Category Archives: Schools

Wheaton-Warrenville CUSD 200 – debt obligations

Existing Obligation

$559,167,527   TRS Unfunded Liability, state share
$   13,786,130   TRS Unfunded Liability, district share
$     9,266,026    IMRF Unfunded Liability
$198,845,494    Existing Bond Debt Service
$781,065,177    Total Existing Obligations

If 2017 Referendum Successful
$206,144,941   Referendum Bond Debt Service
$987,210,118   Total Obligations if Referendum Successful

Notes:

  • TRS is the teacher & administrator pension system.
  • The state share of the TRS unfunded liability is a state obligation on behalf of the district.
  • A primary source of state revenues is state income taxes.
  • IMRF is the pension system for employees other than teachers and certified administrators.
  • An unfunded liability is the amount taxpayers owe to the pension fund.
  • Bond debt service is principal and interest payments from the school district to bondholders.
  • There are additional existing obligations not listed.
  • Source of existing obligations is CUSD 200 FY 2016 Audit Report.
  • Source of Referendum Bond Debt Service is district website.

No New Taxes –$132.5 Million CUSD 200 Referendum

In deciding a “Yes” or “No” vote on the Wheaton-Warrenville CUSD 200 $132.5 million bond referendum the informed voter should consider the answers to several questions:

  1. How much will it cost?
  2. What happens when the referendum fails?
  3. What work needs doing?
  4. How much does the district have in reserves? And how much can be allocated out of annual budgets?
  5. Has the district been spending the money they already have wisely?
  6. Were the community engagement and all the PR mailers honest?

Letters

Before looking at those answers, here are some letters we have received:

 

Now, let’s look at the answers we have.  (More will be added, and the date of this post updated as information becomes available)

1. How much will it cost?

According to the district, the yearly tax impact on a median value home ($322,300) is $180.  That is more like the introductory rate. The bond repayment schedule has been back-loaded.  For the same home the total tax impact for bond principle and interest is $7282. $7416   See:

 

2. What happens when the referendum fails?

  • Most work will wait. To take care of the necessities the district will need to dip into reserves (at least $7.5 million available) and/or issue working cash bonds (they have a limited amount they can do without referendum & without raising taxes). The referendum allows them to issue more bonds and to raise property taxes to pay for them.  They could also cut some other spending.  Worse case, they can come back to the taxpayers with a much smaller referendum.
  • The district can borrow some money without our permission. At the February 26, 2014 board meeting, the board voted to issue $10 million in working cash bonds.  At the same meeting, Jim Mahieson explained the tax code, how they can get around the tax cap and why we will always be in debt. cusd-200-will-always-be-in-debt and background-cusd-200-10000000-bonds
  • To understand existing board members’ attitudes see the discussions during the 1/11/2017 board meeting about annual budgets for buildings, placing the referendum on the ballot, and why Jim Gamaiani voted “No” cusd-200-132-5-million-referendum-placed-on-the-ballot/
  • Based on a video of Dr. Schuler, If no work is completed (referendum fails) the district will need to set aside in its annual budget at least $6.5 million simply to take care of the capital renewal. This assumes work for the entrances, library learning centers, science rooms and new early learning center will not be done. He says this will be difficult since they currently allocate about $1 million for Capital improvements. Video: April 4 Referendum – What Happens if a referendum is not approved?
  • “…We’re going to be living on borrowed time, if we don’t take care of some of these needs within the next couple of years. The district has completed about $19 million worth of capital renewal over the last 9 years…” Video: April 4 Referendum – Why is there so much work?

 

3. What work needs doing?

  • Except for Jefferson all school buildings have been built or renovated since 1985. cusd-200-building-age
  • One of the items on the plan is a new, larger capacity Early Learning Center (aka pre-school). While we agree Jefferson could use major improvements, we question the wisdom of building anything so big or spending so much. The bulk of the increased pre-K enrollment is in the typically developing (not special needs) population. Why should taxpayers be subsidizing pre-k for this group?  cusd-200-pre-k-enrollment Who is responsible for raising our youth? Parents or the state?

