Education

District 153 superintendent asks constituents to rally around legislation

In just a minute, residents can help change the fortunes of District 153 by giving their support to a piece of legislation that will help the schools recover money they had hoped to collect from the 2022 referendum.

Homewood School District 153 Superintendent Scott McAlister posted a letter to the community on Friday, May 17, urging people to sign witness slips by May 22 to show support for a bill being considered by the Illinois Senate that would help shore up district finances.

House Bill 4284, sponsored by state Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood), was approved by the House on April 15 and has been presented to the Senate by state Sen. Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey). The hearing in the Senate is set for 2 p.m. Wednesday in Springfield.

The 2022 referendum was expected to raise $4 million to help shore up the district’s structural deficit and give the school board additional revenues to make improvements to school buildings and help build up revenues for emergencies. Residents supported the proposal by a wide margin, with 71% “yes” votes, according to McAlister.

When the school board approved the referendum question, District 153 had an Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) of $348,224,197 and a tax rate of $4.41. District 153 administrators recommended a $1.20 increase on the tax rate, which would bring the new value to $5.61.

Applying this increase to the EAV at that time would have generated around $4 million in new operating revenue. But the South Suburbs were set for a Cook County reassessment which dropped the EAV by almost $25 million. The end result was District 153 has been collecting approximately $2.13 million in school support, not the $4 million it anticipated.

The legislation will amend the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law in the property tax code so District 153 can collect the full $4 million.

The district sought help from Davis and Harris, and they sponsored the bill “that will help us capture the money that our community overwhelmingly approved,” McAlister said.

He urged anyone who wishes to support the bill to fill out a witness slip online before noon Wednesday. The process takes half a minute, he said, but input from constituents is important to the success of the bill.

Anyone can fill out a slip, even if they don’t have a student attending school in the district and even if they don’t list in the district or in Homewood.

Fill out the witness slip here.

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