Parents' group fights to keep Rockdale School District 84 open via tax hike
A grassroots group of parents is fighting hard in Rockdale to pass a referendum restoring school funding lost during the recent state budget battle.
The Committee to Save Our School District 84 is backing a ballot measure Tuesday that would raise property taxes by 0.9 percent to recover $290,000 pulled from the town's K-8 school, according to the group's website.
The new plan is expected to raise $700,000, enough to pay off the school's debt and provide $200,000 toward a reserve fund, committee chairman Scott Philiph told Will County Gazette.
For a home valued at $100,000, the typical property tax payment would increase by about $300 annually. A fact sheet downloadable on the group website provides a more detailed analysis.
The referendum is necessary because under state law, the district is not allowed to raise property taxes enough to cover the shortfall, according to Philiph. If the measure fails this time around, it could be re-introduced in the spring, but with a caveat.
“However, they would then need to start looking at short-term loans, to keep the district running, on top of making additional cuts to things like core teachers, because they've already cut just about everything else they can," Philiph said.
The cuts have already included canceling all extra-curricular activities. Any future cuts would cause layoffs, cut technology and reduce textbook spending, according to the group’s website. The drastic cuts would also balloon class sizes to 35 students, versus state recommendations of 15-20.
An even greater threat to the school is the possibility that it could be phased out altogether. As the website explains, if the school slips too far into debt, the local board of education is allowed under state law to dissolve the school. While nearby districts would absorb the students, the debt from the closed school would remain the taxpayers’ problem.
“A major piece of our community could then be lost," Philiph said in the release.