All posts by Janet Shaw

CUSD 200 fund balances

Since the district is planning on spending the money in reserves plus money each year for a new building, after two failed referendums, it occurs to me that we should know: HOW MUCH IS IN RESERVES?

 

From the 2017 referendum information, current bond payments (shown in grey shaded background) peek in 2022, drop significantly in 2023 and go to zero starting 2024.  Our property taxes should decrease in 2023 and 2024!

bond repayment now proposed 2017

 

Next, I looked at the total for end-of-month funds on hand and graphed the last  year and a half:

 

end of month2017We know the bulk of the school district revenue comes from property tax, which is due in two installments (June and September).   The low point for funds on hand is in May (possible exception when bonds are sold in the spring).

So I looked at what was the funds on hand at the end of May for the last few years.

May 31, 2014    $20,596,100
May 31, 2015    $10,616,841
May 31, 2016    $12,174,223
May 31, 2017    $6,340,890

We also know the district has not reduced other spending.  So, my fear is that they will spend money on hand for this new school, and then need to borrow to pay for other necessities,.

 

I believe they should agree to cut other spending first, so that the new building can be paid for using already existing funds along with all other necessities and come to the taxpayers with a third, affordable referendum.

Cutting spending should start with Dr. Schuler offering to reduce his benefits (they just signed a new contract with an end of contract bonus)

see: dupagewatchdog.org/2017/12/cusd-200-lavished-dr-schuler-with-more/

Then administrators giving up the end of year bonus and paying their own pension contribution.

And finally, teachers giving up the end of career bonus (They already pay their pension contribution).

If all that is done, the district can afford a new building and I’ll even help pass a no tax increase, new building referendum.

 

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.

 

Cancelled trip to “Feed My Starving Children”

At the end of the December 13, 2017 CUSD 200 school board meeting a mother spoke on behalf of Pleasant Hill third grade parents, who were upset due to the cancellation of a Field trip. A field trip that had been approved (including PTA funded bus transportation) and permission slips sent home… Apparently, it was cancelled because an overly cautious administrator had found out that the “Feed My Starving Children” is a faith based operation.  Never mind that many public schools have gone there, and that the establishment clause of “separation of Church and state” only requires neutrality, not total avoidance of religion.  There was no legitimate reason given for cancelling the trip.

They made her wait until the end of a 2-hour meeting to make her 3-minute comment.  Watch the video starting at the 1 hour, 58 min, 48 seconds mark:

Also check out Mary Ann’s letter to the board dupagewatchdog.org/2017/12/letter-to-cusd-200-board/  in which Mary Ann reminds Dr. Schuler and the board that he and other staff have been attending an annual “Prayer Breakfast” at district’s expense.

As far as I know, the field trip has not been re-approved.

 

 

Letter to CUSD 200 board

The day after the school board approved a new and improved four year contract extension for CUSD 200 Superintendent, Dr. Schuler, Mary Ann wrote a letter to the school board members.  Note: she references data from FOIAs (freedom of Information Act) I have yet to write them up.  Anyone interested in helping reach out to me.

Ms. Vitone;s letter:

To: Board Member <board@cusd200.org>; Jeff Schuler <jeff.schuler@cusd200.org>
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2017 12:14 PM
Subject: Questions and concerns
To the CUSD 200 School Board members,
As a taxpaying citizen, very engaged parent and someone who believes in ethics and accountability, I am sending you this email with some observations and would like to challenge you to do the right thing.
I have read the FOIA emails between yourselves and the district.  It is very evident that you have questions about the agenda and you ask your questions and receive an answer from Dr. Schuler (who by the way is going to give you an answer you want to hear, I highly doubt you actually ask for some back up information to the response you receive) and then you keep that information to yourselves.  You say that you are transparent, so I am going to ask you to put your words into an action item and start posting on the website agenda, the Tuesday before the meeting, all of the questions that were asked and the answers that you received.  If you have questions, imagine how the public is left out of the conversation when everything is done behind closed doors.
 
