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D-26 sticks to bond plan

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

CARY – The average homeowner in District 26 is expected to see a $19 increase in property taxes for the district’s bond and interest payments.

The D-26 school board approved this year’s bond payment plan Monday and is keeping to the promise of a $20 increase in property tax bills it made leading up to the 2010 referendum.

Last year, a person whose house was worth $300,000 in the 2009 levy year paid an additional $21 to the school district for bond payments. This year, the district expects the owner of that same house to pay an additional $19 to the district.

The district hopes to hit the $20 mark for next year’s taxes. However, it projects that owners of that same house, which now is projected to be worth $223,620, will see their property taxes increase by $60 next year.

“In managing to a $20 annual impact, the district would likely need to take further action in levy year 2013 to mitigate the impact,” Eric Anderson, managing director of BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a memo to the school board. “Such action could include a refunding of existing debt for refunding and/or restructuring purposes ... in order to mitigate the increase in levy year 2013.”

The district has an abatement fund of about $737,000 in which it could use to pay back bonds and lower the impact of property tax increases to residents.

The abatement fund was created with money the district received by refinancing existing bonds after the 2010 referendum, “in order to bring down tax bills,” said T. Ferrier, director of Finance and Operations.

How much the district could abate will be affected by property value growth in the district, Anderson wrote.

Passage of the referendum helped the district prevent further budget cuts after major cuts in earlier years, including closing Maplewood School and eliminating most specialist teachers, such as those who teach art and music.

The school board Monday also approved a new English textbook series. District staff members have worked on selecting a set of textbooks for the last six months.

The board approved buying Pearson’s Reading Street for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, Calle de la Lectura for the district’s bilingual students in kindergarten through third-grade, and Prentice Hall Literature and Writing Coach for junior high students.

The district budgeted $420,000 for textbook purchases and only spent $310,400.

Valerie McCall, director of curriculum and instruction, said the books have high interest and colorful stories, prepare students for standardize tests and have guides for grammar and writing, among other things.

Board member Julie Jette said schools in the district currently have different sets of textbooks, and a second-grader at Deer Path school might have different books than a second-grader at Three Oaks.

“Now they’ll have the same materials,” Jette said. “Teachers can collaborate together better ... Everything will be on the same playing field.”

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