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Referendum For Gower District Repairs and Improvements To Appear on March Ballot

The Gower District needs voter approval to pay for repairs and improvements to the middle and elementary schools.

The decision of whether or not to build an addition on in Burr Ridge and make other facility improvements will be answered by the voters. But if the measure passes, residents are not expected to see an increase on their tax bills. Instead they would continue to pay at their current rate for the bond issue approved in 2004.

“Kind of a scenario where if you have a car payment, we’re just going to continue that car payment. Just the status quo, no impact on your tax obligation,” Board President Ryan Asmus said. “We’re hopeful that folks will be excited about that because this is a great time to borrow money and also get great construction bids.”

With the voters’ approval, the district would look to refinance existing debt and take out an additional $9 million in debt at the lower interest rate, he said.“It’s still unknown how far we have to go out. Probably anywhere from nine to 13 years, depending on how it’s ultimately structured,” Asmus said.

In 2004 voters approved a $1.85 million referendum for roof and technology improvements at Gower Middle School. Currently the district has about two and a half years left in payments for that issue, Asmus said.

“Our plan is to continue that same tax obligation through the repayment of the bonds,” he said. “So it’s a status quo referendum.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, the District 62 Board of Education unanimously agreed to place the referendum on the March 20, 2012 primary ballot.

The initiative asks voters if the district should issue $9 million in school building bonds in order to “build and equip an addition to the Gower Middle School building and improve the sites of, alter, repair and equip the Gower Middle School and the Gower West Elementary School buildings.” That involves approximately 17 different projects estimated to cost $9.1 million.

“They go beyond our ability to pay with our existing tax rate, and our unrestricted fund balances,” Superintendent Steve Griesbach said. For the past year, the district has been looking at the feasibility of making several improvements to its two schools, including new science rooms and lab space at Gower Middle School and renovating the gym at Gower West Elementary School in Willowbrook. 

Other projects include the construction of a new gym on the east side of the middle school, along with adequate storage space. An instructional sound system would be added to the existing gym, and existing locker rooms would be remodeled. And at Gower West, the size of the Early Childhood classroom would be increased.

In the fall the board reviewed a list of the proposed projects, and last month officials discussed funding options for the work. To place the measure on the March ballot, the board must notify the DuPage County Board of Election by Jan. 10. 

The next school board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 17 in the Rynne Board Room at the district office, 7700 Clarendon Hills Road, Willowbrook.

Mike Sandrolini December 14, 2011 at 03:26 PM
What do residents in District 62 think of the referendum? Are you going to vote for it, or not?
Donna Nuger December 14, 2011 at 05:35 PM
I would like to see the complete plan and drawings. Gower has been know for providing a quality education for a very reasonable tax. This is a good time to do this type of project. The bonds should not extend past 9 years, since the district will need to continue to upgrade its facilities and programs in the future. Don't tie the hands of future boards with extended terms on the debt. Good schools are vital for families and the property owners of the district.

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