A press release from District 300:
District 300 leaders expressed alarm and increasing skepticism today after reading press reports that some Illinois legislators are working on deals with Sears executives and village officials to extend Sears tax breaks for another 15 years at the direct expense of D300 students.
Sears is headquartered in Hoffman Estates within D300 boundaries.
“We are alarmed and deeply disturbed that the education of 21,000 children continues to be forgotten in political deals to benefit Sears and the Village of Hoffman Estates,”
said Michael Bregy, D300 Superintendent.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that District 300 continues to be left out of these incredibly important conversations.”
Because the state has given massive, unprecedented tax breaks to Sears for the past two decades, more than $200 million has gone straight into the pockets of corporations and developers instead of classrooms.
“Enough is enough,”
“They’ve had their turn.
“The time has come to put schools at the center of the conversation.”
Over the past nine years, District 300 has made over $28 million in budget reductions, resulting in larger classes, fewer academic and extra-curricular opportunities, and fewer jobs.
“What the public needs to understand is that tax breaks for Sears mean the loss of jobs in the education system,” Bregy said.
“Sears executives told us a few months ago that they would keep our students in mind when contemplating their options. But their claims about potentially moving are full of holes. And frankly, we find it harder and harder to believe that Sears executives will keep their word to our students.”
“Some politicians have framed the issue as EITHER
- Sears receives 15 more years of massive tax breaks OR
- thousands of Sears employees will lose their jobs.
The truth is that alternatives can and should be developed that would protect the jobs of Sears employees while also protecting educational opportunities.
“Some elected officials are scaring the public into thinking that they have no options,” Bregy said.
“That is not only misleading, it shows a lack of creative thinking. Our elected leaders must get out of the ‘hostage’ mentality when it comes to corporate deal-making.”
Superintendent Bregy called on voters and educators to get involved with a parent-led community group called Advance 300, to work together in pressing legislators and Sears officials to understand the facts and do the right thing. The Advance 300 Facebook page can be found here.
“At this point, our students have at least two allies in the Illinois legislature: State Senator Pam Althoff, who thankfully blocked a hush-hush midnight vote that would have extended the Sears EDA for 15 years without full public knowledge, and State Senator Michael Noland, who has consistently come out against the EDA extension,” Bregy said.
“What we need are a few dozen Pam Althoffs and Michael Nolands, and a few thousand voters to help us get there.”
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Advance 300, of course, is the tax hike political action committee that pushed through the last tax hike and bond referendum with developer and school district vendor/consultant money.