In an extensive article by former Northwest Herald Editor Dan McCabe, now working for the Illinois News Network under former NWH Managing Editor Chris Krug, McCabe sites the impending tax hike vote on the Crystal Lake High School District 155 Board.
John Peltz ran for that school board in April’s election, but lost.
Unlike most unsuccessful candidates, Peltz did not sit at home in a funk.
He continuing attending Board meetings.
Yesterday he wrote a letter to the NWH urging people to contact high school board members.
And McCaleb weighed in as well.
Here’s what he wrote about the high school district he still works in:
McCaleb: Illinois state motto should be changed to ‘More’
Case in point: It’s tax-levy season in Illinois, which means many local governing bodies will be deciding whether they want to increase, decrease, or hold steady the amount of property taxes they collect from their home and business owners next year.
And my local high school district – yes, like many Illinoisans, I pay property taxes to two separate school districts – is a prime example of the “more” mentality.
Enrollment has been shrinking at Crystal Lake-based School District 155’s four primary high schools since 2009, by nearly 500 students in total, or 7 percent.
A consultant hired by the district is predicting accelerated enrollment decline for the next 10 years, or a 30 percent reduction overall.
It recommends consolidating the district’s four high schools into three, which would save the district $4 million in annual operating costs.
The consultant also said D-155 has more administrators in all four schools and its central office than other districts.
And according to ISBE, D-155 has enough money in reserve to fund operations for about a full calendar year if it didn’t receive another dime of tax revenue.
Despite all of this, a majority of District 155 school board members say the district still needs more money from taxpayers.
Board members in support and the district’s administration say the tax increase is needed to fund about $50 million in maintenance projects that have been put off in recent years.
It’s, well, outrageous.
In front of a crowded room of taxpayers who said they can’t possibly give more, the board ignored them last week and tentatively approved a 4.45 percent levy increase that would raise property taxes on beleaguered homeowners by $3.2 million across the district.
The district’s governing body will make its final decision next month.
Like me, many of the district’s other taxpayers aren’t buying it.
Crystal Lake resident and business owner John Pletz questions the need for a levy increase.
Pletz, who ran for a seat on the school board in the spring and lost, said the district does a good job educating students, but noted its expenses have increased significantly over the past several years despite enrollment declines and a handful of teacher reductions.
“Nine years ago, it cost about $9,000 a year to teach a student” in D-155, Pletz said.
“Now, it’s $16,000. We get a great product.
“The problem is, why does it cost 60 percent more?”
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A commenter calls me out for not reprinting Jack Franks’ quote about being able to find money to cut in the budget.
Why would I doubt that he would come to the meeting with specific suggestions?
The same reason I criticized him for his bogus Cut 10 campaign.
Impressionable voters were led to believe that the real estate taxes on their homes would be cut 10%, if he were elected.
Those with but a small understanding of the property tax system knew that a County Board Chairman would have no impact whatsoever on the levies of school districts.
I welcome the opportunity to be proven wrong.
Let Franks show how the District 155 budget can be cut 10% and, then, convince his allies and supporters on the school board to vote such a cut.