It is very disappointing to see all of the meals that are being picked up by the taxpayers.  You made a commitment to serve on a board without compensation.  Meals, free tickets, parking passes  and gifts, etc. are all considered compensation and you should not be taking them.  You keep asking us for money, and Ms. Crabtree suggests parents should pay more in fees for a public education which should be covered in full by our tax dollars and she and the rest of you think you are entitled to and should have the taxpayers pay for a meal for you and the highly compensated Superintendent???  The optics don’t look good and your words and actions contradict each other again.  I would ask that you ask Dr. Schuler to credit all of those meals back to the taxpayers and if  he wants to treat all of you, to get in your good graces, he can take it out of his own pocket.  There is no reason these meetings cannot take place in his office or a conference room at the district building without food.
 
It is very disappointing to see that Ms. Crabtree’s daughter is working for CUSD 200 as a before and after day care employee.  It is a conflict of interest . You are supposed to be holding them accountable, not being their friend and enriching your family with your position as a public servant.  I know for a fact that there are plenty of part time jobs for our children to have while they are going to school and trying to earn some extra income.  Maybe Ms. Crabtree’s daughter could get a job at a Jimmy Johns, Panera Bread, or the many businesses in the area.  I know this for a fact because my son worked at a few of the places mentioned and many of these establishments are always looking for help.  People of this community had many issues with Ken Knicker and the nepotism when he was on the board and board members should not do anything to give the appearance of impropriety.
I understand from the meeting last night, that Dr. Schuler would not allow a field trip to Feed the Starving Children, because there was some religious pictures or something to that affect and and one person might be offended???  Newsflash for you, Wheaton is a Christian community, as is the majority of the United States of America.  If that is the case, he and the rest of the employees of District 200 should be working on Christmas and not take any break.  I would also call Dr. Schuler out on his double standard.  He and several employees of CUSD 200 have been charging taxpayers, for the last several years, to attend a Prayer Breakfast.  Does Dr. Schuler think he just gets to pick and choose when employees of the District can attend a religious event, yet deny our students the opportunity to do some good because someone might get offended.????  I would ask that Dr. Schuler and any employee of District 200 that had taxpayers pay for their breakfast, reimburse the taxpayers for this expense and he should rethink the decision he made.  How hypocritical and disappointing.
 
It is evident from your email correspondence back and forth that too much time is spent on patting each other on the backs, praising each other and planning social events than doing your jobs as public servants and getting our finances in order and overseeing the staff and curriculum.  It is obvious that you want to pass another referendum, which is why Ms. Crabtree makes mention in one of her emails that you need to engage the community, because you want more money from the taxpayers.
I understand that Ms. Ericksen, questioned a very involved citizen last night, as to his commenting on something he does not have all of the facts on??  Well Ms. Ericksen, do your job as a public official and start sharing your information with the public like you are supposed to be doing, and we would be as informed as you claim to be.  I guess after this comment that citizens will have to put in more FOIA’s so that we can get all of the facts before we comment.  I would expect that the District not complain about the FOIA’s since a board member is basically encouraging it.
I would once again challenge you to walk the talk and start making some changes to how you are voting, because you have no credibility to ask us for more money.  It was not a wise decision to vote the way you did on Dr. Schuler’s contract.  Again you are telling us you need more money, but you are lavishing an employee with our hard earned money.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
Mary Ann Vitone

CUSD 200 lavished Dr. Schuler with more

There was one dissenting vote at the Dec. 13, 2016 CUSD 200 board meeting when the trustees voted to give Dr. Schuler a four year contract extension with new / changed  benefits.

I regret not noticing this prior to the meeting.  However, The contract approval was already a done deal by the time it was placed on the meeting agenda.  Once the podcast becomes available, I will post more information.  And if we receive information pertaining to the cost of this deal we will of course publish that.

The lone “NO” vote was from Jim Gambaiani.

Gambaiani’s prepared remarks:

Dr. Schuler:  During your time as superintendent you have done a solid job providing direction and leadership for the District. My prepared comments tonight regarding this resolution are specifically related to certain elements within the proposed contract, not your performance. 

In July a new Admin contract  took effect. As a part of the new contract, the Board voted to freeze salaries. With Admin salaries in excess of $5.0M per year this decision had a positive financial impact on the budget and made funds available for other needs within the District. I want to publically thank the Admin staff for embracing the salary freeze.

