Decatur’s school board (l-r): Tasha White, Garrett Goebel (vice chair), Lewis Jones, Annie Caiola (chair), Superintendent David Dude and Bernadette Seals

Decatur school board ‘confident’ exemptions will slow enrollment

Earlier this month Decatur voters passed all five homestead exemption bills by fairly wide margins. Even the most controversial, State Bill 343 or the senior school tax exemption, was approved with 75 percent in favor.

Just getting this bill on the ballot was a long time coming, and had been an occasional school board topic for at least five years. It’s passage means residents 65 and over who apply will be exempt from paying the school ad valorem tax on their homes. It’s estimated they will save $993 per $100,000 house.

“There are things we don’t yet know,” said board Vice Chair Garrett Goebel. “We don’t have the number of how many will claim exemptions, and we don’t know how the tax digest will grow. But the Board is confident this will be effective, that it will help seniors age in place and subsequently slow the enrollment growth.”

City Schools Decatur has nearly doubled its K-12 enrollment since the 2009-10 school year. According to Superintendent David Dude, the system’s added 350 to 400 new students — roughly the average size of a CSD elementary school — every year since 2012.

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