An increase in the real estate tax levy assessed by the Deerfield Public Schools District 109 Board of Education of potentially more than five percent was unanimously approved at Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting.
The hike means the owner of a home worth $475,000 last year which is now worth $451,250 this year could pay an additional $174 annually in property taxes based on information contained in a 39-page report made available to the public at the meeting.
School Board President Ellen London explained the uncertainty over what the Illinois General Assembly will do over its long standing failure to fund teacher pensions along with the need to utilize the potential to increase revenue in the face of that insecurity was a major contributing factor to the increase.
“We don’t know if the legislature is going to put the burden on us,” London said. “Whatever we don’t take now will be lost forever.” The Board is limited by state law in the amount it can increase the levy each year. It cannot recoup what was available in past years it did not capture.
Deerfield resident Marshall Hector expressed the same fear of the unknown when he asked the Board to keep taxes in place and utilize cost cutting instead. He is feeling pinched by declining real estate values and increased taxes.
“Mr. (Illinois House of Representatives Speaker Michael) Madigan (D-Chicago) and his cronies will transfer the pension problem to the school districts but they won’t give us any tax relief,” Hector said. “Grass roots activism starts here. We ask that you work hard, use zero-based budgeting.”
London explained the Board had been combining jobs and reducing costs wherever it could for the past nine years since the last referendum. “We’ve been using zero based budgeting,” she said. “We said (then) we wouldn’t do anything for six years and it’s been nine.”
Modification Coming for Middle School Schedules and More
In other action, the Board heard a report from representatives of Shepard and Caruso Middle Schools about plans to increase the intimacy of the academic experience by developing teams of students and teachers in the core subjects of math, science, social studies and language arts.
The Board also heard reports about the community survey, progress in the search for a replacement for retiring Superintendent Renee Goier and an update of the Strategic Plan. Patch will have more detailed stories later this week on the middle school schedule changes and other issues.