St. Charles D303 to issue $22.75M in bonds to fund construction, school remodeling projects

St. Charles District 303 School Board members approved the issuance of $22.7 million in long-term debt to pay for construction projects planned for the summers of 2024 and 2025.

After voting to repurpose district elementary school facilities at their July 26 meeting, board members now have decided how those changes will be paid for.

Starting in the 2024-25 school year, Fox Ridge Early Childhood Center will become an elementary school, early childhood care will be moved to the Haines Center and Lincoln Elementary School will be repurposed to house transition programming and staff offices.

The repurposing will require a considerable amount of construction and remodeling at each of the affected schools. The estimated cost is $14.6 million, with about $6.8 million needed to repurpose the Lincoln Elementary School facilities and $7.8 million to relocate early childhood care to the Haines Center. A detailed list of the estimated cost breakdown can be found here.

School board members voted unanimously to issue two bonds with 20-year terms at the Sept. 11 meeting.

Board President Heidi Fairgrieve abstained from the vote.

The total amount of long-term debt is estimated to be $22.75 million, pending the interest rate, which will be locked in when the debt is issued, likely in June 2024, Chief Operations Officer Justin Attaway said.

District 303 staff previously estimated the debt will lead to a property tax increase of $6.15 per $100,000 of residents’ home values.

Contracts for the construction work are expected to go out for bid this month, with work expected to begin next summer and be completed by next fall.

Public school districts are granted the legal authority to issue debt for a variety of purposes, including capital projects, working capital needs and refinancing of previous debt. Borrowing by a school district is highly restricted and must be done in accordance with Illinois law, according to the recommendation from administration.

Boundary changes to the district’s enrollment zones are the next step in the facilities master plan. The school board will begin reviewing the zone changes this fall, which would go into effect at the start of the 2024-25 school year.