School bond and tax elections in Illinois

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School bond and tax elections in Illinois are held under three different circumstances:
  • For bonding that funds capital improvements of school districts (i.e. new construction or maintaining existing facilities).
  • To create a contingency fund to pay existing debts which is called "Chapter 20 Funding" which is listed under the Illinois Education Code.
  • Exceeding the property tax cap set under the Illinois Property Tax Referendum Cap of 2006.

Also, miscellaneous elections can be held for boundary changes or changing the form of governance of school districts.

Laws affecting school finance

In Illinois, for ballot measures regarding issuing new bonds to levy debt, a ballot measure is required whenever a school district wants to build new or improve existing facilities. If a school district wants to extend an approved levy, voter approval is required. Schools are also capped on the amount of increase for property taxes. In 2006, the Illinois General Assembly approved the capped property tax increases for school districts and required voter approval for any increases under the law.

Chapter 20 Funding

Any school district in Illinois that has a population of less than 500,000 can hold a referendum for funding, this is called Chapter 20 funding. Under Chapter 20, an eligible school district can create a working cash or contingency fund; the funding, if approved by the voters, can be used for paying teacher salaries and pensions along with other expenses that the school district may need to be paid, for example if they face a civil judgement, etc. A school district can levy through the ballot measure a "working cash fund" tax not to exceed 0.05% of valued property in the district. Any new working cash fund that is created requires voter approval on a simple majority vote.[1]

Property Tax cap formula

Under the Illinois Property Tax Cap Act of 2006, school districts tax increases are capped at five percent of the total property tax or the increase of percentage set by the Consumer Price Index during the 12‑month calendar year preceding the levy year.

OR

The rate of increase approved by voters set under the law. The property tax cap is set for a school district's rate of increase when it is below five percent of the yearly increase in the CPI or if the property tax increase is over the mandated five percent cap.[2]

Special elections

Under Illinois law, a special election is considered an emergency referendum. If a school district wants an emergency referendum, school district administrators must petition to a local circuit court judge to allow for an emergency referendum. If a judge grants an emergency referendum, the school district pays all costs incurred for conducting a special election. If an emergency referendum is granted, 20 days public notice must be given before the election.

Conduct of the bond election, limitations, rules

Election dates

In Illinois, school bond elections can be held on even numbered years during the first Tuesday in February or November. In odd numbered years, elections can be held the first Tuesday in February or April. An emergency referendum can be held at any time contingent on the 20 day notice requirement and approval from a judge to hold the emergency referendum.

Wording of measures

The Illinois Compiled Statutes explicitly states the form and wording of ballot measures used for school bond and tax elections. For any school districts that want to levy new taxes for capital improvements, the ballot measure must be formatted as:

Shall School District Number and (county or counties of school district is known and referred to), Illinois, be authorized to levy a new tax for (stating the purpose of the capital improvement) and have an additional tax of ...% of the equalized assessed value of the taxable property therein extended for such purposes?

  • Yes
  • No

For any school district that using a ballot measure under the Illinois Property Tax Referendum Cap Act of 2006 also known as the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, the ballot measure must be formatted as:

Shall the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for School District Number and (county or counties of school district is known and referred to), Illinois, be increased by an additional amount equal to ...% above the limiting rate for levy year ... ( most recent levy year for which the limit rate of the taxing district is known at the time the school board approves the resolution) and be equal to ...% of the equalized assessed value of the taxable property therein for levy year(s) (years in which the increase is applicable, not exceeding 4 consecutive years)?

For any ballot question that involves Illinois Chapter 20 for building a contingency fund, the question must be worded as:

Shall the board of Education of (Insert School District Name) School district number (Insert School District Number and County Name) County, Illinois, be authorized to issue bonds for a working cash fund as provided for by Article 20 of the School Code?

Needed majority

Any referendum in Illinois requires a simple majority to pass (50 percent plus one).

Required notice of bond election

General elections

For any public question including new building and school bonds, a petition for a referendum must be filed with the respective school board not less than 78 days prior to a regular election for it to be eligible for submission on the ballot at that election. Petitions for referendums under the Illinois Property Tax Cap Referendum Act of 2006 must be filed with the respective school board not more than 10 months or less than 6 months prior to the election at which such question is to be submitted to the voters.

For any question involving Chapter 20 funding, a series of actions must happen long in advance. First, a school district must issue a resolution and must file within the normal 78 day period used for issuing bonding; the 78 day period is a minimum. A school district must then issue a notice in their newspaper to ask the public if anyone wants to petition the district to force a referendum for a Chapter 20 measure. If a minimum of 10 percent of registered voters petition for a Chapter 20 measure within 30 days of the notice, then a mandatory election must occur as long the actions happen before 30 day minimum public notice requirement for referendums in Illinois.[5][6]

List of 2010 Illinois school bond referendums

2010 Statewide primary

This is for all bond, property tax, and Chapter 20 referendums placed on the February 2, 2010 ballot in Illinois. A total of 20 ballot measures were considered in regards to school bonds and taxes. Twelve failed, and eight passed resulting in a pass rate of 40 percent.

