referendum

FAQs

  • What improvements are needed in our school buildings?
    Were community members involved in identifying and prioritizing the improvement projects?
    What projects are supported by the referendum?
    What does an updated classroom look like?
    How will updated classrooms improve student performance?
    When was the last time Barrington 220 passed a referendum to upgrade facilities?
    How will a successful referendum impact my taxes?
    If the referendum does not pass, how will it impact my taxes?
    Why is placing a referendum question on the ballot essential to fund these school improvements?
    How much money does the district have in reserves? Why can't this money be used to pay for these projects?
    What is the maximum Barrington 220 can borrow?
    What is the breakdown, by school level, of the $185 million?
    When were Barrington 220 schools built?
    How soon would construction start?
    Is enrollment increasing or decreasing in Barrington 220?
    How is the district's current financial situation?
    Can private funding be used for any of these improvements?
    How will taxpayers know that the funds will be used for these projects and not other things?
    What happens if the community does not support the referendum?
    What if the cost of the work exceeds the estimates?
    What will the question on the ballot look like?
    Why didn't the district prepare for these needs by saving up in advance for the expenses of upgrades and repairs?
     

    What improvements are needed in our school buildings?

    Four major factors are driving this proposal to improve our school buildings. First, we want to make sure our buildings are up-to date with respect to safety. Second, we want to make sure our buildings accommodate best practices in curriculum and instruction. Third, we want to protect our community’s investment in our buildings by repairing and renovating things like roofs, windows, plumbing, electrical systems, and heating and air conditioning. Lastly, we want to update our arts and athletics spaces, which are used for educational and community purposes year round.

    Our school district has a long tradition of keeping abreast of best practices in curriculum and instruction, assuring that our students are successful in higher education, the workplace and in their personal lives. Much like what you see at the workplace, today learning is much more collaborative than in the past. Students no longer spend their day sitting at desks in straight rows. Technology has also changed substantially over the past 20 years. All of this impacts the instructional environment and our facilities need to be updated to meet these needs.

    In addition, just as our homes require large maintenance projects every 20 to 30 years, so do our school buildings. The last time any of our schools saw significant building renovations was about 20 years ago. In the late 90s the community approved a series of referendums, so the district could reinvest in every school in the district, as well as build new schools at Barbara B. Rose, Roslyn Road, Countryside and North Barrington Elementary schools. To do this, the district issued more than $115 million worth of voter approved bonds. The debt from those bonds will be paid off after 2021, which creates a unique opportunity for the community to consider reinvesting in our schools.

    Were community members involved in identifying and prioritizing the improvement projects?

    Yes. Two years ago Barrington 220 embarked on a collaborative process called Blueprint 220, which involved gathering input from all district stakeholders about the future of our schools. Between the spring of 2017 and spring of 2018, the Board of Education held more than 20 community meetings. Also during that time, a Blueprint 220 Core Team, consisting of Barrington 220 administrators, teachers, parents, Board members, community members and representatives from an architect firm, met on a regular basis. From that collaborative process, a $500-million master plan was created, which identifies a variety of Barrington 220's needs over the next 20 years.

    In the fall of 2018, the Board of Education began gathering feedback about which parts of that $500-million master plan were most important to the community. The Board worked with a communications firm to conduct hundreds of phone and online surveys with residents in the Barrington 220 boundary area. In addition, the Board created a Referendum Advisory Committee, consisting of more than 50 members from various community organizations. All of this community feedback helped the Board narrow down which projects should be included in the April 2, 2019 referendum. The $185 million referendum would address those needs which the community has indicated are most critical at this time.

    What projects are supported by the referendum?

