Funds will Support Major Projects in the District and Savings for Taxpayers
Students at the four schools of Bremen High School District 228 will benefit greatly from exciting improvements planned thanks to a $50 million federal Qualified School Construction Bond program.
District 228 is one of only 29 districts in the state of Illinois to have qualified for the bond. Even more exciting is it is one of only three districts to receive the maximum request amount of $50 million.
The Illinois State Board of Education had reviewed a total of 193 applications seeking a total $2.4 billion in bond approval earlier this year.
School District 228, as one of the 29 selected, will be able to issue low-to-zero interest bonds through the program. Those bonds will fund an ambitious and sweeping seven-year capital improvement plan designed to improve and enhance the lives of more than 5,000 students who attend Bremen, Tinley Park, Hillcrest, and Oak Forest High Schools.
“I am so proud that District 228 is one of the very few districts in Illinois that has the opportunity to use this money towards improving the overall quality of our four schools. This couldn’t have been possible without years of incredible fiscal responsibility, and I commend the Board of Education, Administration and staff on all of their efforts,” said District 228 Superintendent Dr. Bill Kendall.
At its meeting on August 16, the Board of Education presented and approved a seven-year capital improvement plan. Year one is already underway. It focuses on water draining and detention at each campus, along with eventual installation of Field Turf at each of the four stadiums. The turf will allow physical education classes, marching bands, soccer and football teams the ability to use the field as much as possible.
Other projects at each school in the long-range plan include field house installations; ancillary space for weight rooms and training rooms; additional classrooms and storage, remodeling of cafeterias and kitchens, as well as adding digital signage.
Other projects include new roofs for Bremen and Hillcrest; new light poles at the Tinley Park, Hillcrest and Oak Forest stadiums; parking lot improvements at Tinley Park; a new gym floor at Oak Forest; band room expansions at Bremen and Tinley Park; and an expanded cafeteria at Bremen.
Civil engineers have completed topographical studies at each campus. Those studies gave the district more insight on how to best improve each campus. The seven-year plan will be reviewed and updated annually based on the overall financial forecast for the school district.
The district’s projected budget for the work is $74 million. The bonds will be paid off over 25 years and the debt service will be restructured to save costs for taxpayers.
The district is expected to receive a projected $44.5 million in federal funds over the next 25 years under this plan. The funding can be used to pay for capital improvements and strengthen the district’s financial condition.
Also, the annual burden to taxpayers is projected to decrease by approximately $5 million. The annual tax burden on residents is projected to decrease by $115 for the owner of a home valued at $100,000, $170 for the owner of a $150,000 home, and $230 for the owner of a $200,000, according to estimates.
In more good news for residents, State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith said: “No state dollars are being spent and local taxpayers will not have to help foot the bill for high interest costs.”
District 228 School Board President Debi Stearns is thrilled by what this means for the students, parents and taxpayers.
“In a day when many school districts are paralyzed by continuous cuts in funding, District 228 is happy to improve the schools for the students, along with easing the tax burden on our residents. This is yet another example of the fine leadership provided by Supt. Kendall and the School District 228 administration,” Board President Stearns said.
The Board of Education in October will adopt a resolution for the sale of construction bonds. In November, the Board will have a public hearing for the notice of intent to issue bonds. And in December, the Board will set a date for the closure of the bonds sale.
The bond program was created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It is a source of limited financial bounding for school districts to fund the rehab or repair of existing facilities, construction of new facilities, equipment associated with repair or construction, or for land acquisition.
Located in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, Bremen Community High School District 228 is comprised of 29-square miles in Bremen Township and serves the communities of Midlothian, Posen, Tinley Park, Markham, Hazel Crest, Country Club Hills, and Oak Forest. Bremen District 228 serves more than 5,000 students and employs 613 full- and part-time staff members. Bremen High School, in Midlothian, opened its doors to students in September 1953. Since then, as the suburbs grew, District 228 opened three additional schools. Tinley Park High School opened in 1961; Hillcrest High School, in Country Club Hills, opened in 1967; and Oak Forest High School opened in 1970.
For additional information about District 228, visit the district’s website at bhsd228.schoolwires.net.