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Finance

Making "Cents" of School Finance

School funding in Illinois continues to generate significant interest on the part of the community. Most often these questions center around questions related to property taxes, state aid and issues of equity in funding across the state. 

Click on the following link to an article which addresses 12 frequently asked questions about school funding.

http://www.iasb.com/pdf/understandingsf.pdf

Rondout and School Funding….

Since 1864, Rondout School District #72, (located in unincorporated Lake County) has served a portion of Mettawa, Libertyville, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest and Green Oaks. While the district has always been small, during the past decade, the enrollment has increased by approximately 20%. Census data as well as a door-to-door canvas project indicate that the district should expect a stable level of enrollment over the next decade with some fluctuation on an annual basis due to changing demographics, housing patterns and transfers from private schools and home school enrollees.

The majority of Rondout's funding comes from local sources including local property taxes. The bulk of these property tax dollars are generated from the commercial and industrial property within the district. The district receives a relatively small amount of revenue from state sources and a very small amount from federal sources.

The district has a high level of assessed evaluation which positively impacts the tax rate for property owners in the school district. As a result Rondout residents have a much lower tax rate than surrounding communities. The tax rate in FY2013 was $ 1.56 per 100,000 of assessed valuation is the third lowest education tax rate within Lake County. This rate has been impacted by the decline in assessed valuation as a result of the impact of the economy on real estate values.

It is important to note that the district’s tax rate does not impact the amount of assessed valuation of your property. Those calculations are determined by the assessor’s office. In addition, it is the assessor’s office that handles all property tax objections or questions. The quality of the educational program in the school district does impact the desirability of owning a home in the district. The quality of a district’s schools is a driver in the home buying market. Low tax rate plus an excellent school system are an equation for high levels of marketability.

Property tax extension limits impact the amount of revenue the district can collect on existing property annually. The rate is capped at the previous year’s CPI or 5% whichever is lower. New construction is not capped for the first year that a property comes onto the tax roll. For example in the next fiscal year, the tax cap will be at 1.5 percent due to the impact of the economy on the CPI. This will in turn result in a year with a limited amount of revenue generated for the school district.

While new construction does not fall under the cap, new growth in the district has been limited with minimal new property being added to the tax base in the past several years. The last time there was a significant change in assessed valuation was in FY2010 when an expansion of commercial properties added positively to the district’s overall revenue for all taxing bodies in the district. The impact on your taxes might have stayed the same, decreased or increased slightly based upon the amount at which your property was assessed.

While Rondout is small, it is still subject to the same state mandates both funded and unfunded, standards and measures of accountability as all state school districts. Costs of the general education programs and services such as special education, transportation and English language learning are all provided within the annual budget. Additional costs are incurred as services to special education students enrolled in the private schools within the district must be provided at "proportionate share" funding levels.

Rondout has consistently achieved the State Board of Education’s highest level of financial status, FINANCIAL RECOGNITION, which is reserved for district’s who have maintained high levels of fiscal responsibility, practices and procedures. An example of this fiscal conservatism was demonstrated by the ability of the district to construct additional space to serve its growing population without going to the voter’s for an increase in their tax rate. Non-referendum funded construction is highly unusual but Rondout using its reserves and with limited long-term borrowing was able to accomplish this important project completed in 2009-2010.. The additional space added will address the enrollment needs of the district over at least the next decade as well as add much needed space for the community’s use outside of the school day.

The district‘s budget has grown due to increases in enrollment, special education costs and unfunded mandates. However cost saving measures are regularly integrated into the district’s financial planning and have not impacted the district’s ability to use its resources creatively to achieve higher levels of academic and program excellence in all areas. The school system’s numerous partnerships, research based innovations and cutting edge instructional practices continue to strengthen the district’s image as a district of distinction, an incubator for innovation and an educational home for our constituents. Transforming education while preparing students for life in the 21st century benefits our students, the school system, our community and our society.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact the Superintendent, Dr. Jenny Wojcik @ 847-362-2021 or jenny.wojcik@rondoutsd72.org.

 Additional information regarding property taxes can be found at:

http://countyclerk.lakecountyil.gov/TaxInfo/Pages/default.aspx