I believe a salary freeze should be part of the superintendent contract along with eliminating automatic annual salary increases. There are many elements within the contract that I do support, but these 2 items are show stoppers.

There are many financial challenges facing the District. As a Board, we should capitalize on any opportunity that will secure additional funding for District needs like a new Early Learning Center, building maintenance, capital improvements, and Sherman Durgus. Additionally, the District may face other financial challenges in the future such as a property tax freeze, a pension shift to the district level, and changes to the school funding formula.

 Because of these financial challenges, I will not support the resolution to extend the superintendent contract as written.

What has changed:

Dr. Schuler’s (current) 2018 base salary is $238,586.00 which is the same as he earned in 2017.

  • According to the 8/29/2016 compensation report, his 2016 base salary was $232,087.50
  • And the 9/5/2017 compensation report lists his 2017 base salary as $238,586.00 (that was a 2.8% increase on July 1, 2016 and no increase on July 1, 2017.

He is guaranteed that his salary will increase to keep pace with inflation (with CPI).  Thus he has ensured that the one year pay freeze he accepted in August 2017 will be only for one year.

He will receive an annual bonus up to 2% based on his performance review.

He receives 25 vacation days per year on top of the 12 holidays and sick days.  Vacation days can no longer be carried to a future year, but can be cashed in for extra pay.

He will receive a bonus at the end of this extension: $10,000.00 if the contract is extended again, or $5,250.00 if not.

He has made one concession:

Starting July 2017 (2018 school year), he will be paying 20% of the “Health Benefits Program” – just like teachers do.

His annual sick day allowance will be “in accordance with the minimum number of days required under the Illinois School Code.”  Currently that is 10 days per year (ilga.gov 105 ILCS 5/24-6)

 

Jan Shaw’s previous recommendations

In public comments and a previous post I made the following recommendations.  They implemented point #1 and #3 for Dr. Schuler.

  1. The Board must know what is in the contract that they are approving – a sample admin contract should be attached to the meeting agenda.
  2. ALL post career compensation must go!
  3. Extra sick days for pension padding must go!
  4. Administrators must pay their own pension contributions, just like teachers do – and no, we cannot give them large raises so that they see no loss in net pay.  This is a perk they never should have had.

Associated previous posts

dupagewatchdog.org/2017/08/cusd-200-whos-in-charge/

dupagewatchdog.org/2017/05/cusd200-admin-contracts-renewing-soon/

dupagewatchdog.org/2017/05/admin-compensation-cusd-200-part-1/

dupagewatchdog.org/2017/05/admin-compensation-cusd-200-part-2/

 

District should register as PAC for referendum

Something to keep in mind for the next referendum, I’m reading “Illinois Laws Affecting the School Finance Referendum“ found at: http://www.iasb.com/pdf/referendum.pdf

During the 2017 referendum, CUSD 200 should have registered as a political committee.

On page 3 under “PUBLIC COMMUNICATIONS” heading it states

A state appellate court in 2009 went even further in regulating the use of public funds in election communications.3 The court held that any communication that “refers to a clearly identified question of public policy that will appear on the ballot” must be treated as an electioneering communication. And if a school board expends more than $3,000 in any 12-month period for such communication, the board must register as a local political committee and abide by requirements of Article 9 of the Election Code. [emphasis added]

The court did not appear to make any exception for a board communication that calls attention to a specific election question in a neutral manner.

Where a school district would expect to spend more than $3,000 for lawful communications alerting voters to a public policy election, a board might be well advised to delegate even such impartial of communication to a citizens committee. Even a board that is willing to register as a political committee would be faced with tracking costs associated with printing and mailing, including staff time…

Looking at a post from Feb. 2017 CUSD 200 PR spending we see for the last referendum the district spent $11,772 on printing and mailing 40,000 “Investing in Our Future” referendum Brochures.

pr_2017 ref mailer

This clearly exceeds the $3,000 threshold.  CUSD 200 should have registered as a political committee for the 2017 referendum.

