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Francis Howell places bond issue on April ballot

Citing a need for facility improvements, the Francis Howell School District Board of Education voted unanimously to put Proposition S on the April 7 municipal election ballots. [FHSD photo]

The Francis Howell School District Board of Education recently voted unanimously to place Proposition S on the April 7, 2020, ballot. Proposition S is a $244 million bond issue that will not increase the current tax rate.

Instead, voter approval of Proposition S would allow the Francis Howell district to borrow money now and in the future to address facility needs and upgrades at all Francis Howell schools.

Over the past two years, Francis Howell has worked proactively with the district’s architectural firm and a diverse group of stakeholders to develop a Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan that identified both the current state of the district’s facilities in addition to future needs.

The district has 29 separate facilities, including three early childhood centers, 10 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, an administration building and seven other sites. These sites include over 2.7 million square feet of building space under roof with miles of plumbing, wiring and hundreds of mechanical systems. Older buildings require significant repair and maintenance.

The average building in the district is 30 years old, and the oldest building is now more than 50 years old.

Many district buildings and facilities were constructed in the late 1990s, and their systems, such as HVAC, plumbing, and electrical, are reaching the end of their useful life.

The Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan calls for major updates at the older schools in the district, including Henderson, Fairmount, Becky-David, Hollenbeck and Barnwell.

The plan also includes the construction of a new Francis Howell North High, and improvements and safety updates at all schools across the district.

If approved, Proposition S would pay for the construction, repair and renovation costs outlined in the master plan. The bond issue would not raise the tax rate and funds from a bond issue could not pay for salaries, benefits, supplies, utilities, or other operating costs.

Passage of Proposition S would require approval by 4/7ths of voters, or a little more than 57% in the April election.

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