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To the editor:
Chester-East Lincoln School is looking
at spending $3.7 million to alter, repair and equip the school
building. I believe that the voters of the district have the right
to approve or disapprove this large an expenditure. The school board
approved to amend health, life and safety for $1.751 million.
According to state law the district is allowed to sell health, life
and safety bonds without voter approval. The board also approved to
sell an additional $1.8 million in alternate revenue bonds. The
selling of bonds is the borrowing of money to finance a project.
Both bond issues are for a 20-year period.
The alternate revenue bond petition for $1.8 million is being filed
to give the voters of the Chester-East Lincoln school district the
opportunity to approve or reject a portion of the work being
proposed. At this point, this is the only opportunity for all
registered voters in Chester-East Lincoln school district to have a
voice in the project. The referendum will be placed on the April 9
ballot at the same time that six school board members will be
Ten years ago Chester-East Lincoln School was in
financial trouble, and I had been elected to the school board two
years earlier. I was president of the board of education that had to
pass an educational referendum. At that time we told the taxpayers
that if the referendum would pass, we would discontinue the selling
of alternate revenue bonds, which in turn would lower their property
tax rates. Unfortunately, there have been needed repairs to the roof
and boiler during the last six years, so the bonds have been
continually renewed to finance those projects. These bonds will be
paid off in 2013.
Fund balances have been replenished over the last several years
due to conservative spending. The 1-cent sales tax was passed,
allowing the school to have the money to make needed building
repairs. The school has no major compliance issues with health, life
and safety at this time. It is important to make upgrades to the
building when you have the funds available. But why does the school
need to borrow money for 20 years and spend $3.7 million to alter,
repair and equip the school building, especially as the state of
Illinois continues to cut funding for schools?
I was not alone in collecting signatures for the bond petition.
In fact, people were approaching us to sign. There were people who
volunteered to collect signatures without being asked. We had 286
signatures by Friday, with more wanting to sign. We only needed 200
signatures. People are concerned about this project and the school
with the comments that have been heard. Unfortunately, it is not
always convenient for people to attend meetings to voice their
Of the school board members who voted to approve this bond sale,
only three were elected by the voters. Since the 2011 election, the
remaining board members were appointed by the existing school board
members. I believe there are 11 people running for six open seats on
the school board in April. Does this not speak volumes?
[to top of second column in this letter]
The bond petition will be filed on Monday, putting it on the
ballot for the April 9 election. If it were filed after Jan. 7, it
would not be on the ballot until March of 2014. We did not feel that
it would be fair to the voters or the school district to wait until
2014 for a vote. Again, at this point, this is the only opportunity
for all registered voters in Chester-East Lincoln School district to
have a voice.
The petition that will go to the district voters reads as
We the undersigned,
being registered voters of Community Consolidated School District
Number 61, Logan and DeWitt Counties, Illinois, do herby petition
you to cause the following question to be submitted to the voters of
said School District: "Shall Chester-East Lincoln Community
Consolidated School District Number 61, Logan and DeWitt Counties,
Illinois, be authorized to issue $1,800,000 general obligation
alternate bonds of said School District to alter, repair and equip
the Chester-East Lincoln Elementary School building, as provided for
by the resolution adopted by the Board of Education of said School
District on the 18th Day of December 2012, said bonds being payable
from (i) funds lawfully available in the Operations and Maintenance
Fund of said School District, and (ii) collections distributed to
said School District from those taxes imposed by The County of
Logan, Illinois, pursuant to the County School Facility Occupation
Tax Law of the State of Illinois, as amended, unless said revenue
sources are insufficient to pay said bonds, in which case ad valorem
property taxes upon all taxable property in said School District
without limitation as to rate or amount are authorized to be
extended for such purpose?", and we do herby further request that
said question be certified to the County Clerks of The Counties of
Logan and DeWitt, Illinois and submitted to the electors of said
School District at the next election at which said proposition
lawfully may be submitted to said voters.
January 07, 2013]
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