What is the Facility Vision Plan?
The Williamsville-Sherman School District and the Facility Vision Committee have been working to develop a plan that will improve every school building and improve the educational environment for every student. Members of the committee and district administrators met over the past two years to review educational improvements needed to ensure district buildings continue to support student learning. The result of this work is the Facility Vision Plan that will establish district facilities for the next 50-75 years at a ZERO Tax Rate change opportunity.
What improvements are included in the Facility Vision Plan?
The facility improvements in the Facility Vision Plan include upgrades to all buildings in the district. The plan’s improvements will continue to keep Williamsville-Sherman schools among the best in the state, improve student safety, and provide our children with educational opportunities to assure success after graduation.
How do we finance the Facility Vision Plan?
The plan will be funded by revenue generated from three sources – local property taxes, revenue from the newly-approved 1-cent county sales tax, and the Legislative Capital Bill funding grant.
Will my tax rate change?
No. This is a ZERO Tax Rate change opportunity. The goal of the school district and Board of Education is to complete these facility improvements with no change to the district’s current property tax rate. The WCUSD#15 Board of Education is not asking for more property tax revenue from the local taxpayers.
Will this be a permanent tax rate?
No, this is not a limiting rate increase and a facility bond will not be a permanent tax. Under Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL TAX CAPS), when our Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) increases the district property tax rate decreases. The school facility plan bonding options are for 20-25 years. Most schools bond for 25 years with Legislative approval.
How can the district complete the Facility Vision Plan and not change the tax rate?
Debt from past bond proposals to improve Williamsville-Sherman schools is now being retired. The same tax rate used to retire this previous debt can now be used for additional improvements without increasing the overall tax rate collected by the district.
Didn’t Sangamon County voters approve a tax increase to help schools?
Yes. Sangamon County voters approved a one-cent sales tax last year. One of the reasons our district can make these important improvements to our schools with the property tax rate remaining the same is that we now receive revenue from the sales tax. Williamsville-Sherman School District now has access to an estimated $1,000,000 retail sales tax revenue to help support facility improvements and maintenance in the district.
How is the district currently utilizing the Sangamon County Sales Tax revenue?
As promised to the local taxpayers, the district is using the revenue towards the past 15 years of deferred facility maintenance and to enhance school security and student safety. District roofs and HVAC systems have been replaced, restored, and repaired. The district has invested over $350,000 in school security.
What happens to my property taxes if the district's facility improvement referendum fails?
The school district portion of your tax bill will be less, and the school district will not have the funding opportunities to improve facilities and increase educational opportunities for our students. With a referendum, other taxing bodies would have the opportunity to capture this tax rate and increase their local tax extensions. Any future consideration for district facility improvements would be an increase in property taxes. Now is the time for a Zero Tax Rate Change Opportunity. The Board of Education is not asking for more.
Beyond improving the schools, how will the improvements impact our community?
As well as matching many of the surrounding Sangamon County Schools current upgrades and additions, improving Williamsville-Sherman schools helps to keep our communities and neighborhoods strong while helping our property values grow. Numerous studies have found a strong correlation between quality schools and property values. People move to our communities because of our schools. GREAT SCHOOLS = GREAT COMMUNITIES
What are the district’s facility deficiencies in our buildings?
The district’s facility program and space deficiencies are:
- Sherman Elementary: Outdated learning environments in the kindergarten and pre-kindergarten wings (1952 section of SES); Lack of gymnasium space for student instruction; Lack of outdoor play and parking areas
- WJHS: Outdated learning environments in the 5th grade building and 6th grade wing; Lack of school security with students going outside between WMS and WJHS
- WHS: Outdated kitchen and cafeteria services; Lack of a Fine Arts facility; Lack of Science and STEM opportunities; Outdated learning environments in band room, chorus room, locker rooms, science rooms, and athletic training facilities
Does the Facility Vision Plan improve all district buildings?
Yes. The Facility Vision Plan includes:
- Enhance school security and student safety in all district buildings
- Sherman Elementary - upgrades to the elementary school pre-K and kindergarten wings, new play area paving, gymnasium addition, parking addition and paving upgrades
- Middle School/Junior High - demolition of the middle school, eight new classrooms at WJHS, remodel of 6th grade wing including bathroom additions and paving upgrades
- High School – four new classrooms (including two STEM labs), upgrades to kitchen and cafeteria, new 600 seat auditorium, new band and choral rooms, theater improvements including dressing and storage rooms, new field house with indoor track, four full-sized courts and locker rooms, improvements to athletic facilities including remodeled locker rooms, new weight room in former band and choral rooms, renovations to bleachers, press box and concessions, a new greenhouse and upgraded paving
Why does the plan include demolition of the middle school?
Due to the cost and estimated expenses for repairs to WMS, the Board of Education decided it was a better fiscal decision using taxpayer’s money to invest in an eight-classroom addition to WJHS than spend an estimated $900,000 for the middle school upgrades. Moving the 5th grade students under one roof at WJHS will provided enhanced student security & safety, educational & instructional opportunities, and be financially positive for the district.
Will this Facility Vision Plan accommodate future student growth and enrollment increases?
Yes. At the current district enrollment, the recommended district’s facility additions and upgrades would allow for district enrollment to increase for the next 20-30 years without considering expanding facilities.
Is the district prepared for the potential increase in operating costs?
Yes. The Board of Education has taken into consideration the potential increase in operating costs with the facility additions. The Board of Education is increasing energy saving measures and improving the efficiency of the current HVAC systems. The proposed facility additions will have more efficient HVAC, lighting, and energy saving systems. The district is planning to receive additional operating fund revenue when the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) areas expire in 2021. The Board of Education is not asking more from the taxpayer.
With this Facility Vision Plan, the community has the opportunity to better our communities, increase school security, create programs and student opportunities, invest in kids, and improve our district’s facilities for the next 50-75 years at no additional cost to the taxpayer?
Yes, that is correct! The WCUSD#15 Board of Education is not asking for more.
When will residents vote to approve the Facility Vision Plan?
A final election date is March 17, 2020.
Who do I contact with additional questions?
Please feel free to contact Mr. Tip Reedy, WCUSD#15 Superintendent, if you have any additional questions. firstname.lastname@example.org