Rebuttal of an Incumbent board member’s FaceBook posts

For those who do not have Facebook, the following is being copied here (original post were made around 1:00 pm on 4/3/2017)

Hank Kruse
CUSD #200 Rant 1/8

An incumbent board member Brad Paulsen place the following misleading information on this FB page. My response to each of his assertions.

Rumor 1: The District is not spending enough in the early years of the program on capital work.

Brad’s Response: The worksheets being used to make this claim are old planning documents that are not the basis of the referendum question. Additionally, capital work is only a portion of the program. The facts are that 75% of the program is projected to be put in place from 2018-2020. If the referendum is approved, the balance of 2017 will be spent planning and designing.

MY REPLY: For years the District has maintained a comprehensive capital improvement/building maintenance document that identified nearly $130M in building needs. This report prioritized each item with a Condition 1, 2 or 3 status and an identified 1, 3, or 7 year completion timeline. The needs of this document were simply integrated into the Master Facility Plan study (that cost the District over $250,000) and was specifically intended to identify 21st Century classroom improvements, not the $130M building needs already identified in the District facility document. Additionally, a document prepared by the General Contractor, Nicholas & Associates, suggests that 89% of the total project will be completed between the 2018-2019 and 2022-2023 school years. This is public information
Hank Kruse
Rant 2/8:

Rumor 2: Putting this much work in place will increase property taxes beyond what has been communicated.

Brad’s Response: This is not true. The principles of math are not same as the principles of finance. The amount invested early will not cause debt service payments to be accelerated.

MY REPLY: The referendum is back-loaded. The true cost to a taxpayer who owns a $322,000 home is approximately $7,300 in additional taxes the first 10 years of the referendum. This information is available to the public.
Jan Shaw The $7,300 is for all 20 years the bulk of which is paid in the last 10. It is an estimate, as the district assumed that interest rates will remain at the current historically low level.
Hank Kruse
Rant 3/8:

Rumor 3: The proposed new early childhood center is too large compared to the existing Jefferson school.

Brad’s Response: The existing Jefferson School is approx. 26,000 sf and the proposed new school is 45,000 sf (note – the 2013 plan was 59,000 sf). The increased size is to serve the needs of students more effectively. Currently, the early childhood program is housed in four sites due to constraints within the existing Jefferson School. It is a larger building to consolidate other early childhood programs housed at Johnson, Whittier and Madison Schools. Right now, teachers are losing efficiency and education time as they travel from school to school. Consolidating this program will save money and allow teachers to spend more time with kids instead of their steering wheel.

MY REPLY: While there are classrooms in other locations being used, many are allocated to the Head Start Program which is NOT a State of Federal mandated program. In fact the proposed ‘foot print’ for the new Jefferson school expands the Head Start program assuming that “If we build it they will come”. This is public information
Hank Kruse
Rant 4/8:

Rumor 4: The proposed new early childhood center could just be provided with excess capacity at Hubble.

Brad’s Response: The District looked at 25 different alternatives to house the early childhood program – including Hubble Middle School. There is not enough available space and would require an addition to Hubble. The site complications would be very significant and would provide a less than ideal solution while also compromising the learning environment at Hubble. The costs savings were not significant enough to warrant further exploration for what would not be a good solution.

MY REPLY: The District had a local commercial real estate broker to explore alternatives for a new Jefferson. Based on information available to the public it appears that less than 4 alternatives were presented. Additionally, the public was informed that for Hubble to be a real alternative a 27,000 square foot addition would need to be added to the existing Hubble. It seems that serious investigate to re-purpose the existing 191,000 square foot Hubble space was not completed. This is public information.

Hank Kruse
Rant 5/8:

Rumor 5: The District can use the $22 M available now.

Brad’s Response: The $22M will not be accumulated for several years. The portion of the program that would be funded outside of the referendum question is a combination of existing fund balance and the commitment to increase future budget allocations for the balance of the program.

