Guest Column: District 205 deceptions!
By Barb Dent
After refusing to debate R.E.A.CH., the District 205 Referendum Committee held two one-sided public forums. Only two members of the general public came to hear the deceptive comments. I would like to correct the misleading statements made by the districts Referendum Committee co-chairs.
Q: The district talks about the total tax rate, but R.E.A.CH. talks about the education rate. Why is that?
A: R.E.A.CH. talks about the education rate, because that is the one that the district is asking an increase for when it expires in Dec. 2003. The district refuses to talk about that rate, because they know its the 2nd highest rate in the Boone-Winnebago County area.
Q: The district says it will have to make $12 million in cuts if the referendum fails, and R.E.A.CH. says it wont. Who is being truthful?
A: R.E.A.CH. The district will collect the 2001 property tax increase in 2003. Due to rising home values, the district will NEVER have to make $12 million in cuts because the district receives MILLIONS MORE in property taxes even without this tax increase. The districts education revenue has risen over $25 million since 2001.
Q: Terry Ingrassia stated that the District is not responsible if your taxes go up because your home value increases. Is this true?
A: NO! The district could lower the rate. The district will receive $4 million extra dollars from property taxes alone next year due to rising home values. Wait until you see your property tax bill next May!
Q: Has the district lowered the tax rate by 15 percent since 1997 as it claims?
A: NO! The Illinois Supreme Court and the federal court lowered our tax rate by 16 percent. The district actually INCREASED it by 4 percent.
A: How much of this tax increase goes directly for the children?
Q: Terry Ingrassia stated that the district did NOT receive all of the student aid last year from the state that it had budgeted. Is this true?
A: NO! The district received the amount it had budgeted (almost $40 million).
Q: Mayor Scott and Tom Hoffman, District 205 Chief Financial Officer, claim that the districts education expenses have decreased by $12 million for this year. Are they telling the truth?
A: NO! Theyve INCREASED. The district NEVER made the cuts in 2001 and 2002. In 2001, expenses were $146 million, 2002 expenses were $154 million, and they arc estimated to be at $157 million this year.
A: On WNTA, Tom Hoffman claimed that there were only four schools on the State Academic Watch List for poor performance. Is this true?
A: NO! There are still 23 schools with 50% of their students that arent performing at grade level, and there are four schools that are so low academically that their students may leave that school.
Q: Has the districts revenue decreased?
A: NO! The district has received $25 million MORE in revenue for education, plus grant funding has doubled since 1997 from $18 million to $37 million.
Q: Why does the district have a deficit if the revenue has increased?
A: The district has NO FINANCIAL CONTROLS, and it simply overspends and borrows money.
Dont be duped by the district! Vote NO on the District 205 referendum! Send a message on Nov. 5th, Raise Achievement, Not Taxes. Call 749-1900 for signs and check out the R.E.A.CH. website, www.r-e-a-ch.org. Please remember to vote! You can make a difference!
Barb Dent is the president of R.E.A.CH. (Rockford Educating All Children).