Cary Grade School District 26 Prepares for Little State Aid

The following was written by Cary Elementary School Board President Scott Coffey under the article about the high effective tax rates paid in McHenry County, compared to the rest of the Chicago Metropolitan Area:

Regarding General State Aid for Chicago vs the suburbs below are some observations:

1. For 2017, Chicago will receive $1.1 billion in GSA ($3,183/pupil) with $704 million (or 64%) coming from the Poverty Grant component of GSA and the remainder coming from the Foundation formula which is primarily driven by EAV.

2. Crystal Lake D-47 will receive $8.8 million in GSA (only $1,246/pupil) with $1.0 million (or 12.5%) sourced from the Poverty Grant formula and $7.8 million from the Foundation component which is driven by EAV.

The GSA formula is structurally designed to more heavily weight funding to the Poverty Grant component based on DHS Low Income counts.

Therefore, the big winners in GSA funding will be democrat controlled cities (i.e. Chicago, Waukegan, Rockford, Elgin, etc.) given their high DHS Low Income counts.

Combine the GSA funding disparity with Chicago’s large EAV base and all the other funding Chicago receives from the State for categorical reimbursement and Federal sources, and you get a massive contrast in educational spending between Chicago and a suburban district.

Per ISBE, Chicago spends $9,778 per pupil on “Instructuctional Spending” alone.

Contrast that against local unit district’s spending rates of $4,879/pupil for Huntley 158 and $6,593 for Woodstock 200.

And this funding disparity will only grow worse as the legislature continues its efforts to modify state funding legislation to “re-distribute the wealth” away from the suburbs and send it over to Chicago, Waukegan, Rockford, etc.

For my district, Cary #26, we’ve spent years driving our operating cost structure down with the expectation that we’ll have to fund operations primarily on local resources.

ISBE has already scored several proposals over the last couple of years, and I don’t think too many McHenry County districts avoid a painful hit.


Cary Grade School District 26 Prepares for Little State Aid — 8 Comments

  1. Cary District 26 does not have Board Packets.

    The do have board agendas.

    And Board minutes.

    But no board packets.

    A board packet has all the board documents for the meeting in one pdf attachment.

  2. Oh I see now.


    Can a note and link be included fron the BOE Agendas and meeting logs page.


    What excuse do the bigger unit and high school districts have for not posting board packets.

    Such as Crystal Lake High School District 155 and Woodstock District 200.

  3. I live in unincorporated MC & also
    District 26.

    Appreciate cutting operation costs
    But the problem her are teachers &
    Administrator salaries & pensions
    Creating the SERIOUS TAX burden.

    Understand that dialing this back
    Isn’t easy, but this has to be done.

    Please stop giving into the teacher’s
    Union !

  4. There are many problems with collective bargaining in Illinois.

    Pension underfunding is not considered.

    Change documents are not presented to taxpayers at any point (underline text for additions and stricken text for deletions.

    And much more.

  5. Watchdog 2, while there is nothing we can do regarding pensions, we have addressed our labor costs.

    The salary changes under the union agreement since FY12 have been: 12= -3.0%, 13=zero, 14=zero, 15= +1.7%, 16= +1.5%.

    Additionally, over the previous 3 years we have had in place a BA-0 new-hire policy, where new hires are only brought in at the lowest base salary in the district.

    My guess is that this policy alone currently saves the district more than a million dollars/year given all of the new hires brought on during the previous 3 years.

    The result: Per ISBE, our average teacher salary has fallen from $80,226 in 2011 to $57,006 in 2015 (or almost a 30% reduction).

    I think we’ve had great success in reaching a point where the district can offer the programs, technology, new textbooks, etc. to make our students successful, while operating with an affordable, sustainable cost structure.

    As to the levy, while we are already operating with the second lowest operating tax rate in the county for K-8 districts, over the last 3 years we have actively implemented various different strategies that have reduced the current and future debt service levy by $1.6 million.

    By refinancing debt to reduce interest expense, refunding for less through the contribution of fund balance, establishing a bond sinking fund to retire debt early on its call date, and abating the debt service levy, we have been actively trying to reduce our community’s tax burden.

    For 2017, the fourth year in a row, it looks even better.

    The Board will shortly review a program that’s on target to add another $3.2 million in tax reduction savings through the simultaneous use of all of these strategies.

  6. Thank you Coffey for speaking to some
    Of the things the district has done to be
    More fiscally responsible.

    Please keep up the good work.

    My taxes went up $1000, the most
    I can remember in the 33 years we
    Have lived in our present home.

    Looked at average annual salaries
    For Illinois teachers & District 26
    Is still on the high side along with
    Cities like Evanston, Oak Park &

    These places are cities with larger
    Populations & more industry to offset
    School district costs.

    Too much of the school district costs
    Come out of the taxpayers pockets in
    District 26.

    District 26 is the largest part of the
    Pie on my tax bill.

    I do plan to attend some meetings
    In the next year, because all the board
    Needs to hear from taxpayers.

    Please, continue to work to keep
    Our taxes down !

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