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Forum planned to gather input on District 12 changes

Published: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 11:27 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 11:29 p.m. CDT

JOHNSBURG – The third- and fourth-grade classes need a new home.

The grades are currently housed at James C. Bush Elementary School, but the 65-year-old school is set to be closed as part of planned improvements to District 12’s facilities.

A forum is planned for the evening of May 19 to gather input from the community.

The firms hired by the district to design the improvements, RuckPate Architecture and Gillespie Design Group, have been meeting with district administration, building administration and staff since voters approved a $41 million referendum in April by a 25-vote margin.

The referendum gives the district the authority to take out about $41 million in bonds – the exact number will be based on a cap that ties how much districts can borrow to property values – to finance building improvements and maintenance.

The bonds will be paid back using property taxes. Property owners will see the bond portion on their tax bills stay at 2014 levels instead of dropping off as previously planned.

The goal is to have a decision on grade-level configuration by the June 10 board meeting, Superintendent Dan Johnson said.

Two options include moving both grades to Johnsburg Junior High or moving the third-graders to the Ringwood Primary Center and the fourth-graders to the junior high, according to documents prepared by the architecture and design firms.

Moving the third-graders to Ringwood would cost the district about $700,000 less than housing both grades at the junior high, but those estimates don’t take into consideration other factors, including equity among buildings, space, geography, enrollment projects or transportation.

The forum will start at 7 p.m. at Johnsburg High School.

Attendees will be divided into small groups. which will be led by facilitators from the two firms.

After a brief overview of the timeline is provided, participants will be encouraged to share their thoughts. The ideas will be recorded, and the results will be presented to the school board.

Further along in the process, the district plans on setting up steering committees for each building to provide input on its changes.

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