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Legislation Could Have Huge Negative Impact on Schools

School District 47 officials explain how recent attempts could hurt area schools.

Dear District 47 Families:
  had been closely following recent legislation (Amendment 6 of Senate Bill 2073) approved in the Illinois House of Representatives on February 21, 2012, which, had it passed in the Senate and been signed by Governor Quinn, would have had a significant impact on our ability to provide high quality educational services for students for whom we are responsible. This is the third time in the past few weeks that this sort of law has been proposed. Based on that, there may be additional attempts in the future.

We wanted to make you aware of the potential impacts, as we see them in District 47, were this type of legislation to eventually become law.
 
Currently, local taxing authorities, such as District 47, are limited to increasing taxes by the rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 5%, whichever is less.  Simply stated, the Franks Amendment to Senate Bill 2073 would have capped the ability of local taxing bodies, such as District 47, to raise the tax rate when property values decline unless approved by voters.  Effectively, the legislation would have capped the increase to 0%.
 
District 47 has lost over $8.6 million in revenue since the 2006-2007 school year with interest income down $2.3 million and State revenue down $6.3 million. New property, which adds to the district property tax revenue, is down from $54 million in the 2003 tax year to $7 million in the 2011 tax year.  Since the current economic crisis began, our school district has managed its finances by cutting approximately $6.2 million in expenditures.  By the end of the 2012-2013 school year, we will have:

  • Eliminated 72.5 positions through attrition and layoffs
  • Frozen salaries
  • Eliminated or reduced benefits
  • Restructured programs and contracts to secure savings
  • Utilized $6 million in reserves to weather the loss of revenue in order to maintain our current level of programs and services

 
Should this type of proposed legislation eventually become law, we estimate given the current economic climate, that District 47 would have to initiate a discussion regarding the possibility of closing a school, significant staff layoffs thus further increasing class sizes and would consider a reduction in programs and services which have become part of District 47’s culture.  Examples of these programs include but are not limited to Art, Music, Health, Clubs and Activities, Extended Curriculum, Reading Recovery, Band, etc.
 
As part of the community, we understand the property tax burden being placed upon everyone in a time of declining home values.   However, we cannot pull back from investing in our children’s future.  We believe that legislation such as Amendment 6 to SB 2073 damages the ability of local schools to provide quality education and would potentially be devastating to District 47’s students.
 
We encourage you to contact your state senator and state representative to discuss this.  Local legislators include Representative Mike Tryon- mike@miketryon.com, Senator Pamela Althoff- Pamela@pamelaalthoff.net  and Representative Kent Gaffney- repgaffney@gmail.com.
 
 
Sincerely,
 
Donn P. Mendoza, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
dpmendoza@d47.org

Jeff Mason
School Board President
jmason@d47.org

cynthia February 28, 2012 at 02:53 PM
I would like to make it very clear to those reading this article. Public schools serve public school employees. As we tax payers contiue to over fund the public school union employees ( we pay more than 53 percent of their full pension fees while they pay nothing) our countries education scores go lower and lower. Go to family tax payer institute to learn about how much these administrators make. Then go to the Illinois policy institute to learn the truth behind public schools. These school board members tend to be cronies of the administration. Finally the politicans are waking up to protect children and the tax payer.
Bob Stock February 28, 2012 at 06:50 PM
I fully concur with Cynthia and the advisory she asks folks to read up on. This may be the old; "when I was a kid" story, but facts are facts. Our schools educators were employed based on "merit" and raises et al, were related to how well a specific "teacher" did with respect to their peers. Class sizes in k-8 were typically 34+ and in 9-12 were nearer 40 per class. And in the face of all this, there was never any talk about eliminating programs. If taxing bodies are permitted to extract their pound of flesh in view of declining values, hypothetically we could be paying more in taxed than the property is worth.
Marc February 28, 2012 at 07:13 PM
All of this crying when the Super makes $167,000.00 + a year? Give me a break. Cut your salaries, save teachers jobs, be fiscally responsible!
babs February 29, 2012 at 12:04 PM
With enrollment going down why not cut some of the administration fat?
Dan February 29, 2012 at 12:08 PM
We've already done enough investing in our kid's futures. Property taxes here have increased severely as we continue to fund over generous pensions, health insurance plans, and overpaid superintendents. It was never about our kid's futures. With huge property tax hikes and a poor public school system here, is there anyone out there sympathetic to this guy and his union?
is March 05, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Alot of it is the thing that are bought by the transportation department are not needed. To fix a bus they put a bandade on. until to hold bus goes down but when the buy cheap to fix that is where are money is going. do not blame the teacher but we also need to step up to the transportation department.

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