The New Lenox School District 122 board room was alive Wednesday night with well-deserved celebrations of children's accomplishments, but the pain that robbed the life-blood from the community of Newtown, Ct., did not go unrecognized.
Board President Nick DiSandro waited till after the awards were handed out to a group of cheerful givers and the girls basketball teams were lauded for successful seasons to call for a moment of silence. The noisy exit of excited students and proud parents served as a poignant reminder of the senselessness of last week's tragedy.
In a building not unlike Sandy Hook School, DiSandro shared with those who were left a message about the district's commitment to keeping the schools a safe place for learning, laughing and developing life skills.
Supt. Michael Sass and Assistant Supt. Peggy Manville immediately started reviewing the policies in place. This continued with talks into the weekend with the New Lenox Police. The New Lenox Police and the District Administration will be meeting to go over all aspects of safety for our kids.
Community Resource Officer Mike Jurka will also be reviewing safety drills with children over the next few days, DiSandro added. Jurka regularly conducts drills at the schools and reviews safety procedures with the students.
The 2012 tax levy is approved
The board approved the 2012 tax levy, but not without a couple comments from concerned senior citizens. Both Fred Adair, of New Lenox Township, and Robert Buonadonna, New Lenox, asked the board to consider the impact of tax increases on the senior population during a brief public hearing.
Approval of the resolution—a total levy of $45,431,208—was achieved by a vote of 5-2. This is the second year in a row that the naysayers, Board of Education Vice President Sue Smith and Secretay of the Board Maureen Broderick, voted against the levy. The current proposal is 4.03 percent or just over $1.75 million over last year's rate, according to business manager. This translates to a $45 increase for the average owner of a $230,000 home. The average homeowner in New Lenox is currently paying roughly $2,500 a year in taxes to keep the district's 12 schools operating.
Before the vote, Smith said, "I understand it. I get it. But I don't have to agree with it."
Before casting a "no" vote, Broderick expressed frustration over the financial handicap that the state has inflicted on the school district, such as funding uncertainties over the Teachers Retirement System pension and the persistent funding cuts.
Business Manager Harold Huang previously noted that NLSD122 is not alone in this financially difficult situation. While each district has its own unique circumstances, the slicing the state makes in pay out to school districts is wreaking havoc on school district budgets statewide.
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