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Education

District 89 to seek 40-cent tax rate increase

School board votes to put referendum on Nov. 6 ballot

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

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

At their Aug. 20 meeting, Board of Education members unanimously agreed to place the referendum on the ballot. Aug. 20 was the last day for government bodies to adopt a resolution or ordinance to allow binding or advisory public questions to appear on the ballot.

“Residents have told us they do not want program cuts that would decrease our students’ opportunities, the quality of our schools, or the values of our homes,” board President Beth Powers said in a news release from the district. “Excellent schools have long been a bedrock of this community, which is why the district is ranked among the best in the country.”

The district's enrollment has increased by 20 percent since 2012, and it is projected to grow another 13 percent in the next four years – an increase of nearly 700 students in 11 years, officials said. 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 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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