MINOOKA – On Nov. 6, those living within Minooka Community Consolidated School District 201 will vote for the second time on a referendum which the district said was brought to voters due to overcrowded schools.
On March 6, the majority was against the $90 million referendum, which included a new intermediate school, a new elementary school and additions to two elementary schools. The Nov. 6 ballot will propose a $50 million referendum for the intermediate school only, which, if passed, will be built in Shorewood, off of Seil Road.
At the September board of education meeting, Superintendent Kris Monn talked about how difficult it was to get information out to the public and not just families in the district. He arranged an informational night on Oct. 9 and another for Nov. 1 at Minooka Intermediate School.
When structuring the debt, Monn explained they assumed a district valuation growth rate of 5 percent. Over the last 20 years, the district has been over 7 percent, and the last three to four years, the district has been over 6.5 percent. At a growth rate of 5 percent, the district would be able to keep the tax rate stable.
“We do not project any tax rate increase due to this referendum because we are targeting a stable tax rate, but if growth is less than our projection of 5 percent, the tax rate would rise slightly as indicated,” Monn said.
Monn said there were bonds issued in 1998 for additions to Minooka Junior High School, and in 2003 for Aux Sable and Walnut Trails elementary schools. A 2008 referendum passed to build Jones Elementary and Minooka Intermediate School, and an addition to Minooka Elementary School.
In 2017, due to state funding uncertainty and the threat of a state-wide property tax freeze, the district issued working cash bonds to replenish reserves and give the district flexibility. Monn said that was a four-year payback.
John Krenkel, who is against the referendum, felt the district displayed bad financial management. He believes home values will decline.
The push for the referendum is due to the increase in class sizes. The fifth- and sixth-grade classes are the largest in the district with 533 and 560. In 2011 and 2012, those classes were 420 and 424 students, respectively.
Minooka Junior High School Principal Sarah Massey said that with the large class coming next year, they have looked into early or late lunch periods and opening up part of an adjacent gym for lunch space. The school already staggers dismissal times from classes and at the end of the school day.
Massey said she fears teachers will leave because of the large class size. Some teachers do not have class space, so they use a cart to come into a classroom and some rooms have added tables instead of desks.