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updated: 4/5/2011 11:29 PM

$8 million Medinah schools tax hike fails

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For the third time in seven years, voters in Medinah District 11 rejected a multimillion-dollar tax increase for school improvements.

With all eight precincts reporting, residents voted 841 to 342 against a referendum request for the district to borrow $8 million for upgrades at two schools and the elimination of a third, unofficial results show.

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"We knew it was an uphill battle from the beginning, so I don't think anybody is surprised," Superintendent Joe Bailey said late Tuesday.

The bulk of the $8 million would have funded construction of a wing at Medinah Intermediate School, which would have then housed Medinah Primary School. As a result, the original 60-year-old primary school would have closed, officials said, with the remaining money going toward security and traffic-safety upgrades at Medinah Middle School.

The same measure was defeated by slightly more than 60 percent of voters last November. A similar proposal failed in 2004, as well.

Officials estimated this year's proposal would have increased property taxes by roughly $156 a year for the owner of a $350,000 home.

The school board placed the measure on the ballot after an organized group of residents and school parents requested another try for the funding.

The group launched a website, nowisthetime11.org, and made efforts to educate taxpayers on the referendum.

"They left no stone unturned, and I'm very proud of them," said Bailey, who attributed the loss in part to the weakened economy.

Bailey said the board would discuss how to proceed in coming weeks.

"We have our plan Bs and Cs," he said. "The board thought it was a good idea to try to reduce the number of our schools and to save on the operational costs. Obviously, the community is not ready for that and isn't encouraging the board to go in that direction."

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