As we near the April 2 election day, I’d like to thank the many community members who attended our Oswego Community Unit School District 308 Community Conversations, Town Hall Meeting, Home and School Presentations, and those who utilized the resources we prepared online regarding the proposed referendum. It was the district’s goal to provide factual information on our financial situation, explain the $14 million in cuts that took place over the past four years and to show the impact a referendum could have on the future stability of the district.
We recognize that taxes are high in this area, which is why the request to seek a referendum was not taken lightly. We have worked diligently to reduce spending, consolidate roles, cut non-essential staff, and do more with less. We engaged with our staff and the community to seek ideas, finding ways to save. While the efforts granted us additional time before the district runs entirely out of funds, the need for a long-term solution remains.
The last time the school district came to the community with a referendum request was for construction of several schools, due to rapid growth in 2005. Now, 14 years later, the request is again before the community. This time, the request is not to build schools; the request is to preserve student programming, to eliminate the need for the district to engage in costly short-term borrowing and to mitigate the operating deficit. While the state of Illinois passed a new funding model that brings additional state dollars to our district, we are currently being funded at 63 percent adequacy. This means that even with the reductions that have been made over the past four years, the cost to run the district exceeds our revenue.
At District 308, we are proud of the many accomplishments of our students, teachers and staff. We appreciate the community’s investments that have supported us as a top-rated school district. We encourage you to stay involved, visit our schools, attend a board meeting, watch a game or concert, and see your tax dollars at work.
• Dr. John Sparlin is superintendent of Oswego School District 308.