A referendum to increase bond and interest taxes to pay for state-mandated life-safety improvements in Sandwich School District 430 schools is on the Tuesday, March 20 ballot.
Since bonds sold to finance the construction of Sandwich Middle School will be retired this year and the new bonds that would pay for the life-safety improvements are for a lesser amount, school officials have noted that if the referendum passes, homeowners would still see a reduction on the school portion of their tax bills if the equalized assessed value of their homes has not changed.
According to information provided by the district, a resident with a home with a fair market value of $150,000 would see their bond and interest taxes reduced by about $63 if the referendum is approved. If the referendum does not pass, the same homeowner would see the bond and interest portion of their school taxes reduced by $175.
The school district covers portions of DeKalb, Kendall and LaSalle counties. Registered voters can cast their votes early in DeKalb and Kendall counties. There is no local early voting site in LaSalle County.
Those living in DeKalb County portion of the school district can cast votes through March 17 at the Sandwich Fire Station, 310 E. Railroad St., between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Weekends are from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 10; from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 11; and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 17.
Persons living within the boundaries of the district who desire to only cast a vote on the referendum can ask for a nonpartisan ballot. Otherwise, they will be asked if they want a Democratic or Republican ballot for the primary election, which will also include the school referendum.
Those residing in the Kendall County portion of the school district can vote at the Plano City Hall, N. James St., entering the building at building and zoning entrance door No. 7. The times and dates for early voting are from 1 and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, March 5 through 9, and Monday through Thursday, March 12 through 15. The weekend early voting time is from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 10.
The district’s referendum support committee has asked that persons vote for the issue titled debt service extension base (DSEB) to assure safety for students and staff.
Dale Hamilton and Amy Campbell, co-chairmen of the Committee to Support the Sandwich School Referendum, have prepared a video that’s been presented at group meetings. It’s also available on a website, dseb430.com, that gives many details about the referendum on what's officially known as the debt service extension base.
Photos and detailed information can be found on the committee’s website. Questions can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hamilton described the findings of the district’s 10-year life-safety investigation, telling about building and fire code violations in the schools. He said the state of Illinois mandates that improvements be made within a limited time and paid for by the district.
According to the report, several schools need improved safety at entrances and exits; upgrades and replacements of ventilation units, fire systems and electrical panels; and concrete work on some sidewalks and stoops. New or upgraded boilers must replace old equipment in several schools, as well.
All of the district’s six schools need many new interior fire-rated doors and frames, and have several other issues.
The oldest school in Sandwich, H.E. Dummer School, was built in 1921 as a high school and now houses fourth- and fifth-graders. The state has mandated that an additional exit be placed in the gymnasium because of the number of people in the gym.
The newest school, Sandwich Middle School, was built in 2001 for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. It needs lighted exit signs, door repairs and emergency lights.
Hamilton said of the proposed bond sale, “It would be like a smaller loan than you’ve previously held. We [the school district] don’t have any extra money and the state is paying late so often. We’re running pretty bare.”