Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Common Core controversy

Common Core is being implemented across the USA, including all public and most private schools in Illinois.  For voters and school board candidates who don’t already know what it is, I’m proving a few links to give you a basic understanding of what is going on… and why the controversy.

Common Core: what it is,

where it came from, who is behind it.
Video   18:21

Poet: I can’t answer questions on Texas standardized tests about my own poems


Why the Education Establishment Hates Cursive

5 Years Into Common Core, 15-Year-Olds Behind 35 Countries in Math – it’s not working!!


Addition strategies

video  4:38


Nanny helps explain Common Core subtraction

video  1:36


Common Core math [multiplication] explained

video  6:31

GLSEN and their LGBT Common Core Public School Agenda

CUSD 200 Pre-K enrollment

(updated 2/10/2017)

In 2013, I compiled a chart for the Pre-K enrollment numbers.  Last night, the board placed another referendum on the ballot – a referendum that includes replacing Jefferson.  Four years ago, a referendum for a new, larger, state-of-the-arts Jefferson was soundly defeated.  Why can’t the district accept “NO” as an answer?

Last summer I put in a FOIA asking for the same data for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.  Only the 2016 numbers had complete data.  So, I updated the chart with what I have.


The building size (sq ft) numbers for “early childhood center” this year are significantly bigger than what the district posted for “Jefferson” in 2013.   Turns out they are using other facilities and counted the size of those as well.

  • There is a “Head Start” program that is paid for with a federal grant and is located at the “outreach center” in Carol Stream and Johnson.  That program serves low income families.
  • The speech only program is still at Madison.
  • And they are using one room at Whittier.

Four years ago they implied that all pre-K programs needed to be in one location.

Of course we have k-5 in 13 elementary schools across the district in part to allow for more walkers and to shorten bus rides.

The pre-k population that has grown and is causing any over-crowding is the tuition based and full day pre-k.  Since only pre-K for special needs is mandated by the state, and since the tuition charged for typically developing students covers just a little more than half the cost of providing services for those students (below), if the district does not have space, they should limit the tuition-based enrollment rather than asking taxpayers for more money to build a larger facility.

  • In 2013 tuition per student was $2,115/year
  • In 2012 there were 70 tuition-based students
  • 2012 audit cost for tuition based pre-K was $267,597
  • cost per tuition-based student = $267,597 / 70 = $3,822


Proposed CUSD 200 Bond Repayment schedule

The district has posted   A PDF of the bond scenario presentation Dec 2016

In it, they propose restructuring existing debt services because the district cannot afford the current repayment schedule.  They propose reducing the annual payments for 2017 to 2022 and extending the payment period a couple years.

It then shows the additional annual payments and additional years of payments for the proposed new debt.

In the background (grey) is the existing debt services schedule.

I took a screen shot of this graph, shifted the data over and added the recent debt services payments for comparison.

For the source of existing bond pauments see our previous post   cusd-200-existing-bond-repayment-schedule/

proposed bonds with recent payments

For the graph above, the debt-issued was subtracted from debt-retired to show the net change in debt principle.  If the referendum passes, we will go from an average of actual debt payments of approximately $11.4 million per year (2012 to 2016) to $25 million per year.  Even without the new debt (but with restructuring),  the district plans to pay $20 million er year.

The Hubble referendum (2007)

For the last referendum that passed, the district advertised a constant tax rate.  On this chart that I saved it also mentioned (I’m sure most voters missed it) that they were assuming home values would increase at 4% annually and adding new construction to that would result in a total district asset value increasing 5% annually.  Translation: they back-loaded the bond repayment schedule such that it increases exponentially.  When home values fell rather than increased, taxes went up anyway!

habble tax impact


They correctly assumed that most people would only care how much taxes would go up next year – and not notice the debt bubble they were creating.  We’re paying for it now. 

 Tax Increase rules

Each year the district votes for the requested tax level for the upcoming year.  The actual amount they receive (and you pay for in property taxes) is limited based on CPI (inflation) and growth (new construction in the district).  However, repayment of bonds for a referendum is on top of that.  Voting Yes, is voting for a Tax increase.

Quick guess

Total annual budget was just shy of $150,000,000 in 2016

Increasing debt services payment by $5,000,000 for the proposed debt will increase property taxes by 3.33%

That is on top of the fact that the district already needs more money for the existing debt!  Let’s see how the district “spins” this one.