News from CCSD15 Board of Education

September 22, 2021

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2021 National Blue Ribbon School

Congratulations to Walter R. Sundling on being named a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School! On Tuesday, as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Return to School Road Trip, Walter R. Sundling Junior High School had the pleasure of welcoming the Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona, for a tour of a school. Dr. Cardona was joined by Dr. Carmen Ayala, State Superintendent, and Governor J.B. Pritzker for both the tour and the announcement of the National Blue Ribbon School achievement. We are so proud of Principal Jason Dietz, his staff, and all of our Sundling students!

Action Items

  • 4.1 Approval of School Maintenance Project Grant Application - approved
  • 4.2 Approval of Assistant Principal Daily Rate - approved

Our Why...Moving 15 Forward

As part of the District’s Strategic Plan work and its focus on facilities, Superintendent Laurie Heinz shared the history of the Moving 15 Forward: Beyond Just Boundaries project as well as the community’s nine most important priorities that are the cornerstone of this work:

  • Neighborhood/near-neighborhood schools

  • A cohesive educational path for students

  • Balanced enrollment across the District

  • Full-day kindergarten for all students

  • Transition to a middle school model from a junior high model

  • Eliminate the bilingual overlay

  • Ensure equitable access to programs and services

  • Utilize our facilities more efficiently

  • Repair and restore our school buildings

Financial Building Blocks

Diana McCluskey, Chief School Business Official, presented a summary of the recently-approved Fiscal Year 2022 Budget which included the sources of revenue for the District. District 15 has prioritized its role as true stewards of taxpayer dollars as 73% of D15 revenue comes from property taxes. The District also receives revenue from local, state, and federal entities.

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The District’s annual expenditures include salaries, benefits, services, supplies, capital expenditures, non-capital expenditures, dues and fees, and principal and interest. Approximately 85% of expenditures cover the costs to educate D15 students as noted in the chart. The remaining 15% is used toward maintaining our 23 facilities, equipment and bond principal and interest payments.

Overview of 5-Year Facility and Maintenance Plan

Roger Schroepfer, Wold Architects, and James Kaplanes, Director of Facilities and Operations discussed the 5-Year Facility and Maintenance Plan that was presented at the September 8 board meeting. Our plan includes priority projects as well as critical items which will need repair ahead of our next Health Life Safety audit in 2024. The plan is the road map for facility maintenance work and supports budget planning. Creating a comprehensive facility and maintenance plan will ensure our facilities are safe and updated for our students, staff, parents, and visitors.

Moving 15 Forward Costs

Over the last months, the District 15 team has worked diligently to review earlier boundary proposals and listened to feedback provided by our families and community members. That team then presented a Beyond Just Boundaries proposal to the Board of Education in April 2021. The updated plan was created to meet the long-standing community and educational priorities while benefiting all 20 schools through addressing health-life safety and other needs. This plan also assists with carrying forward the capital projects that are already underway.

Jennifer Costanzo, STR Partners, overviewed the construction needed to meet the priorities outlined above which would include projects and additions at a variety of schools.

Nicholas and Associates worked with the District to create a summary of financial impact for projects linked to the updated proposal and the 5-Year Facilities and Maintenance Plan. The Moving 15 Forward: Beyond Just Boundaries projects are estimated to cost $104 million and the 5-Year Facility and Maintenance Plan is estimated to cost $76 million for an estimated total investment of $180 million.

Funding Sources

Elizabeth Hennessy, Managing Director of Raymond James Public Finance, shared an overview of possible funding sources for the proposed projects. Estimated funding sources include: Non-referendum Debt Service Extension Base (DSEB) Bonds, Operations and Maintenance Operating Budget Pay-As-You-Go (over 5 Years), Debt Certificates, and Referendum Bonds.

Over the last 10 years, the District has used over $77M of District operating funds and non-referendum bonds to address critical infrastructure projects.

Moving forward, the District would be able to utilize its existing funds to cover more than 50% of the capital needs for the Moving 15 Forward: Beyond Just Boundaries plan and updated Five Year Facilities and Maintenance Plan.

Citizen Task Force

Dr. Heinz has formed a Citizen Task Force that will review the Moving 15 Forward plan, discuss potential solutions, and develop recommendations for the Superintendent to bring to the Board of Education for approval in 2022.