Hawthorn District 73 is growing. The District’s seven schools are currently at or above capacity and enrollment is projected to continue rising. Classes are being taught on stages, in mobile classrooms without bathrooms, and in spaces not intended to be used for instruction. Class sizes are increasing, in some cases to 30+ students.

The District and Board of Education gathered input from the community, parents, staff, and worked with a team of of architects and builders to develop an Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP) to address these issues. The Board of Education unanimously approved placing two referenda on the November 6, 2018, ballot to provide funds for implementing the EMFP.

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General Questions

Q: What is a Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP)

An Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP) is a comprehensive, long-range plan that ensures the District’s buildings support the educational needs of students today and tomorrow. The plan calls for expanding and improving all seven Hawthorn schools and adding a new Kindergarten Center adjacent to the Sullivan Community Center. 

Q: What did you do after the last referendum failed?

After the failed April 2017 referendum, the Board of Education surveyed the community to better understand their priorities and concerns. The BOE learned that the community wanted the opportunity to comment on the plans and needed additional information about enrollment, educational needs, and finance. A series of informational meetings was held in Spring 2018 and the plans were revised to reflect community feedback.

Q: How is the EFMP different from the previous one?

This plan reflects community priorities that were identified in Spring 2018. The scope of work at existing buildings has been reduced and the kindergarten center is included. The revised plan includes additional classroom space at every building and STEM spaces at the middle schools. Elementary school STEM labs; media center and library renovations; and new space for Early Childhood and Pre-K programs have been removed from the project.

Q: What is included in the EFMP?

The EFMP includes expansions and modifications of Middle School North, Middle School South, Elementary South, Elementary North, Aspen, Dual Language, and Townline schools. A kindergarten center will be built adjacent to Sullivan Community Center. Click here to view the full plan and school specifics.

Q: How was the EFMP developed?

The plan was developed by a team of architects based on District goals, building studies, best practices, and input from stakeholders including community members, parents, staff, and the Board of Education (BOE).

The Hawthorn District 73 Board of Education voted unanimously to place a $ 48.7 million facilities bond referendum on the November 6, 2018, ballot to fund these improvements and reduce overcrowding.

Q: What is a bond referendum?

Bonds are used to pay for buildings. They are a mechanism for school districts to borrow money to pay for capital improvements. Citizens pay the bonds back via property taxes and once the bonds are paid off, that portion of the tax bill is reduced. Issuing bonds is a common and responsible way to fund improvements like these without impacting the educational program. The referendum is the community’s opportunity to vote on this matter.

Q: What is a limiting tax rate increase?

A limiting tax rate increase is a request for additional operating funds. D73 is asking for a $0.10 increase, which will generate approximately $1.3 million annually to cover costs for items including transportation, materials, and maintenance.

In 2019, the owner of a $350,000 house will pay approximately $111 in additional taxes if this measure passes. This amount can be increased by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) annually. CPI has average 1.62% over the past 10 years. The maximum annual increase is capped at 5%.

Q: Why are there two question on the ballot?

Bonds are used to fund building improvements; limiting tax increases are used to fund operations. There are two questions on the ballot because these funds must be used for these specific purposes and cannot be co-mingled.  

Q: What if neither ballot question is approved?

District buildings are currently at or above capacity. This is impacting the current educational program; some class sizes are above 30, instruction is being delivered on stages, in hallways, in offices, and in the libraries. If enrollment continues to climb as projected, class sizes will continue to increase and additional programmatic cuts may be necessary.

Q: What if only one question passes?

These measures were designed to work together. New building spaces will require additional instructional materials and maintenance. The new kindergarten center means that additional bus routes will be needed. The bonds will fund the buildings and the limiting tax rate increase. will provide operating funds for annual costs. If only one measure passes, programming will decrease and class sizes will increase.

Q: What has been done to lower costs and improve the operating efficiency of the school system?

District 73 is committed to careful stewardship of taxpayer dollars. District 73 has lower than average 2017 tax rates and revenues per pupil (in comparison to other Lake County elementary districts) and we continue to work to identify additional savings that do not compromise the educational program. Click here to view the analytics presentation (starting at 14:00). A number of cost cutting initiatives were implemented in this year’s budget.  This includes $267k in staffing cuts, $120k in copier savings, $270k in Building & Grounds restructuring/contract cuts, as well as $269k in expense reductions within our technology department.  A number of these cost cutting initiatives were reviewed at the July 23, 2018 board meeting. This presentation can be viewed by clicking here (begin at the 44:00 minute mark).