From Woodstock resident Susan Handelsman:
10 years ago d200 borrowed over $100 million to build three new schools.
3,300 of new enrollment capacity was created.
In the ensuing years there has been no growth in enrollment, but we have been paying for full costs of operation and maintenance on all d200 buildings even though many are operating far below enrollment capacity.
Enrollment is projected to decrease over the next five years.
D200 has spent and borrowed and hired more each year for the past decade, all while our home values fell drastically.
With flat district enrollment, the district FTE (full time equivalent) employment rose from 743 to 932.
Total Annual expenditures rose from $55 million to $97 million.
District cost per pupil rose from $9,500 per year to $14,700.
The property tax burden rose from $53 million to $59 million. More money taken form homeowners, yet D200 was getting more and more money from Illinois tax coffers.
General State Aid, that is money from Illinois, has risen from annual $7 million to $14 million.
The district debt has long exceeded the percentage limit which was set by law to protect taxpayers from irresponsible borrowing by school districts.
When accrued unpaid interest owed is factored in, we owe over $140 million dollars, more than we owed ten years ago.
All the additional money taken from taxpayers was spent on…what?
Not to pay down crushing debt load, not to fund increased enrollment because there was no increased enrollment.
Additionally D200 has unfunded pension obligation for employees of over $210 million dollars.
The plan to consolidate high schools, and merge Dean, Clay, and Northwoods students into other schools, as well as closing District Administration buildings, is projected to save at least $3 million dollars per year going forward.
It will preserve expansion capacity for 1,700 new students.
$3 million of cash savings represents $395 per $100,000 of home value annual savings from property taxes.
With the average home value in Woodstock of $155,000 that would save $612 per year for an average Woodstock household.
Because property tax rates are fully capitalized into home values, the budget reduction also represents a savings of $612 worth of an average home value each year which would continue to be lost in the alternative.
Additionally, there will be a savings of $6 million of building improvements which are to occur in the near future on the three older buildings: Clay, Dean, and Northwoods.
$6 million will mean a savings of $1,224 per home worth $155000, with an additional $1,224 savings of property devaluation.
Today we have a 4.6% property tax rate and our home values remain severely depressed while the rest of the nation has enjoyed a full recovery to pre-recession values.
America has an average property tax rate of 1.4% of total home fair market value.
As our extraordinary 4.6% property tax rate is capitalized into our home values, we lose over 3% every year off the value of what is for most of us our biggest investment for retirement.
In addition to the erosion of our home values, due to D200 overspending we lose thousands of dollars a year from household budgets, which most Americans are allowed to keep to save for their own retirement or save for a child’s college fund, or spend to stimulate their local economy.
All over America and Illinois, communities provide all the public services, such as education, required by law.
All over America, communities provide these same services and hold property taxes nearer to the American average of 1.4% than to the extraordinary Woodstock rate of 4.6%.
I ask that proponents of continued overspending by this district present some proof of some benefit of this overspending.
We spend more than $1.33 for every dollar spent by Huntley Unit School District per student per year.
What are we getting that is worth one third more than Huntley students are getting?
There is a high human cost to Woodstock’s 4.6% property tax rate.
If opponents to cutting D200 costs will not cite quantifiable objections with specific rationales, but insist on arguing emotional generalities, I beg them to at least answer one specific question:
Is there a maximum dollar amount you are willing to demand from all of us before you feel any twinge of conscience, any moral compulsion to show compassion for the economic devastation you are causing so many of your less fortunate neighbors?
My point is, if you cannot articulate a maximum amount that you are willing to take from others to fulfill your personal vaguely defined desires, we must see our community not as a community but as a collection of adversaries fighting one another for survival.