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Letter: Somonauk school measure is essential to community

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 5:30 a.m. CST

To the Editor:

Somonauk schools are putting a tax referendum on the November ballot to increase funding to the education fund by 0.9 percent. The last time that the maximum rate for this fund was increased was 1987.

It is important to know that even if the tax rate is increased, the average homeowner’s property tax bill will be less than it was in 2009.

Now, you may ask whether the schools will just continue to tax us more and more if the referendum passes, even when property values start going up. The answer to that is no. They are asking to raise the tax rate up to the 3.95 percent, but if they see that they don’t need that much to maintain their budget in the future, then they will abate money back.

What does abatement mean? That means they will adjust and lessen the tax percentage used. You may say, “Sure, they say that now, but they won’t.” To that, I say, I believe they will. Somonauk School District 432 has a long history of not taxing at the maximum rates possible.

For every year between 2002 and 2009, when property values increased, the school district did not tax at the maximum allowed tax rate in an attempt to keep property owners’ taxes from rising too much. During these years, the district saved the taxpayers more than $770,000 in abatements (e.g., lowering the tax rate below the allowable maximum.)

Somonauk schools also have the lowest operating cost per student of all nearby schools, as you can see online at iirc.niu.edu.

The money from the education fund goes toward things such as: teachers’ salaries and benefits; classroom aides’ salaries and benefits; supplies and materials; textbooks; workbooks; technology; IVC tuition; interscholastic; coaching stipends; athletic supplies; summer school; driver’s education; nurses; psychologists; social worker; speech; playground and crossing guard; media services; board supplies; bond insurance; postage; paper; dues and fees; travel (e.g. to attend development or school-related meetings); purchased services; and cafeteria workers and food. All of which are needed by the district.

Somonauk schools continue to be the pride of our community and are committed to our children and their futures. For more information about this referendum, please visit www.citizensforsomonaukschools.com.

Shelly Tripp

Somonauk

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