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District 233 accepts state funds, reduces taxes by $1.75 million

The District 233 school board voted Tuesday, Feb. 15, to reduce property taxes by $1.75 million in exchange for receiving $1.7 million in additional state funding.

This is the third time the state has made the funding available to Homewood-Flossmoor High School, with the stipulation that it abate taxes over two years. The money was not available in fiscal 2020-21, according to Lawrence Cook, chief school business official.

Illinois has shifted its school funding formula to try and give funding equity between districts that have great property wealth and those that do not. The evidence-based formula is meant to help districts, including H-F District 233. It shifts Illinois payments to school districts from a general dollar amount per student to a formula that takes into account the tax burden.

Bob Grossi, the Bloom Township school treasurer who handles school funds for H-F, has told board members the district receives state funding this way because it is considered “property poor,” it doesn’t have a strong commercial and industrial base that would take some of the burden from homeowners.

Grossi said the average tax rate in South Cook County is almost twice the state average. Illinois contributes less than 20% to school expenses, so the burden for funding schools falls on property owners.

In other business, the board approved purchasing new scoreboards for the baseball and softball fields at a cost of $79,966. Cook said because improvements to the fields came in under budget, the district has the money for the scoreboards.

The board also approved purchasing soundproof doors for the new Performing Arts Center at an estimated cost of between $195,000 and $215,000. Noise from outside is interrupting instruction and performances. The soundproof doors were part of the original design for the space, but when the board was making its final decision on the addition, it removed the doors in a cost-cutting move.

“We were given a list of things (to cut) and the sound acoustics was part of that list,” Superintendent Von Mansfield said. The architects from DLA Architects put it at the bottom of the list, and told board members at that time, that the school may find a need to put the soundproof doors back.

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