Vote NO to $140 Million Referendum

On the November 8, 2022 ballot is a $140 MILLION referendum for BPS101. From the district website:

“Shall the Board of Education of Batavia Community Unit School District Number 101, Kane County, Illinois, be authorized to build and equip a new H.C. Storm School and a new Louise White School and demolish the existing buildings, and alter, repair, equip and improve its other school facilities, including but not limited to installing student safety and security enhancements and improving roofs, floors, windows, HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems, and improve the sites thereof, and issue its bonds to the amount of $140,000,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?”

The most important thing we want to add is that, this will not change your bond and interest tax levy. If the voters pass the referendum, it will allow the Board of Education to issue up to $140 million in school building bonds that coincide with the retirement of its existing debt to generate funding for capital improvements without increasing the bond and interest property tax levy.

The problem is, “this will not change your bond and interest tax levy” is an empty promise. Bonds MUST be paid, with NO LIMIT as to rate or amount taxpayers can be charged. In other words, THERE IS NO TAX CAP ON BONDED DEBT. The taxpayers are voting on a blank check that will come directly out of property taxes.

There are many other problems with this referendum:

  • Why demolish and rebuild 2 schools when enrollment has dropped significantly, and will continue to decline (projected loss of almost 700 students in the next 5 years!) and school buildings should really be eliminated?
  • The wording is so vague, nothing must be done and anything can be done, including that 2nd artificial turf field that is in the “Athletic Fields Redevelopment Plan” if they so choose.
  • What interest rate assumptions are being made?
  • What about soaring construction costs? What will be done if construction is deemed too expensive? Where will the money be used? “Improve its other school facilities” leaves endless possibilities for $140 million.
  • We are in a recession, perhaps headed toward a depression—do we need this now?
  • Gas prices, food prices, housing prices, etc. are all up, hurting families—why add to the burden? They don’t make it obvious that your property taxes would GO DOWN by hundreds or thousands of dollars (depending on home value) if this referendum is voted down. The school district currently takes 68.1% of your property taxes, of which 10.8% goes to paying debt ($9,001,485 of the $83,276,654 in total property taxes collected in 2022). To get a rough idea of what this referendum might cost you if approved (actual cost varies in relation to relative property value increases/decreases year to year), multiply the total property taxes you paid this year by .0735, the % of your tax bill going toward school debt service.
  • The Batavia School Board has a history of broken promises. Recall the 2007, $75 million referendum that they promised, “would not increase the property tax rate”, until it did just 4 years later, increasing their tax extension 11.5% that year, because there is NO LIMIT on tax increases when it comes to bond debt. Then instead of making good on their promise and cutting taxes with the windfall from the Premium Outlets Mall, they rolled those millions into their budget, thumbing their noses at the many taxpayers who attended meetings and wrote to the Board, with the former Superintendent calling us taxpayers, “fools”.

Does the school district need maintenance on the current buildings? Yes. The 2023 budget sets $2.7 million/yr for roofs, HVAC, paving, etc. Those regular expenses have been planned out years in advance and millions of dollars are set aside for them annually. Besides, the school board raises its budget and corresponding tax levy BY THE MAXIMUM ALLOWED BY LAW EVERY SINGLE YEAR (5% or the cost of inflation, whichever is less), so already they should have plenty of tax dollars to meet ordinary needs. This referendum would merely allow them to tax you more beyond the tax cap.

What about improvements like security that were unforeseen years ago (before school shootings) that fall outside of the scope of the ordinary Capital Projects Fund? An argument may be made for a limited, much, much smaller bond referendum, but that suggestion for an “Option D”—to bond a much smaller amount for security and special ed improvements while also reducing the tax burden significantly—would not be entertained by the district.

For all of these reasons and more, we urge you to vote “No” to this $140 million referendum.

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$140,000,000 School Referendum

Tomorrow night, Tuesday, July 19, 7:00pm, the Batavia School Board will vote to put a referendum on the Nov. ballot, “to build and equip a new H.C. Storm School and a new Louise White School and demolish the existing buildings, and alter, repair, equip and improve its other school facilities, including but not limited to installing student safety and security enhancements and improving roofs, floors, windows, HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems, and improve the sites thereof (the “Project”) at an estimated cost of $140,000,000“. 

Also on the agenda is the tentative budget for the next school year. It looks like a 2% increase at the moment, but given the Board’s history of taxing to the max every year and the current sky high inflation, that number may go up (to a maximum 5% increase or CPI, whichever is lower).

Attend the meeting if you can. More info here:  https://go.boarddocs.com/il/bps101/Board.nsf/Public

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Library Remodeling?

