On Oct. 16, a community came together and civilly discussed the challenges we face and the way to solve those problems. Obviously, I am not talking about the debate between presidential candidates. Instead, I am talking about the meeting of Citizens for Somonauk Schools, where Ron Anderson, Roger Rankin and Dick Underwood expressed support for the upcoming Somonauk School District tax referendum, designed to increase the maximum tax rate for the education fund to avoid deep cuts in programs and staff. Already, $1.8 million has been cut from the budget because of declining property values caused by the recession.
Ron Anderson was recently honored by the Somonauk Education Foundation for 26 years of teaching at the Somonauk Schools. Anderson spoke of how the village contributes to the strength of its schools, and how the schools contribute to the growth of the community by attracting families looking for good schools. He also noted that, unlike some other taxes, the real estate taxes apportioned to the schools stay within our community.
Roger Rankin taught at the Somonauk Schools for 33 years, serving as athletic director for 17. He spoke of the life lessons that can be taught through sports and other activities. Rankin also discussed the very real concern that some students and families could look to other communities if the schools are forced to cut programs like sports or music.
Dick Underwood, former superintendent of the Somonauk Schools, spoke of the value of administrators and teachers. Underwood noted that, when he retired, after 24 years of service, his salary was $50,000. Addressing complaints that administrative and teaching salaries are too high, Underwood said he hopes that most of the teachers at our schools make more than he did when he retired 25 years ago.
The average teacher’s salary in Somonauk is a little over $57,000, and our average administrator’s salary is the lowest of area schools, including Sandwich, Leland and Earlville. Teachers have accepted a salary freeze. It’s time to do our share. Voting yes for the referendum on Nov. 6 will allow our school district to continue its tradition of excellence, while not raising our taxes beyond what they were in 2009.