By Urszula Tanouye
If you live in School District 63 (Concord Elementary and Cass Jr. High), you’ll see a bond question on your June 28 primary ballot. Our neighbor district, Center Cass 66, has its own ballot question. Each one is different, and each applies only to its own district’s voters. I’m writing to tell you about the SD63 question, so you can feel informed about this topic and empowered to share what you know in your PC letter, friends and family letters, and everyday conversations.
SD63 is asking voters for their approval to issue bonds to pay for the following:
- Replacement of HVAC equipment that is at its end of useful life
- Safety and security upgrades including the replacement of fire alarm panels, internal communications systems, and security cameras
- Refinancing of old debt for expected cost savings
Knowing that 80% of our current HVAC infrastructure had reached its expected useful life, 22 community members and district staff serving on the Board of Education, Facilities Committee and Finance Committee evaluated several master plan options to ensure SD63 is acting as a responsible steward of taxpayer funds. We considered educational environment, indoor air quality, energy efficiency, maintenance, and long-term life-cycle costs as the key factors in our recommendation. While the size of the project is substantial, it became clear to us that this situation provides an opportunity for the district and taxpayers to make a long-term investment that better meets our needs.
Instead of replacing existing systems with new versions of the same, we found that a geothermal HVAC system would cost less to own, decrease our energy expenditures, and improve the learning environment for our children. With the large percentage of equipment in need of replacement, our engineer, architect, and committees were able to evaluate multiple similarly priced options and recommend this master plan that improves both the school environment and respects our fiscal responsibility to our community.
Our buildings are well maintained and well sized for our expected student population. Our day-to-day operations are efficient yet provide a well-regarded education to the families we serve. At a per student average expenditure of $13,618, SD63 spends 15% less than the average local elementary district, 13% less than the DuPage County average, and even 8% less than the state average. Despite this operational efficiency, SD63 provides high quality differentiated and well rounded instruction to meet children where they are and provide them with the foundation and support they need to achieve their individual potential and succeed in high school and beyond.
As a BOE member, I supported putting this bond question on the ballot because I believe that the plan for using these funds is fiscally sound and would provide the safe and healthy physical space that our educators need to teach and that our students need to learn and grow. Please contact me with any questions at 630-915-3331 or visit https://www.cassd63.org/domain/309 to review our frequently asked questions