Voters Decide the Funding of Illinois Schools

Along with filling President Obama’s old senate seat, choosing the state’s next governor, deciding whether or not to amend the Illinois constitution, and determining the fate of copious judges, many Illinois residents were also asked to vote on various education referenda. Individual school boards vote to put these bond issues and tax hikes on the ballot in an effort to increase the funding to their school district. Once on the ballot, these school boards hope their communities will vote “yes” to the referendum, there by creating an influx of cash into the local education system. Here are a few education referenda results from the Illinois November 2, 2010 election:

Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District #113A --Bond Issue

This school district asked for $8million in bonds for a working cash fund. It was to be a five-year temporary tax increase of .19 per $100 of equal assessed value. For residents in this area, this increase would translate into an additional $166-$179 per year on a $300K home.  In December 2009 District 113 was placed on the Illinois State Board of Education’s “financial difficulties” list.  The district was required to submit a plan for deficit reduction. In February 2010 the District 113 School Board voted to cut more than $3million in staff and programs from four district schools. They hoped that this referendum would pass and give the board $8million to add to their coffers.

This referendum lost.  It was voted down.

 

Palatine Consolidated School District #15 --Bond Issue

This school district asked for $27million in bonds.  $17million was for capitol projects and $10million for a working cash fund. School district officials never intended this to be a referendum. A group called Citizens for Accountability in District 15 got a petition containing the 7,500 signatures needed to force the bond issue to a referendum.

This referendum lost. It was voted down.

 

McHenry School District #156 --Bond Issue

This referendum asked for $70million to build and equip a new high school to replace McHenry East Campus.  School District 156 deficit is estimated to slightly exceed $4million by the end of this school year.

This referendum lost. It was voted down.

 

McHenry School District #56 --Tax Rate Increase

This school board requested that property tax rate be raised by .60 per $100 in order to raise its education fund.

This referendum lost. It was voted down.

 

West Chicago Elementary School District #33 --Bond Issue

This referendum asked for $39million to build and equip an addition, and renovate the West Chicago Middle School building.

This referendum won. It was voted yes.

 

Milburn School District #24 --Tax Rate Increase

This referendum asked for an increase of property taxes of $730 per year. The school board said it needed this money to cover a budget deficit, and $1.1million to keep current programs in place.  Larger classroom sizes were discussed as an option to this problem, but parents said no, this would not benefit the kids. The tax rate increase went before the voters.

This referendum lost. It was voted down.

 

Medinah Elementary School District #11 --Bond Issue

This referendum asked for $8million to build and equip an addition to the Medinah Intermediate School building, and to alter and repair existing school district buildings.

This referendum lost. It was voted down.

 

Mokena School District #159 --Tax Rate Increase

This referendum asked for .29 per $100, about $290 per year on a $300k home.  The superintendent said without the passing of this referendum, future cuts might include: busing, laying off twelve teachers, possibly closing the cafeterias and the Mokena Intermediate School.

This referendum lost. It was voted down.

 

Gurnee School District #56 --Bond Issue

This school district asked for a $28.5million building to replace the flood-prone Gurnee Grade School located near the Des Plaines River.

The referendum won. It was voted yes.

 

Cary School District #26  Bond Issue

This school district asked for $15million in bonds for a working cash fund. Residents would pay .09 per $100 phased in over a period of four years to an increase from 2010-2014 of $85.  This money would provide the funds needed to meet the district’s day to day operations and save the district $223,000 annually in short term loan fees now being paid to the bank.

This referendum won. It was voted yes.

 

Illinois ranks 49th out of the 50 states in education funding, so it is no surprise that these and many other individual school boards across Illinois are looking to their residents to assist in funding the education of children.  A balance needs to be struck between asking tax payers to pay additional money to assist the school board, and fiscal responsibility on behalf of the people who manage the money.  Reading through these election results, it would seem that the majority of voters are implying that the school boards need to employ more austerity and not rely on more tax dollars to run and/or improve their schools.

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