Just two weeks after the Brookfield-Lyons School District 103 board agreed to sell $4.7 million in bonds to expand two schools in the district, some community members may be trying to derail those plans.
School board members in January agreed to sell $4.7 million in bonds to add classrooms to Costello and Robinson elementary schools in Lyons. Both schools have become crowded since a successful 2004 referendum led to smaller class sizes, school board President Joanne Schaeffer said.
Security will be improved at Robinson School and portions of both schools will be remodeled. About $200,000 will be spent on installing air conditioning in classrooms at Lincoln Elementary in Brookfield if bond money is available, officials said.
But Schaeffer said someone in the district, which serves part of Brookfield, Lyons, Stickney, McCook and Forest View, may have taken steps to collect signatures on petitions seeking voter approval of the bond sale.
Attempts to contact the person who may have pulled the paperwork on a possible referendum were unsuccessful. The deadline to place a question on the March ballot was Jan. 27, Lyons Village Clerk Pattie Wisneski said.
A public hearing on the bond sale is scheduled for March 27 at George Washington Middle School, 8101 Ogden Ave., Assistant Superintendent James Rick said.
Unless the two Lyons schools are enlarged, class size could increase and students could be transferred to schools farther away, Schaeffer said.
“We have some children who are meeting in the halls,” she said.
No tax increase would result from the bond sale, which will extend debt on existing working cash bonds, Superintendent Raymond Lauk said.
“There really was no choice,” Lauk said. “The state does not have a school construction fund.”
The state stopped funding major grants for school construction before Gov. Rod Blagojevich was elected in 2002. Since state funding dried up, many districts have had to completely finance costly building projects.
Work on Robinson and Costello schools could begin in summer and be completed by the end of the year, Rick said. Construction should not interfere with classroom instruction because remodeling will happen during the summer break, he said.
At Costello, plans calls for adding six classrooms, widening a hallway on the south end of the building and creating diagonal parking on Winchester Avenue. More on-street parking will offset the loss of a paved parking area on school property where the addition will go up, Rick said.
Work at Robinson will include a four-classroom addition, air conditioning in classrooms and moving the main office closer to the entrance. Visitors now must walk past classrooms to access the office.
Schaeffer said the school board has pledged to not seek another property tax increase until 2014.
The special taxing status for the huge McCook Industrial and Business Center at 47th Street and First Avenue ends in 2014, Lauk said. Schools and other taxing bodies cannot reap the tax growth in an active tax increment finance district, such as the McCook development.
“None of the [bond] money would go towards salaries or books,” Schaeffer said. “It’s strictly for construction.”