Change of date for R.E.A.CH. referendum debate

Change of date for R.E.A.CH. referendum debate


At their Oct. 6 press conference, R.E.A.CH. (Rockford Educating All Children) changed the date of its referendum debate with members of District 205’s Referendum Committee. It will take place from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m., Monday, October 21, 2002 at the IBEW Building, 6820 Mill Rd. (behind Applebee’s on East State Street). Chuck Sweeny of the Rockford Register Star will be the moderator.

R.E.A.CH. will release their question and answer fact sheet about why citizens should “VOTE NO” on District 205’s referendum. They will also release the area schools’ education rates and total tax rates.

R.E.A.CH. kicked off the “Raise Achievement, Not Taxes” campaign. Reasons to vote “NO” are:

l District 205 will receive more money (district estimates an additional $4.2 million) in property taxes in 2003 regardless of whether the referendum FAILS or PASSES.

l NO cuts will be made if the referendum fails because the 2001 referendum doesn’t expire until December 2003.

l Despite having the 2nd HIGHEST tax rate and OVERSPENDING their budget by $33 million, the district has 23 schools on the STATE ACADEMIC WATCH LIST for poor performance. The district is wasting precious tax dollars on programs and personnel that are NOT educationally sound.

l This tax increase is unnecessary because the People Who Care lawsuit is over, and the tax protesters are paid, saving the district more than $60 million.

l The district received $8 million more in 2002 than in 2001, but failed to make the promised $12 million in cuts and overspent their budget by $10 million. The district simply OVERSPENDS and is not UNDERFUNDED.

The district is NOT heading in the right direction because this year we’ve had the test score scandal, the social promotion scandal and the election scandal. They’ve ALSO failed to make their promised cuts for the 2nd year in a row. This year’s expenses are budgeted to be $3 million more when they should have been $12 million less than last year’s expenses.

Question and Answer Sheet


Q: Does District 205 lose $12 million if the Nov. 5th referendum fails?

A: NO! The referendum passed in 2001 has not expired. The district will receive the original $12 million from that referendum and millions more because they are ALREADY increasing our taxes next year.

Q: Will the district have to “whack” $12 million in cuts to their budget as suggested by Mayor Doug Scott, District 205 Referendum co-chair Terry Ingrassia and School Board President Mike Williams?

A: NO! The district will receive millions in new property taxes plus continue to receive the $12 million guaranteed by the 2001 tax increase. The district has just announced it will receive another $12 million grant to help its students. The district is NOT underfunded; it simply OVERSPENDS.

Q: Aren’t the voters obligated to vote this referendum in to keep the six-year plan intact?

A: NO! The original six-year plan approved in 2001 was ABANDONED by the school board seven days after the April 2001 election when school board members voted to bring back cuts. This year the school board allowed personnel to be brought back, too, and the district has not kept its promise to make the cuts. The district’s obligation in the six-year plan was to have surplus budgets and reduce the accumulated $13 million deficit. Since 2001, the deficit has increased each year and is now $46-48 million. The district has failed to control its spending and has engaged in a hiring frenzy! The present school board majority has given the highest salary increases in the history of the district and has failed to live up to their promise to reduce the deficit in four years. This tax increase referendum is for four years, not for another three years, which was part of the original six-year plan.

Q: The district claims that this referendum is NOT a tax increase. Are they correct?

A: NO! Home values have risen because of the end of the People Who Care lawsuit and elimination of the illegal tort tax. Because the district wants to keep the rate the same, they are increasing your taxes and will receive millions more than the original $12 million. In 2004 (when the tax will be first

collected), the district will receive almost $18 million, and it will increase to $27 million in 2007. The district could decrease the rate and not increase your taxes.

Q: Does the district have one of the lowest EDUCATION rates in the area?

A: NO! It has the 2nd highest education rate at $3.70. The

average rate is $3.12. While Rockford has one of the HIGH-

EST rates, it also has 23 schools on the State Academic Watch List for poor performance.

Q: Does the district have the same expenses that it did in 2001 when the first referendum was passed?

A: NO! With the People Who Care lawsuit over and the tax protest settlement being paid over 10 years, the district’s required expenses have been REDUCED by OVER $60 MILLION. They don’t need this tax increase!


Q: Will the students be harmed if the referendum FAILS?

A: NO! If the referendum FAILS, the district still receives money from the 2001 referendum, plus increased taxes from rising home values and increased grant money.

Q: What does this referendum mean for the future of Rockford Public Schools?

A: This referendum simply allows the district to continue to overspend and borrow money and increase the deficit. It allows them to continue to waste money on ATTORNEYS’ FEES, INTEREST AND ON PROGRAMS AND PERSONNEL THAT HAVE PLACED 23 SCHOOLS ON THE STATE ACADEMIC WATCH LIST. This referendum puts our community and our schools in “harm’s way.”

Q: Is the Rockford School District headed in the right direction?

A: NO! The district has had the “TEST SCORE” scandal, the “SOCIAL PROMOTION” scandal, the “ELECTION” scandal, and continues to OVERSPEND despite receiving MORE money from the taxpayers.

Q: Are we guaranteed that this board will live up to its obligations/promises?

A: NO! In April 2003, at least five board seats are up for re-election, and at this time no member is guaranteed to be on the next board. The voters should wait and hear what potential school board candidates have to say if a tax increase is needed! The present majority has FAILED to evaluate programs and personnel to ensure that they are educationally sound and cost effective.

Q: Does the district have a viable financial plan or sound educational plan?

A: NO! The present board majority has no VIABLE FINANCIAL or SOUND EDUCATIONAL PLAN.

Q: Does the district have an equity plan to fund schools?

A: NO! The district has kept court-ordered programs and personnel, which gave more money and personnel to certain schools. On July 1st, the district can no longer do this and has to have a plan to assure equity in funding to ALL schools.

Q: Will this be the last referendum for awhile?

A: NO! The district will keep coming back for more money because it WON’T control its spending!

Q: Who is NOT supporting the referendum?

A: Sen. Dave Syverson, Sen. Brad Burzynski, Rep. Dave Winters, Rep. Ron Wait, R.E.A.CH., District 205 board members Stephanie Caltagerone and David Strommer, and other elected city and county officials. Rep. Chuck Jefferson has not announced his position on the referendum.

Q: How can you help defeat the referendum?

A: You may call 749-1900 for a yard sign or wear a VOTE “NO” button or write letters to the editor. Check out You may also make a donation by writing a check to: HELP ROCKFORD STUDENTS & TAXPAYERS, c/o R.E.A.CH., P.O. Box 1505, Rockford, IL 61110

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