With a 1% school facilities tax question on the April Ballot, the Effingham Unit #40 Board of Education is slowly zeroing in on a direction on how they plan use the money, if the measure passes. The topic was discussed at Monday’s Board of Education Meeting. Superintendent Mark Doan said the two options preferred by the board include a full renovation of Effingham Junior High School, along with some remodeling, and an extension on Central Grade School ($32.7-million), or the construction of a new middle school entirely ($30.8-million). The district will pay for either project using a bond issue against the predicted revenue of the proposed 1% facilities tax. Doan said that the alternative would a be health/life/safety bond issuance that would increase area property tax rates.
“We’re going to have to fix the junior high one way or the other,” Doan said. “We’re either going to use a sales tax where 54% of people from outside the county help support and pay for that or we’re going to have to put that, unfortunately, on the back of our property owners through health/life/safety bonds.”
Doan said his goal was complete the necessary infrastructure projects without further burden on taxpayers. However, he is aware that there are efforts in the community to oppose the facilities tax. “We respect all opinions,” Doan said.
During discussion, the board didn’t lean strongly in favor of building new or remodeling the middle school. Doan suggested that this is likely due to fact that three seats on the board are up for grabs in the April election. The current board wants to avoid tying the hands of the new one. However, it is agreed upon that something needs to be done to improve Effingham Junior High School.
The board also moved forward with extending current health/life/safety bonds to pay for several improvements at EHS and Central. Doan said those bonds wouldn’t be any further cost to taxpayers. Some of the improvements include roof repairs, efficiency projects, and asbestos abatement.
Superintendent Doan discusses the facilities tax.