To improve safety, increase security, replace outdated mechanical systems and improve the educational setting for students, the Maine Township High School District 207 Board of Education voted on Monday, August 6, to place a $195 million dollar bond referendum on the November 6 ballot. The distribution of funds from the referendum would be equitable across all three district schools.
“This referendum would help ensure that our students are learning in a safe and secure environment while also providing 21st century classrooms and labs that leverage technology, promote collaboration and prepare students for college and careers,” says Superintendent Dr. Ken Wallace.
The list of improvements if voters pass the referendum includes:
- Providing new front entrances at each school to create secure vestibules to prevent visitors from entering the building before being fully cleared by school staff.
- Replacing outdated plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems in the three schools. These upgrades would extend the useful life of the schools, reduce costly emergency repairs and improve energy efficiency. All three buildings are more than 50 years old as Maine East was built in 1930, Maine West in 1959 and Maine South in 1964.
- Installing fire suppression systems (sprinklers) in all three schools.
- Adding a handicapped-accessible hallway at Maine East.
- Relocating and renovating special education spaces to better meet the needs of students.
Dr. Wallace recommended that the Board place the referendum on the November ballot based upon several years of information gathering that included:
- A Master Facility Plan – This plan was created by an outside firm to outline the scope of work to be completed to improve accessibility, extend the life of the buildings, improve safety and create flexible classrooms to meet the needs of today’s students.
- Community Task Force – This group of 40 citizens met four times from February to June to review the current state of the schools, the potential projects, the Master Facility Plan and survey data from students, staff and community members. Following its study, the Community Task Force recommended placing this referendum on the ballot.
The passage of the referendum would mean an approximate overall tax bill increase of 3%. Based upon recent home value information from Redfin, the average market value of a home in Des Plaines is $245,000 and in Park Ridge it is $384,000. If the ballot question were passed by voters, the impact on the average homeowner in Des Plaines would be $223 per year beginning with the 2018 tax bill, which is payable in 2019. The impact on the average homeowner in Park Ridge would be $350.
This referendum includes up to $45.7 million to complete the scope of the outlined projects from the district’s reserve funds or savings.
The district has additional information related to the referendum posted on the website at: https://maine207.org/overview/