Watchdog group urges Lisle CUSD 202 residents to attend board meetings after tax levy increase
The Edgar County Watchdogs posted an edited video of a Lisle CUSD 202 board meeting in which Lisle resident and former board member Steve Pawlowicz urged the board to raise the tax levy to the maximum amount allowed for property taxes.
"The Lisle CUSD 202 School Board was told, during public comment, to raise the property taxes as high as the law would allow…and it is you, the property owner’s fault for not showing up at the meeting to voice your opposition to property tax hikes like this person is talking about," an article on the Illinois Leaks website said.
Although the district website stated that property taxes would not go up to pay for the new elementary school, the board of education raised the property tax levy at the Dec. 19 board meeting. This increase is the maximum allowed without resorting to a referendum.
Since 2001, the property tax levy has doubled: from $14 million to $28 million. The current hike was 1.72 percent. Previous tax levies between 2001 and 2016 mostly fell between 3 and 6.1 percent, with 2009 at only 0.6 percent and 2003 at a record 18.8 percent increase.
Those residing within the school district were urged by Illinois Leaks to attend the board of education meetings and share their concerns and opinions regarding property tax hikes, capital improvements and other issues that affect homeowners in the district.
The board meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month in the Central Office Board Room at 5211 Center Ave.
The district has been evaluating the benefits of building a new elementary school vs. repairing and maintaining the two existing elementary schools. Two years of related research and planning have culminated in a plan to replace two elementary schools with one new facility.
Tate Woods Elementary School was built in 1959, and Schiesher Elementary School was built in 1956. Both schools require significant renovations and repairs.
The district's architects estimate that the schools require approximately $5 million in repairs, including replacements of the roofs, mechanical systems, parking lots and other general repairs.
The projected cost of a new elementary building that would serve the pre-K to fifth-grade students attending Tate Woods and Schiesher Elementary Schools is approximately $39 million. Leaders of the school district plan to pay for this by using $21 million in existing funds and issuing bonds for the remaining $18 million.
The board of education has selected the Meadows site as the best prospect for a new school. The lot is 8 acres, and the proposed building is approximately 98,000 square feet, which leaves 3 to 3.5 acres of green space on the site. In contrast, the other two proposals included using the smaller Schiesher site -- as well as both the Meadows and Schiesher sites -- to build two facilities.
While the Meadows site was selected as the best option, the Lisle Parents for Healthy Schools voiced its objections on social media, including allegations that the board has not performed preliminary environmental studies and concerns regarding the ComEd high-voltage power lines on an adjacent right-of-way.
In addition to the Illinois Leaks article on the call for a maximum tax levy, the Lisle CUSD 202 Board of Education was recently called out by the Edgar County Watchdogs for its copyright notice on the school board meeting videos. The board attempted to restrict the use of meeting videos; however, the watchdog group challenged the board, citing a federal ruling regarding use of public meeting videos.
That said, Nov. 28 and Dec. 19 videos of the school board meetings still carried the copyright notice. The issue was discussed at the Dec. 19 board meeting, when the board decided to keep the copyright notice on the videos and revisit the discussion at its next meeting.
Organizations in this Story
5211 Center Ave
Lisle, IL 60532