Date District Bond Amount/Tax Cap Increase Passed/Failed  % Pass
February 2 Brimfield-#309 (Peoria Co.) Shall the Board of Education of Brimfield Community Unit School District build and equip a new high school building and improve the site thereof, demolish the existing high school building, and issue bonds of said School District to the amount of $13,900,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof? Passed 62% to 38%
February 2 Coles County-Countywide Shall The County of Coles, Illinois, be authorized to impose a retailers’ occupation tax and a service occupation tax (commonly referred to as a “sales tax”) at a rate of 1% to be used exclusively for school facility purposes? Failed 56.2% to 43.8%
February 2 Community Unit School District #3 (Bond and Montgomery Counties) Shall the Board of Education of Community Unit School District Number 3 demolish, construct, equip and build a new high school and alter, repair, and equip existing facilities by issuing $32,000,000 in bonding? Failed 54.7% to 45.3%
February 2 Eastland Community-#308 (Carroll Co.) Shall the Board of Education of Eastland Community Unit School District alter, repair and equip the Physical Education, Fine Arts, Agriculture and Vocational Education facilities of, improve the site of and build and equip an addition to the Eastland High School Building and issue bonds of said School District to the amount of $7,000,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof? Passed 55.2% to 44.8%
February 2 Freeburg CSD-#77 (Washington and St. Clair Co.) "Shall the Board of Education of Freeburg Community High School District Number 77 issue $7,500,000 in bonding to build and equip a new elementary school and alter, repair, and improve existing high school facilities? Failed 54% to 46%
February 2 Lawrence County-Countywide Shall The County of Lawrence, Illinois, be authorized to impose a retailers’ occupation tax and a service occupation tax (commonly referred to as a “sales tax”) at a rate of 1% to be used exclusively for school facility purposes? Passed 52.9% to 47.1%
February 2 Lebanon CSD-#9 (St. Clair Co.) "Shall the Board of Education of Lebanon Community Unit District Number 9 issue $3,000,000 in bonding to build and equip athletic fields and alter, repair, and demolish the existing elementary school? Passed 54.5% to 44.5%
February 2 Lemont-Bromberek Combined-#113A (DuPage and Cook Counties) Shall the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for Lemont-Bromberek Combined be increased by an additional amount equal to 0.45% above the limiting rate for any and all school purposes? Failed 67% to 33%
February 2 Lick Creek CCSD-#16 (Union County) "Shall the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for Lick Creek Community Consolidated School District be increased by an additional amount of 0.65% of the limiting rate for levy year 2008 and be equal to 2.374240% of the equalized levy value for levy years 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013? Failed 62.5% to 37.5%
February 2 Marengo Union Consolidated-#165 (McHenry County) Shall the debt service extension base under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for Marengo-Union Elementary Consolidated School District for payment of principal and interest on limited bonds be increased from $180,983.80 to $680,983.80 for the 2010 levy year and all subsequent levy years? Failed 63.5% to 36.5%
February 2 Moenka-# 159 (Will County Shall the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for Moenka School District be increased by be increased by an additional amount equal to 0.48% above the limiting rate for the purpose of funding increased educational and other school district related expenses for levy year 2008 and be equal to 2.3035% of the equalized property value for levy year 2010? Failed 60.9% to 30.1%
February 2 New Trier HS-#203 (Cook County) Shall the Board of Education of New Trier Township High School District build and equip additions to; improve the site of; and alter, repair, equip and replace portions of the District's buildings at the Winnetka Campus; and issue bonds of said School District to the amount of $174,000,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof? Failed 62.9% to 37.1%
February 2 Ottawa SD-#141 (LaSalle County) Shall the Board of Education of Ottawa School District issue $18,500,000 in new bonding to acquire and build a new elementary school? Passed 63% to 37%
February 2 Pontiac CCSD-#429 (Livingston County) Shall the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for Pontiac Community Consolidated School District be increased by 0.50% for levy year 2009 and be equalized to 3.59975% of the limiting rate for levy years 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012? Failed 73.4% to 26.6%
February 2 Pontiac HS-#290 (Livingston County) Shall the Board of Education of Pontiac Township High School District shall alter, repair, equip and improve the Pontiac Township High School building and issue bonds of said School District to the amount of $7,500,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof? Failed 65.7% to 34.3%
February 2 Ridgeview CUSD-#19 (McLean County) Shall the maximum annual tax rate for educational purposes of Ridgeview Community Unit School District be increased and established at 3.60 percent upon all the taxable property of said School District at the value, as equalized or assessed by the Department of Revenue, for a limited period of four (4) years, the same being for tax levy years 2009 through 2012, inclusive, instead of 3.10 percent, the present maximum rate otherwise applicable to the next taxes to be extended for said purpose? Passed 53% to 47%
February 2 Rockdale-#84 (Will County) Shall the Board of Education of Rockdale School District alter, repair, and equip the Rockdale school building with $1,500,000 in School Building Bonds? Passed 51.8% to 41.2%
February 2 Sunnybrook-#171 (Cook County) Shall the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for Sunnybrook School District be increased by an additional amount equal to 0.40% above the limiting rate for educational purposes for levy year 2008 and be equal to 2.839% of the equalized assessed value of the taxable property therein for levy year 2009? Passed 67% to 33%
February 2 Union School District-#81 (Will County) Issue $6,100,000 in School Building Bonds to reconstruct the elementary school? Failed 51.8% to 48.2%
February 2 West Washington CUSD-#10 (Washington Co.) Shall the Board of Education of West Washington County Community Unit School District $32,200,000 in bonding for to acquire land and demolition for the purpose of adding a faclity attached to the Okwaville Junior/Senior High School and also build new athletic fields? Failed 63.3% to 37.7%

List of historical bond referendums

Illinois had already voted on bond measures during the April 7, 2009 consolidated Spring election.[7]

2009 Consolidated Election

During the April 2009 consolidated election, 16 referendums were held throughout Illinois. Only six passed while ten failed. The pass rate is 37.5%.

Date District Bond Amount/Tax Cap Increase Passed/Failed  % Pass
April 7 Alwood School District-#225 Increase Property Tax Cap to 3.45% from 2.6% Passed
April 7 Arbor Park School District-#145 Increase Property Tax Cap to 3.893% from 3.293% Failed
April 7 Avoca School District-#37 Increase Property Tax Cap .167% to equal 1.639%-(2007-2008 cap) for 2008-2009 Passed
April 7 Ball-Chatham CUSD-#5 Issue bonding to construct a new K-4 Elementary School Passed
April 7 Belle Valley School District-#119 Issue $39.45 million in bonding to construct new facilities Passed
April 7 Bunker Hill CUSD-#8 Issue $4 million in bonding to remodel facilities Failed
April 7 Community Consolidated School District-#180 Increase Property Tax Cap .2900% to equal 1.8709%-(2007-2008 cap) for 2008-2009 Passed
April 7 Hiawatha CUSD-#426 Issue $2.4 million in bonding to build new gymnasium Failed
April 7 Hiawatha CUSD-#426 Issue $5 million in bonding to remodel facilities Failed
April 7 New Holland-Middletown ESD-#88 Increase Property Tax Cap to 2.750% from 2.000% Passed
April 7 Ridgeland School District-#122 Increase approved existing levy from $2,260,643 to $5,260,643 Failed
April 7 St. Charles CUSD-#303 Issue $114 million in bonding to build new facilities and improve existing ones Failed
April 7 Sunnybrook School District-#171 Increase Property Tax Cap .030% to equal 2.847%-(2007-2008 cap) for 2008-2009 Failed
April 7 Washington CHSD-#308 Issue $18.4 million in bonding to remodel high school Failed
April 7 West Chicago ESD-#33 Issue $49 million in bonding to remodel school facilities Failed
April 7 Whiteside School District-#115 Issue $9.75 million in bonding to build new facilities Failed

2008 General Election

The following are results from ballot measures voted on during the November 2, 2008 general election in Illinois.[8] Fourteen referendums were on the ballot in which six passed and eight failed resulting in a pass rate of 42.9%.

Date District Bond Amount Passed/Failed  % Pass
November 2 Alwood School District-#225 Increase Property Tax Cap to 3.45% from 2.6% Failed
November 2 Besenville ESD-#2 Issue $50 million in bonding to build 2 new Elementary Schools, repair Middle School Failed
November 2 Bunker Hill CUSD-#8 Issue $4 million in bonding to remodel facilities Failed
November 2 Diamond Lake School District-#96 Raise property tax cap by 0.44% for 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 to equal 3.119% (2007 level) Passed
November 2 Durand CUSD-#96 Issue $10 million in bonding to remodel school facilities Failed
November 2 East Aurora School District-#131 Issue $32 million in bonding for Contingency Funding under Article 20 Passed
November 2 Harvard CUSD-#20 Issue $20,701,244 in bonding to improve elementary schools. Passed
November 2 Lockport Township HSD-#205 Issue $141.74 million in bonding for capital improvements. Failed
November 2 Mascouth CUSD-#19 Issue $55 million in bonding to build new high school. Passed
November 2 Prophetstown-Lyndon-Tampico CUSD-#3 Issue $5.5 million in bonding to improve facilities Failed
November 2 Ridgeland School District-#122 Raise property tax cap by 0.7% (2006 rate) to equal 3.807% for 2008 Failed
November 2 Ridgewood CHSD-#234 Raise property tax cap by 0.30% (2006 rate) to equal 1.932% for 2008 Failed
November 2 Warren HSD-#121 Issue $30 million in bonding for capital improvements Passed
November 2 Warrensburg-Latham CUSD-#11 Issue $12 million to repair middle school and high school. Passed

2008 Primary Election

The following are results from ballot measures voted on during the February 5, 2008 primary election in Illinois.[9] There were 34 referendums decided in the 2008 primary. Seventeen referendums failed while seventeen passed resulting in a pass rate of 50%.

