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updated: 12/12/2012 10:55 PM

Dist. 10 OK's one tax increase question, rejects another

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The Itasca Elementary District 10 school board approved a measure Wednesday poising them to ask for a tax increase this spring for operating expenses.

But they also defeated another measure to seek a tax increase for building improvements.

The board unanimously voted for the administration to start drafting a referendum question for the April ballot.

The question would ask voters to increase taxes to fill a budget shortfall that officials say is caused by factors like increased insurance costs, decreased state funding and more.

The board voted Monday for the resolution to seek an extra $750,000 in taxes, but their finance committee plans to meet before it must vote on the measure Jan. 9. That committee could push the amount up to $1 million.

Director of Operations Kory Atkinson said if the amount is $1 million, the owner of a $300,000 house would pay roughly $200 more per year in taxes. If the board sticks with $750,000, the payment increase would be slightly less.

Board member Charles Sprandel said that as a voter, his gut reaction is to reject tax increases. But sometimes he makes exceptions, and Dist. 10 meets that criteria.

"I will vote yes when they have actually demonstrated a need, and when they are using the money they already have wisely," Sprandel said. "We have some of the most experienced teachers in DuPage County (who) are among the lowest paid teachers and administrators. Our instructional costs are lower. Of that funding, very little is coming from the state or federal government. All that being told, we still have some of the highest-achieving kids in the county."

If the board does not seek a tax increase, officials said, programs must be cut.

But board members also voted unanimously to strike down a second measure to seek a second tax increase to build more classrooms at Franzen Intermediate School, which now uses several mobile classrooms.

Many said they did not want to overwhelm voters and felt the operational deficit was more dire.

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