Retired teacher: Geneva school costs killing us with taxes
For one Geneva resident, the demands of striking teachers are a cruel reminder of how the escalating costs of public education have eroded area property values over the last 10 years.
“My property taxes keep going up, up, up, and my property value keeps going down, down, down,” Angela Kane told the Kane County Reporter.
The 67 year-old Kane said that the property taxes on the house she has shared with her husband for 24 years run $11,000 a year, an amount that would be much higher without senior and homestead exemptions.
And she said that 10 years ago her house was valued at $400,000, but judging from the recent sale of a similar, nearby house, it’s worth far less than that now.
“The asking price started at just below $400,000,” she said. “The price dropped about five times to $359,000 before it sold.”
“We don’t want to leave,” said added. “We love the community and the local hospital for taking great care of my husband with his health issues. But it’s like they’re driving us away.”
Approximately 450 teachers stranded nearly 6,000 students in Geneva 304’s nine schools (six elementary, two middle and one high school) when they showed up Tuesday morning not to teach but to protest.
Mark Grosso, school board president, said that the Geneva Education Association, the union that represents the teachers, never responded to board’s latest offer. Instead the board received a text from their union’s lawyer saying the teachers were walking out.
“There was no reason for them to walk off,” Grosso said. “I was ready to sit down and take as long a needed to get this settled.”
Negotiations were expected to resume Thursday.
The latest offer from the district for teachers on the salary schedule (most fall into this category) over the next four years was a 1.6 percent increase in each year of the first three years and a 1.15 percent in the fourth, plus increases ranging from $1,600 to $1,900 each year.
Grosso said that contract negotiations started in February, with discussions about salary starting in late spring. The contract expired in August.
An analysis by the Kane County Reporter shows that school tax bills have far outpaced the rise in enrollment over the past 29 years. Enrollment has increased by 48 percent; tax bills have increased 70 percent, from $9,598 per student in 1997 to $16,350 in 2017, adjusted for inflation.
Property taxes covered 93 percent of District 304's total spending in 2017, according to the Illinois State Board of Education. That's up from 89 percent in 1997.
An August report found that the median home tax bill in Geneva for the first six months of 2018 was $8,599, or an effective property tax rate of 2.57 percent. That's twice the U.S. national average of 1.19 percent, or $3,974 on the same home.
The median home price in Geneva for the first six months of 2018 was $334,000, down 10 percent from $371,000 (inflation-adjusted) in October 2008.
Kane, herself a retired teacher, says she’s tired of teachers complaining their salaries aren’t fair.
“My taxes aren’t fair,” she said.