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Golf D-67 Explains Referendum at Open House

District 67 made cuts after March referendum failed; the Niles- Morton Grove district is asking for less money now. Voters must decide if they want to pay more in property taxes to improve programs and the buildings in the district.

 

Voters who live in Golf Elementary School District 67 will be asked to vote on a referendum on their Nov. 6 election ballots (or earlier if they participate in Early Voting).

Recently, parent volunteers, administrators and consultants sat in the library at Golf Middle School Open House to explain why they are asking citizens to vote yes. They also explained how much they have cut from the budget, and how much the referendum would cost voters in property taxes, if it gets passed. 

The district has 550 students, who live in Morton Grove and Niles, at two schools: Hynes Elementary and Golf Middle School. 

Tom Sikoral, a parent who has three children in the district, was manning a slide presentation that showed how much money the district had cut from its budget since the previous referendum questions failed in the election in March.

The total savings, after all the cuts, is $722,684.

District cut programs, staff

Cuts included salary negotiations with the teachers union, refinancing to get a lower interest rate, eliminating teachers, staff and programs, requiring a fee for students to participate in athletics and reducing early and late bus routes, the library/media center and the full-day kindergarten program.

The district has also reduced the amount of money it is asking for since the March request. The new plan calls less work to be done--Sikoral explained the district cut out certain items on its wish list, such as reconfiguring the front of the schools, redoing the parking lots and a diesel generator--for a facilities ask of $7.9 million. (That's down from the $9.7 million request in last spring's election.) The other referendum question, for operating expenses, is for $1.14 million.

Building repairs, improvements would be made

Architect Leanne Meyer-Smith of Wight & Co. gave an overview of the building repairs and improvements that will be made if the referendum passes. Photos of the aged boiler, masonry cracks, unsecure doors and gymnasium that doubles as a lunchroom can be seen here

"We did a facilities assessment and looked at both schools top to bottom," she said. 

The district asked people who visited previous open houses to choose the repairs and improvements most important to them, and put those on its "to be done" list if the referendum passes. 

"Both schools would get new HVAC systems. They're both really worn down," Meyer-Smith said. 

Of the repairs to be done, $2 million would be at Hynes Elementary and $1.5 million at Golf Middle School.

No room for kids to take Physical Education

The next biggest expense at Hynes is the new gym. Meyer-Smith explained that the cafeteria at Hynes is in use for so many hours that there are not enough hours in the day left to offer physical education classes (in the same room). Illinois requires students to take physical education; but District 67 has gotten a waiver from the state. It expires in 2016, however, she said.

Plumbing at both school buildings is original, and is corroded and needs to be replaced, according to Meyer-Smith. Some masonry and doors also need to be fixed, and while the ceilings are down, the district would install fire safety sprinklers.

What it would cost

The facilities question, if passed, would cost Morton Grove residents $27 per every $1,000 they pay in property taxes, and Niles residents $30 for every $1,000 they pay in property taxes

The operating funds question, if passed, would cost Morton Grove residents $45 per every $1,000 of property taxes paid, and Niles residents $49 for every $1,000 of property taxes paid.

If both referendums pass, then the owner of a Morton Grove home who pays $5,000 in property taxes would  pay an additional $360 annually. The owner of a Niles home would pay an additional $395. For a home with a $10,000 property tax bill, double those amounts.

Elizabeth Hennessy, a financial consultant with William Blair, provided moredetailed information about what the referendums would cost residents in property taxes, which can be seen here.

After Election Day

If the referendums pass, the district would restore programs and staff it cut, Sikoral said. If it fails, more staff and program cuts will be made, including increasing class size by forming multi-age classrooms.

Sikoral said he got involved because he has observed that schools today require technology, which makes it more expensive to operate them.

"Being a parent, I want my kids to get the best education that's out there," he said. "When they go to high school, these kids get an amazing amount of awards. The base education here is excellent. That's one of the reasons I moved to this school district. I like the smaller school district and lower teacher-student ratio."

 

Christine November 06, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Dear Mr. Falzone, Voting yes is not "doing the right thing." Setting a budget, being fiscally responsible and using the money entrusted to you wisely is. There are other options for full-day kindergarten. They may not be free, but they are still good options in a safe environment with a low student-teacher ratio. St. John Brebeuf School in Niles, for example, could offer your daughter an excellent full day pre-school and kindergarten education. Its not free, but its affordable and worth every penny. With or without this referendum, we will still be in a very good school district. Its all relative. When you compare our Dist. 67 to other districts, we're still pretty darn good and have so much to offer. I don't believe anyone is debating the need for building repairs; I believe at the heart of the debate among those of us who are voting no is the huge waste of money that has plagued this district for many, many years and the lack of a plan for turning things around and spending our tax dollars wisely. Until that can be guaranteed, I will vote no.
Chuck Falzone November 06, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Ms. Aragon, As far as I can tell, there is no "huge waste of money that has plagued this district for many, many years." I heard similar claims when these referenda were on the ballot this spring, and despite my best efforts, I was completely unable to find specific information about it online. What I did find, in an article in the Champion, is that the district had not asked for an increase in its tax rate *since 1969.* I understand that property tax hikes are painful; at the same time, asking for one every fifty or so years is more than reasonable. It's also evidence, in itself, that the district has been fiscally responsible. Voting yes on these referenda is absolutely the right thing to do.
Z November 07, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Why does everyone appear to think that referendum is the only means to raise money? How do you think it was done during the decades that SD 67 did not pass referendum? I'd rather provide a $1000.00 donation than see $1k more in property taxes per year. Raise money, be accountable, stop giving ridiculous pensions to the staff and administration.
o November 07, 2012 at 05:20 AM
I agree that teachers in golf 67 are highly paid, even compared with East Main 63, but also Illnois does not fund schools well through State aid. They rely on property taxes. Why you may be willing to give a donation, I shouldn't have to sell brownies for my child to have gym class (a state mandated requirement). There are too many old people here who don't even pay the high property tax. Also many parents may not be able to vote because they are all foriegners. We need to reneogogiate the salaries of teachers or merge school districts ( I wish). But the building is horrible it looks like it belongs in the ghetto. Also all you old people your property values will go down even more. So when you move to Florida or youe children selll you stuff in an estate sale you won't be leaving them much. Stop taking the niles free bus I pay for....
o November 07, 2012 at 05:32 AM
Also all you families who send your kids to SJB, I think you have a right to send your kids to your religion's school but please we are not all Catholic in this area. SJB average class size is 30 students (in a private school). They don't even have a playground?? For the old folks (yeah is sucks your property tax increaases) but my social security tax goes uo each year too. But I can't vote you out of existence, maybe move to another area outside of here. But I agree the teachers are ridiculously paid high. Some college profs don't make that much....$86K. In my home state they make do with less (outside of IL).

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