    In general, the projects supported by the referendum include:

    • Improve safety and security at all Barrington 220 schools
    • Eliminate mobile classrooms at BMS-Station, BMS-Prairie and Grove Avenue Elementary
    • Repair and renovate aging building conditions such as heating, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing and roofs
    • Update and improve classrooms in all schools by creating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) spaces, adding flexible furniture
    • Expand parking lots to improve safety and traffic flow at pick-up/drop-off zones at Barrington High School
    • Expand parking lots to improve safety and traffic flow at pick-up/drop-off zones at Countryside, Grove, Lines and North Barrington Elementary Schools (pending approval by IDOT, appropriate villages and counties)
    • Create classroom space at all elementary schools to support students with special needs and students who require movement/sensory breaks throughout the school day.
    • Build new 800 seat fine arts center/auditorium at Barrington High School
    • Improve physical education/athletic facilities at Barrington High School
    • Renovate kitchen space at all schools
    • Renovate Student Services spaces (counseling, attendance, health services, dean’s office) at Barrington High School

    What does an updated classroom look like? 

    Updated classrooms are driven by flexible furniture and more open and flexible spaces that colleges, universities and businesses have already embraced. Students should begin to experience these open and flexible concepts, in age appropriate ways, from the time they arrive in Barrington 220, so they can continue to thrive after graduating from Barrington High School. Click here to learn more about flexible furniture.

    How will updated classrooms improve student performance? 

    Flexible furniture and seating in an updated classroom gives students more opportunities to work together, in small and large groups. This will help prepare them for the transition to college and today’s workplace, where collaboration is key. At the same time, the flexibility in an updated classroom gives teachers a chance to provide individualized instruction and quiet learning spaces for students. In addition, updated classrooms will provide for smoother and quicker transitions between classroom activities, thereby better maximizing instructional time.

    When was the last time Barrington 220 passed a referendum to upgrade facilities? 

    The last successful referendum for Barrington 220 was passed in April 2007. The $4.4 million was used to rebuild the stadium at Barrington High School. Today the stadium is a popular gathering place in the community, used year-round for P.E. classes, middle and high school athletics, community fitness, and organizations such as Barrington Youth Football. It is also our home-field advantage in school sports, having been a field for Barrington’s state championships in Girls Soccer (2017 and 2018) and others.

    The last time any of our schools saw significant building renovations was about 20 years ago. In the late 90s the community approved a series of referendums, so the district could reinvest in every school in the district, as well as build new schools at Barbara B. Rose, Roslyn Road, Countryside and North Barrington Elementary schools. To do this, the district issued more than $115 million worth of voter approved bonds.

    How will a successful referendum impact my taxes?

    An estimate by PMA Securities, Inc. indicates that the owner of a $500,000 home would pay approximately an additional $100/year compared to their current school property tax bill. This amounts to less than $2/week, or 27 cents/day.

    If the referendum does not pass, how will it impact my taxes?

    Debt from prior referendums will get paid off over the next several years and result in a decline in the school district tax levy. That debt represents approximately 9.6% of the current total school district levy. Overall there would be a reduction in taxes paid to the district, assuming stable EAV (Equalized Assessed Value), of approximately $600 for a $500,000 home.

    Why is placing a referendum question on the ballot essential to fund these school improvements?

    While State law grants our Board of Education the limited ability to issue bonds for short-term capital needs (approximately $2 million annually), the projects included in this referendum represent a significant impact during the next 20 years on our buildings and our tax rates. Therefore, consistent with State Law, a voter-approved referendum is required to issue the bonds to fund the proposed projects.

    How much money does the district have in reserves? Why can't this money be used to pay for these projects?

    The district maintains cash reserves as a buffer for unexpected expenses and unexpected adjustments to revenue. In addition, because tax receipts are uneven throughout the year, the reserves are used to stabilize cash flow and avoid short-term borrowing to meet budgeted expenditures. Properly maintained cash reserves also allow the district to borrow at favorable rates and plan for unfunded state and federal mandates.

    The current operating cash reserves (fund balance) represents 31% of our annual expenditures. This represents about four months of our expenditures. This level of reserve is within our Board Policy that targets between 25% and 40% of our budgeted expenditures. While some neighboring school districts maintain a significantly higher level of cash reserves, our Board Policy does not allow the maintenance of a high reserve balance. Therefore, Barrington 220 does not have sufficient discretionary cash reserves that can be used for the proposed projects at this time.

    What is the maximum Barrington 220 can borrow? 

