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District 153 thanks Rep. Davis for his legislative assist

Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, got a round of applause from members of the District 153 school board and attendees at the June 10 board meeting for his legislative efforts that helped the district collect the full funding from the 2022 referendum.

Illinois Rep. Will Davis, holding proclamation, received special thanks June 10  from District 153 board members, from left, Ron Zinnerman, Jim Schmidt, Broderick Booth, Alex Bosch, Shelly Marks, Superintendent Scott McAlister, and member Ashanti Bethea for his tireless efforts at passing legislation for the district. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

Davis shepherded legislation to passage in the Illinois House before moving it to the Illinois Senate where it passed in May. The board passed a resolution thanking Davis for his efforts and presented him with a District 153 T-shirt with the message: “Every Student. Every Day.”

District 153 has lived with deficit spending for years. In 2012 and 2016 residents passed referenda allowing for the sale of bonds. In 2022, the school board sought to go beyond the repeated bond sales and increase its tax rate that had remained stagnant for 30 years. In November 2022, more than 70% of residents voted to increase the amount.

Superintendent Scott McAlister, center, gifts Rep. Will Davis wth a District 153 T-shirt as
a memento for his work at getting legislation passed in Springfield that improves
the district’s funding. Looking on is Shelly Marks, board president.
(Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

The district wasn’t able to collect the full $4 million voters approved because a drop in the 2023 Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) of property cut it in half. Davis’s legislation allows for a change in the tax levy so that District 153 can collect the full amount.

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“I just want to say how much I appreciate your concern for our school district, your dedication to us and your resolve to help us solve an issue efficiently and quickly …. We really appreciate everything you’ve done for us,” Shelly Marks, school board president, told Davis. “Thank you for being part of our team.”

The problem was brought to Davis’s attention in October 2023 when the board realized the impact the new EAV was having on District 153 revenue. The only way to correct the problem was through legislation.

“From the beginning he’s just been a tireless advocate for us,” Superintendent Scott McAlister said of Davis. “Service to others, you absolutely embody that.”

Davis told the Chronicle he brought the bill to the Illinois House Revenue Committee in January “and at that point I started to have dialogue with the chair of the Revenue Committee and members of the committee about what the bill was about and why we needed to get it passed.”

When the bill was ready to be called, McAlister, Marks and board member Alex Bosch went to Springfield to talk with state lawmakers.

“They joined me in committee conversations on why the bill was necessary,” Davis said. “They did the explaining and what was important about that is it gave me a chance to hear the intricacies of why they needed to do it and what actually happened” with the referendum and the drop in EAV, he said.

“The complexity of our government, and this was no small feat to get it through. There were times I was doubtful, but you stayed the course and kept on going,” said Bosch.

Davis said he was disappointed he didn’t garner any Republican support for the bill, “although I think they should have because we’re reflecting what the community wanted.”

Once the legislation passed, Davis tracked it through the governor’s office to get the governor’s signature. District 153 had just days to get the change to the Cook County Clerk’s Office. The new tax levy will be used for the August tax bills.

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