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Jefferson – what needs fixing?

CUSD 200 is now looking at a New Jefferson Pre-K building building (without referendum) because they tell us it is a better use of money than fixing the existing building.

I found a 2017 Jefferson Early Learning – Ten-Year Safety Survey Report.  Total estimated cost to fix all remaining Life safety issues is less than $2 million.

In the mean time the district has paid for architects to produce new building plans in

  • 2007 (decided to do a referendum for Hubble – Jefferson waited),
  • 2012 (for 2013 referendum),
  • 2016 (for 2017 referendum)
  • 2018 (they have decided to ignore the law requiring a referendum)

Why don’t we just fix the existing building?


Attached to the agenda for 3/8/2017 is the
“Jefferson 10-year safety survey report.pdf”
Total estimated cost to fix all Life safety issues is less than $2 million.

see it:  Jefferson 10-year safety survey report2017

“Life safety” found in old minutes:

March 2017 minutes

Acceptance and Approval of Ten-Year Life Safety Survey – … as presented.


There was a question with regard to the ten-year life safety survey. This was in reference to the impact of Jefferson having violations and outstanding life safety items to be addressed. Mr. Farley noted that once the items are noted, there is a timeframe that the items need to be addressed by the district. It was noted that the items listed are consistent with prior surveys. The ten-year life safety survey is a mandate in Illinois. [The estimated cost to address the life safety items for Jefferson is $1.8M.]


June 2013

  1. Approval of Life Safety Extension for Jefferson Early Childhood Center – This item was moved to Action Items.

Once a Life Safety Amendment has received all necessary approvals, a school district has three years in which to complete the projects identified. If the projects are not completed in that time frame an extension of time request form must be filed with the Regional Superintendents Office. These reports are due by July 1. When life safety amendments have been completed as certified by the district architect, they are also submitted to the Regional Office of Education to close the amendment items.

Legat Architects has been inspecting District 200 buildings for life safety compliance. They have compiled a list of outstanding amendments that require filing of the extension form with the Regional Office of Education. With the exception of the Jefferson amendment, all outstanding life safety amendments have been addressed through the referendum work at the schools. The following amendment is still outstanding:

June 2011

  1. Approval of Life Safety Extension – Recommend the approval of the life safety extension as requested.



June 2010

  1. Approval of Life Safety Extension – Recommend the approval of the extension as presented.


June 2009

  1. Approval of Life Safety Extension – Recommend approval of the life safety extension as presented.



June 2007

  1. Approval of Life Safety Extensions – Recommend the approval of the application to the Regional Office of Education for extension of the Life Safety projects at Jefferson School as presented.


March 2007

  • Since the last report, several FOIA requests have been received. They include the following: copier and fax bids, candidate petitions, life safety surveys, architect presentations, employee contracts, Board Meeting minutes, and the contract for the Herrick Road Property and related documents.


Feb 2007

  1. Approval of Ten-Year Life Safety Surveys – Recommend approval of the safety survey as presented.


June 2006

  1. Approval of Life Safety Extension – Recommend the approval of the application for a Life Safety Extension of Time for Jefferson School.

CUSD 200 video: board approves lease certificates and $1.5 million to an escrow account

School districts have decided that if they call the funding a “lease” then the part of the school  code requiring a referendum for each new building can be ignored.  If you haven’t been following this, see: and

Note: This is happening in Lisle as well

Lisle CUSD 202 is planning a new $39 Million PK-5 School. It was acknowledged by District as a clever scheme to avoid a ballot referendum.  They expect to break ground in June and finish in August 2019.   Their scheme sounds like CUSD200’s scheme, even includes the same players: PMA & Zion Bank.

My goals

  1. STOP CUSD 200 from going ahead without a referendum!
  2. Stop this for the entire state (the law is the law)


CUSD 200 Feb. 14, 2017 Board video

33:30 new early learning center (Jefferson) discussion starts

37:00 Bob Lewis of PMA starts presentation on how lease financing works and the documents the board will be approving.

