Rockridge superintendent: Taxes will rise despite vote

The Rockridge bond referendum was voted down in the March 18 primary.  Some voters were hesitant to approve the measure because it would have meant a substantial tax hike.

Some people in the area that are frustrated with the outcome.

Elizabeth Hughes, whose three kids attend Rockridge schools, said the schools’ low funding is causing her kids to fall behind.

“I want my children…to compete with their peers, and right now there is a significant disadvantage with what we have in our classrooms and with what their peers have 10 to 15 miles away,” said Hughes.

The schools that were being considered for closure are old buildings that need major renovation.

“They are major improvements that those schools need,” Hughes said. “They’re not knicky-knack, cosmetic, minor fixes. These are major fixes that need to be done,” Hughes said.

Hughes said she thinks voters probably weren’t informed enough to make an educated decision on how to vote, so they automatically voted ‘no’ when they heard their taxes would be raised.

What they don’t realize, she said, is that their taxes will be raised one way or another because the school district is running out of money.

The district projects the education fund will be out of money by the end of 2017, which is why district officials proposed closing three small elementary schools and consolidating them into one larger school in Edgington.

Rockridge Superintendent Dr. Chester Lien said the district has cut a lot of programs such as after school activities, special education, and some sports because of funding problems.

“When we started this 14 months ago, the whole quest was, ‘What can we do to put the district on a better financial basis?'” Lien said.  “After a lot of research, a lot of studying on how to do this, the consolidated elementary not only provided a better financial footing for the district, it provided a better educational environment for our kids.”

For voters like Hughes, the idea of continuing to pay for old, rundown schools is exasperating.

“It’s like putting money into an old car. Why would you keep putting money into these buildings? They will not be here 15 years from now. From a business standpoint this is not a good investment,” Hughes said.

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