Guest view: Dissolving Grant district will cost even more

February 2, 2014 

On March 18th, Grant District 110 voters will decide on an Education Fund

rate increase -- the first in 29 years. The District has been living very

lean for years. After $1 million budget cuts and salary freezes, there's no

more meat on the bone.

For us, the question isn't "Are we living within our means?" We are. It's

"Do the means we have support and educate our children well?" That answer

is a resounding "No."

Illinois state aid cuts, enrollment declines, and decreased property values

together have slowly starved us of funds, forcing us to survive by

heavy-duty borrowing. Now, we've maxed out our credit.

After carefully evaluating financial projections and seeing no other

sustainable solution on the horizon, the Board of Education decided to go to

the voters for this revenue increase. Although the Education Fund increase

on the ballot is $.85, the net increase would be $.30 as a result of paying

off bonds over the next year. For the owners of a $100,000 home, this tax

increase equals $99/year ($8.25/month).

The Board knows this increase may be burdensome for senior and low-income

homeowners. However, it is less burdensome than the increase they would face

if the Referendum fails. If the voters do not approve this increase, we will

have no alternative but to file to dissolve (close) the District. In

dissolution, the Regional Office of Education would divide the District up,

and parts would be annexed by one or more of seven adjacent school

districts. Homeowners would end up paying more in property taxes in most of

these districts, and could see further decreases in their property values.

Therefore, the Board believes it's in the community's financial best

interest to keep the District solvent and open by increasing the tax rate.

This referendum isn't to keep nice-to-have programs. It isn't a band-aid to

hold us until Illinois decides to adequately fund schools. This referendum

will determine whether District 110 exists after 2015. For this community,

it is a financial imperative -- not only for our students and their parents

but for every homeowner and business owner.

Tiffany Baldwin

President

Grant District 110 Board of Education

Fairview Heights, Illinois

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