Referendum Overview | Project Timeline | Frequently Asked Questions
Our community proudly participates in our district, working together as a family to meet the needs of our students. This collaborative effort helps prepare our students for dynamic learning so they are ready for an ever-changing world. This is helping make our district a learning community of choice, with environments that support student learning and district finances that prioritize investments in our classrooms. As a result, all eight of our schools are rated exemplary or commendable by the Illinois State Board of Education.
We accomplish this by teaching differently. We are building a curriculum where our students can be critical thinkers, creating and solving their own problems rather than simply discovering how others have solved problems. We are preparing kids for the future, with an understanding of how the world works and the ability to thrive in the modern world.
To that end, we are adopting a new curriculum with an emphasis on personalized learning, STEM, and fine arts. We are focusing on STEM and Project Lead the Way in our middle schools, with access to modern tools like robotics, Chromebooks, and digital learning. We’ve significantly upgraded technology and modernized classrooms at every school to support our curriculum. And our teachers are leading the way in this process, taking ownership of the effort and utilizing the professional development time we invest in them.
We are also investing in the social-emotional wellness of our kids, focusing on the whole child to help them develop a skill set that allows them to interact with people in the world. This work has paid dividends, with our student discipline numbers significantly decreasing in recent years. We also now offer free breakfast and lunch for our students, and our dual language programming is offered through 8th grade, ensuring we are meeting the needs of all our students so they can meet their academic potential.
We have accomplished all this while remaining fiscally responsible. We focus our spending on needs, not wants, being practical in efforts to modernize our classrooms. We’ve worked to balance our budget, reducing spending by a million dollars two years ago and instituting zero-based budgeting to closely inspect our spending every year. We use our own skilled workers as much as possible to avoid contracting work out and we are an energy star district, resulting in significant savings for taxpayers. Our board is fiscally conservative, maintaining a conservative fund balance and minimizing administrative spending to ensure the public’s tax dollars are being spent on the students. As a result, District 45 has lowered its tax rate each of the past four years, a drop of nearly 12% from 2015 to 2018.
This fiscal responsibility has allowed us to maintain and upgrade district buildings over the past three decades without having to go to the public for a referendum. However, as educational needs evolve and state and federal mandates increase, we are reaching the end of our ability to meet our needs without a referendum. We’ve stretched every dollar possible, but with one of the lowest per-pupil funding rates in DuPage County, we are receiving only 78% of the resources needed to meet educational expectations, according to the state’s adequacy target.
We don’t have the space necessary to comply with state requirements for early childhood education, though we’re doing the best we can. Parents are clamoring for full day kindergarten, but we don’t currently have space. We must ensure a safer environment for students and teachers, but that will take resources we don’t currently have. As we seek to improve our students’ academic performance, we need resources to continue upgrading technology and to invest in dedicated science labs and music rooms. And our infrastructure is aging, with the average building 60 years old.
To meet these challenges, members of the community came together in 2019 to collaborate on a plan for the future of our District 45 schools. This 10-Year Master Facility Plan focused on meeting these challenges in the most fiscally responsible way possible. Together, the community developed a path forward that aligned with the district’s strategic plan. This plan will:
The plan centers on building a new Early Childhood Center and moving all early childhood programming to this new building. This will increase instructional time and academic performance for our students and lead to operational savings due to consolidation. It will also free up space at our elementary schools to pursue additional improvements.
Using this additional space, we will then be able to make upgrades to our schools. We will implement full-day kindergarten, which will increase academic and social emotional learning for our early learners and provide childcare savings for parents. We will make necessary safety and security upgrades at all schools, including secure entrances, alarms, and secure doors, as well as increasing parking and improving drop-off zones. We will continue to upgrade our technology to broaden our student learning experience and enhance our curriculum. And we will provide science labs and music rooms that include specific instructional space and enhanced curriculum in science, technology, and math as well as optimized spaces and increased opportunities for children in band, choir, orchestra, and music.
This will be a significant refresh for our district, removing the barriers staff currently faces as they work to implement our curriculum. It will upgrade all of our buildings, modernize all our classrooms, and improve the educational experience for all our families.