39:00 can enter into a lease according to school code and mentions the ability to lease (no reference to need or lack of need for a referendum)

He gave the board sample agreement (also attached to the agenda)

44:00 when lease is complete, you can buy the building for a $1.

49:00 Bond Counsel (Chapman and Cutler) draft of legality of bonds Note: it avoids the question of  referendum

49:35 Bob “the first one I worked on was back in 2010, that was not the first one done.  The law was amended, I want to say back around 2000… the deals that have been done the last couple years, no need…

53:00 Jim Gambaiani asked, “can we lease something before it exist?”

Bob Lewis rambles… does not really answer.  Does note that he is not a lawyer.

54:00 Jim Vroman: “we have control over… the building”

55:50 Dr. Schuler – Says he will be asking our own general council to look as well.

57:00 Chris Crabtree: where do we get the authority to do this?

Dr. Schuler – school code…. “a court can make a determination on the law, how the law is applied.”

You can tell by the discussion that they are concerned about their authority to do this without a referendum.


CUSD 200 March. 14, 2017 Board video


22:50  Harold Lonks ask the board to table the vote on the new building until they have  an opinion on its legality.  He points out that the exception had to do with building the building – not the financing of that building.  And he read the floor discussion when the bill was passed.  A lease cannot be used to avoid referendum.

“…I want to make sure, Representative, that we’re not circumventing the right of the voters to say, ‘I don’t think that you ought to buy that building.’”

And Rep Crotty (bill sponsor) replied

“That is not in the Bill….When we’re talking about leasing, many school districts lease a building maybe for a dollar an hour just to be sure that that is not something that needs to be done with referendum.  So, we’re not changing that part.  And if there are added dollars needed for a school district, they most definitely have to still go through referendum.”

42:38 The board’s discussion and approval of the lease certificates

46:00 Dr. Schuler reads the beginning of one paragraph from 10-22.36

“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…”

The key phrase they are counting on is “occurs while the building is being leased by the school district.”  But, how can they lease a building that does not yet exist?  Furthermore, the “lease certificates” are being structured like bonds not a lease.  the only thing that is different is the name.  And the clear intent when the term “lease” was put into the law was NOT to circumvent the need for a referendum.  In Feb. the board members were clearly concerned about this.  In March, they all were OK with it.  What happened between meetings?

Notice the district never has legal counsel at the meetings.  Everyone is taking Dr. Schuler’s word that he has checked with the district lawyer and that the lawyer actually looked at the law.  They have nothing in writing!

On March 27 I received the following reply to my FOIA:

Ms. Shaw,

On March 20, 2018, you requested the following information:

a copy of the legal opinion regarding section (105 ILCS 5/10-22.36) of the school code substantiating Dr Schuller’s claim that a referendum is not required if a new building is “leased” for 20 years including an initial payment made in advance of the building being built, then purchased for $1.00 at the end of the lease. 

There are no documents responsive to your request.


Robert A. Rammer, Ph.D.

Assistant Superintendent
Wheaton Warrenville Community Unit School District #200
P: 630-682-2015
F: 630-682-2326

51:00 they discus the initial lease payment. (Dr. Schuler & Jim Mathieson) The Initial lease payment of $1.5 million will be made in the next 30 days and will be held in escrow. If we do not go ahead with the project, any money not spent out of the escrow account will come back to the district.

Does not commit us to go forward until we have final numbers [Cost of the building].

53:30 Jim Mathieson – “…I just to be clear, we have our legal attorney, we have two banks involved, or at lest one, Zion Ban…  the lease holder  and in addition… each one of those parties is looking at this for legal purposes…”

Jim Vroman and Chris Crabtree have quick comments.

At 58:00 Jim Mathieson “…if this is challenged and delayed… if we don’t do it now there will be inflation and higher interest rates.” Justifying why they are in a hurry.


1:01:28 Rob Hanlon mentions that he feels comfortable with the legality.  “We seem to be the target of commentaries”

1:03:40  Brad Paulsen has a question about the payments that go up incrementally

1:04:33  Bob Lewis, PMA – “what you see there in the lease payments are the principle components. The interest component as is increases the overall.”
[Is that normal in a lease?]

