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Somonauk could cut teachers

SOMONAUK – Three teachers could lose their jobs in Somonauk School District 432 if a referendum fails April 9.

School board President Tom Nielsen said the board will announce potential cuts for the next two school years if the property tax referendum fails. A similar effort to increase the property tax rate from 3.05 percent to 4 percent in November failed by a vote of 1,382 to 974.

Nielsen declined to comment on which teachers would be axed or what subjects they teach.

“It’s a sensitive subject, obviously,” Nielsen said.

Voters in the school district, which spans DeKalb and LaSalle counties, will decide whether board members can raise the education fund tax rate to 4 percent; officials estimate the increase would generate $900,000. Nielsen previously said this doesn’t mean the tax rate will go up, just that the board has the permission to raise it if necessary.

Property values in the district have fallen for the fourth consecutive year, which is significant to a school district that relies on property taxes for 75 percent of its revenue.

The board also will identify 10 to 12 program cuts for the next two years if the referendum fails. Nielsen said cuts could include the reduction or total elimination of certain sports programs, a reduction to the driver’s education program and elimination of music, art and agriculture programs.

“We would be tossing a lot of extracurricular activities,” Nielsen said. “We basically wouldn’t be funding them. Reading, writing and arithmetic would be left.”

Regardless of whether the referendum passes, there will be cuts, Nielsen said. The board is looking at declining revenues for next year, and the situation is not projected to improve.

Some teachers might be let go as a result of these cuts, he added.

LaSalle County is not a tax-capped county, which means that to raise revenue, the district needs voter permission to raise tax rates. Even though it extends into DeKalb County, the majority of the district is in LaSalle.

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