Thursday, July 7, 6:30pm, the Batavia Library Committee of the Whole has on its agenda:

  1. Remodeling Project, Phase One: Master Plan / Concept Design
    a. Options for Master Plan / Concept Design, presented by Donald J. McKay, Principal, and Amy
    Schmieding, Associate, Sheehan Nagle Hartray Architects Ltd.
    b. Remodeling Project, Phase One: Master Plan / Concept Design (Sheehan Nagle Hartray Architects Ltd.) (Standing Committee on Facilities) (DISCUSSION and/or ACTION ITEM) {VOICE VOTE}

What is this ”Remodeling Project”? Is this part of the ”maintain and repair” a narrow majority voted for in 2018 (passed by 58 votes—6169 to 6111)? Go to the meeting tomorrow or tune in via Zoom and find out. Meeting info here: https://bataviapubliclibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/2022/07/Agenda-2022-07-07-Committee-of-the-Whole-1.pdf

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BPS Master Facilities Plan, Finances

Thursday, 2/24, 6:30-8:30pm, is Session 2 of the school district’s community engagement for a Master Facilities Plan. Topic: Finances. Review of Session 1 and info on Session 2 can be found here:  https://www.bps101.net/boft/community-engagement/

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BPS Master Facilities Plan

Starting tomorrow night, Tuesday, 2/1/22, 6:30pm, the School District will begin holding meetings regarding a Master Facilities Plan. More details here: https://www.bps101.net/boft/community-engagement/

Please try to attend. They are likely gearing up for a referendum because the $75 million BFAC/fieldhouse bonds are set to be paid off in a few years.

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SHODEEN PROJECT IS DEAD!

Shodeen pulled out of the agreement for the massive 1 N. Washington apartment complex downtown:

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BPS Health Insurance Plans

Tonight’s School Board meeting agenda includes approval of their health insurance contract. A screenshot from the agenda of their plan numbers with dollar amounts added for the % contributions and the deductibles can be found here.

Is this what your health insurance plan looks like? Do you have a $625 deductible? If you think this is overly generous, please email the school board and ask them to bring their benefits in line with the private sector and reduce your taxes. You can email them using the button at right.

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BPS101 Budget Public Hearing Tonight

The School Board is holding a public hearing for their 2021-22 budget TONIGHT (8/24) 7pm. Excepts of letter sent to School Board by a founding BRG member:

“Another Great budget with lots of specificity and clarity.  Another KUDOs to everyone involved.

One page 6, I assume the predicted inflation for the next year of around 6 % accounts for the expenditure increases below?

l  Expenditures (Sections B-6 and B-7)

l  Expenditures +9.4% to $102.8 M (excluding on-behalf contributions)

l  Salaries +5.4%, $48.6 M

l  Employee benefits +5.1%, $13.1 M

General contingency of $0.5 M….

Although it lists staffing ratio as unchanged, in the very next section it shows a change from 7.6 to 7.9?     ????

Please don’t issue any more Bonds, it’s nice the bond debt is going down.   (7.6 % is debt service now)

Looks like Benefits, 26.6 %, is catching up as a percentage to Salaries, 40.9 %   Any discussion of why the high ratio of Benefits to Salaries???

Having said that, I’m pleased to see Administration costs are being held at 0.3 percent, well below predicted inflation for the next 12 months.  Also, I recognize Admin works year round and whatever the salaries are, including Lisa, Anton, and many others, taxpayers are getting their benefit for the buck.

Pupil transportation is going up because we didn’t run as many buses during COVID?

I see my favorite, BFAC, is going up 188%, even considering last year COVID, we’ll never agree on BFAC budget, having said that, I’d like to see more “Pay as you go” programs with less taxpayer support.

And I LIKE all the pie charts and bar graphs, as well as the numbers, not too fancy, but good visual presentation of information.”

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Dam, Shodeen

Tuesday night’s COW (8/24) will have more discussion of the Shodeen project. Last week, Shodeen had not yet secured funding, but has since done so.  BUT, the bank wants a letter of support from the Council saying he is not in breach of contract, though he is in breach of contract. Some aldermen are balking. We’ll see what happens Tuesday night. A story on last week’s meeting can be found here, and one on the funding, here.

Wednesday night (8/25) there is a public meeting regarding the dam. Info sent to B4RG:


“As you may know, the city and park district will soon seek reaction from residents to five options for removing the Challenge Dam. The city had been working with Hitchcock Design Group to formulate the options but thus far there has been little opportunity for public engagement.


A group of residents has organized a public meeting on the subject this Wednesday, August 25th at 7pm in the City Council Chambers. 


Please feel free to share and join us if you are available.”

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Shodeen: Never Ending Drama

Tuesday night, 8/17, agenda item 6: “ Discussion: Update On One Washington Place”. What does this mean? We don’t know—there is no accompanying document. What we do know is that Shodeen failed to apply for permits by his contracted deadline, July 15.

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