Barrington Area Unit District 220 is nearly finished receiving feedback from residents on a draft plan showing five options for school upgrades that could cost $80 million to $330 million.
School board members will digest residents' questions, concerns and ideas before settling on a final plan to pose as a referendum question for the Blueprint 220 initiative meant to meet today's education needs, in part, through flexible spaces and better technology. The last of three community meetings is set for 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Barrington Middle School-Station Campus, 215 S. Eastern Ave.
District 220 board President Brian Battle addressed the possible expense of the tentative projects at the start of a community feedback session Monday night that attracted about 60 residents to Grove Avenue Elementary School in Barrington. Not all of the five options would have a property tax increase attached to pay for the work.
"If you were like the board of education, you had a bit of sticker shock when you looked at the numbers," Battle told the crowd.
He said debt from the district's last round of building projects will be off the books in 2021. For an owner of a house with a $500,000 median value, the construction debt payments have been about $750 annually and would vanish if no school improvements were pursued.
While a timeline for the building initiative has yet to be established, District 220 could seek voter permission to borrow money for it as soon as November, Battle said. There would be another opportunity in spring 2019.
On the low end, all District 220 schools would receive basic building improvements and upgraded security for an estimated $80 million and result in a $314 property tax reduction after the current debt is paid off in three years. The basic work could include better energy efficiency, bathroom repairs and improved heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Basic improvements and security upgrades are part of all five options. The options build on each other until reaching the maximum $330 million proposal.
For $150 million and a $19 property tax reduction on the typical $500,000 house, work would include an 800-seat fine-arts center and physical educational-wellness addition at Barrington High School, and new furniture, fixtures and equipment at the middle and elementary schools.
At the $200 million level, highlights include "future-ready" classroom renovations and a refurbished baseball field with artificial turf at Barrington High, 10 new classrooms at Station Middle School and nine classrooms added to Barrington Middle School-Prairie Campus. That would cost an additional $192 in annual taxes.
Plans for $250 million would have fine-arts centers built at middle schools and new kindergarten classrooms at Grove Elementary. It would cost taxpayers an extra $403 annually.
On the top tier at $330 million, the district would build a third middle school and perform renovations at the Station and Prairie campuses. This concept would boost the annual tax bill by $741.
District 220 board member Penny Kazmier said the proposal to replace furniture would feature comfortable classroom seating -- instead of traditional desks lined up in a row -- to allow for student collaboration and improve learning.