We also noted in “CUSD 200 video – $180 is misleading” that Superintendent Jeff Schuler stared in pro-referendum videos, filmed on district property and paid for with district funds after the referendum was placed on the ballot.   Clearly this violates the cautions in the same section of the IASB document.

Like members of the board, school district employees enjoy the common rights of citizenship on their own time. They, too, can perform referendum work so long as they are not on compensated time or using district equipment or supplies. School employees should not engage in activities designed to support the referendum during their work day (or during “compensated time”). The Ethics Act specifically defines participation in a political event or support of a candidate or referendum as a “prohibited political event” during the “compensated time” for a governmental employee. Determining when the superintendent or other administrator is on “compensated time” will be problematic, as will distinguishing between support for a referendum and simply compiling and communicating facts regarding the referendum.

CUSD 200, new pre-K building despite taxpayers saying “NO”

 

According to the Daily Herald, posted 10/30/2017 “District 200 could build a new Jefferson school after all” despite taxpayers defeating referendums for this twice (2013 & 2017).  Listed on the next school board agenda is approval of the time schedule & start of work.

  • Regular Board Meeting
  • Wednesday, 11/8/2017
  • 7:00 PM
  • Sandburg Elementary School (1345 Jewell Road, Wheaton)

 

According to the article D200 plans to build a new Early learning Center (pre-k) at the existing site for $17.3 million without asking taxpayers and without raising taxes.  “[T] he new plan calls for the district to pay for a new Jefferson by dipping into reserves and borrowing money through so-called lease certificates for a term of up to 20 years.”

 

I (Jan Shaw) placed a couple couple comment on the page.  I have also sent info to the board (no responses from board members)

I have often wondered why the district hasn’t hired an architect that specializes in refurbishing old buildings for an honest estimate in fixing the existing building, perhaps with a small addition. In 2007 the district estimated this option as costing $7.4 million. Applying the Turner Building Cost index, that same work should cost $9.1 million now. Other buildings in the district have been renovated. Why must Jefferson be new?

 

The district currently provides services for all special needs 3 and 4 year olds whose parents want the services. Why do we need to build a larger building with more capacity? Note; these students attend 4 days per week for 2-1/2 hours per day.

 —  

In 2017, the pro-referendum group would have us believe that all buildings were falling apart and that if we didn’t approve the referendum our children would be attending schools that resembled a third world country. Now, they decide that the new pre-school is the top priority and everything can be afforded out of current income. WHAT CHANGED?

 

 

If the district had cut other spending, this might make sense. But, the district just missed a golden opportunity. Approximately 50 administrator contracts renewed last summer. I spoke to board suggesting that ALL end-of-career bonuses should be cut. Administrators can receive up to $25,000 lump sum when they retire & start their large pensions – Why was that bonus ever approved? The teacher contract renews June 2018. Administrators should give up their end-of-career bonus first, establishing precedence, for the teachers doing the same. I also suggested that administrators pay their own pension contribution as well as the same amount for other benefits to match what teachers pay.

 

As for spending reserves, we know that last year the state of Illinois was behind on its payments. At the low point for the year the total fund balance for all funds on 5/31/2017 was $6,340,889. We also recall that not too many years ago CUSD 200 was issuing tax anticipation warrants each May in order to make payroll. Then the state sent CUSD 200 a check on 5/7/2012 for $14,462,317.00 (for the 2003 high school construction grant). If the district now has plenty of reserves, it is due to that check and the state catching up on money it sends the district. If we spend the reserves and promise future revenues to pay for a new pre-school, what happens if the state is late with its payments (again) or if some of those fixes they said were desperately needed last year actually become urgent?

 

 

To see the board meeting agenda:  Go to cusd200.org then click on “board of education” and “meeting agenda “ in the drop down menu. On the calendar, click on the Nov. 8 date, the agenda for the next meeting will appear.

Action Item #3 is “Approval of Timeline for Early Learning Center

This item says “The Board of Education has reviewed multiple scenarios to find a resolution to the Early Learning Center (ELC) need. The Board has directed staff to begin the process of moving forward with Scenario F, which is the construction of new building on the current Jefferson site. The Board would pay for the work by issuing lease certificates which would be repaid from the operating budget and cash reserves (fund balance).”

