BUILDING A BETTER DISTRICT

Information | Communication | Transparency | Accountability

A Movement By Citizens  Demanding Transparency, Accountability, and Community Engagement for school districts in the State of Illinois.

Building A Better District is a taxpayer-led movement and is not affiliated with, nor endorsed by, the State or Regional Board of Education, any individual school district, or administration/Board of Education. 


Download a copy of the original 2016 Referendum Brochure & PowerPoint Presentation below.

District Doesn't Know How It Came Up With $22 Million Referendum Request in 2016

In 2016, a $22 million referendum was passed by the taxpayers to "build out" or "complete" Central High School.  The Board of Education has two sets of approved minutes in July 2016 (page 3, item 5.2) and August 2016 (page 4, item 4.3) where they stated that the improvements covered by the $22 million would mean the high school could meet district growth for 20-25 years from project completion (2018).  Just 6 years later, in November 2022, the community was approached to approve $195 million referendum to build a brand new 450,000 sq.ft. high school that could accommodate 2,400-3,000 students.   

What happened to the 20-25 years of growth the community paid for through the $22 million referendum in 2016?  The improvements were completed in 2018 so this means they didn't even last 5 years.  What data was utilized by the district to determine the improvements to Central High School would accommodate growth for 20 years leading to a $22 million referendum to the taxpayers?

These calculations are performed in a formula that is used across the nation by demography firms working for school districts EVERYWHERE.  To say they used square footage instead of enrollment means we either have completely incompetent administration or they are covering up the fact that they performed NO due diligence in the months leading up to the 2016 referendum.


How could the district fail to have a single document, analysis, or set of internal minutes showing how they calculated a $22 million ask and a timeline of 20 years?  

The taxpayers PAID and did not get the 20-years of capacity the District said they were paying for. 

Now they are asking us for $195 million MORE.

WE MUST VOTE NO TO THIS REFERENDUM.

Our Board of Education has a fiduciary duty to make sure the district's representations are accurate and fair before asking the taxpayers for any funding for future growth.  The community must insist on demanding the board perform its appropriate due diligence by investing in proper data analysis through an independent outside demography firm to identify how our current school buildings could be best utilized and to perform a formal Forecast Enrollment & Facilities Analysis upon which to base future construction and expansion needs.





In 2024: $195 Million to Last 18 Years

In November 2022, the district held several Focus Group presentations to review data to support a new proposed $195 million referendum - 8.6 times the amount requested just 6 years ago that they now say they have no idea how they calculated.  The district's expectation of significant annual growth and the pending development of a number of new subdivisions over the next 20 years was touted as the basis for the need of a new high school.

We took the district's presentation slides and analyzed the data to determine if the projected growth warranted a new high school and if so, when it would be needed within the next 20 years.   A growth rate of 3% and 1.2% were presented at the focus group meetings.   We created data models for each of these scenarios and ran the numbers for each of the scenarios A, B, C, and D presented by the district.



Summary Findings:
  1. None of the scenarios presented actually meets the needs of the entire district appropriately when run against a data model at our current rate of annual growth (1.6%). 
  2. Our data models show elementary is in immediate need of expansion, followed by Prairie Knolls, while Central High School will have plenty of capacity as of Fall 2024 with the completion of the new 20-classroom addition.
  3. New development is significantly decreased as it relates to new home construction. This is attributable to higher interest rates, higher home prices, and higher cost of construction.
    • Two of the four subdivisions currently listed as "approved" on the City of Elgin map were filed by developers that went bankrupt in 2011.  It is unclear if these properties will be developed, and if so--when (we are waiting for additional information from the City of Elgin).
    • This down turn is confirmed by Kane County's 2023 EAV Assessment Report showing new construction DOWN 21.8% from the 2022 EAV Report.
      • Home sales in our district overall are down 22.8% against 2022 and down against pre-pandemic year sales.  Aggressive growth for our district is over!
  1. The 20-classroom addition at Central High School brings total capacity to 1,900 students, eliminating current capacity constraints for several years.
    • There are issues related to parking, cafeteria space, and the auditorium.  Space exists at Central High School to address parking, cafeteria space, and the auditorium according to the district's Considerations B, C, and D as presented in November 2022.
    • The district stated in the Focus Group sessions that the classroom addition, cafeteria/ auditorium/parking expansion could be done for $58.3 million.  As the 20-classroom addition has already begun without referendum funds, the cafeteria/auditorium/parking expansion should be able to be done for less.
    • The referendum is still at $195 million in spite of the fact that the 20-classroom addition underway at CHS is being paid for outside of referendum dollars.  The $195 million should have been reduced by at least $13 million to account for this change.

Our Recommendations

  1. The $195 million referendum should be removed from the March 2024 ballot to re-evaluate needs and options  based on reliable, current data (see #2).  If the referendum is not removed from the ballot by the district, the taxpaying community should vote NO to the referendum.
  2. Either way, the Board of Education should immediately move to hiring an outside independent firm to perform a formal Enrollment Forecast and Facilities Analysis. This will provide a thorough review of current space utilization, determine the best utilization of current space, and plan for expansion through new construction based on a thorough enrollment forecast based on current trends.        
      • D303/St.Charles recently completed such analyses through a company called RSP.  The Enrollment Forecast cost $22,000.  The Facilities Analysis cost $27,650.  
      • Our district D301 just spent $5,000,000 on new property after discovering the 135 acres on Rohrssen had floodplain challenges that would need significant remediation.  They also approved up to $50,000 on a communications consultant to help build community engagement and consensus around the proposed referendum.  We strongly recommend spending an additional $50,000 to get the data needed to truly make an appropriate and fiscally smart plan.
  3. Using this formal independent analysis, a long-range plan must be developed to address the needs of the entire district and its needs at all levels -- elementary, middle, and high school.  That plan should be developed with significant feedback from the broader community, rather than a few selected individuals.


About us

We are a local group dedicated to cultivating an empowered and engaged community of parents and taxpayers to build an environment of transparency, accountability, and communication within Central Community Unified District 301 (D301), representing the unified voice of the people for a successful and sustainable future.

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Building A Better District is a volunteer community group advocating for transparency, honesty, accountability, and community engagement from Central CUSD 301 in Burlington, IL.

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