Watch CBS News

Northbrook Schools To Cut Teachers After Tax Referendum Fails

NORTHFIELD, Ill. (CBS) -- In north suburban Northbrook, voters have rejected a tax hike that would have helped close a $1 million budget hole.

As CBS 2's Dana Kozlov reports, a referendum to increase the tax rate for West Northfield Elementary School District 31 was rejected by a 2-to-1 margin on Tuesday.

As a result, life as District 31 students know it is about to change.

"We will be decreasing the number of classroom teachers, we will be eliminating extra- and co-curricular activities at the elementary level and at least half of those at the middle school level," District 31 Supt. Alexandra Nicholson said.

Nicholoson said the moves are a necessity to close a $1 million budget hole after voters rejected a tax increase.

But what really got the small, two-school district into financial trouble was nearby Allstate insurance.

Allstate headquarters is in District 31's taxing area. After Allstate won two property tax appeals, the district was forced to pay Allstate a tax refund totaling $2.3 million so far.

"Now that the taxpayers have said no and that Allstate, trying to work with them, have said that they won't help us by donating the money back or foregoing the refund that we're going to have to owe, that's going to take away programs away from out students," Nicholson said.

But the district's fiscal problem could get worse.

Allstate won that initial $2.3 million tax appeal for 1992 through 2003. But it also won another $3.3 million dollar refund for tax years 2004 to 2006.

Nicholson said the district and Allstate have been haggling in court over over that $3.3 million dollars still owed to the company.

A spokesperson for the Cook County Assessor's office said both sides recently met with the assessor and agreed to the district's appraisal of Allstate's headquarters.

So, there shouldn't be any more refunds owed to Allstate for upcoming tax years through 2012. But that still doesn't settle what's already on the dockets.

Allstate declined CBS 2's request for an interview, releasing a statement instead which reads; "Allstate desires to pay its fair and equitable share of property taxes. We remain committed to a strong community presence and employ more than 8,000 Allstaters in the Chicagoland area. We are proud of the partnerships and programs we have with local schools and non-profit organizations in Northbrook and across Illinois."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.