Within the last month, Edgerton officials have announced three new buildings and the potential of more than 2,000 employees.
One of the buildings is for Amazon, the internet retailer that recently announced plans to locate at the intermodal and bring at least 1,000 employees; the other announcement was for two spec buildings that could bring an additional 500 jobs.
Officials say many of the jobs will be full-time, and provide a livable wage and benefits.
So all’s good, right?
We sure hope so, but legislative changes to how schools are funded and a review of the cost benefit analyses on the two spec buildings make for interesting reading.
The two spec buildings – that’s spec for speculation, as in no definite tenants announced – jointly promise 500 jobs. But each of the analysis indicates only a minimum increase in USD 231 enrollment – seven additional students for each spec building completed.
That seems very low, and makes us wonder – are none of the potential employees going to live within the district, or are they past childbearing age?
The analyses are also based on the old school finance formula, which has been replaced by the state legislature with a “temporary” block funding mechanism that does not automatically provide additional funds to school districts on a per pupil basis.
So – playing the devil’s advocate here – if the state doesn’t automatically pay on per student funding, where does the district get the money to hire teachers if these additional 500 employees decide to live in the area, procreate and add more than 14 students to the district?
To be fair, the district will receive in lieu of taxes while the intermodal properties receive a 70-80 percent abatement: about $72,000 on one building and $90,500 for the other for ten years.
However, under the new – at least for now temporary – state financing regulations for schools; some of the money goes to the state, and – of the money that is paid back to USD 231- much is hamstrung by state regulations.
In other words, the amount of in lieu of tax money the district actually receives goes towards a state-defined use – most probably not for teachers.
The question is – if intermodal tenants have their taxes largely abated, and the state legislature no longer funds growth on a per pupil basis – who is going to make up the short fall?
Edgerton, USD 231 and Gardner are all joined at the hip. With so many changes in school finance at the state level, it’s imperative everyone is on the same page for the benefit of our district and students.
Growth is good, and communication is key.