Parents ask D-2 to wait on abatement

RICHMOND – More than 250 parents signed a petition asking the Nippersink District 2 school board to hold off on issuing a tax abatement.

The school board is set to vote on whether to issue an abatement – and if it does, how much it would be for – at tonight’s meeting.

The district has nearly $10.4 million in reserves, an increase of $1.7 million from last year, which is why some of the board members said they think, given the economy, the district should give some of the money back.

“All we’re asking them to do is wait, wait until they assess everything, until they have a multi-year plan,” said Jessica Bis, a Spring Grove resident and parent of four children. She has twins in first grade.

She started an online petition being circulated in conjunction with a print version started by another parent, Lisa Bilik.

The district has a lot of needs that aren’t being met, including toilets that don’t flush, a leaking roof at Nippersink Middle School, and fifth-graders working in mobile classrooms, Bis said.

In frequently lengthy comments, petitioners at change.org detailed things they’d like to see improved at the schools.

It was shocking, Bis said, to learn how much the district had in reserves.

There seems to be a disconnect between district administrators, who knew the district had the reserves, and teachers and parents, who were still operating under the mindset of 2004 when the district was $1.5 million in debt.

The board has been working to bring back some of the programs cut during that period. Some of the concerns voiced by parents during meetings and online, including the foreign language program and the mobile classrooms, are also on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting.

The Buildings and Grounds Committee also has been working on putting together a list of priorities and costs, which is available at the district’s website in the BoardBook, a collection of documents connected to the board’s meetings.

Some parents and board members want to see a more comprehensive plan before an abatement is approved.

“Once you give the money away, it’s gone,” Bis said. “You will have to get it back somehow if you need it, and they’ll have to ask the taxpayers.”

An abatement of $800,000 means the owner of a $200,000 home would save an estimated $144, according to a board document that shows a range of abatement possibilities and what that would mean for taxpayers. An abatement of $3 million would translate to $538 in savings for the same homeowner.

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