    The district’s statutory debt limit is $409M. The $185M referendum represents 45% of Barrington 220’s borrowing capacity. The district can only borrow money for significant projects with voter approval.

    What is the breakdown, by level, of the $185 million?

    • Barrington High School: $87,492,841 (47%)
    • 2 Middle schools: $36,488,765 (20%)
    • 8 Elementary schools and ELC: $61,165,209 (33%)

    When were Barrington 220 schools built?

    1949: BHS
    1953: Grove Avenue Elementary
    1954: Sunny Hill Elementary
    1966: BMS-Station
    1967: Hough Street School
    1969: Arnett C. Lines Elementary
    1992: BMS-Prairie
    1998: Barbara B. Rose Elementary
    1998: North Barrington Elementary
    2002: Countryside Elementary
    2002: Roslyn Road Elementary
    2010: Barrington Early Learning Center

    How soon would construction start?  

    After a successful referendum on April 2, 2019, the district would begin work with its architect and engineers to develop detailed project plans and drawings. Construction would likely begin in the late spring of 2020 and would happen in phases over several years. Every effort would be made to complete construction during the summer, in a way that minimizes the impact while students are in attendance.

    Is enrollment increasing or decreasing in Barrington 220? 

    Based on projections from a demographer, Barrington 220 enrollment is projected to be relatively flat for the next five years. However, if there are new developments in the community in the future, that could increase enrollment.

    Click here to learn more about Barrington 220 class sizes
    Click here to see a Barrington 220 demographic study

    How is the district's current financial situation? 

    Barrington 220 has had a balanced budget for 22 consecutive years. In addition, the district has had a AAA bond rating from Standard & Poor’s for 11 consecutive years and is proud to be among just 24 school districts across Illinois and just 84 school districts nationwide to earn a AAA bond rating.

    How will the taxpayers know that the funds will be used for these projects and not other things?

    By law, the district can ONLY use referendum funds for things listed on the ballot, including  building, equipping, altering, repairing and reconstructing new or existing school buildings.

    Can private funding be used for any of these improvements? 

    The district has benefited from many generous donations over the years. Most recently, private funding allowed the district to replace the scoreboard in Barrington Community Stadium. While private funding for the entire $185 million in projects is not feasible, Barrington 220 will work with any groups interested in fundraising to improve our facilities. 

    What happens if the community does not support the referendum?

    If the community does not support the referendum in April, the district’s immediate facility needs will not be addressed. The Board of Education would have to decide whether or not to put another referendum question on a future ballot. The next opportunity to put a referendum question on the ballot is the March 2020 presidential primary election.

    What if the cost of the work exceeds the estimates? 

    Contingencies were incorporated into the estimates, to allow for construction inflation and unforeseen costs. If the costs were to exceed estimates, based on priority, the projects would be reduced in scope or eliminated. We believe, however, that the proposed projects will all be completed if the referendum passes on April 2, 2019.

    What will the question on the ballot look like? 

    “Shall the Board of Education of Barrington Community Unit School District Number 220, Lake, Cook, Kane and McHenry Counties, Illinois, build and equip additions to and alter, repair and equip existing buildings, including but not limited to renovating instructional spaces, restrooms and food service areas, installing school safety and security improvements, replacing roofs and mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems and constructing additions to eliminate mobile classrooms, improve school sites and issue bonds of said School District to the amount of $185,000,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?”

    Why didn't the district prepare for these needs by saving up in advance for the expenses of upgrades and repairs?

    Some school districts choose to build sufficient reserves for this work by taxing homeowners at a higher rate and acting as a bank for taxpayer funds over many years.

    Barrington 220 has the lowest tax rate compared to other school districts in our area. To support our current low tax rate, the Board of Education established a policy that targets reserves between 25% and 40% of our budgeted operating expenditures, with the intent that decisions about large investments in facilities be approved by the community.

    Operating funds ARE used to support up to $3 million in annual facility repairs and maintenance, but that is not enough to complete the proposed projects included in this referendum. Issuing bonds to pay for this type of work is a common and responsible way for school districts to fund improvements that match the repayments with the benefits of the improved facilities.