About the Bremen District 228 Quality School Construction Bond (QSCB)
In February 2016 the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced that 29 Illinois school districts had been named recipients of the federal Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) program. Bremen District 228 was among those named, and even more exciting, it was one of only three districts in Cook County to receive the maximum requested amount of $50 million. The ISBE reviewed a total of 193 applications seeking a total $2.4 billion in bond approval. This meant that District 228, would be able to issue low- to zero-interest bonds through the program. Those bonds would fund a capital improvement plan designed to improve and enhance the lives of more than 5,000 students who attend Bremen, Tinley Park, Hillcrest and Oak Forest High Schools.
The D228 Board of Education, at its meeting on August 16, 2016 laid out and approved a seven-year capital improvement plan. Year one is already underway. It focuses on water draining and detention at each campus, along with eventual installation of an artificial turf field at each of the four stadiums. The turf will allow physical education classes, marching bands, soccer and football teams the ability to use the field as much as possible.
Other projects at each school in the seven-year plan include field house installations, ancillary space for weight rooms and training rooms, additional classrooms and storage, remodeling of cafeterias and kitchens, as well as adding digital signage. Other projects include new roofs for Bremen and Hillcrest; new light poles at the Tinley Park, Hillcrest and Oak Forest stadiums; parking lot improvements at Tinley Park; a new gym floor at Oak Forest; band room expansions at Bremen and Tinley Park; and an expanded cafeteria at Bremen.
The District’s projected budget for the work is $74 million. The bonds will be paid off over 25 years and the debt service will be restructured to save costs for taxpayers. The District is expected to receive a projected $44.5 million in federal funds over the next 25 years under this plan. The funding can be used to pay for capital improvements and strengthen the district’s financial condition. Also, the annual burden to taxpayers is projected to decrease by approximately $5 million.
The annual tax burden on residents is projected to decrease by $115 for the owner of a home valued at $100,000, $170 for the owner of a $150,000 home, and $230 for the owner of a $200,000, according to estimates. In more good news for residents State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith said: “No state dollars are being spent and local taxpayers will not have to help foot the bill for high interest costs.”
The QSCB program was created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It is a source of limited financial bounding for school districts to fund the rehab or repair of existing facilities, construction of new facilities, equipment associated with repair or construction, or for land acquisition.