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Parents Urge186 Board To Pose Property Tax Referendum

A group of parents who have students in Springfield public schools took their push for a property tax increase before the District 186 board last night. They’re pursuing the issue - despite the fact the school board vice president recently proposed the idea of a 1% county-wide sales tax increase. Supporters of the property tax idea say it would benefit the general education fund while the sales tax hike, by law, would be used for building needs.

Shelley Tulipana is with the parent group, called ‘Invest in 186’. “The sales tax is regressive and the property tax is more fair. District 186 is unique in Sangamon County because of its urban and high poverty student population. There is an urgent need to invest in the personnel resources that directly address the unique challenges that our students face,” Tulipana told the school board at Monday night's meeting.

Voters have turned down both ideas in the past. No property tax rate has been decided for a referendum. But the group indicated at the high end, the average homeowner would pay about $140 dollars a year more. The school board president, Chuck Flamini, says he hopes the board and parents can come together to strategize for some sort of referendum in fall of 2014. He says serious discussions will begin in the spring.

"You know the old song, 'You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you get what you need?' ... I think we probably need more operating funds for this district," Flamini told reporters after the meeting. Flamini admits getting any referendum to pass is somewhat unlikely, but says with the continued cuts in funding, he's cautiously optimistic the public could pass some sort of referendum.

Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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