 

4. How much does the district have in reserves? And how much can be allocated out of annual budgets?

  • The “Investing in our future” flyer from the district says that if the referendum passes they are planning on using “$22 million in reserves and future budgets” to complete the work.
  • Daily Herald 2/24/2017 article says “A ballot question in April will ask voters to allow the district to borrow $132.5 million and raise property taxes to pay off the loans in nearly 20 years. Roughly $7.5 million from existing reserves and another $14.5 million from future budgets would fund the rest of the plan.” com/article/20170224/news/170229220/

 

5. Has the district been spending the money they already have wisely?

  • TOTAL Spending on Public Relations is the salary and benefits for two people (rough estimate $150,000/year, most likely more), the purchased services ($198,000 in the last four years, as documented in cusd-200-pr-spending and the celebration the PR department hosts ($65,707 in three years cusd-200-celebations ).  We have a rough estimate of at least $200,000 per year.
  • Are we paying long-time teachers too much for years of service? See: retirees-out-earn-teachers-who-replace-them/ For CUSD200 current pay schedule, see pdf page 44 of org/cms/lib7/…/Contract%202015-17…pdf  A first year teacher with a BA is paid $43,089. A teacher with MA+60 and 25 years experience is paid $109,288.  Are experienced teachers worth 2-1/2 times as much as a new teacher?
  • Why aren’t all administrators paying their own pension and same percent of benefit costs like teachers do? [We have the FOIA results – need to write it up]
  • Why had the district been giving end-of-career salary spikes? And now big bonuses for retiring? post-employment-compensation
  • The amount of teachers, average teacher salary and operating cost per student have all gone up significantly faster than inflation. See: cusd-200-far-more-staff-today-at-what-cost/ 
  • Rather than meeting candidates for a new Superintendent at a district conference room and ordering moderately priced refreshments, District 200 rented a conference room at the Hilton and had their own food fest. Grand total for using the Hilton’s conference room with A/V rental, food and soft drinks was $1,346. cusd-200-food-fest
  • The board forgave Superintendent, Dr. Harris’ $40,000 get-out-of-contract-early penalty when he abruptly left on May 29, 2014. One year earlier, they had granted him a new five-year contract with a $20,000 base salary increase. superintendent-shell-game  and district-200-superintendent-leaving-40000-gift
  • April 2011, the district sent 4 administrators and 3 board members to an NSBA Conference in San Francisco. Two administrators retired, and one quit that summer. 2011-cusd-200-bon-voyage-conference/
  • CUSD 200 had two administrators whose contracts (ending in 2009) called for 20% raise the last year worked. The contracts were extended to 2010 and 2011. The actual raises were 20% (in 2008), 0, 6%, 6% the last four years. two-cusd-200-administrators-scammed-the-system-did-someone-break-the-law These (we contend illegal raises for two individuals) resulted in the district paying them a total of $311,427 more than we would have paid with no raises their last four years, $111,572 penalty paid to TRS for excessive end-of-career raises, and it increased the pensions for these two by approximately 20%.

 

6. Were the community engagement and all the PR mailers honest?

  • The “yes for D200″ website and associated lit has misleading statements.  yes-for-d200-propaganda-on-funding-is-misleading/ This post also covers changes in teacher salary and operating cost per student:  2016 vs. 1986 adjusted for inflation to 2016.
  • Did anyone else notice on the original Engage200 invite, there were talk-bubbles on the one side which turned out to be the 4 topics “picked” by the “public” for discussion topics in session 2, 3, 4 & 5? Common Core did not make the list but was brought up at every table I sat at.  cusd200-engage200-all-a-plan and wheaton-warrenville-cusd200-engage200/
  • The Daily Herald (5/8/2014) reported

“Many of the nearly 200 residents attending Wheaton Warrenville District 200’s fifth Engage200 session on Wednesday drew a blank when asked how the district should cut spending.”  True, I was there.  Most tables regurgitate what the district tells them in the presentation and the districts mentioned nothing that could be cut.   Our table had a bountiful list of spending cut suggestions.  engage200-finances-no-cuts-take-money-from-others

 

This page was originally posted on 2/28/2017.  Updated on 3/7/2017,   3/22/2017, 3/23/2017, 3/25/2017 and 4/2/2017.

