Illinois Taxpayers Shouldn’t Pay for Tazewell County Schools

Published March 1, 2007

Dear Editor:

Critics are wrong to say Tazewell County’s Central School District can’t generate sufficient funds from local property taxes and thus suffers academically versus a “wealthy” district like Lake County’s Rondout School District [“School Bell Rings for Funding Changes,” Feb. 25].

First, the state report card (see shows 90.3 percent of students in the Central District meet and exceed requirements in all subjects, despite operating expenses of only $4,438 per pupil. In the Rondout District, with spending five times higher, at $23,799 per pupil, only 83.6 percent of students meet and exceed requirements in all subjects.

Shouldn’t policymakers be telling school administrators to use the Central School District as a model of how to get more academic value out of the tax dollars we already spend on education in Illinois?

Secondly, the state report card also shows the Central School District has a relatively low equalized assessed value (EAV) per pupil — $143,813 — and a relatively low tax rate of 1.90 per $100 of EAV. However, Chicago has an even lower EAV per pupil — $122,209 — but a tax rate almost two times higher, 3.74. If Central families taxed themselves at the Chicago rate, their district would receive an additional $1.7 million a year, boosting operating expenses to about $6,800 per pupil.

If Tazewell County taxpayers don’t want to raise their own taxes for their own schools, why should other Illinois taxpayers shoulder that burden?

George A. Clowes
Senior Fellow, Education Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]