O’FALLON – Administrators with all four local school districts outlined the plans their respective Boards of Education have for the revenue that would be generated if a proposed sales tax increase for schools is approved by voters at a public meeting last week.
The meeting, which was the second community engagement session, was designed as a way to open a dialogue between the public and the school districts to see if there is even an interest in placing a possible sales tax increase on the November 2016 ballot. A proposed countywide one percent sales tax increase will be used by school districts to help pay for construction and facilities.
District 203 Superintendent Darcy Benway told the assembled crowd of nearly 70 residents, teachers, and school district employees that OTHS would receive nearly $1.3 million per year from the tax. Benway said the district would commit half of that revenue to property tax relief through debt abatement while the other half would be used to fund facility needs.
“OTHS Smiley was built in 1958 and it needs some major help,” Benway said.
District 90 Superintendent Carrie Hruby said the district would apply 60 to 70 percent to property tax relief and use the remaining 40 to 30 percent for safety and security.
“We’d like to implement more security measures, such as keycard entry at schools,” Hruby said. Hruby also said the district would like to upgrade and increase the number of security cameras both inside and outside of school buildings, as well as upgrade fire alarm panels and intruder alarm systems.
District 104 Superintendent John Bute said his district would apply 75 percent of the generated revenue towards paying off Qualified Zone Academy Bonds that were used to repurpose building space. Currently the district has a balance of more than $3.5 million left to pay. Bute said the remaining 25 percent would be used to deal with current facility needs.
Bute also said the district is discussing a possible referendum for building expansion. He said the district is looking at a second phase of construction at Joseph Arthur Middle School, which would include a full size gym, additional classrooms, and a larger cafeteria. They are also looking to expand Central Elementary School with additional classrooms.
District 85 Superintendent Dale Sauer said his district would commit 50 percent to property tax relief through debt abatement while the other half would be applied to facility needs.
Sauer explained that Shiloh Elementary School was built in 1956 and is in need of many repairs. The elementary school would receive variety of improvements to the windows, roof, floors, gym, and HVAC system. Additionally, the district would replace failing water heaters, resurface the synthetic athletic track, and reseal the parking lot at Shiloh Middle School.
The third engagement session is scheduled for April 28 at 7 p.m. at Shiloh Elementary School.