When the taxpayers of Brookfield-Lyons Elementary School District 103 approved an education fund increase of $1.18 per hundred dollars of equalized assessed valuation back in March of 2004, it eased a cash shortage that stripped educational programs from schools district-wide.
But when it comes to addressing the needs of the districts school buildings, district officials say there’s no money available. Since the March 2004 referendum was for the education fund only, the money can’t be used for capital expenditures.
“People need to realize that about the referendum that was just passed,” District 103 Superintendent Dr. Ray Lauk said. “All of that money is put toward teachers and programs, not toward any bricks.”
The district, however, is one step closer toward finalizing a long-term facility plan with Gilfillan-Callahan Architects in Rolling Meadows. The finalized plan, which is expected to be completed by the end of June, forecasts what the district will need in the coming years.
“We’ve been working with Gilfillan-Callahan since late December on a plan for the district,” Lauk said. “We don’t have any money right now for facilities. The only thing we can do at this moment is make sure we’re up to standards with the new safety laws and plan for the future.”
Lauk admitted that while every district would love to have more space, there aren’t any immediate needs in District 103.
“As of right now, we’re fine on space,” Lauk said. “We’re tight in some areas, and over time, as the reserves become available, we want to be able to add things. But right now, there is no money bucket out there for us to get the things we want to right now.”
Craig Siepka, an architect who has been handling the plans for Gilfillan-Callahan, has met with countless administrators, teachers and janitors throughout the district over the past couple months.
“The district is trying to plan for the future and be pro-active,” Siepka said. “I’ve kept the Board of Education up-to-date throughout the process, and the feedback has been tremendous from everyone. I expect that we will have a final version of the plan in place in a couple weeks.”
One of the things Lauk has been most proud of since the start is the fact that everyone has been involved.
“Everyone has had a chance to voice their thoughts, as has the community,” Lauk said. “We wanted everyone to be a part of it from the start.”
Lauk added that the district does not have a list prioritized yet listing which of its five schools will receive construction funds when they become available.
“We haven’t even got to that point, and I don’t want to speculate,” Lauk said. “All of our buildings right now are in good condition and they’re solid. That’s the way we want to keep them.”