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06/01/89 Pontiac Township High v. the Regional Board of

June 1, 1989

PONTIAC TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 90, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

THE REGIONAL BOARD OF SCHOOL TRUSTEES FOR LIVINGSTON COUNTY ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

539 N.E.2d 885, 183 Ill. App. 3d 885, 132 Ill. Dec. 322 1989.IL.823

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Livingston County; the Hon. Charles E. Glennon, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the opinion of the court. LUND, J., concurs. JUSTICE GREEN, Dissenting.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCCULLOUGH

Plaintiff Pontiac Township High School District No. 90 (Pontiac) appeals the circuit court's affirmance of the decision of the Regional Board of School Trustees of Livingston County (Board). On January 4, 1988, the Board granted a petition filed pursuant to section 7-6 of the School Code (Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 122, par. 7-6) and ordered the detachment of 7,354.85 acres from Pontiac for annexation to Dwight Township High School District No. 230 (Dwight). Pontiac contends the granting of the detachment was erroneous because no pupils reside in the detachment area as required by statute. Pontiac also argues that even if the existence of pupils in the detachment area is not required, the decision of the Board is against the manifest weight of the evidence. We agree and reverse.

Two separate petitions pursuant to section 7 -- 6 of the Code were filed with the Board, seeking detachment of a total of 7,354.85 acres from Pontiac for annexation to Dwight. The first petition, filed on June 30, 1987, and referred to as petition No. 82, was signed by the 13 registered voters living on the 2,041.67 acres which were the subject of petition No. 82. No children resided on this property, which has an assessed valuation of $302,144. The second petition, filed on October 20, 1987, and referred to as petition No. 86, was signed by two-thirds of the registered voters living on the 5,313.18 acres subject to this petition. One school-aged child, a high school senior, resided on this property, which has an assessed valuation of $800,075.

As of July 1, 1987, Pontiac's total assessed valuation was $103,054,753. This figure includes property detached from Odell Community High School District No. 160 (Odell) and annexed to Pontiac on July 1, 1987, and property detached from Saunemin Community Consolidated School District No. 438 (Saunemin) and annexed to Pontiac on July 1, 1987. After the Odell and Saunemin properties were annexed to Pontiac, five petitions, excluding Nos. 82 and 86, were filed before the Board to detach certain territory from Pontiac for annexation to Dwight (four petitions) and Prairie Central Community Unit School District No. 8 (one petition). Pontiac did not oppose these five petitions, which were later granted. The total assessed valuation of the property in the five petitions was $2,673,800. The corresponding loss of tax revenue to Pontiac for these five petitions was $42,638 annually.

The 1987 overall tax rate for Pontiac is 1.696%. Pontiac is levying the maximum rate in all operating funds except the transportation fund. The tax rate for Dwight is 1.9689% and it is levying the maximum authorized rate in all funds. The total potential loss in assessed valuation to Pontiac, including all seven petitions, is $3,776,019 or 3.67% of its total assessed valuation. The corresponding loss in tax revenue to Pontiac is $60,227 annually.

Five of the petitioners who signed the petitions concerned in this appeal testified before the Board. Their testimony can be summarized as follows:

(1) Each lived 4 1/2 to 10 miles distant from Dwight and from 12 to 22 miles distant from Pontiac.

(2) Two petitioners did business in Pontiac; the majority of the petitioners testifying shopped and banked in Dwight; two petitioners banked in Dwight and Odell; two petitioners attended church in Dwight.

(3) One petitioner had two preschool children, one of whom was attending a private school in Odell and he testified that both of his children would attend this school through the eighth grade.

(4) Three petitioners had lived on their property for at least 24 years and had never petitioned to annex their property to another school district.

(5) None had school-age children.

The superintendent for Dwight schools, Larry Copes, also testified before the Board. He stated the Pontiac and Dwight school districts were equal in terms of accreditation and recognition, though the American College Testing scores for Dwight students were below State averages and Pontiac's were at or slightly better than State averages. He reported there was only one student in the detachment area at the time of the hearing and she was a senior at Pontiac High School. He stated he supported the detachment because of the financial benefits to Dwight. He also testified regarding the courses Dwight schools offer to benefit the adult population in the attachment area. He stated that the possible future enrollment of pupils in Dwight schools provided an educational advantage for Dwight.

The superintendent for Pontiac, Ronald Yates, testified before the Board in opposition to the petitions. He stated that the lost revenue to Pontiac, if the petitions Nos. 82 and 86 were granted, would be $17,589 annually.

The principal of Pontiac High School testified regarding the extra-curricular offerings at Pontiac and student participation in these programs. The assistant principal for Pontiac High School testified regarding the curricula at Pontiac, including special education and vocational courses and the professional qualifications of Pontiac teachers.

After the hearings, the Board unanimously voted on January 4, 1988, to grant the petitions. Among its findings of fact, the Board concluded:

(1) The equalized assessed valuation (valuation) of Pontiac, excluding the previous five petitions, was $100,380,952.

(2) The valuation of Dwight, including the four previous petitions, was $45,251,500.

(3) The valuation of the area in petitions Nos. 82 and 86, totaling $1,102,219, would result in a 1.10% decrease to Pontiac's valuation.

(4) The valuation of the area in petitions Nos. 82 and 86 would result in a 2.44% ...


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