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109 Board Hikes Tax Levy

In other business, changes are revealed for Deerfield middle school schedules.

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.

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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.

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Daniel Krudop November 13, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Sorry, Mr. Hector. The "grass roots" in this community spoke loudly and clearly a week ago that they want to keep Speaker Madigan and his policies by electing a Democratic Representative. The people of this community are intelligent individuals and would never replace a Democratic State Senator and Democratic State Representative with more of the same unless they were completely satisfied with the status quo. The votes they cast reflect their willingness to "step up to the plate" so to speak and contribute their "fair share" to the pensions of the teachers.
Mara Meyer November 13, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Let's address the squandering of funds by the school district. Programs abandoned for ineffectiveness without really assessing viability. Making decisions without proper planning and again not assessing efficiency or effectiveness. Offerring retirement packages to employees without regard to implications for future generations. The decision making process starts at the Board, who obviously does not have a handle on the community. They have given the Superintendent carte blanche which we are all feeling the pinch.
RonnieTheLimoDriver November 13, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I'll summarize the board's position. "We don't know what is going to happen, so let's raise taxes just in case." Sounds that some very careful analysis was done to come to this conclusion.
John Russillo November 13, 2012 at 03:15 PM
And apparently the carefully studied Facilities plan (which we paid a consultant for over a year to develop) is not really a plan, it's just a goal. When I asked what a STEM classroom looks like, I got 6 blank stares. We're looking to allocate $20M to STEM and an early childhood center, and other than mapping out some square footage requirements, the Board has no clue what they are signing up for. But it's not a plan, it's just a goal, according to Mr. Schwartz. No studies have been done to determine what curriculum to use. The teachers and building admin have not been consulted. I talked to a couple of science teachers who don't even know what STEM is! The board is voting to approve this plan at the next meeting. Good thing it's only a goal.
NB November 13, 2012 at 03:16 PM
A home worth $475K that is now worth $451K and we're going to raise property taxes? What the GD Mffing Hell is wrong with these people. Our homes are worth less, the recovery is not complete. Many of us still make less than we made before the recession and you're going to raise property taxes? What the HELL is wrong with you? And district 113. And the Village. And the Park District. And the Township and all of the other taxing bodies on my tax bill. You're really making the prospect of one day just packing up and walking away from this unaffordable tax trap very attactive.
John Russillo November 13, 2012 at 03:19 PM
And by the way, there was no discussion of the tax levy by the board. Just 6 yes votes. Done deal.
Mara Meyer November 13, 2012 at 04:57 PM
I can't imagine being so irresponsible! This is not your checkbook, this is OUR COLLECTIVE Checkbook. Does the Board not want to act with the commuity in mind? Obviously with the way programs and/or policy is either ignored or bantied about, this Board is operating with it's head in the clouds. They seek input from staff only to ignore the input. They operate in a vacuum. The supposed Facilities Plan is a GOAL? Does the Board seek the tax levy to make these improvements without seeking the Communities approval. What gives? After the behavior last year regarding the teachers this is really expected. BTW, when discussing the District Special Education Policy this weekend with several well respected attorneys I will told how the Policy for Special Education for this District is a continuous blocking scheme. Scheme is the operative word.
Richard Heller November 13, 2012 at 05:16 PM
I was also disappointed in the Board's decision. Last night's meeting presented so much information . . . some of it quite good and deserving of further exploration by the board. Apparently, the board decided the tax increase behind closed doors, because, like you said, John, there was no public discussion. That's troubling. As experienced, sincere, and honest as our Treasurer is, our community suffers because the lack of public discussion denies him of the experience and insights of the board members. As to the new strategic plan roll-out, there were many good ideas. But the board again overlooked their responsibility and forgot that theirs is the last review, the last opportunity to get it right, before the committees move forward with their plans. My concern is the board is mistaking governance with entertainment. These reports from committees and the school community require board member scrutiny, if for no other reason than to ensure that alternatives were considered. Each member of the board is certainly capable of asking those questions and discussing these matters openly and more fully. That's the reason we have a board. And, the board needs to keep in mind that their silence isn't golden, it costs us gold!