Attached to it is the schedule of work, starting with “Start of Schematic Design Phase (9 weeks)” on Nov. 9th.

 

 

:

No Pledge of Allegiance at COD and inaccurate minutes

This blog was originally posted in 2015.  I am adding this note, and re-posting today in response to all the uproar over disrespecting the flag.  COD now has a new president and 6 new board members.  They added a flag to the room and the Pledge of Allegiance to each COD board agenda in the spring of 2015.

You also might want to check out what has been happening in school district U-46.  illinoisfamily.org/uncategorized/conservatives-needed-show/

original posted January 23, 2015 —

Incredibly, only Vice Chairman Kathy Hamilton stood for the pledge of allegiance when Jan Shaw of the West Suburban Patriots gave the pledge during public comment.  The College of DuPage didn’t have a flag, nor do they do the pledge at the start of the monthly board meetings.  It was suggested that the COD board thinks the pledge is “offensive.”  6 of 7 Trustees, President Robert Breuder, and ten senior managers of college refused to stand up for the pledge on Dec 18, 2014.

 

At the January 2015 board meeting, the flag was in the corner, but still no pledge on the agenda.  Jan lead the Pledge again during public comment.  Trustee Hamilton asked for a correction of the December 2014 minutes.  The minutes say “Jan Shaw spoke regarding Tax Levy” – Kathy said they should add that Jan lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

The minutes also state that “Matthew Tyrmand spoke regarding Treasurer’s report” which he did.  But he also addressed Trustee McGuire’s November rant comparing the Watchdogs and the Tea Party to Nazzis.

Trustee McGuire’s November rant

The board voted 6-1 to accept the December minutes as is.

 

CUSD 200 new Early Learning Center without taxpayer approval

Wheaton-Warrenville, CUSD 200 is now planning to build a new early Learning Center (ELC) as an addition to Monroe Middle school and they plan to borrow the money to pay for it, without asking the community for permission via a referendum. They claim they can do this because the money will be paid back with existing funds – no new taxes.  Initially, they thought a “new building” required a referendum and were looking for a way to avoid that.  Now, they realized that if it is paid for with debt certificates a referendum is not required.  (Hmmm…)

 

September 15, 2017, CUSD 200 e-mail newsletter contained the following:

Board Narrows Down Early Learning Solution and Financing Option 
At their meeting, the Board reviewed an option to construct an addition at Monroe Middle School as a solution to our early learning facility needs. This option was one of 
nine possible scenarios the Board has reviewed following the April 4 Referendum Plan. The Board’s Facilities and Finance Committees ultimately recommended this intergovernmental plan as it allows the District to retain the current Jefferson as an asset, would not require a tax increase and will be paid for out of current and future operational dollars.

How will this option work? Doesn’t the park district own the property next to Monroe?
Through an intergovernmental land swap agreement with the Wheaton Park District, the school district would swap the vacant land (ball fields) immediately south of the current Jefferson property with a portion of the park district’s Graf Park that is immediately east of Monroe Middle School. The early learning center addition would be constructed on the current Graf Park property and would be connected to Monroe Middle School.

How will the Board pay for the early learning center addition?
The Board is reviewing an option to pay for the addition through fund balance (savings) and 
debt certificates. Debt certificates provide a way to borrow for improvements that allow for debt payments to come from the existing operational budget, not through a tax increase.This option allows the Board to access funds to complete the project without increasing taxes. The Board will also consider a private fund-raising campaign to potentially offset a portion of the building cost.

What does the new design look like?
A preliminary concept of the new building can be found 
here. The Board’s Facilities Committee will continue working with our architects and construction manager to refine the design and cost estimate of the project. As part of the presentation, the Board received a projected timeline for this option that projects groundbreaking Summer 2018 and opening to students for the 2019-20 School Year.

Currently, the District provides early learning and special education services to students ages 3-4 at Jefferson, Madison, Whittier and Johnson. To learn more about our early learning program and the need for a facility solution, watch this video.

