BATAVIA, IL — One aspect of the ballot for the consolidated election on April 4 will look familiar to Batavia residents: It will again include a referendum from Batavia Public School District 101.
The Board of Education convened Jan. 10 to deliberate placing a referendum question seeking a $140 million bond issuance to fund the replacement of two defunct schools — H.C. Storm School and Louise White School — as well as maintenance and improvement projects at District 101’s six other schools.
The referendum failed by a margin of 24 votes, out of about 14,000 votes cast, on Nov. 8, district officials said.
If the referendum succeeds, enough funding would be generated for capital improvements without increasing the bond and interest property tax levy, according to District 101. The $140 million bonds would also coincide with the retirement of existing debt.
“If this referendum passes, the amount of our annual debt payment, and the taxes collected for it, will remain level,” Superintendent Lisa Hichens said. “If the referendum fails, taxes will go down.”
Here is what the question will look like on the ballot.
Shall the Board of Education of Batavia Community Unit School District Number 101, Kane County, Illinois, be authorized to build and equip a new H.C. Storm School and a new Louise White School and demolish the existing buildings, and alter, repair, equip and improve its other school facilities, including but not limited to installing student safety and security enhancements and improving roofs, floors, windows, HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems, and improve the sites thereof, and issue its bonds to the amount of $140,000,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?
Before voting to try again with the referendum, the Board considered “many options and perspectives” before making its decision, Hichens said. A survey was one of the outreach efforts.
“Through hundreds of conversations with individuals and focus groups, it was determined that the majority wanted the question to be placed back on the ballot,” she said. “Fifty-six percent of respondents to a community-wide survey agreed.”
In November, many voters were “unaware, uninformed, misinformed or confused,” according to Hichens.
But the Board of Education hopes to remedy that in the upcoming election.
“The Board and staff are committed to sharing clear information about the real and present needs within our school buildings,” the superintendent said in a statement. “We hope to keep our community engaged in the months leading up to the April election with improved outreach efforts.”
A document with frequently asked questions and additional information about the referendum and project can be found on District 101’s website.