District 59 could make last-minute decision to halt bond referendum
Elk Grove Township District 59 school board members could remove a contested $20 million bond referendum from the March ballot.
In an unexpected and last-minute decision Monday, the school board decided to schedule a special meeting to potentially nix the referendum just ahead of a Friday deadline.
On Tuesday, the district scheduled the special meeting for 7 p.m. Thursday at the administrative building located at 2123 S. Arlington Heights Road in Arlington Heights.
School board Vice President Janice Krinsky -- previously a lead proponent for issuing bonds -- said she decided over the winter holidays to rescind her support. Krinsky requested the special meeting, and a majority of the board agreed.
"It's really clear to me that it's a burden for a lot of people," Krinsky said. "To be asking for more money just isn't the right thing to do when we have other options in front of us to make it right, to balance our budget."
School board member Tim Burns panned the sudden reversal.
"We would be considered the most bipolar board to the point that any credibility we had would be out the window," he said. "It's going to look like the board doesn't want that smack in the face from the public."
Indeed, the gaining voter approval for a tax hike to pay for the bonds would be a slog, and some school board members conceded Monday the measure would likely be defeated at the polls.
The school board sought the infusion of bond money over the summer as it bolstered early education programs and added employees. The district faces uncertainty in state funding, and deep deficit spending is draining its reserves
A $15 million bond issue, as the school board signaled it intended to seek, despite a $20 million figure on the ballot, would have cost the average resident with a $250,000 home about $15 more in property taxes annually until 2024. The bonds would pay for a new $17.1 million administration building in Elk Grove Village and other construction, rather than using its reserves.
However, a grass-roots group of opponents gathered enough petition signatures to force the issue onto the ballot, even surviving a behind-the-scenes effort led by top school board members to disqualify the referendum.