School district passes $18.7 million bond by 19 votes

School District 55 passed the larger of two bonds it placed before voters in a May 15 mail-in election.

The first bond, $18.7 million, passed 1,800 votes to 1,781 votes. The second bond, $3.8 million, lost 1,793 to 1,785 votes. The bonds drew a 52.3 percent voter turnout meeting the 50 percent requirement for tax measures.

“We’re really happy with what we know to this point,” Supt. Bill Hampton said. “We think the community pulled together. The community did a great job. I think it’s a great investment for future opportunities, for our kids. I’m happy for our staff, our kids, our community.”

I know it’s a very difficult vote for a lot of people in the community,” Supt. Hampton said, but that money will be used to improve safety and secure the future of the district’s schools.

The district will use money from the bond to complete a number of projects, including reconstructing most of the high school, remodeling portions of Hawthorne Elementary, safety improvements throughout the district and heating, air conditioning and ventilation improvements.

The bond will cost property owners about $1.84 per $1,000 of valuation beginning this fall. The rate will drop slightly over four years and stabilize for the remaining 26 years of the bond.

Supt. Hampton said the board will meet in early June to begin dealing with details of the bond sale and putting together an oversight committee, which was promised as part of the bond. The oversight committee will need to play a role in planning major projects, such as the high school reconstruction and the Hawthorne remodel. Bond sales may be complete by late June, then smaller projects can begin. Larger projects will probably start in summer 2002.

The board will probably discuss what do with the failure of the smaller bond, Supt. Hampton said. Track repairs, which were in the smaller bond, are still needed, and the board will probably take a look at options to do that.

The smaller bond also include rebuilding tennis courts, athletic fields and a new swimming pool.