CUSD 200 Board meeting this wed – new pre-k without referendum

Wheaton-Warrenville CUSD200 plans to build a new Early learning Center (pre-k) at the existing Jefferson site for $17.3 million without asking taxpayers and without raising taxes.  The new plan calls for the district to pay for a new Jefferson by dipping into reserves and borrowing money through “lease certificates” for a term of up to 20 years.  Taxpayers have already said “NO” twice in the 2013 and 2017 referendums. See: http://dupagewatchdog.org/2017/11/cusd-200-new-pre-k-building-despite-taxpayers-saying-no

 

I have 2 questions

  1. Which time were they lying?
  2. Is this legal? If not, how can we stop it?

School Board Meeting

If you do not want to see the district putting us deeper in debt without our permission, please come to this week’s school board meeting and voice your opinion.

  • Wednesday 1/17/2018
  • 7:00 PM
  • at Wiesbrook Elementary School
  • 2160 Durfee Road, Wheaton, IL 60189

At the meeting they plan to approve the start of the Design Development Phase for the Early Childhood Center Project, and to discuss the lease funding certificates.  You can find the agenda by going to

  • cusd200.org
  • clicking on Board-of-education -> meeting agendas (menu across the page, near the top, then drop down menu)
  • click on the 1/17 date in the calendar

Discussion item #1.  Overview of Lease Certificate Funding for Early Childhood Center explains the lease certificates.

 

 

Question of Truth:

Which time were they lying?

Last year (2017) when CUSD 200 had a referendum to sell $132 million in bonds to do $154 million in work: build a new pre-school and maintenance/improvements on other buildings – some of which could NOT WAIT!  Or now, when they claim they have the money for a new pre-school and nothing else is urgent?

They have not cut other spending nor has the district come into new money. (Since the 2017 referendum failed, they have given the superintendent and new & improved contract (more $). The top 50 administrators agreed to give up 1% planned raise in exchange for not giving up their end of career bonuses or paying their own employee pension contributions – like teachers do).

What happened to all those other NEEDS?

What happens if the state is late with its promised funds?

 

Question of legality:

We did some investigation.

This newly discovered loophole is in the school code (105 ILCS 5/10-22.36) (from Ch. 122, par. 10-22.36). The first paragraph implies that all new building require a referendum.  The fourth paragraph lists exceptions. (see below for current language)

 

The original law prior to 2001 stated that no referendum was required if the district used funds from the sale of other buildings or funds received as gifts, provided that no funds were derived from the district’s bonded indebtedness or tax levy.  That was clear enough.  However, in 2001 the language was changed to add subsection (1) “while the building is being leased by the school district” as well as the clause “other than lease payments”.

The change was made by

  • Public Act 92-0127
  • Bill number: SB1035 of the 92 general assembly
  • Passed in the General Assembly May 01, 2001.
  • Approved July 20, 2001

I could use legal help to see if the term “lease” was meant to apply only to existing buildings or was a carve out for the entire exception.

 

 

School Code covering new school buildings

The state statue can be found at http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=010500050HArt%2E+10&ActID=1005&ChapterID=17&SeqStart=60400000&SeqEnd=84300000  look for 5/10-22.36

 What it says:

(105 ILCS 5/10-22.36) (from Ch. 122, par. 10-22.36)
Sec. 10-22.36. Buildings for school purposes. To build or purchase a building for school classroom or instructional purposes upon the approval of a majority of the voters upon the proposition at a referendum held for such purpose or in accordance with Section 17-2.11, 19-3.5, or 19-3.10. The board may initiate such referendum by resolution. The board shall certify the resolution and proposition to the proper election authority for submission in accordance with the general election law.
The questions of building one or more new buildings for school purposes or office facilities, and issuing bonds for the purpose of borrowing money to purchase one or more buildings or sites for such buildings or office sites, to build one or more new buildings for school purposes or office facilities or to make additions and improvements to existing school buildings, may be combined into one or more propositions on the ballot.
Before erecting, or purchasing or remodeling such a building the board shall submit the plans and specifications respecting heating, ventilating, lighting, seating, water supply, toilets and safety against fire to the regional superintendent of schools having supervision and control over the district, for approval in accordance with Section 2-3.12.
Notwithstanding any of the foregoing, no referendum shall be required if the purchase, construction, or building of any such building (1) occurs while the building is being leased by the school district or (2) is paid with (A) funds derived from the sale or disposition of other buildings, land, or structures of the school district or (B) funds received (i) as a grant under the School Construction Law or (ii) as gifts or donations, provided that no funds to purchase, construct, or build such building, other than lease payments, are derived from the district’s bonded indebtedness or the tax levy of the district.
Notwithstanding any of the foregoing, no referendum shall be required if the purchase, construction, or building of any such building is paid with funds received from the County School Facility Occupation Tax Law under Section 5-1006.7 of the Counties Code or from the proceeds of bonds or other debt obligations secured by revenues obtained from that Law.

 

3 thoughts on “CUSD 200 Board meeting this wed – new pre-k without referendum

  1. as Illinois population declines, they are trying to keep teachers working by adding a new class of students. But pre-kindergarten is not even mandated by the educational system. This is like private daycare now to be paid by the taxpayer. How can they do this with public funds if pre-kindergarten is not mandated?

    1. I believe the districts are mandated to provide education for special needs students starting at age 3. All the districts starting offering these programs around 1999 (from memory). I never looked for the state law… or exactly what it covers.

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