Saturday, March 18, 2017

More than 40 school finance questions on April ballots

A preliminary look at school district referendum plans shows at least 35 local school district finance questions will appear on the April 4 general election ballot, including no fewer than 20 bond issues, and 15 local tax increases.

At least eight county sales tax propositions are also proposed for the benefit of their local school districts, along with a proposed school district consolidation, a cooperative high school, and several miscellaneous or advisory referenda.

School districts placing building bond issues before voters, in amounts ranging from $2.5 million to $132.5 million, include:

  • Brookfield LaGrange Park SD 95 (a $20 million bond issue to help defray the cost of improvements to an elementary and a middle school)
  • Bureau Valley CUSD 340 (a $17 million bond issue to construct a new building in Sheffield, and to make improvements and additions to two high schools)
  • Center Cass SD 66 (a $12.9 million proposed construction bonding plan to upgrade two junior high schools, and a grade school)
  • Cerro Gordo CUSD 100 (an $8 million proposition for construction of an addition to the junior high school, and to make repairs to the existing building)
  • Diamond Lake SD 76 (an $11.4 million bond issue to improve the district’s school buildings)
  • Erie CUSD 1 (a $13.8 million construction bond project to transform a high school into an elementary school, and make a middle school into a combined high school and middle school)
  • Franklin CUSD 1 (a $2.5 million bond issue to create an addition to the Franklin Junior/Senior High School, and repair other existing buildings of the district)
  • Galena USD 120 (a $21.8 million bond proposition to repair one school and construct another)
  • Glen Ellyn SD 41 (a $24.2 million bond issue to make improvements at five school buildings, and construct an addition to a junior high school)
  • Hawthorn CCSD 73 (a $42 million bond issue for additions and repairs to district schools, including construction of new STEM facilities)
  • Hinsdale THSD 86 (a $76 million bond proposition to repair and replace large portions of two high schools)
  • Hononegah CHSD 207 (a $17.8 million bond proposal to build and equip a new fieldhouse addition to the high school that’s designed to replace a dome that collapsed during a winter storm in 2015)
  • Metamora THSD 122 (an $11 million bond issue for constructing an addition to the high school, along with making safety improvements, adding a new library and computer labs, and making improvements to the fine arts and vocational-tech instructional spaces)
  • Mount Vernon SD 80 (a $5.5 million bond issue for various building repairs and upgrades, and to construct and equip a middle school gym)
  • Newark CHSD 1 (a $16 million bond proposition for improvement to the high school building, including construction of a new gym and fine arts center)
  • Northbrook/Glenview SD 30 (a $36.3 million bond issue to replace a grade school, and to make improvements to two other schools)
  • Oak Park SD 97 (a $57.5 million bond issue for repair of various school buildings)
  • West Chicago CHSD 94 (a $37.5 million bond issue to make repairs to the high school building, and build and equip an addition there)
  • Wheaton Warrenville CUSD 200 (a $132.5 million bond issue to construct a new building to replace an early learning center, and to make repairs and additions to school buildings throughout the district)
  • Winnebago CUSD 323 (a $12 million bond issue to construct and equip a building for transportation and administrative purposes, and make repairs to other buildings)

The largest of the bond issues is proposed at Wheaton Warrenville CUSD 200, where an additional $132.5 million in bond revenue would be obtained if voters approve a building upgrade. The smallest is the $2.5 million bonding requested in Franklin CUSD 1 to construct an addition to one building, and to make repairs.

Local district tax issues on the April ballot include propositions in:

  • Aviston Elementary SD 21 (seeking an increase of 35 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation in their education fund)
  • Deer Creek Mackinaw CUSD 701 (seeking a 30 cent increase per $100 of equalized assessed valuation in their education fund)
  • Edwardsville CUSD 7 (seeking a 55 cent increase per $100 of equalized assessed valuation in their education fund)
  • Metamora CCSD 1 (seeking a 31 cent increase per $100 of equalized assessed valuation in their education fund)
  • Pinckneyville CCSD 204 (seeking a 25 cent increase per $100 of equalized assessed valuation in their education fund)
  • Princeton Elementary SD 115 (seeking a 70 cent increase per $100 of equalized assessed valuation in their education fund)

Other local tax increase propositions aim to increase the funds raised under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL). Among these are proposals in:

  • Antioch CCSD 34 (a PTELL debt service extension base increase to be used for paying off limited bonds by establishing the base at $1.4 million)
  • Benjamin SD 25 (a PTELL debt service extension base increase from $582,671 to $997,500; this represents a rate increase of the lesser of 5 percent or the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index during the prior levy year)
  • Berwyn South SD 100 (a PTELL limiting rate increase of 0.6 percent above the limiting rate for levy year 2015)
  • Dakota CUSD 301 (a PTELL limiting rate increase of 0.70% above the limiting rate for levy year 2015 and equal to 5.58 percent of the EAV of the taxable property for levy year 2017; the amount of taxes extendable would increase to $5.15 million from the total of $4.5 million extended in 2015)
  • Evanston/Skokie CCSD 65 (a PTELL limiting rate increase of 0.595% above the limiting rate for school purposes for levy year 2015; this would raise the limiting rate to 4.166 percent of the EAV of the   taxable property in the district for levy year 2016)
  • Norridge SD 80 (a PTELL limiting rate increase from the lesser of 5 percent or the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index over the prior levy year to 14.8 percent for the 2016 levy year? For the 2016 levy year the approximate amount of the additional tax extendable against property containing a single family residence and having a fair market value at the time of the referendum of $100,000 is estimated to be $92.65)
  • Oak Park SD 97 (a PTELL limiting rate increase of 1 percent to bring the total to 4.982 percent for the 2016 levy year; the approximate amount of additional tax extendable against property containing a single family residence and having a fair market value at the time of the referendum of $100,000 is estimated to be $266.85)
  • Sandwich CUSD 430 (a PTELL debt service extension base increase from $87,411 to $787,411 for the 2017 levy year, with such debt service extension base to be increased each year by the lesser of 5 percent or the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index during the 12-month calendar year preceding the levy year)
  • Taylorville CUSD 3 (a PTELL limiting rate increase of .85 percent above the limiting rate for school purposes for levy year 2016; for the 2017 levy year the approximate amount of the additional tax extendable against property containing a single family residence and having a fair market value at the time of the referendum of $100,000 is estimated to be $283)

County tax propositions, all designed to raise sales taxes by 1 percent to benefit schools, are on the ballot in Cumberland, Effingham, Hancock, Madison, Marion, Montgomery, Moultrie, and St. Clair Counties.

The lone school district consolidation proposal on the ballot calls for creating a new community unit school district in the territory comprising Alwood CUSD 225 and Cambridge CUSD 227, in Henry, Knox, and Mercer Counties.

Another kind of school district reorganization is proposed in Bismarck-Henning CUSD 1, where the board is seeking voter authorization to enter into an agreement to jointly operate a cooperative high school with Rossville-Alvin CUSD 7.

Other miscellaneous proposals include five school districts seeking to allow at-large election of school board members, in Bradford CUSD 1, Bushnell-Prairie City SD 170, Community HSD 117 (Lake Villa), Northwestern CUSD 2, and Waverly CUSD 6; and a proposal to require voter approval prior to any future board action increasing a property tax levy, which is proposed in Elgin SD U-46.

IASB will report the April 4 school referenda as soon as results are available.