Having attended District 200’s Community Finance Committee meeting (Jan. 17), I am still reflecting on the great work D200 has done in planning for the future for our community. The years of saving and conservative spending so the district can invest in critically needed capital improvements like Project 2 (renovating century-old physical education spaces at OPRF) is a credit to the work of the D200 board.

In the words of Raymond James Public Finance Managing Director Elizabeth Hennessy, “The district is in a fortunate financial position. The district has a lot of levers it can pull to finance Project 2.” This is excellent news, as there is a clearly demonstrated need for these facilities at OPRF.

The board has thoughtfully laid out a detailed schematic plan for the needed work to the school’s physical plant, and now the Community Finance Committee has been presented with different funding scenarios for Project 2. One key takeaway is that by embarking on this critically needed work now, the district can save millions of dollars in projected future cost increases. Delaying Project 2 could cost D200 as much as $10 million more per year. Given the agreed upon scale and urgency of need, this is incentive enough to determine Project 2 financing now and begin work.

Perhaps most encouraging from Hennessy’s presentation to the committee is the outline of a funding scenario that would have little to no impact on property tax bills in Oak Park and River Forest when philanthropic contributions are factored into financing.

As we are all concerned taxpayers and focused on our Cook County property tax bill bottom lines, I invite you to look at the materials presented to the committee and see for yourself that only one plan can both serve the dire needs of our community’s children and be cost-conscious. Materials can be found at: https://tinyurl.com/3uyv5tyh.

Our community needs educational spaces that comply with current law. The board must move forward with Project 2 and Funding Scenario 4 is the most responsible solution for all Oak Park and River Forest taxpayers.

Laura Huseby
River Forest

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