SD113A Planning for the Future

 

Addressing Needs in Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A

District 113A is growing. While this growth is a good thing, it has led to overcrowding and space challenges that increase with enrollment each year. 

Currently, the average class size in our district is well above the state average of 22. Through the District strategic planning process in 2017 as well as feedback through platforms such as ThoughtExchange, large class sizes have been identified as an area of improvement for the District. Nationally, parents have also cited class size as a concern just behind school safety. Considering the amount of developable land in the community, growth will likely continue over the next decade, creating even greater capacity challenges in our schools. 

We also must expand learning opportunities at the earliest level. Unlike most other school districts in our area, we do not provide full-day kindergarten, which research has shown can have positive impacts throughout a child's academic career. 

Starting from a strong financial position

Over the past several years, the board and district leaders have worked diligently to place the district in an exceptional financial position. As a result of making key decisions, extensive planning and working together, the district weathered significant financial challenges a decade ago. 

Due to the district’s work over the last 10 years and a commitment to being fiscally responsible through efficient planning and monitoring, the district is in good financial shape. In the past seven years, the district has maintained a perfect Financial Profile Score from the Illinois State Board of Education. We also upgraded our bond rating in 2018.

We want your input!

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Education conducted an engagement session via Thoughtexchange. Parents and community members expressed concerns about large class sizes and the lack of space in the district’s schools. 

Additionally, since May 2017, a group of board members, administrators, teachers and parents have been engaged in strategic planning to help identify the district’s most pressing needs.  See a timeline of events and discussions.

We're committed to continuing our engagement efforts to ensure all community members have the opportunity to consider the district’s needs and find an appropriate solution!

Will there be opportunities to learn more and ask questions about the referendum? 

Yes.  We have scheduled 4 information sessions both in person and virtual to connect with the community and answer questions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to frequently asked questions regarding the school district’s needs and the process being used to develop a sound solution. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

What are District 113A's needs?

The District 113A community has experienced significant growth in recent years. While this growth is a good thing, it has led to some pressing space and capacity challenges in our schools. As enrollment increases each year, these challenges become even greater. With time, they will negatively affect the level of quality education we can provide to students. 

Currently, the average class size in our district is well above the state average of 22. Through the District strategic planning process in 2017 as well as feedback through platforms such as ThoughtExchange, large class sizes have been identified as an area of improvement for the District. Nationally, parents have also cited class size as a concern just behind school safety. Considering the amount of developable land in the community, growth will likely continue over the next decade, creating even greater capacity challenges in our schools. 

We also look to expand learning opportunities at the earliest level. Unlike most other school districts in our area, we do not provide full-day kindergarten, which can negatively affect student performance throughout their academic careers and makes our district less competitive.

Why does the district have these needs?

The district's space and capacity needs are closely related to the recent growth we have experienced in the community over the past several years. 

Additionally, while half-day kindergarten was common years ago, most school districts in our area now offer full-day kindergarten. Although our staff and teachers do an amazing job of delivering a quality half-day experience, the current program does not provide the same advantages as a full-day program.

What does the district's enrollment increase look like?

Enrollment Chart

What would happen if the district did not address these needs in the near future?

If the district and board do not act soon to address the district's space and capacity needs, we will continue to see increasing class sizes and a lack of available space for instruction and learning. This, in turn, will negatively affect our ability to provide students with a high-quality educational experience.

Offering full-day kindergarten will also help contribute to maintaining strong home values in our community. 

Why should the district offer full-day kindergarten?

Full-day kindergarten can lead to increased academic benefits for students throughout their K-12 academic careers and beyond. It also leads to better social-emotional skills, fewer achievement gaps and the improved retention of learning. This article is a good synopsis of the impacts of full-day kindergarten and provides numerous links to various research studies on the topic. 

Furthermore, families with young children tend to look carefully at the quality of the local schools when choosing new homes to purchase. From a survey of school districts in our South Cook region, almost 90% already offer full-day kindergarten programs. Offering full-day kindergarten would make District 113A more attractive to families, benefiting the entire Lemont-Bromberek community.

Why can't the district reduce expenses in other areas to provide full-day kindergarten?

Over the past several years, the board and district leaders have worked diligently to place the district in an exceptional financial position. The district makes the most out of every dollar taxpayers invest into its schools.

To that end, reallocating existing funds to a full-day kindergarten program would negatively impact other areas and grade levels of our district. We would also need five to six additional staff members and more space than we currently have to offer a full-day program. While we believe having full-day kindergarten is critically important, it should not come at the expense of other students' opportunities. 

If the referendum passes, what is the timeline for reopening Central School and implmenting full day kindergarten?

Should the referendum pass the renovation and updating of Central School would likely take the majority of next school year.  This would mean Central would open for students to start the 2022-2023 school year.  Since Central School is key to opening up more space in the District, the start of the 2022-2023 school year would also be the earliest we could implement full day kindergarten. 

Will the class sizes go down across the District, including Old Quarry?

Yes. The referendum is meant to add staff to reduce class sizes across the entire District, including Old Quarry.  

