Referendum for April 2021 Ballot
Focused on Listening to Our Taxpayers
Over the past year, Warren Township High School (WTHS) Board of Education and staff have carefully listened to its taxpayers to develop a funding proposal that addresses the District’s operating needs. The District has also worked hard to find ways to reduce operating expenses while continuing to provide a quality education. WTHS is grateful to the thousands of residents who shared their thoughts and provided recommendations on how best to address the District’s funding needs.
WTHS is at the Bottom of Per-Pupil Funding Rankings
WTHS District 121’s per-pupil revenue is lower than all other Lake County high school districts. In fact, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Adequacy Target Calculation estimates that WTHS is only 67% adequately funded.
Last Voter-Approved Limiting Rate Increase Was in February 2001
It has been almost 20 years since voters approved a limiting rate increase for WTHS.
Many Steps Have Been Taken to Lower Operating Costs
WTHS has already taken many steps to balance its budget, including eliminating 51 teacher and staff positions over the past five years, refinancing outstanding debt, reducing the cost of employee benefits through a new healthcare cooperative, and renegotiating vendor contracts.
The District has also continued to draw down its fund balance, which has reached the lowest level recommended by the ISBE.
Community Leaders Were Part of the District’s Planning Efforts
A community task force, comprised of business, civic and education leaders as well as parents and alumni, was convened to evaluate the District’s funding challenges and potential solutions. They unanimously agreed that this information needed to be shared with taxpayers. The District sent two districtwide informational mailings, held several informational webinars, and conducted two surveys to gather community feedback.
Thousands of WTHS Residents Have Weighed in on Funding Proposal
The findings of two community opinion surveys revealed that district residents understand the importance of maintaining academics, activities and athletics. However, a large percentage of voters were concerned about the tax impact of the funding proposal being considered.
Board of Education Reduced Limiting Rate Size
On January 12, 2021, after reviewing the survey results and the task force’s recommendations, the Board of Education decided to place a limiting rate proposal on the April 6, 2021 ballot. However, the proposal was reduced from 60 cents to 35 cents based on community feedback.
Proposed Use of Limiting Rate Funds
If approved by voters, proceeds of the 35-cent limiting rate will be used, to the fullest extent possible, to address the following operating needs:
- Maintaining the 8-period day needed to continue offering many Advanced Placement (AP) courses, ensure full participation in career and technical education classes at the Technology Campus and preserve current curricular and co-curricular programs;
- Improving academic support and mental health services;
- Continuing to offer band, drama, choir and other student activities and clubs;
- Continuing to offer athletic programming across all grade levels; and
- Maintaining an adequate fund balance to help protect the district’s credit rating and reduce the need for short-term borrowing.
Estimated Tax Impact
The estimated tax impact of the 35-cent limiting rate proposals is $10 per month per $100,000 of a home’s fair market value, or about $30 per month for a $300,000 home.
Likely Consequences Without Additional Funding
If the referendum is not approved this spring, it is estimated that over the next three years WTHS will need to eliminate up to 46 additional teacher and staff positions. The District will also need to shorten the school day from 8 to 7 periods. These actions could lead to a ripple-effect of cuts, including the elimination of many academic and elective courses; a reduction in Tech Campus participation; the elimination or reduction of many activities/clubs, such as band, drama and choir; and the removal of many athletic programs and/or program levels.