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District 622 to put bond referendum request to vote

After more than two years of planning, community input and revision, the District 622 School Board unanimously approved asking residents to support improvements to the district's schools to provide safe, up-to-date and healthy learning environments.

The bond referendum request will come to voters on a May 14 election. If approved by voters, funds would be used to:

• Add secure entrances to all schools

• Provide all schools with modern furniture and flexible classroom spaces for independent, small group, and large group learning

• Renovate and/or expand five schools

• Build two new elementary schools

• Close or repurpose four schools

The tax increase for the average homeowner would be $5 per month, with construction costs around $275 million.

Most District 622 school buildings are over 50 years old, have never had a comprehensive renovation and are not designed for today's learning environment. The facilities review process identified many challenges, including: inappropriate learning spaces; offices in showers and closets; and fixtures, furniture, heating/cooling systems in disrepair, according to background information provided by Superintendent Christine Osorio in a written statement.

District 622 residents pay less in total school property taxes than many comparable districts.

It is less expensive to build some new schools, consolidate others and update the remaining buildings than it would be to fix all the existing buildings. Because the district is paying off old debt, there is an opportunity to reinvest in the schools by taking on new debt with little additional cost to taxpayers.

"We engaged our staff, parents and community members in an extensive facility review to help shape our final proposal," Osorio said. "We are excited that this recommendation would update schools across the district, with a minimal tax increase for residents."