Date District Bond Amount Passed/Failed  % Pass
February 5 Ashton-Franklin Center CUSD-#275 Establish a temporary property tax increase 3.50% for years 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 Failed
February 5 Big Hollow School District-#38 Issue $10 million in bonding for contingency funding under Article 20 (Illinois Education Code) Passed
February 5 Cass School District-#63 Raise Property Tax Cap by .30% (2006 rate) to equal 2.264% (2007 rate) Failed
February 5 Chaney-Mongoe School District-#88 Issue $1.5 million in bonds for capital improvements. Failed
February 5 (DuPage Co.) Community CSD-#180 Raise Property Tax Cap by .3295% (2006 rate) to equal 1.9435% (2008 rate). Failed
February 5 (DuPage Co.) Community CSD-#89 Issue $24.8 million in bonds to upgrade HVAC systems and asbestos removal. Passed
February 5 (DuPage Co.) Community USD-#200 Issue $58 million for new middle school for site acquisition and construction costs. Passed
February 5 Country Club Hills School District-#160 Issue $8 million in bonds to pay claims levied against the school district in a judgment. Passed
February 5 DeKalb CUSD-#428 Issue $110 million in bonding to repair schools and build a new elementary school. Passed
February 5 (Cook County) Elementary School District-#129 Raise property tax cap by 0.15% above 2006 levy year limit. Failed
February 5 Germantown School District-#60 Raise property tax cap by 1.17%. Failed
February 5 Granite City CUSD-#9 Issue $22 million in bonding to repair school facilities. Failed
February 5 Grant CHSD-#124 Issue $38.5 million in bonding for a classroom addition. Failed
February 5 Homer CUSD-#33 Issue $25.725 million in bonding to build a new elementary school and improve an existing elementary school. Failed
February 5 Iroquois West CUSD-#10 Issue a new levy for a district-wide maintenance and building fund. Failed
February 5 Iroquois West CUSD-#10 Raise Property Tax Cap by 0.75% Failed
February 5 Kaneland CUSD-#302 Issue $65 million in bonding to build a new middle school and replace an existing middle school. Passed
February 5 Lockport Township School District-#205 Issue $153.79 million in bonding to build a new high school and replace an existing high school. Failed
February 5 Marengo Union ECSD-#165 Raise Property Tax Cap by 0.53% (2006 rate) to equal 2.387% for levy years 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. Failed
February 5 Minooka CCSD-#201 Issue $54,865,315 in bonding to repair and improve intermediate and elementary school facilities. Passed
February 5 Mundelien ESD-#75 Issue $3.3 million in bonding to install air conditioning at school district facilities Passed
February 5 Mundelien ESD-#75 Issue $6.6 million in bonding to repair and improve existing facilities Passed
February 5 Naperville CUSD-#203 Issue $43 million in bonding to build additions at two high schools and one elementary school. Passed
February 5 Normal CUSD-#5 Raise Property Tax Cap to 2.72% from the current rate of 2.62% Passed
February 5 Normal CUSD-#5 Issue $96.7 million in bonding to build two new junior high schools and a elementary school Passed
February 5 Peotone CUSD-#207 Issue $25 million in bonding to build a new elementary school Failed
February 5 Quincy School District-#172 Raise Property Tax Cap to 2.09% Failed
February 5 (Cook Co.) Ridgeland School District-#172 Raise Property Tax Cap by 0.7% for 2006 levy year Failed
February 5 (Cook Co.) Ridgeland CHSD-#234 Raise Property Tax Cap by 0.30% for 2006 levy year Failed
February 5 Rochester CUSD-#3A Issue $26 million in bonding to construct new middle school Passed
February 5 Rock Island School District-#41 Issue $22 million to repair and improve existing school facilities. Passed
February 5 (Cook Co.) Schiller Park School District-#81 Issue $22.3 million to build a new middle school. Passed
February 5 (Cook Co.) Schiller Park School District-#81 Raise Property Tax Cap by 0.46% for 2006 levy year Passed
February 5 (Cook Co.) School District-#104 Raise Property Tax Cap by 0.60% for 2006 levy year Passed

2007 Consolidated Election

Date District Bond Amount Passed/Failed  % Pass

2006

See also

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