School Referendums Survive Weak Economy

By Zawislak, Mick | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 21, 2002 | Go to article overview

School Referendums Survive Weak Economy


Zawislak, Mick, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Mick Zawislak Daily Herald Staff Writer

For a community where programs and even buildings had been on the hit list, the approval Tuesday of a big tax hike for Bensenville Elementary School District 2 was both rare and satisfying for supporters.

Despite the weak economy and the eventual cost - owners of a $200,000 home would pay about $500 more per year - supporters were not surprised even though the district had not had a successful referendum in 34 years.

"We had the economy going against it. With O'Hare (expansion), do people want to put the money into their houses?" said John Schwarz, a member of the citizens committee that pushed the referendum. Getting supporters to the polls was key, he said.

While there were notable losers, including College of DuPage and Round Lake Area Unit District 116, tax hikes and building programs for schools fared better than expected, given the economic times.

Information provided by the Illinois State Board of Education, showed that 70 of 118 school bond and tax referendums, or 59 percent, were approved Tuesday. That compares with 52 percent in April 2001. For tax hikes only, Illinois voters approved 46 percent of the requests Tuesday, compared with 33 percent last year.

The results are comparable to a Daily Herald analysis of suburban referendums held during the five years preceding last April's results. Voters find it most difficult to deny schools, approving money for education at a 61 percent rate.

"We usually think it's a case of taxing bodies getting the best available information out to the voters to show whether a tax or bond increase is justified," said Steve Sandstrom, spokesman for the Taxpayers' Federation of Illinois.

Results don't necessarily correlate to the economy, he said.

That's what happened in the tax-conscious Barrington area, where a hat trick of school, park and fire district referendums passed. …

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