In November of 2019, the Illini Central CUSD#189 Board of Education passed a resolution that allows for the sale of up to $4 million in Alternate Revenue Bonds for the purpose of adding an addition to the campus. The bond sale is subject to the results of a referendum that is scheduled for Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
The following is a collection of frequently asked questions regarding the project and the referendum.
How did the Board reach the decision to build? The proposed building addition at Illini Central CUSD#189 is designed to address identified needs. Since 2016, the district has worked with teachers, staff and stakeholders to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the facilities that are used to educate students. The work was facilitated by BLDD Architects and involved a number of meetings and discussions that ultimately led to the creation of a Facilities Master Plan. The Facilities Master Plan included a campus-wide makeover that included every building. The team then pared this plan down based on the findings that were revealed from the process.
A number of key findings were reached through this process including:
The age and condition of the two modular classrooms suggests replacement or extensive repair and renovation.. The district will have to investigate ways to replace those spaces. The modulars serve as two classrooms for the high school as well as offices and service space for the Special Education Department.
While the majority of the district’s special education teachers and providers work in the main building, some of the special education personnel and services are still located in the modular. It is essential to bring all of the staff under the same physical roof as Special Education represents about 20% of the student population. Many of these students have the greatest needs, and their families have the most questions and concerns about their child’s education. Many of these students must travel outside, year round, in order to receive specialized services such as physical and occupational therapy. Having all of our services under one building shows that we value all students equally, regardless of need and that we welcome their parents in the process. The condition and location of that current building does not welcome this.
The district lacks flexible learning spaces that allow for 21st Century instructional approaches. Today’s students will go to work in environments that are ever changing. The traditional approaches to office spaces and businesses are no longer the norm. We need to create spaces for students to exercise autonomy and ownership over their learning. They communicate and work differently than students have in the past. In order to develop these skills, we must give the students and their teachers the space to be more creative.
Our current fitness room, which is currently located in converted classrooms, is limited in space. We restrict 14 students to any single Fitness class. As a result, not all students who wish to take this class are provided with the opportunity.
The district has inadequate restroom and concession facilities for the outdoor athletic venues. We host a number of baseball and softball games as well as track and cross country meets. We make the main building available for restroom usage which represents a safety concern.
While the district has been extremely fortunate to have the use of the Easton gymnasium for the past 12 years, it is limited by the location and availability to use throughout the day. The district cannot easily transport students to the gym to use for PE classes or indoor recess. As a result, grade school students frequently have recess in the classroom because the All Purpose Room is being used for a physical education class.
Since the development of the facility master plan, the district has reviewed a series of architectural plans which were shared during two community meetings held in the spring of 2019. The district received feedback both directly through discussion at these community meetings and a form made available to the community via our district website. The feedback from those meetings is reflected in the current plan.
What will be added to the building as a result of the addition?
The addition will add 25,000 square feet of space that includes a new grade school office, flexible classroom space, a collaborative commons, a fitness facility and a gymnasium. The project also includes security upgrades that will be included in the construction of a new grade school office and a renovation to the middle/high school office.
The flexible learning space and collaborative commons will serve as a hub for students to work in teams and groups and conduct more personalized learning. Most older school buildings, including the IC campus, were built at a time in which these traits were not common nor were they emphasized. With the introduction of technology and the changing demands of the workplace, these learning opportunities have become essential to prepare students for life after high school. The collaborative commons serves as a bridge between new educational strategies and approaches and the world outside of IC.
The space will create the opportunity for innovative instructional strategies to be implemented, for students to work in small groups, and for a variety of learning experiences that will challenge students and prepare them for the workplace. Student participation and engagement is encouraged through the use of work areas, furniture, and space through various configurations.
This project allows the district to respond to an ever-changing educational environment. While addressing the current needs of the district, it also positions faculty and staff to prepare for space needs that cannot yet be imagined. This commitment communicates to students, staff, and the community that educational opportunities are vital, and the district is prepared to provide the resources to support an effective school.
In addition to the learning spaces, the addition will provide opportunities for expanded fitness class offerings and additional space for physical education and indoor recess. Currently, grade school students have recess in classrooms when the weather does not allow them to go outside. The gymnasium will also serve as the home for middle school athletic practices and games.
Finally, the construction of a new grade school office and a renovated high school office will include a secure vestibule entry system that will limit a visitor's access to the hallways and student-occupied areas.
What does the addition cost?
The most recent estimate of the project is $7.3 million.
How will the project be paid for?
The district will pay for the project using a combination of current fund balances and the sale of Alternate Revenue bonds.
The District has existing fund balances that can be used for the purposes of school construction. At this time, the Board is considering using approximately $3 to 4 million of district funds. If the Board uses $4 million of current district funds, the remaining construction costs are estimated to be about $3.3 million. These funds would be raised through the sale of the Alternate Revenue Bonds.
What are Alternate Revenue Bonds?
Alternate Revenue Bonds are paid for through the County School Facilities Sales Tax (CSFST). The CSFST is a 1% sales tax that exists in both Mason and Logan counties on items that qualify for the normal state sales tax. Illini Central receives over $300,000 in these revenues annually. The CSFST is a relatively new avenue to fund school construction projects without raising local property taxes.
The district will pledge to use $300,000 of sales tax revenue to fund the annual bond payment. If the district issues the maximum of $4 million, it will face a twenty year payback period. However, a $2 million issuance would be paid off in nine years.
Alternate Revenue Bonds are not funded by the property tax levy. As a result, there is no impact on the property tax rates for district landowners.
Revenue from the County School Facilities Sales Tax can only be used to fund new construction, additions, and renovations, improved safety and security for buildings, and abatement of debt. These funds cannot be used for instructional costs, curriculum, or personnel expenses, salaries, or instructional technology. Illini Central has used previous sales tax revenue payments to construct the track and field facility and to replace the roof on the high school.
Will my property taxes increase?
No, property tax rates will not be impacted by the sale of these bonds. The Alternate Bonds that the Board is seeking to sell are funded through the CSFST. Based on the history of sales tax revenue, the district will have adequate revenue to fund the bond payments. The district anticipates annual sales tax revenues to be stable. According to law, the district must be able to provide a revenue source in an amount not less than 1.25 times of the annual debt payment. As a result, the district has also pledged a portion of the Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax (CPPRT) to meet this obligation. CPPRT is not tied to any property tax payments either. This is a revenue source that is received from the State of Illinois. The district receives approximately $280,000 of CPPRT annually. No property tax revenue will be used to repay the bonds.
What is the referendum question?
On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, voters will have the opportunity to vote to determine if the Board of Education will sell up to $4 million in Alternate Revenue Bonds to fund the building addition. A “Yes” vote would allow the Board to sell the bonds. A “No” vote would not allow the Board to sell the bonds.
What happens if the voters approve the referendum?
If the referendum passes, the Board will have the ability to sell up to $4 million in Alternate Revenue Bonds. The addition project would then move forward with the bidding and construction phases. It is estimated that this process would take 14 months.
What if the referendum if the voters do not approve the referendum?
If the referendum does not pass, the Board will have to consider options that will address the needs identified by the process used to develop the Facilities Master Plan.
If I have questions about the project, the funding, and/or the referendum, who should I ask?
If you have questions, please contact Mike Ward, superintendent at 217-482-5180 or at email@example.com. You can also contact any of the members of the Board of Education.