to provide for the needs of Jefferson preschool students.  But parents and taxpayers should be outraged, because the District has the cash on hand.  If Jefferson special needs students were really the Board's highest priority, it would spend its school construction grant for school construction at Jefferson - not delay, and sit on the money to bolster its bank balance.  A new school could have been ready this fall, not in the fall of 2015.  A "no" vote on the referendum will tell District 200 to rebuild Jefferson with the money it already has, not borrow millions more.

District 200 usually publicizes even small grants, like a $2000 grant received by Johnson Elementary School.  But if you review the May 2012 board minutes, you won't find any discussion of a $14.4 million check, which is kind of a big deal.  This money can be spent for any school construction project - like Jefferson.  Why keep such a significant development quiet?  Because if voters find out, they might not be so eager to approve a big borrowing plan and tax increase.

At the time of the Hubble referendum, District architects Legat & Co. also presented three options to rebuild Jefferson.  The third and most expensive option was a completely new state of the art building, designed specifically for the District's needs, and projected to cost about $13.4 million.  Since that time, however, construction costs have actually declined, due to the collapse of demand in the housing market.  Using the Turner Construction Cost index - the standard Legat used in its presentation - the cost today would only be about $12.4 million.  Now, however, District 200 wants a building that is 20% bigger and 43% more expensive than what Legat proposed, and between 16% and 56% bigger than any of the peer facilities Legat evaluated.

Remember, Legat's original plan was part of the same presentation that included the “program driven” new Hubble middle school, which has been widely lauded by District 200, and is said to have been delivered "on time" and “under budget”.  So the District's architects were geniuses in designing and estimating the Hubble building, but at the very same time, were off by a factor of 43% on Jefferson?

District 200 figures also show that since the original Legat design, the overall number of special education students in the District is down about 10% (from 2230 to 2021), and the number of early childhood students is down about 20% (from 284 to 230).  Thus, the Legat design should be plenty big enough to provide for current needs and future growth if it occurs.  But even if a much larger building is needed, the District should still be using its school construction grant, rather than asking to borrow the full amount.  If it did so, the referendum would only require about $3.5 million, not $17.9 million.

If District 200 asks for a school construction grant from the State, and doesn't spend the money for school construction, how likely is it that the State will want to give District 200 additional grant funds in the future?

Bear in mind, also, that at the time of the Hubble referendum, the District promised the bond tax rate would never exceed 44 cents.  Yet by last year, the rate was almost 55 cents – 24% higher than the District promised – and it’s still going up!  Now is not the time to add more debt to the property tax burden, especially with "balloon payments" for prior borrowing looming on the horizon.




This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Hook and Ladder February 04, 2013 at 05:15 PM
This is the same Mark Kmieck while running for Wheaton City Council stated the Wheaton Fire Department had too much equipment. In Kmieck's infinite ignorance he want to reduce the FD's emergency response equipment by 40%. I tell you this just for background because during his campaign, Kmieck took direct aim at the Fire Department and was very hostile and combative to anyone who would not agree with his bizarre positions. I find this comment by Kmieck very troublesome, yet it gives us clear insight into what Kmieck thinks he is intitled too. I have gotten zero gain in any of my political involvement -- Mark Kmieck That statement says it all about Kmieck, his involvement isn't about helping or serving the public, it's all about what Kmieck can "gain." Now we know why Kmieck is such an angry person. The public servants, the City of Wheaton, and Milton Township see him for what he is, a self-concerned individual who thinks he's owed something. The fine elected officials and public servants we have now to it for the love of the people, Kmieck does it for himself. Good Luck Kmieck, keep attacking the organizations and public servants that make our community great, the people see you for you really are.
Mark Kmiecik February 04, 2013 at 08:01 PM
More slander and liars from the Milton apparatchik cowards, The constant haranguing and political ad hominem attack does not change the facts I have been posting. My proof is right before your eyes if the honest person cares to look at it. Ghost payrolling, http://www.markkmiecik.com/attachments/File/Heidorn_response_to_AA_FOIA_6-22-2012_%282%29.pdf http://forthegoodofillinoispac.com/wp-content/uploads/Milton-Township-FOIA-Response-04092012.jpg http://forthegoodofillinoispac.com/wp-content/uploads/Heidorn-to-Hinkle-employment-memo-1-15-10.pdf http://forthegoodofillinoispac.com/blog/whats-the-matter-with-milton-township/ http://forthegoodofillinoispac.com/blog/whats-the-matter-with-milton-township-supervisor-chris-heidorn-fourth-report/ paid junkets, http://forthegoodofillinoispac.com/blog/whats-the-matter-with-milton-township-ii-supervisor-chris-heidorns-employee-ralph-hinkle/ 3 days luxury accommodations and fine dining for six hour cert conference. http://forthegoodofillinoispac.com/wp-content/uploads/Hinkle-Credit-Card-Charges-ICC-Springfield-Sept-2011.jpg http://forthegoodofillinoispac.com/wp-content/uploads/Agenda-2011-Illinois-Citizen-Corps-Council-Workshop.pdf I challenge anyone go here and read. http://forthegoodofillinoispac.com/category/blog/milton/ or my web site. http://www.markkmiecik.com/OpenLetterMilton.php and learn the truth.
Barry Lyndon February 05, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Boy if Kmeick isn't the pot calling the kettle black, clearly Kmeick doesn't know the definition of "ad hominem" because he is the king of ad hominem attacks. Kmeick displays classic symptoms of paranoid personality disorder. A mental disorder characterized by paranoia and a pervasive, long-standing suspiciousness and generalized mistrust of others. Individuals with this personality disorder may be hypersensitive, easily feel slighted, and habitually relate to the world by vigilant looking for clues or suggestions that may validate their fears or biases. They think they are in danger and look for signs and threats of that danger, not appreciating other evidence. This is why he continues to attack Jeanne Ives and Milton Township because his candidates lost. I'm sure Chris Hauge just cringed the day Kmeick showed up to volunteer at his campaign headquarters. Kmeick would be wise to get out of politics, he will never be a credible candidate nor will he ever be accepted by the mainstream leadership given his extreme positions and hostility towards others. Kmeick should work on his social dysfunction, if he did that, he'd stop seeing devils and demons in every shadow and he become a much happier person.
Mark Kmiecik February 05, 2013 at 11:03 PM
"An ad hominem (Latin for "to the man"), short for argumentum ad hominem, is an argument made personally against an opponent instead of against their argument." http://www.foolquest.com/fooltrek_faq/adhomenin.jpg (For Gary, Chris, Sal, Maria, Marty, Mr. & Mrs Hinkle
Mike March 21, 2013 at 07:19 PM
Transparency has been a major problem in this district for the last decade. I will not be voting for any projects these knuckle heads dream up until they can be forthcoming with their finances. At a meeting I attended back in the fall, the super indent said to me the district “found some more money they didn’t know about” which could help finance the school. So I asked him point-blank, “Well, that sounds good, but as people know money doesn’t generally appear out of thin air. Where did you find this money?” His answer? “Oh we just came across it recently. Something we were unaware we had.” Is that anyway to address a concerned taxpayer? What exactly is he hiding? So I did some research. While I did not uncover what he was talking about back in August 2012, I did find many articles discussing the misuse of financial resources in district 200. If only 1% of what I read is true, I am disgusted and will not be voting for any projects until I can understand EXACTLY how the money will be used and EXACTLY where it is coming from. Too bad a bunch of baboons are running the school district.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »