EAST DUBUQUE, Ill. — The East Dubuque school board on Wednesday signed off on ballot language for a second crack at a multi-million-dollar bond measure to cover costs of consolidating the district into one campus.
A previous bond campaign failed in April, with only 44% of voters casting ballots in favor. School officials said it was immediately clear that the $12 million price tag was a big part of the problem.
This time around, voters on March 17 will be asked to sign off on the issuance of $10.5 million in bonds to add onto the existing middle and high school campus to replace the aging, currently separate elementary school.
“We understood people thought ($12 million) was outside their comfort zone, so we backed that off as much as we could, knowing that there are going to be opportunities for outside funds,” said superintendent T.J. Potts.
He said the overall project cost is the same as when the district asked for $12 million. But the district plans to match bond revenue with $5.5 million through revenue from a 1% sales tax increment.
Board Member Dan Dalberg — not trusting the State of Illinois to come through with grants even if they are promised — asked if $10.5 million was too low for the project to work. Potts said it wasn’t, adding that outside funding is expected to drop the tax burden significantly further.
“It’s our hope that we won’t need to bond for nearly what we’re asking for,” he said. “But unable to know that, I didn’t feel comfortable going under $10.5 million.”
The project involves installation of many safety and security features lacking at the current elementary school. Dalberg wanted some of that language in the ballot question.
Board Chairman Glen Foote said that was a decent point, saying the details might “trigger” a response in voters.
“For people who don’t see the information and go to the ballot, seeing that might make them think,” he said.
Board members voted 6-0 — with David Sendt absent — to add “safe and secure” to the description of the “single campus.”
The goal is to educate the public before voters get to the polls. An informational committee already has held multiple open houses.
“We went business to business downtown,” said Christina Schauer, a member of the outreach subcommittee. “If you don’t have kids in the district, you might not know about the serious needs we have.”