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Board Splits Over Higher Tax Levy

Board Splits Over Higher Tax Levy

Like many towns and cities across the United States, residents of Chicago are currently fighting over school tax hikes and their impact on their budget. The current dilemma is in District 41, where the school board members have proposed and approved a hike of up to 3.49% for the 2016 year. Although there are still plenty of negotiations to happen, locals are wondering what this means for them.

Realistic Tax Levy

The tax levy is necessary to help the district support items that the school needs. During the last discussion, half of the board members agreed that it is time for a change. The residents of District 41 have reached the maximum which they are willing and able to pay in school taxes – and they want the increases to stop. On the flip side, those members supporting a higher tax levy, 3.49%, claim it is necessary to accommodate the growing demands of education today.

Why is it Necessary?

Every public school system receives a sizable amount of its funding from tax payers. The tax rate proposed is factored into the property taxes that each family pays during the year. The state of Illinois is one of only a handful of states whose public schools receive 45% of their funding from tax payers. In most other states, it is 65%.

Why Are People Upset?

Those who are pushing for a lower tax levy hoped it would be around 1.9%. Residents are upset because the tax levies continue to increase, taking more of their hard earned money for survival. The simple truth, for some, is that the school needs to cut back on spending in a big way. According to one board member, forcing the lower tax levy will force the school to make the appropriate cuts in spending to generate a reasonable budget for school operations.

What Could This Mean?

Programs that generate little to no income or are seen as non-essential are always the first to go. This typically includes arts programs. However, the play for more creative aspects in schools is slowing down the number of districts opting to cut these types of programs completely. The second cut that can be made is within the sports department. The cost of bussing athletes to events, paying for uniforms and equipment, and staff to coach and oversee programs is high for larger inner city schools like District 41. If the teams are not winning championship games, then the school isn’t receiving additional bonuses to support those programs. Another avenue for budget cuts lies within those sports programs which are not as profitable.

Unfortunately, the modern day of education requires everything from new types of equipment to new textbooks based on new curriculum. Schools across the country are facing the high cost of adapting to these changes and are forced to make less-than-favorable decisions in order to accommodate their budget needs without putting too much of the burden on local tax payers.