There is a critical election for District 155 school board on April 4. This election doesn’t offer a choice between different political viewpoints – it’s a choice between fantasy and reality.
The slate of Kurtz, Pletz, Kamner and Vetter is running on a promise to “cut D155 taxes and improve schools.” The notion that they can improve our excellent schools by depriving them of resources is a fantasy. Significantly reducing our levy will require laying off staff and would likely include an array of other cuts. This could lead to increased class sizes, fewer course choices, reduced extracurricular opportunities, more and higher fees for services, and falling test scores.
The “cut taxes at all costs” slate would have you believe that they will bring a massive wave of taxpayer relief with their cuts, but this is also a fantasy. Even if they slash the tax levy by 10% — which would be devastating for our schools – the homeowner of a $200,000 house would save less than $20 per month. The homeowner of a $300,000 house would save $25 per month1. And when those draconian cuts reduce our students’ test scores and educational opportunities, property values will fall.
School boundaries are one of the primary drivers of home value – why would we take chances by chipping away at our community’s most valuable resource? If your home loses even 3% of its value after a 10% levy reduction, it will take 30 years for you break even with your tax savings.
The slate’s motives for doing this also aren’t grounded in reality. They claim the district has raised taxes by 28% over ten years; however, the district’s revenue from local sources has only gone up about 7% since 2011 (the earliest year the district has available on its website)2.
The increased tax burden is a result of the community’s reduced equalized assessed value (EAV) as a result of the recession, which the board of education does not influence. In reality, each homeowner’s D155 tax burden has gone down the last two years.
They will tell you that we spend too much money per student because the cost has increased over time. The cost of education does increase over time along with the cost of most everything else. However, the reality is that D155’s operational costs per student are less than the state average for high schools3 while our district’s students outperform the state average for high schools4. This means we get a quality return on our investment in this community.
It is irresponsible if not self-destructive to cut costs by targeting an area where your money is well spent. The “cut taxes at all costs” slate knows the cost of our schools but not their value, and they don’t seem interested in learning about it.
The D155 Education Association endorses the slate of Ron Ludwig, Jason Blake and Nicole Pavoris for the board of education. They promise to draw upon their experiences in education, administration and finance to be careful stewards of our tax dollars while maintaining the quality of our outstanding schools. They will do the hard work necessary in making difficult choices rather than taking the easy road of carelessly slashing and burning our budget. That’s the reality of how successful schools are managed. Anyone telling you otherwise is hoping you’ll buy into a fantasy.
- D155 December 2016 tax levy presentation
- D155 Finance homepage – “Annual Budgets”
- RebootIllinois. Reprinted on Patch.com
- Chicago Tribune 2014 school report cards