Now they’re paid for… now they’re not

What Marketing company gives the promotional material (yards signs etc.) to a PAC (Political action committee) without being paid first?

What company bills another company for an in-kind donation of promotional material without being paid or at least expecting or be paid by that other company?

What PAC submits paperwork to the state board of election for the in-kind donation before anyone has received a payment?

 

Wheaton-Warrenville CUSD 200 has a referendum on the ballot.
The associated PAC, “Friends of the Schools – Yes For Wheaton” filed paperwork showing an in-kind donation from Nicholas & Associates for $2,440.61 in promotional item with “Ivor Andrew” listed as the vendor on 2/20/2017

On 3/8/2017 a citizen referenced this donation in his public comments at the school board meeting.

On 3/9/2017 “Friends of the Schools – Yes For Wheaton” sent a letter saying there is no in-kind donation.

What’s going on here?

It started with a question.  After seeing the “Yes for students” signs going up, we wondered:

Who is funding the “Yes for Wheaton” campaign?

 To see the donation entry history for “Friends of the Schools – Yes For Wheaton” go to   http://elections.il.gov/  click “contribution search” -> “by committees” and enter “Friends of the Schools – Yes For Wheaton”
Limit the data range if you want only the current ones.

On March 4, 2017 limiting the search to after 1/1/2014 showed:

FOS donations

If you search without a date restriction, you will see that district PTAs donated to the high school (2003), Hubble Middle school (2007) and Jefferson (2013) referendums as well as the current one.  And I thought PTA moneys were used for the Students.

You will also see that several companies (e.g. Legat Architects) that are district vendors have donated to previous referendums.

 

Nicholas & Associates is most likely a business, who are they?

Searching CUSD200.org for “Nicholas & Associates”  we find on http://www.cusd200.org//site/default.aspx?PageID=13265

Community Unit School District 200 -> Board of Education -> Board Communications -> April 14, 2016 – Board Receives Facility Report

The Board approved Nicholas & Associates to provide cost estimating services for items contained in the Facility Master Plan Report.”

They are a general contracting firm that has provided estimates for the district – a district  vendor.

 

At the March 8, 2017 school board meeting,

a citizen mentions Nicholas & Associates during his public comments. (He starts at 15:42. About 19:00 he asks about the Nicholas & Associates donation to “Friends of the school”)

Donation rescinded

Apparently, by March 9th the “Friends of the Schools – Yes For Wheaton” realized the donation was not to be, and they submitted a letter to the state board of elections.  Coincidence?

nicholas donation retraction

The original notice of the in kind donation sent to the state board of electionsnicholas in kind donation

The vendor, “Ivor Andrew” and the Pac, “Friends of the School” must have had reason to believe that Nicholas and Associates would be paying the bill.

A web search for “Ivor Andrew” turned up a page connecting them to “Boost Marketing”

http://www.ivorandrew.com/news/boost-marketing-is-now-ivor-andrew

boost is Ivor

 

I recognized “Boost Marketing” from a previous FOIA as the vendor who produced a series of videos about D200 facilities and the referendum for which they were paid $19,818.

See: http://dupagewatchdog.org/2017/02/cusd-200-pr-spending/

Clicking on the “about” tab we see the name “Susan Booton” – a name I recognize as having made public comments in favor of the referendum at school board meetings.

 

March 14 – FOIA Boost Marketing / Ivor Andrew

I submitted a FOIA , one week later I received the response.

