During the Illinois primary election in June, voters in School District 121, which includes Warren Township High School in north-suburban Gurnee, passed a referendum that will effectively raise the tax levy on residents by 60 cents and, in so doing, save some important programs at the school, Julia Waelder writes in the school’s student newspaper.
The 60-cent tax hike, which passed by fewer than 1,000 votes in very low turnout, means homeowners will pay more in property taxes to the school district, which, under Illinois law, is an independent taxing authority but must ask voters for every increase in the tax levy. Voters rejected a 35-cent increase in a municipal election in April 2021, and that hike would have added $118 a year per $100,000 assessed valuation to property taxes.
Most homes in District 121, though, are valued much higher than $100,000, and it is estimated that typical tax bills in the district could increase by more than $400 a year. A home in Gurnee just sold for $639,000, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Since voters passed the referendum, more money will be going to the school, possibly for use in offsetting the registration fee of $600 per student, an athletic fee of $260 per student, or other fees, which will ultimately make participation in the school’s co- and extracurricular activities easier on families.
Patrick Keeley, the Associate Superintendent of Student Services, oversees extracurricular activities, including electives that run during the school day. He expressed relief that nothing would need to be cut.
“Without competition band, I was concerned interest in the program would decline,” he was quoted as saying. “Losing competition band would have cut a significant meaningful experience for our students.”
Had the referendum not passed, competition band, all junior varsity sports, drama club, and art club would have come to an end, “limiting students’ high school experience and self-discovery,” Julia reported.
Warren Township High School District 121 spans a land area of about 50 square miles and serves some 3,800 students at two high school campuses. According to Illinois Marching Online, Warren’s marching band was named grand champion of the North Knights Marching Festival at Grayslake North High School Sunday.