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Mundelein School Board places building referendum on April ballot

January 11, 2023 12:16 PM

The District 120 Board of Education on Tuesday voted to place a capital improvements referendum on the April 4, 2023 ballot.

The Board is asking voters to support a $175 million project to renovate and expand areas of Mundelein High School. With $50 million already set aside, District  120 leaders are hoping to spend a total of $225 million on improvements to a 60-year-old building.

The key priorities of the project include increasing programming spaces for performing arts and athletics and renovating food services areas - all areas that date back to the school’s opening in 1961.

“We are limited in these areas and it creates scheduling problems for both faculty and students,” said Superintendent Kevin Myers. “ We don’t have the right kind of space for a variety of purposes and we need to keep pace with our growth.”

The current auditorium, main gym and cafeteria are original construction elements in a building designed for 1,500 students at a time when there were 10 sanctioned boys sports and only two girls sports. Today, MHS has more than 2,200 students and offers 32 state-sanctioned sports.

Limited food service/cafeteria space leads to four lunch periods for students stretching from 10:15 a.m. to 1:40 p.m. on a typical school day. Sports teams regularly share practice spaces, pushing many practice sessions for student-athletes deep into the evening hours.

The School Board updated its five-year-old facilities plan this fall, studied the facilities at area high schools, and listed a number of assumptions of what was needed at MHS.

These assumptions included: increased multi-purpose space throughout; expanded cafeteria space; expanded performing arts spaces; expanded physical education/athletic spaces; enhanced/expanded Career and Technical Education; expanded Transition Center space; consideration of mental health and wellness; and improved building performance. The plan will also increase multi-purpose space throughout the school and increase commons areas.

The Board hired an engineering firm and an architectural firm to better understand the possibilities and the associated costs. In December, the district surveyed the community to help the Board understand the community perspective. The research indicated a high level of community support for the district.

A successful referendum would mean a tax increase for District 120 property owners. But because of how the bonds will be scheduled, the tax rate increase will be phased-in during the first three years with less of an impact during the initial two years. Depending on the value of a home, the approximate impact would be as follows:

  • $100,000 home: $95 increase in the first year; $160 in the second; and $215 in the third year.
  • $200,000 home: $210 increase in the first year; $360 in the second; and $450 in the third year.
  • $300,000 home: $320 increase in the first year; $550 in the second; and $690 in the third year.

Those numbers could possible decrease slightly in future years, if the overall property value in District 120 increases.

The vote to place a referendum on the ballot comes just weeks after the Village of Mundelein discussed a development plan on the north side of Mundelein that is expected to bring thousands of new homes to the community over the next two decades.

Complete information is available on the MHS website.

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