Education

Belleville District 118 approves tax abatement

Abraham Lincoln Students Teach Character

Elementary students attend the Belleville District 118 School Board meeting on Feb. 16 to share their character experiences as an Illinois School of Character.
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Elementary students attend the Belleville District 118 School Board meeting on Feb. 16 to share their character experiences as an Illinois School of Character.

A balance in the debt service fund and tort liability fund mean Belleville District 118 can offer taxpayers a bit of a break on their property tax bills.

The school board approved a $200,000 abatement in the debt service fund and a $100,000 abatement in the tort liability fund at its meeting Tuesday night.

“We’ve done this the past four years, this is the fifth year,” said Assistant Superintendent Ryan Boike of the debt service fund abatement. “This is a way that we can help out the taxpayers.”

“It’s in there, we’ve had a balance in that fund, so we’re going to pay a little bit back early.”

Boike said the tort liability situation was similar, although it impacts the tax levy more.

“We’re abating these taxes before the final assessment and roll out from the county,” Superintendent Matt Klosterman said earlier Tuesday. “Basically we’re rolling back some of the taxes before that final rate and the EAV (equalized assessed valuation) gets set this spring.”

The board unanimously approved both recommendations.

Other action

▪ The Abraham Lincoln Elementary family showed up in force to herald its Illinois School of Character status. The school was scheduled to present at the meeting before the Character.org organization made its announcement, but Principal Ed Langen, students, parents and staff filled the board room to talk about the school’s achievement.

One of the programs Langen and administrative intern Megan Vitale told the board about was the STARS in action program, where children learn to mitigate their own disputes by stating the facts, telling feelings, apologizing, resolving the issue and sharing with others. Vitale told the board that it’s a promising application that even the youngest students are embracing.

“Some people think this is too hard for kindergartners, but they’re doing it,” she said.

▪ Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Tracy Gray handed the board spreadsheets of PARRC scores. The schools received the scores in December, and the district has been studying the scores since.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers showed that the district’s third graders did well, Gray said, but also showed gaps in math in the higher grades.

“I think the standards are written well, it’s just trying to figure out how to implement it when they’re in sixth grade and they haven’t had (those standards) in kindergarten through fifth,” Gray said.

She said the PARRC testing window will be April 11 through April 26.

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