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OSD 308 voters reject referendum; budget cuts to continue

The operating fund referendum placed on the ballot by Oswego School District 308 failed in Kendall, Kane, and Will counties by a total of 325 votes. The passage of the referendum would have meant an end to the district's ongoing budget cuts and fee increases.
The operating fund referendum placed on the ballot by Oswego School District 308 failed in Kendall, Kane, and Will counties by a total of 325 votes. The passage of the referendum would have meant an end to the district's ongoing budget cuts and fee increases.

Oswego School District 308 voters rejected the district’s request for a property tax hike by a margin of a few hundred votes Tuesday.

The final, unofficial vote tally showed voters rejecting the district’s operating fund referendum 4,411 no votes to 4,085 yes votes, according to information provided by the Kendall, Kane and Will county clerk’s offices.

The Board of Education sought passage of the referendum to offset a projected multi-million dollar budget deficit and to prevent the need for additional fee hikes and budget and personnel cuts.

If the referendum had passed, district officials estimated it would have cost the owner of a home valued at $200,000 an additional $182 annually, while the owner of a home valued at $250,000 would have paid an extra $232. The tax bill for a $300,000 home would have increased by $282.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, OSD 308 Director of Communications and Public Relations Theresa Komitas said further budget reductions will be necessary to balance the district’s budget.

“We are grateful to the many community members who took time to learn about the district’s financial challenges, offer suggestions and help inform others. The district remains in a deficit without the necessary reserves; we will continue our budget reductions until funding is adequate to cover expenses,” Komitas said. “The Board of Education and the administrative team at the district remain committed to our mission of educating students to reach their highest potential.”

Last month, the Board of Education voted to implement further cuts and fee hikes in the event voters rejected the referendum.

As a result of Tuesday’s vote, $1.4 million in additional budget cuts and fee increases will go into effect, including a 10 percent reduction in nonstipend-related high school athletic budgets, a shift of junior high sports to an intramural status, an increase in all-day kindergarten fees to $550 a year, and a reduction in hours and pay for teacher assistants on school improvement and teacher conference days.

The failure of the referendum means the discussion of budget cuts and fee increases at OSD 308 will continue.

The referendum failure was the district’s second in the past five months. In November, Kendall County voters turned down a referendum placed on the ballot by the district that would have established a countywide sales tax to generate additional revenues for all county school districts.

The Board of Education will meet at 7:15 p.m. Monday, April 8, in the Community Room of Oswego East High School.

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