The Board of Education has placed a referendum question on the November 8 ballot.
By law, the BPS101 referendum must appear on the ballot in the following form:
“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?”
The most important thing we want to add is that this will not change your bond and interest tax levy. If the voters pass the referendum, it will allow the Board of Education to issue up to $140 million in school building bonds that coincide with the retirement of its existing debt to generate funding for capital improvements without increasing the bond and interest property tax levy.
Want a quick overview? Watch this video.
Here is a flyer that describes the project and contains FAQs.
The bond issue is needed to maintain quality schools that meet evolving needs in teaching and learning. Changes would include essential safety and security upgrades, replacing two elementary schools, and other maintenance across the District. The plan is to replace H.C. Storm and Louise White elementary schools because they are not financially cost-effective to renovate.
Since 1911, Batavia Public School District 101 has made a positive difference for Batavia students and families.
For this to continue, we need to maintain the outstanding quality of our schools by keeping them in good working condition and able to accommodate today’s best practices in education.
Maintaining quality schools also means upgrading essential safety, security, HVAC, and other building systems and components.
And where needed, we need to replace buildings that can no longer cost-effectively serve our community or the educational needs of our students.
When talking about protecting our investment — we are talking about two things. First is our community’s investment in school buildings. The second is the investment many of us have made in our homes.
We all know that good schools mean strong property values. Maintaining the high quality of Batavia schools is the best thing we can do to protect the investment we’ve made in our homes. Many of us moved to Batavia because we knew our schools’ excellent value and quality would protect our investment in our homes.
In terms of our District’s finances, replacing schools that can’t be cost-effectively renovated helps provide a strong financial future for our District. New schools are not only good for our kids’ education, but in the long run, they are much more efficient to operate, thus saving our District money. This just makes good financial sense.
Investing in updated and improved buildings will benefit many future generations of students and homeowners. Importantly, the proposal improves the educational environment for every student in our district. It continues our 111-year tradition of ensuring our District continues to be a place where families and children can thrive.
Very importantly, because of sound financial planning by our District, these improvements can be made with zero change in the bond and interest tax levy. In today’s economy, that protects the finances of all taxpayers while providing financial benefits to our District.
Schools in our area go back nearly 200 years, with the first school starting in 1835 and Batavia School District forming in 1911. Providing safe, high-quality schools has been a source of pride for many generations. They are the backbone of our community.
Generation after generation of Batavia students have attended our schools and benefitted from their quality. We can continue that vitally important tradition in our community with these improvements.
We have a unique window of opportunity to take care of our schools now without changing our property tax rate. School districts all over the state and nation wish they could make these needed improvements without increasing the tax rate.
We can maintain the outstanding quality of our schools, protect our investment in our schools and homes, and continue taking pride in doing what is right for our kids, families, and community. We can do all of this without changing our district’s bond and interest levy.
Changes would include essential safety and security upgrades, replacing two elementary schools, and other maintenance across the District. The plan is to replace H.C. Storm and Louise White elementary schools because they are not financially cost-effective to renovate.
Proposed Projects by School
J.B. Nelson Elementary & Alice Gustafson Schools (1955 & 1957)
Aspects that are not part of the referendum but will take place at JBN and AGS this summer:
Grace McWayne & Hoover-Wood Elementary Schools (2001)
H.C. Storm and Louise White Elementary Schools (1978)
Rotolo Middle School (1992)
Batavia High School (1966)
The list of projects included in the proposal could be modified due to economic conditions and inflation. If voters approve the referendum in November, changing economic conditions may require adjustments to the plan so that the District can continue to live within its means and improve facilities to better support evolving educational needs.
The referendum includes recommendations from district architects and the Building Our Future Together community engagement process. The plan is rooted in data gathering and information compiled from three years worth of input about the District’s educational programming and facilities.
Superintendent Dr. Lisa Hichens: “With our bond debt expiring in 2025, the timing is ideal for our school district to take care of our schools without increasing the bond and interest property tax. Batavia Public School District has a long history of protecting taxpayer interests by providing safe, high-quality schools. We believe continuing to make improvements that benefit our students and community is important for all of us.”
The previous BPS101 facilities plan ended more than a decade ago, making this the longest timespan without major construction or renovations to our schools since 1955.
Since 2017, two committees and dozens of community members, parents, staff, students, and architects have worked to develop a new, comprehensive plan to modernize our schools.
Q: What is the BPS101 referendum, and what will it provide for the schools?
Q: Why are two schools being replaced instead of renovated?
A: Replacing schools that can’t be cost-effectively renovated is financially prudent. The mounting structural and functional needs at these schools are more costly to tackle than to replace. New schools are good for students’ education, but in the long run, they are much more efficient to operate, thus saving our District money. It is good financial and educational planning.
Q: Did BPS101 fail to maintain the schools?
A: The short answer is no. No one is at fault or failed to plan. Frankly, this is how large capital projects within school districts across our state are funded. Operating budgets do not cover the large capital projects that are needed to continue to maintain schools. Typically schools go to citizens asking for building and capital project funding about every 10 years. In our case, voters last approved a tax levy in 2007, which was the last time the District asked taxpayers for a tax levy or bond issue.
