Referendum Facts and Information

Click Here to read the 11/5/2020 Letter to Families from the Superintendent 

Click Here to read the Daily Herald endorsement

In Itasca School District 10, we are teaching our students to be active lifelong learners who collaboratively and creatively solve problems.

Providing a safe learning environment for our students is our first priority. To that end, we’ve increased safety and security in all our buildings, going well above state requirements. We’ve updated interior and exterior cameras and now require background checks for all visitors. We also strive to ensure our students are emotionally safe. We teach behavioral expectations, educate students on appropriate use of technology, and reward positive behaviors. Our students know they are important and we care about them. As a result, student behavior has significantly improved over the past five years.

We are also striving to reach the highest level of academic excellence. We’ve made significant improvements the past three years, and now all our schools are rated commendable. We overhauled our math and science curriculum. We implemented 1-to-1 learning and improved technology in every classroom. We are offering more challenging and enriching opportunities for our students while providing additional intervention and support where needed. And we reworked our special education and EL programs, designing a co-teaching environment that allows for more individual attention. As a result, when our students graduate from our schools, they represent Itasca well. High school teachers can tell which students come from Itasca schools because they excel personally and academically compared to their peers.

Even with all this improvement, we’ve maintained strict fiscal responsibility. Our financial position was more perilous in the past, but under the leadership of our current board we have instituted a responsible budget philosophy. We maintain a balanced budget, even this year despite financial challenges stemming from COVID, by developing long term plans that achieve needed improvements while staying within our financial means. We watch every dollar, prioritizing spending on students rather than administration. We earned a ratings upgrade from Moody’s to Aa1, which will save taxpayers over $1 million in interest costs over the next 12 years. As a result, our district has the lowest instructional expense per pupil of all elementary and unit school districts in DuPage County, the 3rd lowest operational expense per pupil, and the 5th lowest tax rate in all of DuPage County. Our fiscal responsibility has earned us the highest possible score on the Illinois State Board of Education report card each of the last four years.

A key way we’ve achieved these improvements is by investing in the professional learning and growth of our staff and teachers. We provide tuition reimbursement, learning opportunities, and instructional coaches for our teachers. We offer summer learning camps, bringing together educators from inside and outside our district to learn from each other. Our district’s reputation for academic excellence helps us attract excellent teachers while staying within our budget, resulting in 55% of our teachers having a master’s degree or higher.

Finally, we’re doing our best to invest in capital development to support our students’ safety and learning. While our budget is limited, we’re investing in urgent needs including increasing security, addressing life safety needs, and extending the life of our infrastructure and mechanical systems. We are also investing in our students with smaller projects like modernizing our playgrounds and installing new lockers.

However, our life safety and infrastructure needs far outpace available funding. Our recent comprehensive architectural study detailed significant needs at each of our over 50-year-old schools, including urgent life safety, security, and ADA accessibility necessities. We need safer entryways and updated communications systems that connect directly with the village’s police and fire departments. We need to modernize our classrooms and learning spaces to properly implement today’s curriculum, facilitate collaboration, and allow for more individual instruction. We need to address infrastructure needs, including new plumbing, new windows, and energy-efficient mechanicals and lighting. And we need additional space for special education to keep our students in their local schools rather than sending them to schools outside our community.

Our community collaborated on a long-term plan to solve these pressing challenges. Our board has been working with the district’s experts to develop options since early 2019, and throughout 2020 we collaborated directly with the community to prioritize our needs and develop a consensus plan. This community-driven process has determined the path forward for our school district.

The consensus $27 million plan will now appear on our ballots as a referendum in the upcoming election. If the referendum is approved, the district won’t issue bonds until after the economy starts recovering from COVID, ensuring the tax levy isn’t affected until 2022 at the soonest. When we move forward, we will be able to:

  • Keep Our Students and Teachers Safe
  • Address Urgent Life Safety and Infrastructure Needs
  • Modernize Learning Spaces to Fully Implement 21st Century Learning

As a top priority for our district, we will be able to create a safer environment for our students and teachers including new secure entryways, updated camera and intercom systems, modern communications systems integrated with the village’s police and fire departments, and more secure doors. We will be able ensure safer and better-maintained schools with investments in life safety, infrastructure, and mechanicals, including plumbing, windows, electrical, lighting, heating and air conditioning, ceilings, floors, pavement, and energy efficiency. We will be able to implement 21st century learning by improving our classrooms, building new science labs, modernizing our library media centers, and developing new collaborative spaces. And we will be able to future-proof our district by building an addition at Raymond Benson Primary School, giving us additional space to address tomorrow’s challenges such as social distancing requirements, increased enrollment, maintaining our smaller class sizes, or providing expanded pre-kindergarten.

The time to act is now. We will receive the most favorable bond rates now due to historic low interest rates and our district’s stellar bond rating. Addressing these challenges all at once achieves considerable construction efficiencies and savings. Investing in our infrastructure now will significantly reduce long-term repair costs. And higher quality buildings and increased educational opportunities adds value to our district and increases our property values.

We are proud of our community coming together to address the challenges our schools face. Together, we developed a fiscally responsible plan that keeps our children safe and helps all our students achieve academic excellence.