Get the facts about the CCSD 89 referendum
In order to maintain educational programming during a steady increase in enrollment, the Community Consolidated School District 89 Board of Education unanimously agreed to place a tax-rate referendum on the November 6 ballot. At a regular meeting on August 20, Board members said, in light of the community response, they supported the ballot question.
“Residents have told us they do not want program cuts that would decrease our students’ opportunities, the quality of our schools, or the values of our homes,” said CCSD 89 board President Beth Powers. “Excellent schools have long been a bedrock of this community which is why the district is ranked among the best in the country.”
The Board members’ decision comes after months of work by the “Our 89” Community Engagement Committee and surveys of residents. At both community meetings and in surveys, residents said they did not want any further cuts that could impact the quality of education offered in CCSD 89 schools.
CCSD 89 enrollment has increased by 16.9 percent since 2012 and it is projected to grow an additional 10 percent in the next three years. Due to this enrollment increase and rising costs, CCSD 89 is facing deficit budgets for at least the next five fiscal years.
The Board will ask voters to approve a 40-cent tax increase. For a resident with a $300,000 home, the additional cost would be about $33 per month. CCSD 89 has not had an educational-rate increase since 1986.
The Board's vote comes after months of community-engagement work. In January 2018, CCSD 89 Superintendent Dr. Emily K. Tammaru convened a Superintendent’s Finance Committee to examine the district’s financial status and priorities. The committee looked at the nearly $3 million in cuts the district has made since 2009, and examined how rising enrollment and increasing costs have affected the district’s budget.
The members of the Finance Committee eventually recommended two options to the Board of Education:
- Option A: Increase revenues in order to maintain comprehensive, high-quality educational programming. Increasing revenues would allow the district to avoid cuts to programs that directly impact students.
- Option B: Reduce programs and increase fees. The district would need to make about $1.2 million in cuts during the 2019-20 school year. These cuts could include reductions of: gifted services, band and orchestra, social work services, library staff, and full-day kindergarten. The cuts could also result in larger class sizes. The cuts could be more significant in subsequent years.
The district then hosted three community meetings to share financial data and gather feedback. Community members who attended those meetings said they valued fiscal responsibility, but did not want cuts that would affect programming and potentially property values.
At the community meetings, 84.7 percent of the people in attendance said they supported increasing the tax rate rather than cutting programs to balance the budget. When the district conducted phone surveys this summer of all residents (parents and non parents), 56.9 percent of residents said they would support a 40-cent referendum.
* This post originally contained an error in comparing enrollment data.