The special funding pot Homewood District 153 received through a referendum seven years ago is about to run dry. The school board will explain why it needs continued financial help at a special session on Monday, Nov. 9.
The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the James Hart School cafetorium, 18220 Morgan Ave.
The district serves students at Willow, Churchill, Millennium and Hart Schools in Homewood. The board is proposing to close Millennium, moving fifth graders to Churchill and sixth graders to Hart. That action could save $600,000 annually.
But with the district running annual deficits of $2.5 million, the money from the referendum has helped cover that debt. The board said school funding from the state has dropped by approximately $2 million the past five years, and the long-term prognosis for substantial state funding increases is poor.
Board members say they need to come back to the community for input on what to do about funding. It conducted a meeting Oct. 28 at which options included another seven-year referendum.
One option is to ask residents to continue with the same 25-cents per $100 assessed valuation increase they approved seven years ago in a referendum; essentially, if the referendum is approved, residents will not see a tax increase. The second option is to ask for 50-cents for three years, and then have taxes revert to the original 25-cent amount for years four through seven. A third option is to do nothing.
“Through community support we’ve always had the funds set aside to address (the deficit), so that’s doing the best we can fiscally in the realities of today,” said Steve Anderson, finance committee chair.
The administration has prepared informational materials including graphs and charts to show where support has come from and how the district is managing expenses.
“We’ve really done what we told the community we would (when the referendum passed) and then some,” Anderson said. “We’re hopeful that when we put the story out there again that that resonates with them; that they’ll support what we ask them to support.”
The board expects to makes a final decision at its Nov. 16 board meeting.
District informational materials