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D-156: Let us keep $2.2M?

McHENRY – School District 156 is expected to ask voters in April whether it can keep an anticipated $2.2 million in savings from refinancing bonds.

The school board is to vote Tuesday on whether to put the question on the April 9 ballot.

Last month, the board voted to refinance the district’s bonds, totaling $29 million, citing low interest rates. Refinancing is projected to save $2.2 million in interest, according to PMA Securities, the district’s refinancing consultant.

If the referendum passes, the $2.2 million essentially would become revenue for the high school district and could be used to revamp its technology infrastructure, including broadening wireless Internet at the East and West campuses.

“We have an antiquated computer system and antiquated computer devices in classrooms that we need to somehow replace,” said Dave Lawson, district finance director.

If the referendum fails, the money will go directly to taxpayers as a reduction in their tax bills, Lawson said. For the owner of a $200,000 house, the reduction would be $14 a year, he said.

Joe Zelek, director of network technology services, earlier this year said the district’s technology system needs upgrades for student learning, as well as for general efficiency. Most of the district’s laptops and desktop computers are about 10 years old and outdated, limiting teaching and learning opportunities, he said.

“Teachers and students are not able to teach or learn using available resources due to technology limitations,” the district said in its December newsletter to parents. “If we were to make the analogy to the condition of a home, we could say the technology in District 156 has a weakened foundation. The structure, from top to bottom, needs repair.”

District administrators also said the school buildings need major funding, including for boilers and the HVAC system.

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