School District 121 residents to vote on referendum

Without additional funding, district says some activities, athletics at risk

GURNEE – On June 28, residents of Warren Township High School District 121 will vote on a limiting rate increase referendum question.

An approved referendum would generate about $13.25 million in additional revenue annually, with an estimated yearly tax impact of $200 per year on $100,000 of a home’s fair market value or $16.67 a month, according to a news release from the district.

WTHS has experienced revenue challenges for many years and currently receives the lowest per-pupil funding in the region compared with other Lake County high school districts, according to the district. The Illinois State Board of Education estimates that the district is only 70% adequately funded.

WTHS has taken numerous steps to balance its budget, including eliminating 79 teacher and staff positions over the past seven years, refinancing outstanding debt, reducing the cost of employee benefits through a new health care cooperative, renegotiating vendor contracts and completing building improvements to lower operating costs.

Increased funding will be necessary for WTHS to offer the same level of academics, activities and athletics it has provided to students and the community over the years, according to the release. The last voter-approved limiting rate increase for WTHS was in 2001.

The district would use the funds generated through a successful June 28 referendum to maintain the eight-period day necessary to continue offering many Advanced Placement courses, ensure full participation in career and technical education classes at the Lake County Technology Campus and preserve current curricular and co-curricular programs. The district also would look to improve academic support and mental health services, continue to offer band, drama, choir and other student activities and clubs, continue to offer athletic programming across all grade levels and reduce student fees to levels comparable with other Lake County high school districts.

Without additional funding, WTHS will need to shorten the school day from eight periods to seven. This will lead to the elimination of many academic and elective courses and a reduction in Lake County Technology Campus participation. The district also will need to eliminate or reduce student activities and clubs, such as band, drama and choir, as well as cut athletic programs or program levels within the next two years.

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