MY REPLY: Approximately $8M of the $22M is available from the fund balance and could be used for immediate building needs. This $8M draw-down from the fund balance would still maintain enough funds in the account to remain in compliance with the currently Fund Balance Policy. This is public information.
Hank Kruse
Rant 6/8:

Rumor 6: This is caused by the District’s management of the pension situation.

Brad’s Response: Pensions are not a district-level program. The Teacher Retirement System is managed at the state level. This is the program the State hasn’t funded and has been unable to legally fix. Teachers contribute more than 10% for TRS and the Teacher Health Insurance System (for retirees) out of their own paychecks just like private market employees contribute to social security and 401Ks. The District does not spike teachers’ salaries in the final years before retirement (and hasn’t for many years) and eliminated the early retirement option (ERO) before the State let that provision sunset last year.

MY REPLY: The District does pay the TRS contribution for the superintendent. Additionally, the District continues to contribute millions of dollars to fund the teacher benefits package. This is public information.
Jan Shaw The end of spiking was with the previous contract, those who put in their retirement date prior to that contract expiring, still received the spike. We believe the last of those with the 6% for 4 years end of career spike retired in 2016 – that is why there was a bumper crop of retirees last year. And the District replaced the spike going forward with a bonus – that bonus increased in the last contract. ALL end of career goodies need to GO!  http://dupagewatchdog.org/…/post-employment-compensation/
Hank Kruse
Rant 7/8:

Rumor 7: Lack of financial planning has created this situation.

Brad’s Response: The District made approximately $14 M in cuts coming out of the recession and has lost almost $41 M in state funding since 2008 (indexed back to 2008 levels). At the same time, the District has invested almost $24 M on buildings and technology. At the recommendation of the community through Engage 200, the District has spent the last 2+ years engaging the community (at least 15 different times), developing a facility master plan, sorting through priorities, aligning funding scenarios and surveying the community all so that the District can avoid being in this situation again.

MY REPLY: All school districts’ State funds were cut. The recession had little to do with the cuts at local level. Rather the cuts were made at the demand of the then acting superintendent as the district was not controlling its spending. Around 2010-2011 the approximately $5M was spent on technology using budgeted dollars. The remaining balance of the $24M referenced above was for building maintenance but very little of the money was actually from the building maintenance budget. Rather this activity was funded by 1) a $10M cash bond that the taxpayers had no vote in and are still paying taxes on, 2) performance bonds, 3) fund balance, and 4) taking money from other areas within the budget. This is public information.
Hank Kruse
Rant 8/8:

Rumor 8: The District’s general contractor should not be contributing to the vote yes campaign.

Brad’s Response: Nicholas & Associates has not contributed to, nor will they be contributing to Friends of the Schools, the committee coordinating the Vote Yes effort. From what I have been told, the entry on the State Board of Elections site has been removed since no contribution was or will be made

REPLY: In February Nicholas & Associates made a $2,444.61 Donation In Kind to the political action committee; Friends of the Schools (FOTS). An invoice was issued to Nicholas & Associates by Ivor Andrew (formerly Boost Marketing) for yard signs and magnets. During the March 8 Board meeting a public speaker validated the Nicholas & Associates contribution and suggested this behavior to be unethical as said firm had been identified the de facto general contractor the project if the referendum was approved. On March 9, at 12:44 PM, Nicholas & Associates withdrew their Donation In Kind. This was not the first time this has occurred. In fact on 2/24 a similar event occurred in Waukegan District 30 when a Donation In Kind was made by Nicholas & Associates. On March 3 they withdrew their Donation In Kind.

It should be noted that Ivor Andrew (the firm is very active with the political action committee FOTS), has invoiced District 200 nearly $20,000 in marketing materials, many of which are associated with the referendum.

Formal complaints have been filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections for violation of the Campaign Disclosure Act.
This public information.

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