Hawthorn District 73's borrowing for building plan will cost taxpayers less than projected
A voter-approved $48.7 million building initiative in Vernon Hills-based Hawthorn Elementary District 73 is nearing the home stretch with good news for taxpayers: They'll pay less than originally projected.
In a 2018 referendum, voters approved borrowing that amount to build a kindergarten center and expand or renovate seven buildings. About $42.5 million has been committed, district officials said this week.
Because some of the bonds were financed at favorable interest rates, the cost to homeowners will be less than the amount originally projected and shared with the community before the referendum.
District officials say the projects still will use all the money approved by taxpayers. But because bond interest rates was lower than expected, the cost to taxpayers will be less than they initially were told.
Rather than $232 per year, the owner of a home valued at $350,000 will pay about $179, according to LeeAnn Taylor, assistant superintendent of business and finance.
"There's a savings to the voters," she said. "At the time the bonds were issued, the borrowing market was better than when we went to referendum."
The expansive building construction and renovation program is on schedule, district officials said.
"As we approach the final phase of construction, we're excited about the improved experiences our students will have because of the additions and renovations throughout the district," said school board President Robin Cleek.
Officials on Oct. 20 celebrated the completion of work at Elementary South -- the third phase of the program -- with a public open house before the school board meeting.
That work involved a building addition, new gym, music space, art rooms and more, all of which was completed in time for the new school year.
The fourth phase of the building program involves $1.7 million in work at Aspen Elementary School and a $9.5 million investment at Middle School South.
Aspen work, including new rooftop HVAC units and lighting, ceiling and related repairs in one wing of the building, is complete.
Construction of a building addition and renovations to create STEM areas are done at Middle School South.
A new music suite is in progress but awaiting materials that have been delayed due to supply chain issues.
That leaves renovations at Elementary North and Townline Elementary as the next and final projects in the multiphase construction plan.
Planned work at Elementary North has been modified based on enrollment projections.
"We don't need additional space," Taylor said.
Because space isn't an issue, the focus shifted to renovations centered on replacing building systems and updating the library and classrooms.
"We're still making the needed health, life and safety improvements to the remaining buildings, and Elementary North will undergo renovations to bring it up to date," Cleek said.
The school was built in 1977 and has many original mechanical systems and electrical components, she added.
The school board will consider bids for Elementary North at its Nov. 15 meeting. The project is expected to start next summer pending board approval.
Townline will be included in Phase 5 with Elementary North, but the scope of the work is to be determined, Taylor said.
"We're very purposeful. We want every building to be updated or touched" in some manner with referendum dollars, she said.