Grant school leaders 'ecstatic' after referendum passes by landslide

News-DemocratMarch 18, 2014 

Grant School District 110 in Fairview Heights will remain open as voters approved a property tax increase during Tuesday's primary election.

"We are just ecstatic at the outcome," Superintendent Matt Stines said. "We are so grateful to the community for such strong support."

The referendum passed by a landslide with all 13 precincts reporting results. There were 1,638 votes for it and 530 votes against.

District 110 school board President Tiffany Baldwin said she was "blown away" by the results.

"I was confident we would win but was not expecting a 3-to-1 margin," she said. "That's amazing. I know that's due to everyone getting out to vote."

Nearly 40 percent of voters in the district voted in the election with 2,188 ballots cast out of 5,678 registered voters.

"The community pulled through for us. They realized how grave the situation was and they reacted," Baldwin said. "They came together to keep the schools open and keep the community alive. It's a great thing for the community of Fairview Heights."

The district asked voters to approve a property tax increase to bring additional revenue into the district and keep the doors open at Illini Elementary School and Grant Middle School.

If voters didn't approve the property tax increase, Stines said the district would have been forced to close.

Parent Janelle Crocker said she couldn't wait to wake up her three children Wednesday morning and tell them the news.

"They were scared to death they were going to lose their schools and their friends," she said.

Stines credited the Save 110 Committee for its efforts getting the information out to voters.

"The committee did such a fantastic job getting the message out and making sure people knew," Stines said.

District 110 voters approved an 85-cent tax rate increase, bringing the rate from $1.42 to $2.27 per $100 of assessed valuation. For the owner of a $100,000 house, Stines said the tax increase will cost about $8.25 a month.

The additional $700,000 in revenue will begin coming into the district this year, he said.

District 110 is currently averaging $1.1 million in deficit every year.

"Its still going to take myself and the board working together to be fiscally responsible to come out of that deficit," Stines said. "We have to get through the next three or four years doing it right. I think we'll be OK."

Grant District 110 serves 720 pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students.

Results for other referendums in the metro-east are as follows with all precincts reporting:

* City of Lebanon Proposition for the Supply of Electricity: 162 yes, 243 no

* Village of Caseyville Proposition for the Supply of Electricity: 158 yes, 263 no

* Village of New Baden Proposition for a Retailer and Service Tax: 181 yes, 133 no

* Village of Swansea Proposition for the Supply of Electricity: 869 yes, 543 no

* Cahokia Fire Proposition for Maximum Tax Rate Increase: 834 yes, 557 no

All primary election results are unofficial until certified on April 8.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

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