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Jefferson Survey Responders Like Cheapest Option for New School

More than a third of survey responders in District 200 said they'd support the least expensive proposed plan for a new Jefferson facility.

Taxpayers in District 200 would support a $29.4 million plan to rebuild the Jefferson Early Childhood Center and move the district's administrative offices to the new building, according to results of a community survey. 

John Gatta, an ECRA, Inc. consultant hired by District 200 told board members Wednesday that 1,035 people responded to the survey.

He said survey results show taxpayers support high-quality education and want to see priority placed on instructional expenses. He said there is a lack of support for renovation of administrative facilities.

Of the 1,035 responders, 34 percent said they supported 'Concept 2'—relocation of the district's main office, a new Jefferson site and renovation of the School Services Center (SSC) for operational facilities and technological services. 

The least popular concept, which received 15 percent support from responders was also the most expensive option at $38.6 million. The concept would call for relocation of the main office, renovation of the SSC and all top-priority capital improvements. 

At $29.6 million, 'Concept 1' included a new Jefferson building and maintenance at the current SSC and unused Woodland school facility. The option received 27 percent support.

Twenty-four percent of responders chose the 'other' category, Gatta said. 

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Despite the lack of support for new administrative facilities, District 200 Superintendent Dr. Brian Harris said the School Services Center needs attention. 

“It’ll get to a point real soon where it’s going to fall apart,” he said. 

Harris told board members a board finance committee and staff have looked at how costs relate to taxes and are prepared to proceed depending on the project's scope.

Gatta said garnering taxpayer support for the project is about effective education. "If it resonates as more buildings... It's tough. But if it's (about education), then you've got a really good shot (at a successful referendum)," he said.

If the board decides to move ahead with the project, the district would put a referendum question out to taxpayers on the April election ballot. Gatta encouraged the board to schedule special meetings to prepare to make an informed decision at the Jan. 9 meeting.

"We have a lot of work in the next month and a half," he said.

Suvey results are available on the District 200 website.

Correction: "Concept 3" received 15 percent support. Patch originally reported 13 percent.

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JanS November 15, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Those who have something to gain from this are the most apt to respond. The bulk of the taxpayers who will pay for it probably don't even know this is coming. I took the tour of Jefferson, the teacher who guided me had to point out the problems - most were not obvious. The existing facility is adequate not optimal. How many students attend? How many cannot attend because the building does not meet their needs? How much will we spend per student who will be able to attend the new building but not the old? This is for pre-school. These students can be educated at home, in private or park district pre-school for far less than CSUD200 spends.
cw November 15, 2012 at 09:11 PM
I completed this survey, which was skewed to get the answers the Board wanted. There was no option for doing nothing, only spending yet more money that residents of D200 don't have. I agree with JanS above ~ there are much more cost efficient ways to educate these children. I wish the Board would concentrate more on bringing our middle students' test scores up instead of constantly focusing on building.

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