Hinsdale (Ill.) District 181 has approved a lawsuit settlement that will enable it to move forward with construction of a middle school and meet the original opening date of August 2018.
The project has been on hold because of a lawsuit contending that a legal notice about a $53 million district bond election had been published too early.
In a prepared statement, district officials say that even though they were confident their victory in a lower court would have been upheld through subsequent appeals, continued litigation would have delayed construction and increased costs.
"The district was faced with a difficult decision," the statement from the superintendent and board president said. "Continue to defend ourselves in the appellate process, which would delay the opening of a new [middle school] by six to eighteen months and potentially add substantial costs to the project, or establish a position that would enable us to settle the lawsuit and open the doors to a new [school] as close to on time as possible."
The $53 million bond proposal to pay for the school was approved by voters in a November 2016 referendum, The Chicago Tribune reports. Five plaintiffs sued to challenge the validity of the election after a legal notice of the referendum by the DuPage Election Commission was published three days earlier than allowed by protocol. A DuPage County judge dismissed the lawsuit, but the plaintiffs still had the option of appealing the decision.
"The three-day publication error which led to the litigation was not caused by the district, and the district accepts no responsibility for the error," the district says.
To end the lawsuit, Hinsdale officials agreed to establish a committee of three board members to review any errors or omissions that may have occurred regarding the publication notice for the referendum, as well as the past communications with the community regarding the bond issue and the middle school project.
Because of the lawsuit, the construction is six weeks behind its original schedule, but the district, its architect and its builder have reworked the timeline so that Hinsdale can maintain August 2018 as the target for opening the new middle school.