Suburbs voting on tax hikes

Wilmette school district looks for more than $6 million to cover budget shortfall

April 1, 2011

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(AP/file)

An ice rink in north suburban Wilmette was the busiest early voting location in suburban Cook County, fueled by a hot debate over a proposed tax hike for schools. The Wilmette Public Schools District 39 school board is asking residents to sign off on a more than $6-million property tax increase.

Superintendent Ray Lechner says the district's already slashed its budget, and if the referendum fails, deep classroom cuts will begin next year.

"We're doing across the board reductions in the amount of time children will be taught music, foreign language, gifted support...library and technology instruction in grades K through 4," Lechner said. "Coupled with that we're looking at increasing class size."

Wilmette resident Herbert Sorock runs a website called decline39, and has passed out yard signs opposing the referendum. Sorock claimed the school district's steep budget problems are of its own making, and is proposing ways to shrink the tax hike.

"They've made this into a crisis," Sorock said. "We simply are taxed as far as we can sustain as a village."

According to the Cook County Clerk's office, there are 10 property tax referendums going before suburban Cook voters next Tuesday.

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