In case you missed it, check out the Chicago Tribune's eyebrow-raising coverage of Lake Forest D115's bond referendum HERE.
Lake Forest D115 voters to decide on $106M bond referendum
The question of whether Lake Forest High School will undergo a massive renovation is now in the hands of the voters as the District 115 school board has placed a $105.7 million bond sale referendum question on next April’s ballot.
School board members voted unanimously at their Dec. 6 meeting to ask voters on the April 4 general election ballot to agree to a borrowing plan over the course of 20 years for a renovation of the high school’s McKinley Road building, originally built in 1935....
Approximately half of the proceeds of the bond sale referendum would be put toward infrastructure enhancements such as repairs to the McKinley Road building’s HVAC systems, lighting, plumbing, safety and security, windows, roofs, student learning spaces and improving ADA accessibility, school officials said.
The rest of the funds are proposed for instructional space enhancements.
Board member Marcus Schabacker spoke of the need for the upgrade connecting the ongoing Portrait of a Learner education initiative now utilized not only by LFHS, but also the two local elementary school districts.
“This referendum supports, enables and is necessary to get to the Portrait of a Learner and to execute what the district is going through from a strategic planning perspective,” Schabacker said.
The financial impact of the plan would be an additional $476 in property taxes per year for the next 20 years on a home with an estimated value of $500,000, and $976 per year on a home valued at $ 1 million, based on current interest rates.
The new taxes would be on top of the last three years of payments from a $54 million bond referendum passed in 2006. Those bond payments are $200 on a $500,000 home, and $410 on a $1 million home.
Lake Forest resident Philippe Melin expressed some caution about the roughly $50 million set to go for infrastructure upgrades, and asked about using reserves for future projects.
“Is this going to be happening over and over again every time we need to do maintenance repairs? If so, I am not sure that is the most responsible way to approach facility funding,” Melin said.
Board member John Noble responded later in the meeting that the school district has been at a “bottom level” of finance in terms of maintenance of the buildings.
“The community did not want the school to be a bank account,” Noble said. “They do not want us to hold $45 million, and just sit in a bank account and collect interest. They actually want us to come to the people to have visibility for the initiative and vote on it.”
LFHS Superintendent Matthew Montgomery, who was hired in 2021, said, “It has been a long road that preceded my tenure. I couldn’t be more confident in the need for this work, and what it will provide to our students and the educational opportunities they will have particularly within the classrooms, as well as ensuring that building that was built so long ago remains open and vital for our community for at least the next 20 years or more.”
While some in the D115 administration have downplayed controversy over the new $106,000,000.00 bond, the Chicago Tribune did not.
With interest added, this bond could total as much as $180,000,000.00 in NEW taxes for the residents of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. That's IN ADDITION TO facility bonds issued by District 115 in 2006 and 2022 that we STILL have yet to pay off.