Brookfield-LaGrange Park Elementary School District 95 gave residents two opportunities to voice their thoughts about the April tax referendum to district officials last week.
But only 30 people showed up for the two meetings that featured District 95 Superintendent Dr. Douglas Rudig and school board President MariAnn Leibrandt presenting a short PowerPoint information session and answering any questions. Both meetings were quite calm without many questions asked.
Leibrandt and Rudig did admitted that they thought there might be more people in attendance, but weren’t really sure what to expect.
“We sent out letters about the two forums,” Rudig said. “But we found out after the fact that there were other things going on in the community last week that might have had an impact on how many people were able to attend. Right now, we’re planning to have at least one more forum this month.”
In January, the district board voted to put the referendum question on the April ballot, asking for a 38-cent increase in the tax rate for the education fund.
Leibrandt estimated that for the owner of a home worth $250,000, the tax increase would be approximately $300 to $350 the first year and under $50 the second year.
This marks the first time since 1991 that the district will ask voters for a tax increase. The last tax hike 14 years ago was for capital improvements. Rudig added that the district hasn’t asked for an education fund tax hike since 1985.
“I really feel good about this,” Rudig said. “We haven’t asked for a tax increase in 20 years, and that’s because the district has been proactive and financially responsible. We’re asking for a very low amount, lower than any of the surrounding school districts asked for last year and all of their referendums past. We are trying to forecast what we will need, so we don’t have to ask for more or be forced to cut certain things.”
Financial projections have shown that the district will run out of money in three years. The school board had looked at a range of between 25 and 55 cents for an increase to the tax rate. The 25-cent figure was deemed not sufficient, while the higher figure was deemed unnecessary by board members.
“We’re going to have more publications coming out about the referendum,” Leibrandt said. “We want to make sure the community is well informed as to why we are asking for this increase. I haven’t heard any concerns from any residents. Everyone is just trying to gather information.”