How District 211 candidates would balance goals with cutting costs, taxes
The six candidates vying for four available seats on the Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board shared their platforms Wednesday on balancing educational goals with controlling costs and property taxes.
The candidates are incumbents Peter Dombrowski, Will Hinshaw and Steven Rosenblum and newcomers Kimberly Cavill, Mark Cramer and Matthew Saternus.
Cavill said she's frustrated by the amount of her property taxes but believes state officials are responsible for the education funding formula that puts so much of the burden on local homeowners.
She also believes cost efficiencies can be found, suggesting health insurance and benefit costs may be a place to look.
Cramer said he's running on a platform of keeping property taxes flat and doesn't believe the district is blameless for its high taxes. District 211 has allowed its reserves to get too large while continuing to increase taxes, leading to its spending on such amenities as new swimming pools that were more expensive than necessary, he added.
Saternus agrees that property taxes are high, but the high-quality services in the District 211 community are why he moved there in the first place. The quality of teachers determines the district's quality overall, he added.
While he believes the district doesn't need to have the best swimming pools in the state, Saternus argued that it's less expensive for the district to stay ahead on building improvements by spending cash on hand rather than incurring debt later.
Dombrowski said he considers District 211 to be overtaxed. Avoiding automatically raising the tax levy to the rate of inflation each year is one way to lower reserves and ease homeowners' burden, he said. Dombrowski criticized the costs of building improvements, citing the amount spent on bathroom renovations.
What the board needs is four members willing to stand up to administrators' recommendations for an annual levy increase, Dombrowski added.
Hinshaw said the district's recently becoming debt-free and intending to stay that way is a huge relief to its overall costs. While he agrees with Cavill that the funding formula for schools is part of the problem, he said that shouldn't be an excuse for its taxes.
He also believes the district has a responsibility to keep up with rising expenses and thought it smart that the recently approved teachers contract was tied to the rate of inflation.
Rosenblum said he's aware of high taxes but understands the dynamics of how they keep District 211 schools competitive and maintained. Any cutting of costs must not lower educational programs from their current standards, he said.
Rosenblum considers a flat property tax unrealistic in its ability to keep up with the district's rising costs and believes the district needs to do a better job communicating the reasoning behind its financial decisions. One way that might be possible is through quarterly, interactive town-hall meetings, he said.
Election Day is Tuesday, April 2.