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On Monday, the Homewood District 153 School Board will decide the amount of a tax levy it will ask voters to approve in the March 15 referendum.

The board meets at 7 p.m. at James Hart School, 182nd and Morgan Ave.

The board is looking at two options: ask voters to extend the current tax rate of 25-cents per $100 assessed valuation for another seven years, or extend the current rate with an additional 25-cent increase—making the rate 50-cents—the first three years. The rate would revert back to 25-cents for years four through seven.

The board already agreed to close Millennium School after June 2016 which is expected to reduce expenses by $600,000.

A drop in property values from the 2008 recession, repeated shortchanges in state funding and Illinois’ tax caps are forcing the district to run a yearly deficit of about $2.5 million. The shortfall has been covered by $7.5 million in funds from a 2011 referendum that extended for seven years.

The money has enabled the district to keep its outstanding academic programs; maintain special offerings including daily gym and weekly music, art and technology; and offer intervention programs to keep struggling students on track, according to Shelly Marks, board president.

The pot of referendum money is running out and the district’s financial situation has not improved, so the school board will be asking residents to agree to a second referendum to help keep Homewood schools functioning on an even keel.


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