At a recent forum, the six candidates for Geneva School Board agreed on one thing: the community needs a balance between strong academic programs and fiscal responsibility. We already have the first half of the equation. We have six excellent choices, but these are difficult times and difficult decisions must be made, especially by the voters. This election will set the tone for years to come. The question is: Who will best maintain and build our academic programs during a period of economic uncertainty?
The majority of Genevans have seen their home value drop by at least 20 percent since 2005. Some have lost their jobs and many have seen their salaries reduced or, at best, not increased, in three years. Taxpayers are no longer ATM machines that spit out money. District 304's usual philosophy of “tax to the max” on the yearly levy must cease. This is our new reality.
The School District has made cuts, but according to its June 2010 financial report, last year’s expenses exceeded revenues by $3,784,534. The district has $162 million in long-term debt; with interest it’s more than $350 million.
Some board members want to spend $95 million to expand the high school, while every elementary and both middle schools are operating under capacity. We couldn't borrow the money if we wanted; we are at 80 percent of our maximum debt. Enrollment is actually declining. Far from being the time to build, we must use our existing buildings, including the Coultrap facility. Selling the Fourth Street building and moving the administration is not the answer. The cost to move far outweighs any revenue from selling the building.
For the reasons above, I am voting for two financial experts and a current board member who understands she serves the community, not the administration. My choices are: Leslie Juby, George Jackowiec, Mike McCormick.
They will best serve Geneva.