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Dist. 1 board still educating itself on sales tax possibility

Members realize they will then have to teach public

Published: Thursday, May 30, 2013 10:17 a.m. CDT

COAL CITY — The Coal City Unit School Dist. 1 board is looking to see where the community stands on a possible sales tax increase that would raise revenue for Grundy County schools.

During a study session at Coal City High School Wednesday night, the board discussed the plan — presented to representatives from schools in Grundy County earlier this month — to endorse an additional 1 percent sales tax that would be devoted specifically to school building projects.

The plan is said to be a way to raise revenue for local schools while decreasing property taxes. The board is currently gathering more information.

“I think we’re in the educational phase still on this,” Superintendent Kent Bugg said.

If enacted, the tax would be applied to items currently taxed and could be spent on facility-related expenditures for schools, such as additions, renovations and energy-efficiency projects. Implementing the tax, proponents say, would shift some of the responsibility for funding away from property taxes to this sales tax.

To do so, school boards representing a majority of the student population in the county will have to adopt a resolution in favor of it by the end of the year, which will put the measure on the ballot of the next election.

Bugg said he had not heard from other school boards on the issue, and indicated that a proposed resolution was still a ways off for the Coal City Unit School Dist. 1 board.

“I don’t think the board is at that point yet,” he said.

Vice President Shawn Hamilton said that as the board gathers information, it must educate the community on the tax and determine where it stands.

“We need to make sure we find ways to get our stakeholders involved,” Hamilton said.

“We’re still learning,” Hamilton added. “We aren’t anywhere near making a decision on this.”

The board also discussed enhancing anti-hazing policies for sports and taking proactive steps to address heat-related problems for student athletes.

Dan Hutchings, athletic director for Coal City High School, said the IHSA within the next year will likely enact rules regulating athletic events and practices during extremely hot weather.

Hutchings said he would like Coal City to enact a rule before that, saying the district will cancel outdoor sports if the heat index reaches 105 degrees fahrenheit or above.

Vice President Hamilton applauded Hutchings’ initiative.

“We appreciate your being ahead of the curve on this issue,” Hamilton said.

The board also reiterated its opposition to residential development in the industrial corridor in Goose Lake Township, where last month a plan to bring a campground there was struck down.

This was in response to a resident who expressed interest in developing an area near Dresden Road and Pine Bluff Road.

The board had opposed previous developments there that it felt posed a challenge to that industrial corridor, and decided it will not change its position.

“Our opposition has always been based on protecting the industrial corridor,” Bugg said. “Our position is going to stay what it has been.”

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