Q: How was the plan developed?
A: The plan that voters will consider was developed by Building Our Future Together, a citizen group of businessmen and women, teachers, staff, parents, and other residents interested in the Committee. In addition to the participants’ input, the Committee consulted architects, engineers, and individuals knowledgeable about demographics, school technology needs, and school funding for additional information to help in its work. Participants also studied the results of a benchmark public opinion survey that helped them better understand the priorities of the community at large.
The BPS101 referendum takes into consideration the feedback gathered from community engagement and survey data, as well as the current financial reality and future outlook of the community and the District.
The BPS101 referendum incorporates the recommendations of the District’s Long-Term Facility Plan. The Committee toured each facility with professional architects and engineers and then developed a prioritized Capital Improvement Plan. More than 150 community members provided input and helped shape the final plan.
This study concluded that District school buildings need repairs, renovation, and expansion. As noted above, these improvements covered many priorities, including replacing two elementary schools, safety upgrades, accessibility improvements, and operational maintenance.
For more information on how the BPS plan was developed, visit https://www.bps101.net/boft/plan/
Q: Does the BPS101 referendum increase the bond and interest property tax levy?
A: No. The BPS101 referendum will not change the District’s bond and interest property tax levy — it will remain the same and not increase. The community has the opportunity to take care of Batavia schools without changing the tax rate.
Q: How can this work be completed without raising the tax rate?
A: A tax levy is the tax rate used to calculate the amount of property tax revenue the school district will receive. Since the BPS101 bond debt will expire in 2025, the timing is ideal for taking care of our schools without increasing the property tax levy. If voters approve the referendum in November, it will allow the Board of Education to issue school building bonds that coincide with the retirement of existing debt, generating funding for capital improvements without increasing the bond and interest property tax levy. New school building bonds would replace expiring bonds and maintain the current bond and interest levy.
Q: When was the last time the District passed a tax levy or bond proposal?
A: Voters last approved a tax levy in 2007, the last time the District asked taxpayers for a tax levy or bond issue.
Q: When is the election?
A: Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, 2022. The BPS101 referendum requires a simple majority (50.0% to pass). EVERY SINGLE VOTE IS IMPORTANT. That’s why you must remember to vote on that day and remind all of your friends and family to do the same. If you are not registered to vote, October 11 is the last day to register to vote before Grace Period Registration begins on October 12.
Q: Who is eligible to vote?
A: All registered voters in the Batavia Public School District 101 are eligible to vote in this election. Residents may also request absentee ballots by contacting the Kane County Board of Elections or visiting their website for additional information at https://www.kanecountyclerk.org
For a complete calendar of voting dates, please visit https://www.kanecountyclerk.org/Elections/Documents/Election-Calendar.pdf
Q: When does early voting begin?
A: Early voting begins September 29 at County Clerk’s office and October 24 at permanent polling places
Q: How will the proposal appear on the ballot?
A: By law, the BPS101 referendum must appear on the ballot in the following form:
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?
Q: What is a bond issue?
A: Simply put, a bond is much like a personal home loan and is a way for government entities, such as school districts, to borrow money for large projects and repay them with future tax proceeds. Individuals generally approach a financial institution for a mortgage because they don’t have the means to pay for their home with one large initial payment.
Q: What happens if economic conditions change and prices for projects increase?
A: Projects included in the proposal are identified needs for the District. However, the list could be modified due to changing financial conditions. With today’s economy, if the proposal is approved by the voters, the District will be diligent in protecting the taxpayer’s investment while making updates to our schools.
Q: Why should we do this work now and not wait until later?
A: Just as homeowners must sometimes spend money to maintain their homes, the District must occasionally spend money to protect the community’s investment in its schools and neighborhoods. If approved, the referendum will allow us to help protect the financial future of our District and its residents, continue to provide outstanding schools for our students, and allow BPS101 to remain a source of pride in our community.
Investing in updated and improved buildings will benefit future generations of students and homeowners. It will save money in the long run and ensure that teachers and students have an environment conducive to innovative teaching and learning.
Q: Beyond improving our schools, how will these proposals help the Batavia Community?
A: For nearly two centuries, schools have made a positive difference for Batavia students and families. For this to continue, we need to protect the quality of our schools by keeping them in good working condition and able to accommodate today’s best practices in education. This proposal can help ensure the Batavia community continues to prosper well into the 21st Century. Maintaining the high quality of Batavia schools is the best thing we can do to protect the value and the investment we’ve made in our homes.
Q: H.C. Storm and Louise White are younger than Alice Gustafson and J.B. Nelson. Why rebuild them first?
A: The current conditions at HCS and LWS are more urgent.
Q: How long will it take to build the two elementary schools?
A: Building each school will take approximately 15-18 months. The plan is to construct them at the same time. Construction would begin in 2025. The schools will continue to operate, and the buildings will be constructed on a new site on the same property, so students will not need to be bused to another school.
Q: If enrollment is declining, why isn’t BPS101 closing an elementary school?
A: The Core Team’s final recommendation was to maintain six elementary schools. Community feedback indicated a strong preference for retaining all six neighborhood elementary schools. They also reported that changing elementary boundaries may not result in cost savings due to offsetting student transportation costs.