Dist. 158 Meeting Focuses on Growth Needs

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Winter Daily Herald correspondent

A small group of Huntley School District 158 residents Wednesday night got a glimpse of just how fast their district is growing.

About 18 residents heard from administrators and school board members that their district is increasing in students by as much as 24 percent a year, according to district Superintendent Stephen Swanson.

The session was one of five focus meetings taking place this month. The meetings are not only to inform the public of the school district's need for more facilities, but also to collect public input about what they want in them and about what they are willing to pay in higher taxes.

A district that seven or eight years ago had 800 students in kindergarten through grade 12, now has that many students in each building, Swanson said. This high growth will bring the district back for a tax increase referendum in November.

Although district officials have mentioned raising $50 million, that figure is "soft," said Paul Halvorson, the district's business manager. The final amount could be $40 million, or it could be $60 million, he said.

Broken down into three small groups following the administration's presentation, one group was more concerned that at least elementary schools have small class sizes. A tax increase of $100 to $300 a year would be acceptable to them, they indicated. …