Batavia school board approves $140M referendum for November ballot

Students at Louise White School in Batavia ring the school's bell as part of first day of school festivities Aug. 16.

The Batavia District 101 School Board voted at the July 19 meeting to approve adding a referendum on the Nov. 8 election ballot asking to borrow $140 million to tear down and replace two elementary schools.

“This is where the rubber meets the road,” Chief Financial Officer Anton Inglese said. “[The board] would adopt a resolution here specifically that would put the question on the ballot for the November 2022 election.”

If passed, funds will be used to tear down H.C. Storm and Louise White elementary schools and build new schools in their place, according to referendum documents.

“The reason why that’s important in terms of timing is because that would allow us to issue bonds and feather in the repayment of those bonds with the retirement of debt that we’ll have here in 2025,” Inglese said. “We would structure the payment such that the implications on the taxpayer wouldn’t change.”

In addition to the two new schools, the money also would be used to make improvements at six other schools within the district, according to meeting documents.

“This is the culmination of a three-plus year process which has involved the community extensively of which the community has recommended that we ask this of them,” board member Chris Lowe said. “We are doing what the community has asked us to do.”

Lowe said the funding option was chosen after an extensive community feedback process. The district hosted multiple community feedback sessions in the spring.

The vote is the culmination of a process that began in 2018 when the district hired architecture firm DLR Group to assist in developing a new master facilities plan.

Both H.C. Storm and Louise White schools were built in 1978, according to documents.

“This is way longer than just this moment right now,” board member Craig Meadows said. “This is why we’re talking about it as dollars to obtain through the bonding process, not actually what’s going to be built and accomplished because dependent on the market at the time we’ll be evaluating what we can do with that money and what we need to prioritize based on the money that’s available. That’s the challenge ahead, but it’s one that everybody’s well prepared for and the background that’s been done has helped us establish what those priorities should be.”