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Education

District 89 to ask for tax hike on November ballot

Referendum question expected to request 40-cent tax rate increase

In the face of increasing enrollment and costs, Community Consolidated School District 89 is expected to ask voters in the Nov. 6 election to approve a 40-cent tax rate increase.
In the face of increasing enrollment and costs, Community Consolidated School District 89 is expected to ask voters in the Nov. 6 election to approve a 40-cent tax rate increase.

In the face of increasing enrollment and costs, Community Consolidated School District 89 is expected to ask voters in the Nov. 6 election to approve a 40-cent tax rate increase.

At their July 16 meeting, District 89 Board of Education members reached a consensus to put the referendum question on the ballot. Board members are expected to formally approve the question at their Aug. 20 meeting.

The district recently hosted community engagement sessions to gather feedback from residents on what the district should do to address its financial situation. The most recent financial projections show the district will have deficits between $1.4 million and $2.3 million over the next five fiscal years. Those projections include the additional classroom teachers needed because of increasing enrollment.

The district has not sought a tax rate referendum in 32 years. Officials have estimated the owner of a $300,000 house would pay an additional $396 a year in taxes if the referendum were approved.

District 89 serves more than 2,000 preschool through middle school students from Glen Ellyn, Lombard and Wheaton. The district operates four elementary schools and one middle school.

In January, Superintendent Emily Tammaru convened a Superintendent’s Finance Committee to examine the district’s financial status and priorities. The committee was composed of community members, parents and staff.

The committee looked at the nearly $3 million in cuts the district has made since 2009 and examined how rising enrollment and increasing costs – such as for transportation and insurance – have created deficit budgets for the district, officials said. The district’s enrollment has grown by more than 16 percent since 2012, and it is expected to grow an additional 13 percent over the next four years.

The district also had been studying reducing programs and increasing fees as a way to deal with the situation. Officials had said the district would need to make about $1.2 million in cuts during the 2019-20 school year.

These cuts could include reductions of gifted services, band and orchestra, social work services, library staff and full-day kindergarten. Cuts also could result in larger class sizes, and they could be more significant in future years, officials said.

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