News - McHenry County

McHenry School District 156 referendum passes; Recreation Center expansion defeated

Voters opt to keep township road district in place

McHenry High School District 156 Superintendent Ryan McTague addresses the community during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for an incubator program at McHenry West High School on Aug. 24.

McHenry-area voters had mixed opinions about referendums on the ballot Tuesday, according to unofficial results from the McHenry County Clerk’s Office.

District 156 upgrades

Voters approved a $44 million request by McHenry High School District 156, according to unofficial result totals.

The referendum passed with 56.95 percent of voters – 8,578 votes – in favor of the proposal and 43.05 percent against it, unofficial results show.

District 156 plans to renovate McHenry West and turn McHenry East into a school for freshmen only.

Officials have said the proposal will allow more equity for students, particularly sophomores, juniors and seniors who currently commute from campus to campus to take advantage of specialty courses only offered at one school.

“We are so pleased that voters agreed to this investment in our schools to improve the learning experience for all students and help prepare them for post-secondary success,” District 156 Superintendent Ryan McTague said. “We have now been given the opportunity and responsibility to create a sustainable, modern and equitable educational environment in our district for the foreseeable future.”

The proposal could be in place by the 2020-21 school year, district officials said.

A resident with a $200,000 home pays about $273 toward the district’s expiring bonds. Those payments would be replaced, and the same taxpayer would pay about $208 annually in property taxes to pay for the new building bonds, which would take 20 years to pay off, according to district documents.

McHenry Recreation Center

The city of McHenry also had a referendum on the ballot that asked voters to allow the city to take out up to $30 million in bonds to expand the McHenry Recreation Center – which would include an indoor pool – and create a family aquatic center in the city.

Voters defeated the request Tuesday, with 60.63 percent of voters against it and 39.37 percent in favor of it, according to unofficial results. A total of 9,310 people voted on the item, according to unofficial results.

Officials originally estimated that the cost to a homeowner with a $168,000 home would be about $180 annually in property taxes for 20 years.

The existing multimillion-dollar Recreation Center opened in 2016 and was built with $4 million in funding the department had saved from developer donations over the years. It was designed with space allotted for an indoor pool and facility expansion.

Road district consolidation

A McHenry Township referendum that aimed to abolish the road district was defeated Tuesday, unofficial results show.

The referendum asked voters whether the road district should be consolidated, with McHenry Township taking on the district’s responsibilities if the referendum had been successful.

Residents voted to keep the road district in place, with 68.45 percent of voters against the proposal and 31.55 percent of voters for the plan. A total of 14,624 votes were counted with all precincts reporting, according to unofficial results.

Brittany Keeperman

Brittany Keeperman was a Northwest Herald reporter from 2016-19