Survey: Referendum fails

Survey: Referendum fails

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

At the University of Illinois College of Medicine Thursday, the college released results of a survey that exemplifies a sample of Rockfordians oppose the referendum touted by school officials.

School officials stipulate that the three-year referendum on the ballot April 3 will restore the school tax rate from 3.12 percent to 3.70 percent, amounting to 58 cents per $100 of Equalized Assessed Valuation.

Out of 1,000 surveys sent to homes throughout District 205, 318 were returned, creating a response rate of 33.7 percent. Fifty-six surveys were considered “bad” or contained “non-forwardable” addresses. Therefore, the final number of surveys was 944.

People voted no (47.9 percent); yes (31 percent); and unsure (21.1 percent). The margin of error was plus or minus 5.5 percent. Of those responding, 78 percent affirmed they will definitely vote, 14.5 percent said they probably won’t, and 91.8 percent stated they voted in the last election.

Those who plan to stop at the voting booth voted yes (34.4 percent), no (47.4 percent) and unsure (18.2 percent). If definite voters who aren’t sure whether they will vote split their vote the same way as those who are planning on voting, the results would be 42 percent in favor and 58 percent against.

Officials were pleased, overall, with the representation. “The respondents were quite representative of the population,” said Joel Cowen, assistant dean of the college.

He considered age and gender well represented, but the slice of the population that includes minorities and renters was somewhat underrepresented.

One of seven has a child in Rockford schools, and one in 10 has a child in private schools. The private-school parent delegation is greater than what would be expected based on enrollment.

Cowen stated people want to see the district spend money better; lack trust in the administration and school board to manage funds; believe property taxes are very high; and state no comprehensive plan exists.

“It would appear that the population wants to see a comprehensive financial plan,” Cowen said.

The survey also indicated that in respect to reducing expenses if the referendum fails, people would like to see the freezing of administrators’ salaries (75.2 percent); decreasing administration/non-classroom personnel (68.6); and having teachers/administrators pay more for benefits such as health insurance (50.6).

Superintendent Alan Brown said he thought it would be an uphill battle to pass the referendum. He said the survey enlightened officials on various views.

“We think it was very informative for us,” he stated. “There are some long-standing issues that are out of the survey. We are committed to earning the trust of the community.”

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