How can community members provide input and ask questions about the district's needs and potential solutions?

The District 113A board and administrators encourage all community members to take part in the process to examine the district's needs and determine the best possible solutions. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board conducted an engagement session via Thoughtexchange. Parents and community members expressed concerns about large class sizes and the lack of space in the district’s schools. We are committed to continuing our engagement efforts to ensure all community members have the opportunity to consider the district’s needs and find an appropriate solution.

Additionally, since May 2017, a group of board members, administrators, teachers and parents have been engaged in strategic planning to help identify the district’s most pressing needs.

Four information sessions have been scheduled both in person and virtual to connect with the community and answer questions. 

How much does it cost to hire a new teacher in the district?

A new teacher with no prior educational experience and a bachelor’s degree would begin in District 113A at a salary level known as BA-1. The projected total of a BA-1 employee, including salary and benefits for the 2022-23 school year, is approximately $58,000. The projected average salary and benefits for a District 113A teacher in the 2022-23 school year is $83,700. 

It is somewhat difficult to project what the average salary of newly hired teachers would be should the district reduce class sizes and add full-day kindergarten. However, it is likely to fall somewhere within the range of the new teacher salary and the average salary. This would mean we would be hiring a mix of candidates with varying levels of experience. When thinking about bringing in a significant number of new teachers, the district would prefer that some of those educators have experience. 

Therefore, for the purposes of our projections and estimates, we propose to estimate costs based on the midpoint between a teacher with zero experience and a bachelor's degree and our average salary and benefits. This amount would be approximately $71,000, inclusive of salary and benefits and anticipating single coverage for healthcare. 

This number of $71,000 (salary and benefits) as an estimate for hiring new teachers is used in all district projections for the next five years.

What will the district’s staffing needs look like over the next five years?

Over the past several years, the district has continued to grow. Each year, additional staff members are needed to meet the demands of this growth. Over the next five years, we project enrollment to continue to increase and anticipate staffing to meet those needs. 

Will the community get to vote on a solution to the district's needs?

The Board of Education voted on August 10 to place a referendum question on the November 3, 2020, general election ballot for the community's consideration. 

How would an approved referendum affect local property taxes?

An approved referendum would NOT lead to an overall property tax increase. Although the board is proposing a $0.29 operating rate increase, the district is making its final bond payment for prior captial expenditures next year, providing a unique opportunity for taxpayers and the district to share in the savings. Therefore, if the referendum is approved at an operating increase of $0.29, taxpayers would see a net decrease of approximately 6.80% in the District 113A portion of their tax bill.    

If the referendum is approved, how much will property taxes decrease?

Tax chart

If the referendum does not pass, will taxes decrease?

Yes, property taxes would decrease more than 6.8 percent if the referendum does not pass on November 3.  However, District 113A also would not receive the funds necessary to address its most pressing needs related to the recent growth we have experienced in the community over the past several years.

If the referendum is not approved, how much will property taxes decrease?

How much additional revenue would the referendum provide to the district?

If approved on November 3, 2020, the referendum would provide the district with an additional $3.5 million in revenue on a yearly basis. 

How would the district use the funds generated through the referendum?

If the November referendum is approved, the district would use the increased funds for the following:

  • Reopening Central School to provide more space for students
  • Additional operating costs for the reopened Central School
  • Adding full-day kindergarten
  • Reducing class sizes throughout the district
  • Adding teachers and staff to reduce class sizes and meet the needs of increasing enrollment
  • Providing additional classroom materials, such as teacher guides, manipulatives and other curricular materials
  • Adding administrative support
  • Enhancing student safety and security
  • Covering bond and interest payments for the reopening of Central School
  • Providing additional student support services, including psychologists, social workers or guidance counselors

The board has determined that this is the optimal time to act, considering the district is on the verge of paying off debt and it can accomplish a potential operating rate increase without raising property taxes. 

When is election day and where can I vote?

Election day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Registered voters may cast their ballots at their usual polling location. 

To request a mail-in ballot, visit https://elections.il.gov/electionoperations/VotingByMail.aspx

What is the question that will appear on the ballot?

The Board of Education took action at a special meeting on August 10 to approve the following question for the community’s consideration on Tuesday, November 3: 

Shall the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A, Cook and DuPage Counties, Illinois be increased by an additional amount equal to 0.290% above the limiting rate for school purposes for levy year 2019 and be equal to 2.124% of the equalized assessed value of the taxable property therein for levy year 2020?

o   Yes

o   No 

(1)       The approximate amount of taxes extendable at the most recently extended limiting rate is $22,112,851 and the approximate amount of taxes extendable if the proposition is approved is $25,609,431.

(2)       For the 2020 levy year the approximate amount of the additional tax extendable against property containing a single-family residence and having a fair market value at the time of the referendum of $100,000 is estimated to be $96.57 for DuPage County and $84.56 for Cook County.

(3)       If the proposition is approved, the aggregate extension for 2020 will be determined by the limiting rate set forth in the proposition, rather than the otherwise applicable limiting rate calculated under the provisions of the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (commonly known as the Property Tax Cap Law).