A bond for the projects would be put to an October 2009 public referendum, and the board discussed the possibility of a $30 million bond, which is a tentative figure, to be paid off over 15 years. Such a scenario would present $716,000 per year in interest that would result in a one-time 2 percent tax increase.
Those numbers can fluctuate, however, and the actual bond will depend on what projects the district decides to pursue. The five-year renovation plan budget has increased in size with every iteration since its 1978, $870,000 introduction. In 2003, just under $16 million was appropriated. The coming bond was already pushed back from 2008.
According to district spokeswoman Christy Multer, changes in the state aid rules would make it difficult for the district to finance projects out of pocket. "We've been fortunate in that up to now we've been able to do most of our renovations by phasing in new debt as old debt was retired," she said. Especially when considering a possible property tax cap, however, that scenario is unlikely.
The board discussed how the district approaches infrastructure improvement in general.
"These bonds are really an opportunity to do a good job somewhere," said board member Timothy Kelliher, but he added that the district can't fix everything across the board. "I would much rather see us do fewer projects that are first-class projects than sprinkle it around and get a so-so result."
The Board of Education also reviewed the current year's class size statistics at their Sept. 23 meeting. 2008-2009 enrollment is consistent with last year's numbers.
There was some concern about the third-grade class size at Stevens Elementary. At 102 students, it is larger than the third grades at Charlton Heights or Pashley, which have 87 and 52 pupils, respectively. Accordingly, the class sizes in the third grade are slightly larger at Stevens, and some staff was added.