 

On March 14, 2017, you requested the following information:
Please provide all invoices, and any contract, or work order associated with Boost Marketing LLC
Also include any invoices, Contracts, or work orders involving ‘Ivor Andrew”
From a previous FOIA, I have the following dates / amount – see pages or the original FOIA, attached)
If there are any more in 2017 include them as well.

1/30/2015                         $1,280
4/20/2015                         $1,298
8/13/2015                         $1,190
10/30/2015                       $1,210
4/29/2016                         $3,640
5/11/2016                         $1,160
6/8/2016                           $1,160
9/20/2016                         $1,360
12/30/2016                       $7,520

Your request is granted. Please see the attached documents.

The pdf attached contains work orders from “Ivor Andrew” and invoices from “Boost Marketing” & “Ivor Andrew”  Responsive Documents Boost Mrktg

The work orders by “Ivor Andrew” were signed by Erica Loiacano (Communications Director for the district)

$7,280 on 4/13/2016
$2,320 on 5/6/2016
$240 on 9/7/2016
$2,720 on 9/20/2016
$800 on 10/12/2016
$970 on 11/28/2015
Total $14,330

It appears the 2015 and 2017 work was done and paid without a contract or signed work order.

I have not found any reference to this work in board packets.  When did the board approve it?  If not, does Ms. Loiacano have the authority to approve this?

The response included one that was not already in my list from February 20, 2017 – after the referendum was placed on the ballot (January 11, 2017) and after my previous FOIA for purchased services by the Communications director (February 4, 2017).

boost PR Feb 2017

Referendum Videos

This is most likely for the three videos, staring Dr. Schuler, that were posted in Feb. 2017

Are the recent videos strictly factual?  Or promotional?  At the December 14, 2016 board meeting they were given a presentation about do’s and don’ts regarding the law and the referendum.  District staff and board members, when representing the district, must remain neutral. (starts at 3:03:35)


Since these were filmed on district property, starred the district superintendent and were paid for by the district, we must assume he was representing the district.  You judge, Are they neutral?

 

 

What do you think about the relationships and activities of following organizations/people in regards to the referendum?

  • Wheaton-Warrenville CUSD 200 (Dr, Schuler & Erica Loiacano)
  • “Friends of the Schools – Yes For Wheaton” PAC
  • Ivor Andrew / Boost Marketing (Keith & Susan Booton) and
  • Nicholas and associates (a vendor of CUSD 200).

 

 

CUSD 200 – Interest Rate Risk

If the referendum passes….
In order to avoid unnecessary interest payments, bonds will be sold when the money is needed to pay for the projects. The current schedule is:

2017 (2018 tax year):  $45,500,000
2019 (2020 tax year): $37,400,000
2020 (2021 tax year): $22,700,000
2021 (2022 tax year): $26,900,000

Rates based upon market conditions as of December 6, 2016 plus 0.50%. www.cusd200.org/Page/14179A

 

Higher interest rate results in higher property tax payments for bond interest.

 

Rather than disclosing an exact interest rate used in their calculations, the district chose to describe the interest rate as, “rates based on market conditions as of December 6, 2016 plus 0.50%.”

Somewhere else, I recall seeing 4.9%

Superintendent History – CUSD 200

How much has District 200 been paying for superintendents over the years?

superintendent salary

Note: Curley was an acting Superintendent. 1999 to 2012 data was downloaded as excel files from the “Family Taxpayer association” website. 2013-2015 was found on openthebooks.com
The inflation calculator is usinflationcalculator.com/ (based on federal government statistics.

Dr. Catalani’s contract called for end of career salary spikes of 20% per year compounded for 3 years.  When he turned 60, his 3% compounded annual COLA (cost of living adjustment) kicked in.
Illinois taxpayers are paying for Dr Catalani pension ($293,220 in 2015) and District 200 is still paying for his medical insurance.

