The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

December 12, 2012

Geo-RF board votes for tax rate increase, school closure

GEORGETOWN — An overflow crowd attended Monday night’s meeting of the Georgetown-Ridge Farm School Board.

Two important topics on the school board’s agenda brought most of the attendees to the meeting. The first was a truth-in-taxation hearing and the subsequent vote on the district’s 2012 tax levy. The second was the action on an administration proposal to close Ridge Farm Elementary School.

During the truth-in-taxation hearing, which is required by state statute whenever a taxing body plans to raise taxes by more than 5 percent, Superintendent Jean Henigman-Neal laid out the district’s financial position.

According to Henigman-Neal, the state financial support of local school districts has been dwindling for several years.

"Last school year (2011-2012), the state failed to pay us $500,000 of the state funding we are entitled to," explained Henigman-Neal. "We received just 89 percent of what we were owed by the state.

"This year (2012-2013), we are only expecting to receive 85 percent of what the state owes us," she said.

Also, under state law, school districts are required to bus any student who lives more than 1½ miles from the school. Last year, according to Henigman-Neal, the state cut transportation funding by 50 percent, or $40,000, and it is expected to short the district by another 50 percent this current school year, or another $40,000.

Henigman-Neal said those cuts, along with the end of state funding for programs for gifted students, textbook loans, reading improvement and Title IV and Title V programs, meant the district is seeing less overall state support.

Henigman-Neal told the audience the district is facing a $1 million budget shortfall.

"As the state funding for education continues to dwindle, the cost to provide that education falls more and more on the shoulders of local revenue sources," Henigman-Neal said.

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