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Summit Hill Board Approves $32.2M Levy Estimate

The approval will raise the district's estimated tax rate to approximately 3.7 percent.

The Summit Hill School District 161 Board of Education approved the 2012 tax levy estimate resolution at a special board meeting on Nov. 19. This is the same estimate that the board voted down on Nov. 14.

The approximately $32.2 million levy estimate requests a $1.55 million increase compared to last year’s finalized levy. The resolution raises the estimated tax rate to just above 3.7 percent. This translates to a $69 tax increase for the owner of a $200,000 house.

Board Members Denise Wildeveld, Sean William Doyle, Stacey Borgens and Board President Mary Kenny voted in favor of the levy estimate. Board Member George Perros, Secretary Denise Lenz and Vice President Joy Murphy voted against the levy.

Prior to the vote, community members spoke both in favor of and in opposition to the estimate resolution.

“If I have to tighten my belt, so do you guys,” said one public commenter. “You guys have to figure out what you’re doing wrong and fix it.”

The board considered two other levy estimate options, in addition to the estimate resolution that was approved.

Susan Krautstrunk, director of business and transportation for the district, presented the board with the option to maintain the current district tax rate of approximately 3.4 percent. If the district were to maintain its current rate, Summit Hill property owners would experience a $0 tax increase.

However, if the district opted not to raise the tax rate, schools would lose approximately $1.4 million due to the area’s shrinking tax base. This would force the board to consider expense reductions, such as eliminating the bus system, custodial outsourcing and increasing class sizes.

Krautstrunk also presented an alternative formula, under which the tax rate would total slightly less than 3.7 percent. This formula would increase district tax revenue by $1.2 million compared to the 2011 levy, but would tax homeowners the same amount as the approved estimate resolution.

In the near future, the district will need to provide $636,200 to cover the cost of mounted projectors, laptops, wireless access and other technology-related expenses. These project costs are necessary to assure the district’s compliance with new statewide Common Core Standards.

“Local taxpayers are absorbing all the mandates,” said Murphy. “At what point will it stop?”

In an interview after Monday’s meeting, Kenny told Patch that voting in favor of a lower levy would limit the amount of levy funds the board is able to approve in the future. Kenny also said that requesting fewer tax dollars could detrimentally impact Summit Hill’s bond rating when district bonds are refinanced in 2015.

With the district currently in an approximately $650,000 deficit, Kenny said that it was important to remember that maintaining the school district is necessary in order to preserve home values in the area.

“We have always tried to be reasonable,” said Kenny. “Looking at the big picture, I just feel that we have to do some things that are painful.” 

A district levy hearing will be held at 7 p.m. on Dec. 12. Following the hearing, the board will vote to approve the levy.

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FSR November 20, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Thank you Mary Kenny and other thoughtful board members for approving the levy! Keeping this school system at an excellent level is critical to our home values. A few dollars of additional taxes a year is much better than then tens of thousands of dollars our home values could suffer if we don't have great schools. Thank you.
Kerri U November 20, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Someone please explain to me how my home values will suffer from a lack of mounted projectors, laptops and wireless access in the schools?
Donny November 20, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Pretty simple-this is a requirement to meet state standards for Common Core (so blame the state if anything, not the board or school). Don't meet the Common Core tech requirements, then the school suffers-then the community suffers. Petty as it may seem, but the school as to make sure they have all the equipment as mandated by Common Core.
FSR November 20, 2012 at 06:46 PM
If you don't provide a good learning environment for the teacher and students by cutting cutting cutting you will negatively effect the results. Lower grades = less attractive community means lower home values. Having paid attention to various information provided by Summit Hill, Lincoln Way and Chicago Magazine Summit Hill is already one of the lowest 5 spending per pupil in the Chicago metro area. I know I am not looking for a one room school house with no resources.
518 November 21, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Let the people who have children at the schools pay for the increases - why should we who have no children at the schools continue to be burdened by this. Its about time schools learned to live within their means. Cut some of the unnecessary sports programs or other extracurricular activities. And may stop giving teachers and administrators raises and golden parachutes pensions.
Ready for Change November 23, 2012 at 06:47 PM
The Common Core Standards DO NOT REQUIRE any technology. That is misinformation plain and simple. Down the road students will need to be tested on computer based tests. There are many school districts out there without the technological capabilities, The government is going to have to address this. These so called mandates are phased in over time and do not have to be dealt with this year. Why not wait and see if they even stick? I am an educator and completely value education. Our district is very good, however people are being taxed out of their homes. Houses are up for sale all over. When these houses don't sell some people actually walk a way. Two house on my block! The tax base dwindle even further and perpetuates the problem. Public education was set up to educate our kids but in the past ten years or more we have taken on a country club atmosphere of providing all sorts of extracurricular activities. I say cut them, if parents want them then they can go to the park district and get involved that way. All these extras cost way too much money in a time when families can't afford going out to eat, go to the show, and have cut back to everything but life sustaining essentials the school district needs to cut back too. I do not believe 1 more child in a class makes that big of a differenece. If you add 3 -5, yes that's a problem. If the economy improves then things can go back to the way they were. If each taxing body goes up $69 multiply that by 10 bodies =$690 increase!
Ready for Change November 23, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Common Core does not have any tech requirements!
Ready for Change November 23, 2012 at 06:57 PM
A lot of things could be scaled back without affecting student test scores. There are a lot of factors that affect students grades and not all of them cost money.
Ready for Change November 23, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Especially administrators. Do they really need to spend all that money on decorating offices and putting paw prints on walls. How does that help students learn?
FSR November 24, 2012 at 01:53 AM
518 maybe you should just move.
FSR November 24, 2012 at 05:36 PM
This district has historically and I believe today continues to be one of the lowest per pupil cost districts in Will county and the Chicago metro area. Where do you move to get the quality education you get here at the cost? We'd all like our taxes to go down but I also want the value of my house to go up.
Ready for Change November 24, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Taxes will never go down. I just don't want them to go up! The value of your house means nothing if people won't buy it because the taxes in the area are too high and that is one of the reasons homes around here don't sell. Who will buy a house when you have to pay $800 a month in taxes on top of a mortgage? So if taxes are too high it really doesn't matter what your house is worth.

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