Niles schools seek millage vote Sept. 22

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Niles Community Schools Board of Education wants to keep its promise of maintaining the quality of the school district's buildings.
The school board therefore unanimously voted in favor of requesting one mill for five years for a building and site improvement fund at Monday's school board meeting.
Residents in the Niles Community Schools District will go to the polls on Sept. 22 to cast their ballots on the millage request.
The fund would generate $455,000 per year in a time when further state and federal budget cuts are possible, making it difficult for the school district to earmark funds to repair and improve its schools.
The school district's newest building is 40 years old.
A mill represents $1 for every $1,000 of assessed evaluation. For a home that has a taxable value of $100,000 this request would be $50 per year, or less than $1 per week.
A building and site improvement fund can only be used for maintenance and improvement projects and is strictly regulated by law.
It cannot be used for employee salaries or routine repair projects.
The 1990 Bond Issue included adding a Library to Oak Manor Elementary School, a gymnasium at the high school and over a hundred other projects.
Law said the school district has been able to continually reduce the original two mill tax rate and will have paid off the bond issue within the next two years.
He said the term of the new request has been kept short to help address immediate needs while a Citizens Committee is formed to study the long term future of the school district's buildings.
Jerry French, school board trustee, sees the need for building maintenance and improvement.
Approval of the millage request would allow the school district to maintain the quality of its education while improving its buildings.
Michael Dreher, school board vice-president, said education is important.
A special election will be held on Monday, Sept. 22. Polls will be open from 7 a.m to 8 p.m. at the normal school polling sites of Howard Schools, Niles Senior High School and Westside Schools.
The last day to register for the election is Aug. 25.
Law said most of the school district's maintenance and improvement projects for 2003-2004 have been cut or significantly reduced.
The annual roof replacement budget has been cut from $225,000 to $50,000 and the total $3 million maintenance and operations budget has been cut by over $400,000.
Several projects that were projected for the next couple of years have also been eliminated, Law said.
He said eliminated projects include replacing all of the old exterior doors that create a security risk; replacing 30 and 40-year-old fixtures; the upgrading of the high school's electric service and the improvement of the Ring Lardner football field.
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