Monday, July 31, 2006

Another tax hike request?

Another example of how school boards do not take no for an answer. The following article appeared on Students First and in the Daily Herald.

Another tax hike request?


By Russell Lissau

Daily Herald

A Mundelein High School committee is finalizing a plan to put a new funding request on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The group is weighing whether to ask voters to borrow money - possibly more than $10 million - for improvements at the Hawley Street campus. Cafeteria renovations and replacing the grass on the football field with artificial turf are among the projects being considered, committee chairman Skip Spillone said.

The school board ultimately will decide whether to ask voters for more money. If the plan moves forward, it will be the district's third referendum campaign since April 2005.

Neither of the previous efforts was successful, but that doesn't matter to Spillone.

"If you need it, you have to keep going for it," he said.

But board member Karen Havlik, who also sits on the committee, doubts the board will support a ballot question that doesn't address the school's educational needs. The previous referendum, brought before voters this past March, focused on education, she pointed out.

"Without an education component, we're giving the public very mixed signals," Havlik said.

Board Vice President Steve Wirt said he hasn't heard the committee's proposals yet and is eager to review its suggestions.

The committee expects to speak to the board about its plans Aug. 8. The board has until Sept. 5 to decide whether to put a question on the November ballot.

The referendum committee formed earlier this summer and consists of local residents and two board members, Havlik and Jesse Ortega.

The group has a wish list of about 15 projects, Spillone said. Projects on the list include remodeling and expanding the music rooms and replacing sections of the roof.

Not all of the possible projects will stay on the list, Spillone said. The price tags for the projects probably total about $15 million now, Spillone said, and he wants to get that figure down to $10 million or $12 million.

"It's hard to say where it's going to end up," Spillone said.

If the board opts to put a loan for facility improvements on the ballot, the question would be radically different from the district's most recent funding request. This past March, voters rejected a proposal to boost the maximum tax rate for the education fund.

Voters shot down three funding requests in April 2005. One would have refinanced existing loans, another would have borrowed money for the working cash fund, and a third would have raised money for construction projects.

The community authorized a $12.5 million building expansion in 1995.

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