701 W. Gregory Mount Prospect, IL 60056  |  847-394-7300
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Superintendent's Message
A Message from Your Superintendent
 
December 18, 2017 
 
 A Message from Your Superintendent

A lot of information has been shared regarding the District’s potential referendum. We want to make sure our community members understand what is being considered, so we have put together the following Q & A. Please review this information, and, if possible, come learn more at the School Board meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, December 21, at Fairview. Also, be sure to read the District 57 fall/winter newsletter, with important news from the District and the schools, at this link. Thank you for making an effort to stay informed!


1.      In general, if a referendum does not pass, how would the District’s four schools and students be affected?
Without a successful referendum, District 57 schools would be forced to cut approximately 30 staff positions over the next two years, resulting in class sizes of up to 31 students at the elementary schools and 40 students at the middle school (the District already has one of the highest student-to-teacher ratios in the area). Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, there would be no art or music at any of the schools, and the band and orchestra programs would be eliminated. The elementary school day would be shortened, to allow for teacher planning time. The construction and maintenance budgets would be reduced, limiting the ability to make repairs and safety and security upgrades that are necessary due to years of underfunding. Student fees would increase, with many programs becoming completely parent funded.

2.      What is the timeline for making cuts, if a referendum does not pass, and what are the specific cuts and changes that have been proposed?
Without a successful referendum, the District’s deficit will have to be reduced by 50 percent each of the next two school years, with the first-year cuts totaling $850,000. A budget deficit reduction committee has identified recommended cuts. The Board would need to vote on the first round of cuts in April. Here’s what has been proposed:

2018-2019 school year

=         Eliminate 1 full-time classroom teacher at Fairview or Lions Park, 2 full-time teachers at Westbrook, 1 part-time teacher at Westbrook (3.5 K-5 classroom teachers)

=         Eliminate the assistant principals at Fairview and Lions Park (would require adding 2 special service coordinators)

=         Eliminate 2 large classroom assistants

=         Eliminate 1 administration building courier

=         Reduce the schools’ supply budgets

=         Reduce construction and maintenance budgets

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



2019-2020 school year
=         Eliminate the assistant principal at Westbrook (add 1 special service coordinator)

=         Eliminate all Fairview, Lions Park and Westbrook art teachers (2.6 K-5 art teachers)

=         Eliminate all Fairview, Lions Park and Westbrook music teachers (2.6 K-5 music teachers)

=         Eliminate the middle school art teacher

=         Eliminate the middle school music teacher

=         Eliminate 4 middle school math teachers

=         Eliminate the middle school band teacher

=         Eliminate the middle school orchestra teacher

=         Eliminate the 3 elementary building technology assistants

=         Further reduce the schools’ supply budgets (schools would only have funds to purchase paper)

=         Increase fees (curriculum, transportation)

With these cuts, there would no longer be art or music classes at any District 57 school starting in the 2019-2020 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).

3.      How much would a successful referendum cost the average District 57 taxpayer?
The ballot language that the Board is considering entails an 85-cent, or 0.85 percent, increase over the last known limiting tax rate paid (going from a rate of 2.75 percent to 3.60 percent). It is difficult for the District to calculate the individual impact of this increase, given that each person’s taxes vary greatly, based on home value, exemptions and other individualized factors. The ballot language would state that the referendum could equate to $238 per year per $100,000 of home value. But the tax increase for individual homeowners could be lower, for two reasons. First, according to election rules, the estimate on the ballot must be based on last year’s equalized assessed value (EAV) and Cook County multiplier.  These numbers fluctuate, and, in fact, the multiplier was unusually high this year. Second, an estimate on the ballot cannot include any exemptions, but most 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. 

4.      Why is it necessary for District 57 to receive additional funding or make spending cuts?

The District is facing serious financial challenges caused by growing enrollment, rising operating costs, a low commercial tax base, state and federal cuts, and unfunded mandates. In addition, it has been almost three decades since voters approved additional funding for education and facilities. It’s also worth noting that District 57 has the lowest tax rate of surrounding school districts. The District has been forced to draw down its fund balance (or emergency reserves), which will be depleted in a few years. A school district cannot operate without emergency reserves. Therefore, District 57 must either receive additional funding through a successful tax referendum OR make significant cuts to staffing and programs starting next school year.

5.      What are the next steps?
At its meeting on Thursday, Dec. 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. If a referendum is placed on the ballot, the District can only provide factual information; District resources cannot be used to advocate for or against a referendum. Campaign efforts would come from a grass-roots committee made up of concerned citizens. The election is on March 20, 2018.

6.      Where can I find more detailed information?

=         Background on the District’s financial situation and funding proposals at this link

=         Results of public opinion survey at this link

=         Community Forum presentation at this link

=         District 57 fall/winter newsletter at this link

 
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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