During their March 15 regular meeting, members of the Oak Park District 97 Board of Education agreed they’ll seek a voter-approved tax hike in April 2017.

In a statement released last week, the district noted that the coming referendum “is something we have been proactively planning and openly discussing since our most recent referendum in 2011, which we sized to serve as a bridge that would get us to this time period.”

The school board has not yet determined exactly how much of a tax increase it will ask of voters. In 2011, when voters approved the last hike, the district raised the tax limiting rate by $38 per $1,000 of a property’s equalized assessed value.

At a school board meeting last month, Steve Miller, a representative from the district’s financial services firm PMA Financial, told the board if the district’s projections for revenues and expenses remain unchanged, District 97’s education fund — which pays for day-to-day operating expenses of the district — will fall into the red by the 2010-20 school year.

During the 2015-16 school year, the district’s education fund surplus is projected to decline nearly $8 million, from $33.1 million to $25.2 million. During the 2016-17 school year, total expenditures are projected to outpace revenues by $12.3 million.

By the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, the district’s education fund surplus will have fallen below 25-percent of total expenditures, which runs counter to the district’s current fiscal policy.

In its March 15 statement, the district listed three main factors that contributed to its diminishing fund balance. They included the state’s precarious financial condition, “which has cost our district millions of dollars over the past few years;” a consumer price index that has been lower than expected and has resulted in a loss of more than $1 million that, in 2011, the district projected it would have gained by now; and a higher-than-anticipated increase in student enrollment. Projections for the 2017-18 school year are expected to surpass the district’s prior expectations by more than 300 students.

The district noted in its statement that, in the coming months, “we will be studying and assessing the referendum options that are available to us,” a process that will involve “identifying potential cost savings and efficiencies across the district,” performing a review of projection assumptions and monitoring the state’s financial condition, among other activities.

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