117 superintendent says more money will be available through sales tax

By Gary Scott on May 8, 2015 at 1:14pm

District 117 is announcing some good news related to the sales tax that was passed last November.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek told Gary Scott on this morning’s “AM Conversation” on WLDS that the sales tax is going to bring in more revenue than anticipated.

Ptacek says calculations for the amount the district can sell on bonds originally projected $2.2 million annually, but revised calculations now show the district can sell around $2.65 million. That means the total bond amount that can be generated will jump from $24 million to $32 million.

Ptacek says that’s a substantial increase, and that he’ll speak to the school board about starting another superintendent’s committee to talk about what to do with the extra revenue.

“The indicators are that the economy has had a rebound that they were not using in the last indicator because they did not want to be overly progressive, and then have us fall short of our bonding amount. That would definitely have been a bad situation,” Ptacek explains.

“Some other factors are that the interest rate is at a substantially lower amount than what was predicted; [they are] some of the best interest rates we’ve ever had.”

Student demographic data also factored in the change.

Ptacek says if the board approves the new committee, he’d like to meet with committee members sometime in the next month, plan several meetings over the summer, and then hold a community engagement session in August.

“We’re going to get the committee together and then we do plan at least one larger community engagement night because there’s always the option we just take this money and we put it into all of our buildings, because we definitely have needs with the HVAC system, electrical systems, plumbing systems, but I don’t want to look back ten years from now and say we spent $8 million of the taxpayers’ money and we don’t have anything to show for,” he says.

“We’ve been doing that for decades. “We’ve got to get something substantial that is a long-term investment for this community.”

Ptacek says the new committee will be able to use data that was gathered from the previous group to figure out how to best use the money.

Ptacek adds the Turner Junior High School renovation project will go forward as previously planned.

You can listen to the full “AM Conversation” below. Ptacek will be on “What’s On Your Mind?” on Monday to talk more about this announcement.