Kane County Reporter

Kane County Reporter

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

As Kane County taxpayers splurge on high schools, student performance falters

Schools

By LGIS News Service | Dec 7, 2018

East aurora
East Aurora High School is spending nearly three times what it did in 1997, but its test scores are down ten percent. | Youtube

Kane County taxpayers are spending twice as much on high schools as they did 20 years ago, but ACT scores across the county have actually fallen over the same period, a Kane County Reporter analysis has found.

From 1997 to 2017, public high school districts in the county have increased their annual tax spending from $819 million to $1.65 billion, an increase of 101 percent, adjusted for inflation. That's while enrollment has increased just 39 percent, from 78,356 to 108,812.

ACT scores countywide fell from 21.8 in 1997-- higher than the then-state average of 21.3-- to 20.4 in 2017, now lower than the state average or 21.4.

Over the past two decades, Kaneland Senior High School District, Burlington Central Community School District 300 and Geneva Unit School District 304 saw the most outsized tax increases, outpacing their enrollment growth by two to three times.

Kaneland enrollment rose 96 percent, while tax revenue rose 204 percent. Burlington Central enrollment rose 112 percent, while tax revenue rose 192 percent. Geneva enrollment rose 48 percent, while taking 142 percent more in taxes.

In Geneva, where the average compensation package is $125,000 for nine months of work, teachers are currently on strike. They have rejected a proposed salary increase of approximately 20 percent over three years.

Median ACT scores at the three districts were flat to slightly up, rising from 22.6 to 22.7 in Kaneland, from 21.9 to 22.5 in Burlington, and from 23.3 to 24.1 in Geneva.

$1.4 billion in debt.

The analysis tracks tax revenues the districts receive for operations, but not state taxpayer-subsidized pension contributions, which amounted to another $400-500 million this year, or 38 percent of salary paid to teachers.

According to the Chicago Tribune's school debt database, Kane County's nine school districts have a collective $1.401 billion in debt.

Elgin's U-46 school district has $401 million in debt; it receives just over $500 million in taxes per year.

St. Charles CUSD has $85 million, or approaching half its annual tax receipts. Geneva has $141 million, approximately 1.5 times what it receives.

Kaneland has $120 million, nearly twice what it receives in taxes and 126 percent of its state-mandated limit.

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School enrollment rises, but taxes rise twice as rapidly.

Kane County schools are nearly 50 percent larger than in 1997. But Kane County school spending has risen more than twice as much.

1997

2017

Enroll CHG

Tax $$ CHG

Aurora East

7,945

$78,161,378

12,423

$183,130,029

56%

134%

Aurora West

8,089

$79,983,078

11,458

$166,293,618

42%

108%

U46

28,616

$316,679,130

35,816

$518,370,887

25%

64%

Batavia Senior

4,345

$43,505,021

5,508

$87,016,543

27%

100%

Burlington Central

1,809

$20,329,771

3,828

$59,461,765

112%

192%

CUSD 300

13,145

$119,333,262

19,186

$277,720,535

46%

133%

Geneva Community

3,651

$39,395,310

5,390

$95,236,715

48%

142%

Kaneland Senior

2,065

$22,658,015

4,046

$68,916,778

96%

204%

St. Charles

8,691

$99,364,997

11,157

$193,434,447

28%

95%

TOTALS

78,356

$819,409,962

108,812

$1,649,581,317

39%

101%

Source: Illinois State Board of Education

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Spending has soared, but Kane County ACT scores have fallen

In 1997, Kane County schools had higher than state average ACT scores. But now they are lower than average.

State of Illinois Average

21.3

21.4

Kane County Average

21.8

20.4

1997

vs. IL Avg
2017

vs. IL Avg.
97 to '17 CHG

School District

Aurora East

19.5

-8.5%

17.4

-18.7%

-10.2%

Aurora West

22.4

5.2%

20.4

-4.7%

-9.8%

U46

Elgin
21.2

-0.5%

22.7

6.1%

7%

Larkin
21.3

0.0%

19.6

-8.4%

-8%

South Elgin

22.1

3.3%

Streamwood
20.7

-2.8%

20.1

-6.1%

-3%

Bartlett

24.6

15.0%

Batavia Senior

22.8

7.0%

23.3

8.9%

2%

Burlington Central

21.9

2.8%

22.5

5.1%

2%

CUSD 300

Dundee-Crown
21.5

0.9%

19.0

-11.2%

-12%

H.D. Jacobs
22.2

4.2%

22.4

4.7%

0%

Hampshire
21.7

1.9%

21.5

0.5%

-1%

Geneva Community

23.3

9.4%

24.1

12.6%

3%

Kaneland Senior

22.6

6.1%

22.7

6.1%

0%

St. Charles East

22.9

7.5%

23.5

9.8%

2%

St. Charles North

22.9

7.5%

24.3

13.6%

6%

Source: Schools and Illinois State Board of Education; 1997 data for St. Charles is from single high school, which was the predecessor to East & North. Bartlett and South Elgin were not open in 1997.

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Organizations in this Story

St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 Board of EducationWest Aurora School District 129 Board of EducationEast Aurora School District 131 Board of EducationSchool District U46 BoardCentral Community Unit School District 301 BoardCommunity Unit School District 300 (merged)Geneva Community Unit School District 304 BoardKaneland Community Unit School District 302 BoardEast Aurora School District 131West Aurora School District 129St. Charles Community Unit School District 303Central Community Unit School District 301Kaneland Community Unit School District 302Batavia School District 101Geneva Community Unit School District 304Batavia Public School District #101

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