It is difficult to pick up a newspaper today and not read an article about school funding woes in the state of Illinois.
I am not sure if Somonauk School District 432 caught it earlier than others, or had further to fall because of higher-than-average Lake Holiday and surrounding area property values, but the end result is the same.
Since 2009, the district has seen a significant decline in EAV, or Equalized Assessment Valuation (home values) and as a result has already seen a drop of more than $1 million annually.
It is expected that the revenue will drop even further this coming year, as overall EAV is expected to decline again. Despite significant cuts in almost every aspect of the district, including pay freezes for all district employees (excluding retirees) for three out of four years, the district’s declining revenues are not able to keep up with the expenditures.
It is for these reasons that the district will ask voters to increase the education fund tax rate in the Nov. 6 election.
The primary task of the referendum committee over the past six months has been to make sure people are informed about the issue. Community meetings have been held, people have spoken at every organized community meeting, leaflets have been distributed, and soon, yard signs will be displayed.
There is also a website, www.citizensforsomonaukschools.com, which answers many commonly asked questions and has some short videos designed to help people understand the financial situation facing the school district.
All of this work comes at a great personal sacrifice for those involved, even more so in the economy we are all living in. Although asking for more money is never an easy task, it is even more difficult when so many people are out of work, have had jobs and pay decreased, and other costs are rising.
It is for those reasons that the district wants to thank those of you who have played such a key role in getting the message out there. From the village president, school board members, parents, community members and even a former district superintendent, the Somonauk school community is fortunate to have people of your dedication and character supporting it.
A school is a focal point of any community, but this is often truer of a school district in a small community. This community has great pride in the schools and shows school support.
Whether it is through volunteering at the Sandwich Fair, which one of the district’s organizations uses as a fundraiser, attending a dinner/auction, which another district organization uses as a fundraiser, attending extracurricular events, volunteering in the schools, or trusting the district with your children or grandchildren, the support for the school district is evident.
The district has great schools, great staff, great parents, a great community, and especially great students.
The old saying of “as the school goes, so goes the community” is an important one to remember. Everyone wants the schools to be successful and recognizes that school success comes from various levels of community support and involvement. Thank you, Somonauk community, for all of your support and your involvement.
• Dawn Green is superintendent of schools at Somonauk District 432.