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D41 Referendum Asks for $24.2 Million in Improvements

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As many West students probably know, whether they previously attended Hadley Junior High School or not, the red-bricked middle school located about a mile down Hawthorne Boulevard is filled to the brim with tweens – literally. Hadley Jr. High suffers from a nasty case of overcrowding. 10 mobile classrooms house students at this time and a $24.2 million referendum plans to replace these in an extension of the middle school: one of the many crucial benefits the plan will impose on school facilities in this area.

The Glen Ellyn School District 41 Board unanimously voted in favor of placing the referendum on the April 4 ballot, promising improvements in “infrastructure and health life safety issues at all schools,” according to the district’s website. The proposal also includes a brand new wing at Hadley to eliminate the portable classrooms, a new bus lane to reduce congestion, Americans with Disabilities Act accessible bathrooms at all of the D41 schools, enhanced music space in the district, and a safer entrance at Churchill Elementary. In total, the work on Hadley is estimated to cost $17 million and the four elementary schools will cost $7.2 million, according to a Glen Ellyn Suburban Life article by Eric Schelkopf.

With early voting already underway at the Glen Ellyn Civic Center, the time has arrived for citizens to voice their opinions. Expectedly, residents are greatly divided. “41 Forward For Kids,” the organization supporting the referendum, claims that “D41 currently holds $14,866,662 in reserves. Of this amount, $2,818,340 is restricted and used to pay for the district’s IMRF, Social Security and debt obligations. The remaining $12,048,322 constitutes the unrestricted funds.” The plans that will be proposed on April 4th ask the community for $24.2 million.

On the other hand, objections to the referendum are voiced with a similar urgency. As announced by Glen Ellyn village Trustee Pete Ladesic and quoted by Eric Schelkopf, “The thing that’s just insulting about this is the school district does not need this money. [I] support the efforts of the district to remove the portables and to put the addition on Hadley, and [I] completely support addressing any life safety issues that the district has. But they don’t need this money to do it. It’s just a total money grab.” “Vote No D41” contends that the district already has sufficient funds for these types of improvements.

District officials claim on their website that taxpayers whose school taxes cost $8,000 in 2016 will decrease their D41 debt portion by $85 due to the District paying off bonds from previous projects. This allowed the school board to “invest the $24.2 million to address some facilities’ needs at our schools and have a tax decrease over the taxes paid in 2016,” as stated on the district’s website. Additional fiscal information published by the district claims that the same hypothetical family paying $8,000 in 2016 for taxes  for education will decrease their payments by $199 if the referendum is denied compared to a decrease by $85 if the referendum passes due to the reduction of debt payments. 

With the election date only hours away, please encourage anyone you know eligible to vote to inform themselves! Check out the links below, email local D41 school board members, or do research online for more information. And please, visit the Glen Ellyn Civic Center on April 4th to voice your vote!

Links for more information:

D41’s website

41 Forward for Kids 

Vote No D41

 

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