District 67 looks at programs to restore if referendum passes
MORTON GROVE — If voters approve a tax hike referendum Tuesday, officials in Golf Elementary School District 67 plan to restore programs and staff over the next two years totaling about $720,000.
District officials hope money will allow them to reverse some of the cuts made over the last several years, including the elimination of all-day kindergarten, elimination of teacher’s aides and cuts in clubs and sports programs.
The District 67 School Board reviewed a list of items that could be restored at a meeting Thursday night, but will not take any action until after Tuesday’s referendum vote.
If the measure, which would generate an additional $1.14 million in new property tax revenue, fails on Tuesday, the district will need “minimal cuts if any,” Acting Business Manager Marty McConahay told the board.
On Tuesday, voters will be asked to authorize the district to increase the amount of its property tax levy by 16.3 percent, at least 13.3 percent more than is allowed by Cook County’s tax cap.
In November, voters rejected an identical referendum and in March of last year, a proposal to increase the maximum tax rate was also defeated.
Superintendent Jamie Reilly said the financial projections could change depending on the outcome of negotiations with teachers on a new contract and any new costs such as pension payments that are shifted by the state to local school districts.
”We could, if the referendum is a ‘no’ vote, continue to limp along like this until we see what other kinds of mandates the state is going to have,” Reilly said. “That could change the picture quickly.”
The list of programs and positions to be restored next school year if the referendum passes includes full-day kindergarten, clubs and athletics, a part-time reading specialist, art and music programs, textbooks and professional development for staff.
The list, totaling $436,970, also includes hiring two additional custodians, one at each school.
Items included in the list to restore the following year, totaling $283,500, includes restoring early and late bus service, restoring three teacher’s aides and increasing the supply budget.
Board Secretary Louise Karlin said she would favor restoring three teacher aides instead of clubs and athletics next year.
“To me, the teacher aides should be more important than clubs and athletics,” she said.
But Reilly said the clubs and sports are important to some students.
“There are some kids for whom these clubs are the reason to come to school and get good grades,” she said.
She also said the custodians are a priority because the district currently has just one at each school. In addition to their cleaning duties, the custodians drive the district-owned school buses.
“It’s impossible for one person to clean an entire building,” Reilly said. “It’s a safety issue.”