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updated: 12/11/2013 7:47 PM

District 204 projecting 1.7 percent property tax boost

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Homeowners in Indian Prairie Unit District 204 likely will pay more in property taxes next year as the district looks to offset the cost of additional mandates and shortfalls in state funding.

Officials say the average homeowner will pay about 1.7 percent more in property taxes to the district. For the owner of a $300,000 house, the increase would be about $80, Assistant Superintendent Jay Strang said.

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The school board has approved a total property tax levy of $268,529,251. That tops the amount of taxes collected last year, which was $261,116,654.

The state tax cap limits the amount the district can raise taxes each year to the rate of inflation as defined by the consumer price index, which this year was 1.7 percent.

The district is raising homeowners' taxes by the CPI to offset anticipated future shortages in state funding, Strang said. He said the state has paid the district $40 million less than expected over the past three years while mandates for new assessments, more in-depth principal and teacher evaluations, and curriculum changes have required extra spending.

"This is just recouping some of those costs from cuts we've experienced from the state of Illinois," board member Mark Rising said.

Board members praised the district for what they called its "conservative" approach and efforts to keep costs per pupil below the DuPage County and state averages. District 204, which serves students from parts of Naperville, Aurora, Bolingbrook and Plainfield, spends $17,400 a student on instructional and operational costs, compared with an average of $18,186 spent across the state on the same expenses, according to school report card data the state releases each fall.

Board member Maria Curry said she looks forward to the day the district can use some of the funds it levies to decrease class sizes instead of just plugging holes left by decreased state funding for transportation, textbooks, handicapped accessibility and education grants.

"We're not looking to put any more of a burden on the citizens of District 204 than is absolutely necessary," Curry said.

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