Wheeling Township Elementary District 21 last week approved a tax levy increase of 1.94 percent, a smaller hike than in surrounding districts, for next year.
The total amount the district will levy for, including debt service, will be about $85 million, up from about $83 million last year, said Daniel Schuler, assistant superintendent for planning.
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Schuler said the district has not seen a lot of new growth over the past year, so the 1.94 percent increase is a reasonable estimate for how much the district will receive next year. The state tax cap limits the levy increase to the Consumer Price Index of 1.5 percent on existing property.
"We recognize the times we live in and the difficulties that all of our families and residents are dealing with, and at the same time we are obligated to run a quality school district and provide for our children's education," said board member Arlen Gould. "It's not easy to accomplish both, but that's what we're trying to do."
Maine Township High School District 207 approved a 3.4 percent increase, while Northwest Suburban High School District 214 passed a 2.4 percent levy increase. Some districts, including Elgin Area Unit District 46, which levied a 15 percent increase, and Community Unit District 300, which approved a 20 percent increase, are requesting a much higher amount than they will actually receive to make sure they get every possible dollar, something Schuler said District 21 does not like to do.
One resident at last week's board meeting asked the district not to raise taxes, but Schuler said it is necessary to keep up with the cost of day-to-day operations. He added that property taxes are the district's largest source of funding, with only about 10 percent coming from state and federal funds.
"There can't be an expectation for no increase in our expenses from year to year without making cuts," Schuler said. "People don't want us to make cuts in programs, so it's one of those things where we do the best we can with the system."
District 21 serves nearly 7,000 students in parts of Wheeling, Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights and Northbrook.