How did we get here?
During the past 10 years, the population of our district family has grown by more than 1,100 students. That is the equivalent of adding five full classrooms to each of our schools. While this surge in enrollment to a 40-year high of more than 6,000 children reflects the outstanding reputation of Oak Park and our schools, there are capacity issues and resource needs we must address in order to maintain both the quality and high standards of education that support the growth, development and success of our students.
Our ability to address these issues and needs has been impacted by a steady decline in Illinois’ ability to adequately fund education. Since 2012, the state has only been making partial General State Aid payments on an annual basis, which has cost our schools approximately $9 million in anticipated revenue to date. Based on our current operating spending per pupil, we could educate nearly 650 children in a year with those funds.
In addition to the loss of state funding, our average annualized property tax increase, which is constrained by Cook County’s tax cap laws, has been less than two percent during the past five years, including two years when it was under one percent. These lower than anticipated increases have prevented our revenues, nearly 70 percent of which come from property taxes, from keeping pace with our student-driven expenditures.