Glen Ellyn board member says school bond is a 'money grab'
A Glen Ellyn village board member says an upcoming school funding referendum is a "money grab."
Peter Ladesic accuses proponents borrowing money and increasing funding for Glen Ellyn School District 41 of misrepresenting its cost to local taxpayers. He is one of the originators of the VOTENOD41, a campaign that opposes the $24.2 million bond referendum that will appear on the April 4 ballot.
According to a Daily Herald article, supporters of the measure say proceeds would be used to replace portable classrooms with a new addition at Hadley Junior High School, make repairs and renovate bathrooms at existing facilities, expand Hadley's cafeteria, create a secure entrance at Churchill School, and add a bus lane on district property near Hadley School.
Ladesic counters that the district already has "more than enough existing and planned cash reserves" for such projects, noting that it increased spending by 9 percent between 2007 and 2015 despite a 4 percent reduction in enrollment.
“The district can't stop spending money even when the enrollment is flat or declining,” Ladesic said.
He also argues that the referendum will not reduce local property taxes, as its proponents aver.
The Daily Herald points out that property tax reduction is already planned, but the new bond will reduce the amount of that property tax reduction by nearly half.
“I'm sorry, but a fifth-grade math student could figure out that if you borrow $40.8 million, the total cost of the referendum with interest and debt factored in, it is most certainly a tax increase,” Ladesic told the DuPage Policy Journal. The $40.8 million figure is what Ladesic says the $24.2 million referendum would ultimately cost.
“This is one of the oldest tricks in the book," he said.
Ladesic contends the push for the referendum is being driven by the expiration of several 20-year-old bonds, and that the school district is passing on an opportunity to grant the district's residents a reprieve from an increased tax burden.
“Instead of letting those old taxes roll off and giving the taxpayers some kind of relief, the district has decided this is a good time for another money grab,” Ladesic said.
Despite his misgivings, Ladesic did say he believes there is support in the local community to fund the $9 million expansion at Hadley Middle School to replace the existing portable facilities.
“I support the addition onto the junior high,” he said. “But I would urge the district to finance it themselves by cutting costs.”
The vote on the bond referendum is scheduled for April 4, with early voting underway.