Eagle November 13, 2012 at 10:47 PM
"Many of us still make less than we made before the recession and you're going to raise property taxes?" Teachers should have a 401K that they fund, just like any of us who pay their pensions! Why do these people get to work for 25 years and retire and make almost what they did when they were still working, while you and I have to work until we are 65 for about 20% of what we made if SS is still around? Worse yet, WE are paying their pensions!
Eagle November 13, 2012 at 10:49 PM
The "board" does not care! It is pretty obvious!
Eagle November 13, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Is anyone else bothered by teachers pensions? I think teachers are important jobs and they should be paid accordingly. I do not believe in the pension system for any state and local jobs. They should have a 401K plan like every one else. The private sector stopped pensions, because they could not afford them. When the state defaults and the local municipalities are responsible, this will come to a head. How much more can we be taxed? Just wait until next year when Obamacare taxes come into full swing, we are going to be the ones in trouble!
Wyatt Gardner November 13, 2012 at 11:52 PM
How does the school board have the authority to raise property taxes that authority should be exclusive to the village board ONLY
John Russillo November 14, 2012 at 01:15 AM
By the way as part of the District 109 strategic plan one of the measurements is bullying. They presented data showing that currently 25% of the middle school students have reported bullying within the past year. I don't know what's more disturbing, that or the fact that they set the goal at 20%. We're comfortable with 20% of our kids being bullied? Oy vey, when is the election?
Mara Meyer November 14, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Wyatt, my guess is you don't see how things work in IL, Land of Lincoln! Each "Governmental" body has equal power to all other governmental agencies. Dangerous, huh! Kind of makes electing officials of each pretty important!
Mara Meyer November 14, 2012 at 03:31 AM
How about ZERO TOLERANCE!
NB November 14, 2012 at 04:09 AM
The village board has the authority because of "home rule". The school districts, park district, library board, fire, mosquito abatement, et al, are separate taxing districts. As I understand it, they can increase taxes up to a certain percentage, then have to offer a public referendum to go further. Frankly, though, while I don't believe that you should treat a public budget the same way a family treats a private budget, local governments don't have the option to have unbalanced budgets like the feds, so when the people you get tax revenue are hurting, it doesn't seem to me to make a lot of sense to raise their taxes. Make sure the roof doesn't leak, the windows are good, the teachers are paid and have decent materials to work with, call it a day. They keep raising taxes, I leave my house. Why do we keep electing these people into office?
Wyatt Gardner November 14, 2012 at 07:13 AM
Brad Schneider the faux "small business owner" who stole the election from Robert Dold is responsible for allowing school boards to do crazy things like this without a referendum.
Wyatt Gardner November 14, 2012 at 07:23 AM
Finally, in 1970 Illinois adopted a new constitution which designated any municipality with a population greater than 25,000 as a home rule unit, securing for Chicago the power to handle most municipal matters without seeking permission from Springfield. With the assent of the local electorate, less populous municipalities could choose home rule status, and the first to do so were the Cook County communities of McCook, Bedford Park, Rosemont, Countryside, and Stone Park. Deerfield's population is under 25k it's just over 18k so home rule doesn't apply
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John Russillo November 14, 2012 at 01:43 PM
You mean like authorizing 12% raises for some of the administrators? Allowing gas purchases on the taxpayer's dime? Requiring administrators to get their PhD's on the taypayer's dime? Are you actually saying that they should reign in spending before asking for a tax increase?
MSB November 14, 2012 at 04:12 PM
@ Eagle, courtesy of our wonderful board, their D109 administrator friends already have a 401K equivalent-- a 403b-- ON TOP of their pensions with generous annual contributions of around $15,000 each year. This should make you do a double take on the double dip. And as John mentioned before, the average raise for administrators was 6% with some receiving 12% this year. You’ve got to wonder what is going on!! And the board claims that they are keeping costs neutral?

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