District 300 community plans protest in Springfield

Community Unit District 300 will take its opposition to the proposed extension of tax breaks for Hoffman Estates-based Sears Holdings Corp. straight to lawmakers in the state capital next week.

Hundreds of parents, teachers, students and community members are expected to join dozens of district leaders in a rally at the Capitol Building at noon Monday.

“This is literally our last chance to make sure that state legislators understand what the impact will be before they makea decision in the veto session,” said Allison Strupeck, the district's director of communication services. “We need to stand together now or suffer for the next 15 years.”

At issue is Amendment 3 of Senate Bill 540, which would extend the Sears Economic Development Area, or EDA, for 15 years. Sears and Hoffman Estates are working to extend the EDA.

Under the EDA, property taxes that are typically paid to taxing bodies like school, library and park districts are redirected back to Sears to develop the area. The EDA is a 200-acre area surrounding Sears Holding's Hoffman Estates headquarters loosely bounded by Route 59 west to Beverly Road and south from Route 72 to Interstate 90.

Lawmakers, who will return Monday to Springfield, are expected to make a decision on the amendment during the veto session that begins Tuesday.

“This will be a huge visual reminder for legislators,” Strupeck said.

The village has said extending the EDA makes staying in Illinois more attractive to Sears, which has reportedly considered economic packages from Ohio and Texas.

District 300, however, argues an extension would cost the district $14 million per year.

“We must turn out in large numbers in Springfield to show the state leaders and the news media exactly who will be hurt by this legislation,” school board president Anne Miller said in an automated call to district families Tuesday. “Our community will be hurt. We will be hurt for the next 15 years. We will lose $200 million. We will lose district jobs. We will lose district programs. District 300 needs to be made part of the solution.”

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