District 67 voters reject tax hike, approve bond sale
People wait in line to vote Tuesday at the Prairie View Community Center in Morton Grove. Voters rejected a property tax increase for District 67 but approved a bond sale. | Kevin Tanaka for~Sun-Times Media.
Updated: December 9, 2012 7:19PM
Golf Elementary School District 67 School Board President Meryl Gale promised the district again will seek a tax hike after voters Tuesday turned down a measure that would have provided the district with more than $1 million in new revenue.
While voters rejected the tax increase for the second time this year, they narrowly approved a bond sale to finance improvements at Golf Middle School and Hynes Elementary School and construction of a new gym at Hynes.
District 67 officials have warned that without additional tax revenue they will have to make spending cuts, including combining more than one grade level in a single classroom. Any further spending reductions will come after several years of program and staff cuts in the financially strapped district.
On Tuesday night, Gale declined to say what the district might do to deal with the shortage of funds. She said the district needs to maintain the high quality education it has provided even with staff and program cuts.
“We will definitely be back,” Gale said. “It’s a very good district.”
Gale said District 67 every year has met the Annual Yearly Progress required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
“We haven’t missed it once,” Gale said. “It’s a fantastic district and worth fighting for. We have a very compelling story to tell.”
Gale noted that District 67 has not had an increase in its maximum tax rate since 1969.
In March, a measure asking voters to increase the maximum tax rate by 0.342 percent to $2.401 per $100 of equalized assessed valuation was defeated by 112 votes.
Tuesday’s reworded referendum, asking voters to allow the district to increase the levy by 16.3 percent, or 13.3 percent more than allowed by the Cook County tax cap, was defeated by about 20 percentage points. Unofficial returns showed the tax increase referendum losing with 1,440 votes – or almost 60 percent – opposed to the measure and 966 in favor.
The measure would have increased district revenue by the same $1.14 million that the tax-rate increase would have.
Voters on Tuesday did approve the sale of nearly $8 million in bonds. Among other things, the bond sale will fund construction of a new gym at Hynes.
After a larger bond sale referendum failed by 20 votes in March, the district dropped several projects, including reconfiguration of office areas at Hynes and Golf Middle School.
Tuesday’s smaller bond issue referendum passed by about 6 percent of the vote. Unofficial returns showed the measure passing with 1,286-1,137.
Had the tax hike been approved, the district planned to restore some of the programs that have been cut, including full-day kindergarten.
After the March defeat of the tax hike, the school board adopted new and higher fees for extracurricular and athletic programs. The district also froze salaries for administrators and certified employees and eliminated early and late bus runs.