ELC in the news

My Suburban published a related article on 9/20/2017:
mysuburbanlife.com/lists/2017/09/20/…

History / Cost

elc estimates2017

In 2013 I (Jan Shaw) ran for school board and posted information on my web page along with the first three lines in the above chart.  This blog is based on that blog with updated info.  For the 2017 estimates, I could not find construction cost broken out from total cost (demolition of old building, landscaping, and furniture assumed to be $2.2M – same as 2013 referendum numbers).  The data for the last line came from the board packet attached to the Sep. 13, 2017 board meeting.  At that meeting they discussed leaving the 2 Head  Start classes where they are and reducing the new ELC by 2 classrooms.

 

From “Janshaw200″  2013 post:

CUSD 200 has enough money in its building fund to renovate or build an appropriate new pre-school – without a referendum. Please vote NO on April 9,

  • According to RSMeans the average price for building a school in the Chicago area is around $200/ft2. (reference – 2017 link no longer works)
  • 59,000 square feet at $200/square-foot is just under $12 million.
  • Note: the in the current Jefferson 12 classrooms are used for classes and one for specialist.  In the proposed one there are rooms for specialist in addition to the classrooms.
  • Currently, CUSD 200 uses 14 classrooms for pre-k (12 at Jefferson, 2 at other schools). The older estimate increases that to 18 classrooms, a 28% increase. The current proposal is 20 classrooms that is a 42% increase.
  • Why is CUSD 200 looking at something so big and so expensive ($260/ft2)?
  • According to the Turner Building Cost Index, construction costs are not up since 2008.
  • In May 2012 the state of Illinois issued a check to CUSD 200 for $14.46 million as a capital improvement grant.

 

The current Turner Building Cost index is available at turnerconstruction.com/cost-index

If we assume the 2008 estimate was a good one $234/ft2 what would one expect the price to be for each of the dates in the above chart?  (The index is construction inflations since 1967)

elc inflation v estimate

Since the district is not planning to demolish the existing Jefferson building, my estimate for construction cost may be low.  I understand Jim Mathieson questioned why the building costs so much. Based on the above chart,  he has good reason for questioning it.

I also question the wisdom of building a new building rather than renovating the existing one with a small addition since the taxpayers have said “NO” twice.

 

It’s for the kids – 2017 Staff Celebrations

Last year I submitted a FoIA for 3 years of district “Celebration” expenditures, compiled the results and spoke at the July 13, 2016 board meeting.

See: dupagewatchdog.org/2016/07/cusd-200-celebations/

 

According to the Illinois Constitution “Public funds” are to be used only for “public purposes.” The purpose of Public Schools is to educate the children. How do parties and gifts for the adults serve that purpose?

Last year’s FOIA covered 3 years was 428 pages.  This year was 71 pages.
And it is good to see that total spending per year has come down.
2013-2014          $19,372.0
2014-2015          $17,856.6
2015-2016          $28,479.26
2016-2017          $7,395.58

This year’s spending….

celebarte2017

Retirement dinners at Cantigny – still happened

dinner2017

This year, the 59 attendees included
16 retirees,
15 retiree’s guest
17 administrators
2 union reps
6 school board members (Jim Gambaiani paid for his dinner)
3 spouses of board members (all paid for their own dinners)

note: 2016 was the last year that the 6% end-of-career salary spikes to increase pensions was available.  

A total of $10,650.20 for “Retirement clocks” over a two year period (2015 & 2016) – still buying them
This year it was 32 clocks for $1,754.00

Individual Service Anniversary gifts ordered from Eagle Recognition – still happening
2015: $8,054.96
2016: $9,698.52
2017: $2,285.96

The last sympathy / congratulation bouquet (flowers or edible delights) was sent in July 2016
That is good, if the board or administrators want to send something, they should pay for it themselves, not with taxpayer funds intended for students.

And yes, they still bought

  • a couple sheet cakes (one was for the board meeting at which the new board members were sworn in).
  • And it appears the district purchased meat for a staff picnic in the summer.

Lack of transparency

I’ve looked at the annual budget, and monthly financial reports.  The only way to find how much is being spent by the communications department, human resources, superintendent or other administrators is to request it via a FOIA.  School board members approve spending every month as part of a consent agenda.   They should request  that spending be broken out by department.