 

catalani pay and pension

Superintendent, Brian Harris abruptly left Wheaton-Warrenville, CUSD200 on May 29, 2014 to take over as superintendent of Barrington Unit District 220. As a result Harris’ base pay went from $219,370 to $260,000. A year earlier, on May 28, 2013, with three years left on his on contract, Harris had received a new five-year contract with a $20,000 base salary increase. When Harris announced his departure, he had served CUSD200 for four years and still had more than four years left on his five-year contract. CUSD200 forgave Dr. Harris’ $40,000 get-out-of-contract-early penalty in exchange for Harris recommending his own replacement.

CUSD 200 – Far more staff today – at what cost?

 

Enrolment  vs.  staff count

CUSD 200, student enrollment is declining, while the number of administrators and teachers are up… and average salary has grown faster than inflation!  No wonder salaries and benefits take the bulk of the budget.  In fact, at the League of Women Voters candidate forum for CUSD 200 on 3/20/2017, Jim Mathieson said “84% of Operating income is spent on salaries and benefits.”

Data sources:
elrollment v staff

Notice the jump in staff numbers between 2001 and 2007.  I have not found the report cards 2002 to 2006.

  • Dr. Catalani was superintendant during that time.
  • And the federal “No Child Left Behind Act of 2001” was implemented during that time period.

 

Salary & operating cost per student over time vs. inflation

Looking at the average teacher salary, beginning teacher salary and operating cost per student.

Using an inflation calculator to see how the actual compares to what one would expect based on 1986 or 1998 start points adjusted for inflation. We see in 2016 all were well above what one would expect!

Data Source:
salary-op-per-stu-v-inflaion

The difference between 2016 operating cost per student vs. expected 2016 operating cost per student based on the 1998 number adjusted for inflation is $3,251

Multiplying that by the k-12 enrollment in 2016 (12,560) is $40,832,560.

That’s $40 million.  WOW.

Did they change the definition of “operating cost per student” or is this due to the increase in salaries, increase in the number of staff  and decrease in the number of students? (1986 enrollment is a guess)

total op cost

That’s only a difference of $25 million in 2016.  That would still go a long way toward building maintenance!

 

How does District 200 compare to the state?
d200 v stat salary op cost

Looks like the whole state is going over this fiscal cliff together. 

 

SOURCE DATA – Old paper school report cards

cusd200 1990 report card

d200 1990 RC cont

school report card 1999

school report card 2000

school report card 2001

Sum data found on current on-line school report cards,

https://iirc.niu.edu/Classic/District.aspx?source=About_Students&source2=Enrollments&districtID=19022200026&level=D

Missing grades were estimated based on the data that is given.

school report Card enroll 2016

 Cost data from the District profile page on School Report Card

https://iirc.niu.edu/Classic/District.aspx?districtid=19022200026

2016 school RC summary

 

IL state RC 2016

data from the district website

cusd200.org/  click on “Departments” -> “Business office” in the tabs,
then click “Enrollment Report” in the left column,
then “Enrollment Presentation 2012-2013” in the center
Enrollm ent Presentation 2012-2013 on page 16 of the pdf, we find:

historic enrollment
series A is a high estimate, B most likely and C low estimate/

Actual for 2017 is between the most likely and low estimate.

 

Salary curve from the current WWEA contract for teachers

2016 salary curve

Salary curve from precious WWEA contract for teachers

2007 cusd200 salary schedule

Vitone – Open letter to CUSD 200 Administrators and School Board

I received an open letter to Wheaton-Warrenville, Community Unit School District (CUSD) 200 Administrators and School Board from Mary Ann Vitone.  She challenges them to

 either own up to your neglect in providing a safe environment for our students and resign or disavow the scare tactics being utilized by the “Yes for 200 Schools” website that is trying to manipulate and “guilt trip” the good people of District 200.

See it here:  An open letter to District 200 Administrators and School Board

Mrs. Vitone is very well informed. She is a previous PTA president of both Lowell elementary and Franklin middle schools.  She attended and frequently provided public comments at school board meeting for years.  And even now, after her son has graduated, she  occasionally submits freedom of information act (FOIA) requests, make phone calls, and most importantly, pays attention.

