Low attendance at CPS hearing on proposed property tax hike

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CPS held a public hearing on a proposed tax increase that would help the district make up for a giant budget deficit. Attendance was extremely low. (WLS)

Chicago Public Schools held a public hearing on a tax increase that would help bail out the district, which is facing a budget crisis.

The hearing offered taxpayers the chance to weigh in on the proposal. Less than 20 people attended.

The meeting, which was scheduled to last as long as two hours, lasted only 22 minutes Thursday because of extremely low attendance. Only one member of the community stepped up to speak. Other said they just wanted to listen.

CPS is asking to raise property taxes by 14.2 percent - about $245 a year for someone who owns a $250,000 home.

"The fact that it's $0.68 a day, which in and of itself makes it sound as if it were not significant, the fact is, $245 does impact the lives of some people - and I know that," said Frank Clark, CPS board president.

But another increase may be a tough pill for taxpayers to swallow, after a massive property tax hike already this year.

"With taxes steadily on the rise in Chicago... It's hurtful. Especially because we have faith in lawmakers and leaders who are supposed to be leveraging these taxes and the increases in order to find a solution. So when it seems that year after year there's no real solution, people start to wonder, 'What are we really doing?'" said Megan Reed, a Chicagoan.

CPS is projecting the property tax increase could make up for about $250 million.

The board also planned to meet with the public to discuss improvements to several school buildings across the city.
Earlier this month, the district laid off about 500 teachers. CPS held a job fair Wednesday, looking to fill 1,000 teaching positions.

As the district deals with budget issues, some teachers said they are trying to keep perspective.

"Where they're talking about making improvements, tends to exacerbate the problems we already have. Schools that are under-utilized are very close to schools that are over-utilized, but we can't seem to put those kinds of schools together," said Karen Lewis, Chicago Teachers Union president.

"I'm focused on them and showing them there is a way out, through education there is a way out," said Christina Edwards, a CPS teacher.

By law, a budget must be passed by Sept. 1. The board will vote on a budget at its meeting on Aug. 24.
Related Topics:
educationcpschicago public schoolschicago teachers unionproperty taxesbudgetChicago - Loop
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