701 W. Gregory Mount Prospect, IL 60056  |  847-394-7300
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December 8, 2017

The Board of Education met last night to discuss the potential tax referendum and cuts and fee increases that will go into effect if a referendum does not pass. These are difficult topics, and our district is in a challenging time. I thank the residents and staff members who spoke last night and shared their passion for our schools and community.

I apologize for the length of today’s message, but there was a great deal of information shared last night, and some key decisions were made. Please take a few minutes to read about where things stand now and our next steps:

Referendum

As you know, the Board is considering placing a limiting tax rate referendum on the ballot in the March 2018 election, to fund highest-priority operating and facility maintenance needs. At its November 16 meeting, the Board directed Administration to draft ballot language asking for a limiting tax rate increase of 85 cents (over the last known limiting tax rate paid). This is based on the recommendation made by the Community Task Force.

The ballot language that the Board is considering states that the referendum could equate to $238 per year per $100,000 of home value. This number is a bit different than examples we previously used. That’s because we determined that elections rules require that the estimate provided on the ballot must be based on last year’s equalized assessed value (EAV) and Cook County multiplier. We have previously used estimates based on what we expect next year’s EAV and multiplier to be.

It’s important to note that the estimated amount on the ballot can be misleading and that the tax increase for individual homeowners could be lower, for two reasons. First, the EAV and multiplier both fluctuate, and, in fact, the multiplier was unusually high this year. Second, we are not allowed to include any exemptions in the estimate, but the majority of homeowners in this district have at least one exemption, which would also lower the tax. For example, according to estimates, a taxpayer with a homeowner’s exemption could see an increase of $153.27 per $100,000 of home value, and a taxpayer with homeowner’s and senior exemptions could see an increase of $85.27.

At last night’s meeting, the District’s attorney explained the Cook County Elections Commission rules surrounding how the ballot question must be worded. He stressed that there are strict requirements dictating how calculations are made and that the estimate does not include the reality of homeowner’s exemptions and fluctuating EAVs and multipliers – all of which could actually lower the increase that taxpayers see.

Staffing and program reductions

If a referendum is not approved, the District’s deficit will have to be reduced by 50 percent each of the next two school years. The Board would need to vote on the cuts in April, so it is imperative that we plan now for this worst-case scenario. A budget deficit reduction committee has identified potential cuts and developed two scenarios: one includes cuts that would be voted on in April and go into effect next school year, the other includes cuts that would go into effect in the 2019-2020 school year. If a referendum does not pass in March, the Board could decide to place a referendum on the ballot again next November. If this second attempt is successful, the next round of cuts would not need to be made. To provide the big picture, we gave the Board both year one and year two scenarios.

The Board debated the very difficult cuts we presented and directed Administration to plan for potential cuts of $850,000 for next school year, to be made if a referendum does not past. The initial list of proposed year one cuts included eliminating all band and orchestra programs, but the Board asked Administration to delay that cut. So if a referendum does not pass in March, the Board would vote in April to implement the following changes for next school year:

=         Eliminate 3.5 K-5 classroom teachers

=         Eliminate 2 ESPs (large classroom assistants)

=         Eliminate 1 ESP (administration building courier)

=         Eliminate 2 administrators (would require adding 2 special service coordinators)

=         Increase fees (curriculum, sports, clubs, etc.)

=         Reduce school supply budgets

=         Reduce construction and maintenance budgets

If a referendum still does not pass next November, the following year two actions could be taken:

=         Eliminate 1 administrator (add 1 special service coordinator)

=         Eliminate 3 ESP (building technology assistants)

=         Reduce school supply budgets

=         Increase fees (curriculum, transportation)

=         Eliminate 1 middle school band teacher

=         Eliminate 1 middle school orchestra teacher

=         Eliminate 2.6 K-5 art teachers

=         Eliminate 2.6 K-5 music teachers

=         Eliminate 4 middle school math teachers

=         Eliminate 1 middle school art teacher

=         Eliminate 1 middle school music teacher

If we are required to make all cuts, we would no longer have art or music classes starting in the 2019-2020 school year. At Westbrook, Fairview, and Lions Park, this would shorten the students’ school day, due to the need to add in teacher planning time (teachers currently plan while their students are at art and music).

Student fees

Administration also presented proposed student fee increases that would be implemented if a referendum does not pass. This includes fees for curriculum, athletics, clubs, performing arts and eighth-grade graduation. Many of these items could become completely parent funded. The Board will continue its discussion of fees in January.

Next steps

At its meeting on Thursday, December 21 (7 p.m., Fairview), the Board will vote whether to place the 85-cent increase on the ballot. There will be more opportunity for community comments at this meeting.

District 57 can only provide factual information and can’t use District resources to advocate for or against a referendum. If the Board does place a referendum on the ballot, a grass-roots campaign committee will likely be formed.

Dr. Elaine Aumiller
Superintendent of Schools

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Mount Prospect School District 57
701 W. Gregory
Mount Prospect, IL 60056
Phone: 847-394-7300
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mount prospect school district 57
701 w. gregory
mount prospect, il 60056
phone:  847-394-7300
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