“Yes for D200” propaganda on funding is misleading

The pro-referendum information is full of half-truths and misleading information.  For example:

yesford200.com/funding/   says:

These are not “wants.” They are crucial repairs and updates needed to protect our student’s health and safety, the educational excellence our community expects, and our property values. You may ask, “how did we get to this point with our buildings?” In large part because the state of Illinois is 50 out of 50 in percentage of funding for education. Dead last. This has meant that since 2008, District 200 has lost $40 million in state educational funding. Therefore, it is up to us, citizens of District 200, to repair our schools.

 Technically, this (50 out of 50) may be true.  Most states collect and disperse education funding through the state. Illinois funds our schools primarily via property taxes.  Operating costs per student would be a much better measurement.  Adjusting that for cost of living differentials would be even better.  The number they are using is the percentage of education funding from only state sources. Yes, IL consistently ranks around 49 in that regard. However this is a disingenuous number since the state funding formula is based on the amount of local funds that go to support education. When you consider total funding, Illinois is ranked 14th (see: governing.com/…html).

  • We have some of the highest paid teachers.
  • Salaries (& operating cost per student) have gone up faster than inflation.
  • Number of students in district 200 has been going down. (The number of pupils peaked at 14,484 in the year 2000, and had dropped 12,560 not counting pre-K or to 13,024 counting pre-k in 2016.)
  • Number of administrators, teachers, and support staff up.

I have in my files a copy of the 1990 school report card.  It has a five year look back:

cusd200 1990 report card

According to it, in 1986

  • Average teacher salary was $31,728
  • Average administrator salary was $45,595
  • And operating cost per student was $3,317

 

Placing these numbers in an inflation calculator, based on  inflation we would expect the following in 2016:

  • Average teacher salary inflation adjusted should be $69,427
  • Average administrator salary inflation adjusted should be $99,846
  • And operating cost per student inflation adjusted should be $7,264

In 2016 the actual values are:

  • Average teacher salary is $74,282
  • Average administrator salary <haven’t found yet>
  • And operating cost per student is $12,636

operating cost

That operating cost per student, $12,636 vs.  $7,264 is 74% higher than one would anticipate.

Yes FB per stu

In 1986 the student/administrator ratio was 304.1 now it is 239.
My guess is we’ve gone from around 43 administrators in 1986 to 55 now. Why?

Teacher Salary

The average 2016 salary of $74,282 vs. the anticipated salary of $69,427 is $4,855 higher than anticipated. Multiplying $4,855 by 1079.68 (the number of full time equivalent certified staff (teachers) in 2016 (from a FOIA))  we get that the district would have $5,241,646 ($5.2 million) more per year if the average teacher salary increases had not exceeded inflation.  The annual increase of the salary curves did not slow down until they literally ran out of money.

No wonder so many of us are declaring “NO NEW TAXES”

Problem-Based-Learning – PBLs – Activism or Education

A friend had sent this letter awhile back about “PBLs” or Problem-Based-Learning.  I re-read it the other day.  It is well worth reading.  I asked if I could post it.  The answer: “I have no objections to sharing it… I’d prefer to keep my name off it… for now.”  And so I post it with permission, from “anonymous.

 

It contains nuggets such as:

  • How am I to feel? How should I react if my own son is scoffing at me because he seems to have been convinced that I kill Penguins because I bought a pumpkin?
  • The solutions always attempt to control other people’s behavior… Are you trying to mold them all into life-long activists instead of life-long learners?
  • Why should kids be stemming the tide of the ocean when they can’t tie their own shoe?  Shouldn’t we focus on basic skills before saving the world?
  • By veering off course with a PBL-based curriculum, we are leaving our children under prepared for junior high and high school.
  • Being able to regurgitate someone else’s opinion is not the same as being able to think critically.

All presented with real stories and thoughtful analysis.
Enjoy

OurPBLstories