Thursday, October 25, 2018

Tax and bond issues on November ballot

Numerous local-district school funding referendums are set to appear on the November 6 election ballot, including at least 12 bond issues, and at least three tax increase proposals. Many more school districts would benefit from five countywide sales tax propositions earmarked for school facility purposes.

The largest of the known district school finance propositions is a $195 million building bond proposition in Maine Township High School District 207. The proposal calls for modernizing facilities and increasing building security at the district’s two high schools, each of which is more than 50 years old.

Apparently the largest tax increase proposal is in Elmhurst, where a $168.5 million tax increase appears on the ballot. The proposal asks voters to endorse the construction of two new school buildings to replace two elementary schools.  Two other tax increase proposals in the state seek to raise the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL), hiking taxes by $3.2 million in Glen Ellyn Elementary School District 89, and by $1.3 million in Hawthorne SD 73.

School districts known to be placing local bond issues before voters in November, in addition to the bond proposition already mentioned in Maine Township, include:

  • Calumet City SD 155, a $23 million finance proposal to pay claims against the district
  • Fieldcrest CUSD 6, a $29 million bond issue to construct new school buildings in Minonk and Wenona, and to demolish Fieldcrest High School, as well as part of a middle school
  • Gavin SD 37, a $6 million life-safety bond issue for the improvement of two schools, including roof work, improvements in the science labs, and upgraded security at building entrances
  • Hawthorne SD 73, a $48.7 million proposal to renovate six district schools and build an 18-classroom kindergarten center
  • Hinsdale THSD 86, a $166 million bond proposition to upgrade two high school campuses and renovate all learning spaces there
  • McHenry CHSD 156, a $44 million bond issue to construct school additions and make building repairs at two high school campuses
  • Minooka CCSD 201, a $50 million bond proposition to build and equip a school
  • Mt. Pulaski CUSD 23, a $10 million bond proposition to improve the local high school and make repairs
  • Princeton Elementary School District 115, a $35 million bond proposal to construct a new, 109,900-square-foot building for grades 3 through 8. The plans also call for demolition of two schools and $500,000 in upgrades at another school
  • Saratoga CCSD 60C, a $10.3 million plan to upgrade the Saratoga school building, including construction of auditorium and cafeteria space, with a STEM facility, kitchen, and learning resource center
  • Wheeling Township SD 21, a $69 million bond proposition for building improvements, and security upgrades

In addition to the school district finance propositions, countywide sales tax proposals to benefit schools are scheduled in at least five counties: Jasper, Kendall, Menard, Sangamon, and Tazewell. Since the state law on this topic took effect in January 2008, 51 counties have adopted the retailer occupation and service occupation tax (sales tax) for the benefit of school facilities.

Other education-related proposals appearing on the November ballot include no less than four propositions to authorize the at-large election of school board members. Meanwhile another miscellaneous proposal at Paw Paw CUSD 271 asks voters to approve a plan to deactivate Paw Paw High School and send its pupils to Indian Creek CUSD 425.

As mentioned, at least four questions on the November ballot would allow for electing all school board members at-large. This means members of the board can live anywhere within the district and a voter can cast his or her ballot for any candidate(s). Districts known to be floating such proposals are: Chester East Lincoln CCSD 61, Lincoln; Oakland Community Unit School District 5; Polo CUSD 222; and Villa Grove CUSD 302.

This blog will report on results of all the November 6 referenda. Passing rates of school finance referenda since 1989 are available online.