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District 31 Will Ask Voters for $2.2 Million More in Taxes

If approved, a referendum would generate an additional $2.2 million for the district, which is in financial trouble.

Voters will decide April 5 whether to authorize a tax increase expected to generate more than $2.2 million for West Northfield School District 31 after previous efforts to plug its budget gaps have failed.

The district's board issue last October, which officials were hoping would offset the cost of repeated property tax appeals by Allstate, delayed delivery of property taxes and the increasing price of student services.

The district authorized $3 million of the $6 million to be used for operational costs and held the other $3 million, explained Superintendent Alexandra Nicholson. The remaining money would have been used for building safety and infrastructure maintenance, she said.

"But at that point, we found out we could owe Allstate $3.3 million in tax refunds," she said. Now, the district is hosting three information sessions for voters in an attempt to explain why the district needs more money: 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, in the Learning Center and 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday, March 3 at .

Allstate has already seen some refunds from the district. In 2005, the insurance giant was refunded $2.3 million for 1992 to 2003 tax appeals. The district could be facing a refund of another $3.3 million for 2004 to 2006 appeals and Allstate has already filed appeals for refunds for 2007 through 2009.

"Because these could be such large tax refunds, the bond issuance is not going to work for us," Nicholson said.

The district Allstate's actions, but it could take months before the matter is resolved, the superintendent said.

Nicholson said District 31 was not planning to go to voters for a referendum for another three to five years.

"We wanted to see what the economy and the market were going to do," she said. But the tax appeals meant "we had to go to Plan B."

Nicholson encourages parents and community members who want to know why the district is in financial trouble to access a brochure posted on the district's site.

If the referendum isn't passed, the district will have to consider reduction and/or elimination in the areas of instruction, extra and co-curricular activities, family and community, technology and facilities, according to the brochure.

If it passes, the new levy will cost taxpayers an estimated $59 for every $1,000 paid in real estate taxes. The district will reportedly use the revenue generated for expansion and updates of instruction and technology and facility maintenance.

Editor's note: The original version of this story contained inaccuracies as to the date of the April election and the amount of money taxpayers would have to pay if the referendum passes.

Linda S. February 25, 2011 at 05:07 PM
Allstate is not a Good Neighbor. They are "there", but not a Good Neighbor. If they were a Good Neighbor they would be donating and endowing the local educational institutions of the community in which they are located, not padding their bottom line at the burden of the local school districts.
Marie C. February 25, 2011 at 05:24 PM
Thank you Linda!! Yes, Allstate is the reason for this! They should be supporting local excellent schools here in Northbrook/Glenview. Our school district is operating at the lowest in the area & 7th lowest in the State! We haven't had an increase in 35 yrs!! but bottom line Allstate should think of what they are doing to our schools & childrens education!!!
Jim March 12, 2012 at 12:52 PM
District 31 has the SEVENTH lowest tax rate in the entire state out of several hundred districts. Guess what...if the the referendum passes District 31 will STILL have the seventh lowest tax rate. Please get informed because right now the only ones that will be sacrificing are the kids!
Steve Huberty March 12, 2012 at 06:00 PM
I agree with all of you "no" voters. And, NO, I don't agree with everyone blaming Allstate. Allstate is just doing what every other large corporation would do. Blame our government for the loopholes that have been created for large corporations. Don't blame Allstate. What we should be expecting, is for management to get better and learn how to take care of the money that is budgeted. Control spending, arbitrate with the "too powerful" unions and require a full days work for a full days pay. Nothing more, nothing less. I didn't get a raise last year, and frankly didn't expect one due to the economy. I'm not saying that the teachers don't deserve a raise, but they don't deserve a raise just because the union says that they should get it. We can all make excuses, but the end result is that we have to learn to manage our money better, and stop spending on unneccessary things. Period
Ed60062 March 12, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Perhaps it is time to again consider consolidating the small school districts to save on administrative expense. Northbrook is sufficiently homogeneous that a single district could run things.

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