To the Editor,
As local school districts ponder the future regarding their schooling facilities I want to provide a little property taxpayer information and advice. I am a property owner in a school district that faced the same problems. Unfortunately, in my opinion, their decision-making took a costly and illogical direction. I hope to persuade these other districts to consider a different and responsible approach to the problem.
Milford Area Public Schools (MAPS) has compelled their property owners to face double-digit percentage increases on their tax bills five years ago. For example, my residence had a 22 percent increase after the $17 million bond issuance for a new high school facility and expansion and rehab of the school for grades K-8.
The bond has a 20 year payback period. Of course, this depends on whether MAPS will be capable of paying it off on time.
In addition to the bond’s tax I am, along with the other District 124 property owners, paying for annual budgetary items like electricity, heating and cooling, maintenance, custodial, etc. for its daily operating costs.
These items are used in the high school that is currently more than 150 percent larger than its enrollment. In other words, the MAPS new high school building was built for 500 students but they are utilizing all of the space for 187 students.
What would the bond payment and budgetary needs be if they decided to build a facility, let’s say, 50 percent larger when enrollment at that time was 200. It can easily be assumed that these costs would be substantially less.
It must be understood the MAPS Board of Education failed to learn the demographic data and future trends of its district or they ignored the vital data. Such information would have told them that the future would consist of a declining population of children and the loss of revenues.
During MAPS’ process there was no evidence that studies were done. No information was presented to support a 500 student facility. In fact, after a review of local newspapers in the twelve months prior to the bond’s referendum, they never published their intentions to build a facility that large.
I urge the school districts in Iroquois County grappling with meeting the Illinois life safety and health issues to carefully and deliberately consider the next move.
The future is hard to predict so make as intelligent and rational decision as possible. Do the research insulting specific demographic data and tends about your district to get the most realistic concept of your needs.
If necessary hire a qualified consultant to asset with these responsibilities. Find architects who can design a building that can easily be retrofitted for future expansion should it become required.
Finally, provide the public with your findings by publishing them on your website and in print. Following a process like this will be much better than gambling on a false, or at least, distorted assessment of your future while taking advantage of your property owners.
I hope this small amount of information and advice will be useful. If it is not there is an alternative: consolidate with MAPS School District 124. There currently is space for over 300 new students. This is what MAPS’s gamble is really all about. The dissolution of your school district.
Everett J. Quigley