JIm Mathieson

1:05:20 Brad Paulsen – runs through some history, feedback … says he’s excited about this solution.

1:09:00 Jim Vroman – He mentions the school code, and that he is comfortable with this

1:11:27 vote passed 7-0.


Final thoughts

1. What good are laws if there if public bodies choose to ignore them?  The LAW matters.  And the Law clearly requires a referendum for new construction.

2. They have yet to determine how much the new building will cost or if they can afford it.  Yet they have authorized placing $1.5 million in escrow that can be spent by PMA and Zion Bank to set up this agreement.  If they choose not to go forward, they will be refunded moneys not spent.

3. The district has  been spending everything they receive every year (no surplus).  What is in reserves comes from a state grant received about 5 years ago that was set aside for capital improvements.

4. They have not made any spending cuts, in fact gave Dr. Schuler a raise and new perks in his recent contract.  In justifying the 2017 referendum, they had estimated a need for $6.5 million per year to maintain all buildings.  When that expense is put into the 5-year plan the district will be in the red every year.

5.  I have told the district that if they cut enough from the salary and benefits to afford this (at least $2 million the first year) then I will help pass a referendum.


CUSD200 plans to build new Jefferson against taxpayers’ will

It is on the agenda for the next board meeting.

  • DATE:  3/14/2018 TIME:  7:00 PM
  • LOCATION:  WWSHS (1920 S. Wiesbrook Road, Wheaton, IL 60189)
After asking via Referendum twice,
And being told “NO” twice,
Wheaton-Warrenville, CUSD200 is looking to build a new Jefferson pre-school WITHOUT a referendum.
On Wed, 3/14/2018 the board plans to approve the issuance of “lease certificates.” The “lease certificates look, walk & act like bonds (not more than $14 million, not less than $10 million).  They are justifying this based on Section 10-22.12 of the School Code, which allows a school district to lease a building.
They are totally ignoring and avoiding Section 10-22.36 of the School Code which requires a successful referendum for any new construction unless paid for by donations, grant, or sale of other property. Their plan is to pay for the whole thing with the lease, and make the final $1.00 with money that is donated or comes from a grant.
This is obviously not in keeping with the intent of the law, and based on the verbatim discussion of the Illinois House when Section 10-22.36 of the School Code was last changed, is not in keeping with the intent of the law makers.  I have brought this to the attention of the board and the administration via email, and via public comments at the January 17, 2018 board meeting.  I also spoke at the March 7, 2018 finance committee meeting.
The community has said “NO” to the referendum twice, came out en mass to say “NO!” to adding an entire pre-school wing to Monroe Middle School (and gutting Graf Park).  It is time to tell them that they must do this via referendum.  And if they want the referendum to pass, they must cut the bloat from salaries and benefits so that the district can afford to do it out of current funds – starting with the Superintendent setting an example by agreeing to remove the recently added perks to his contract.
If I am the only one saying “NO!” they will proceed in authorizing the Initial Rental Payment of $1,500,000.
Please, if you live in the district, and believe the LAW should be followed, contact the D200 school board at or better yet, show up at the board meeting at make your public comments.

At the Last Finance Meeting 3/7/2018

 On 3/7/2018 I attended the CUSD 200 Finance meeting.Bob Lewis of PMA presented the lease agreement – sounds just like a Bond or financing agreement, except

  • they call it a lease
  • the district does not take the title for the new building until they pay $1.00 (with grant or donated money) after all “lease payments are made”
  • The district cannot raise taxes to pay this one.

When asked what part of the school code gives them permission, PMA referenced 10-22.12.  I asked why 10-22.36 does not apply.  Bob  responded “I don’t know what that is.”


During public comment I asked our superintendent, Dr. Schuler if he has something in writing from a lawyer as to why the district does not need a referendum.  He assured everyone that he spoke with the district lawyer and this is legal – nothing in writing.

In the pursuing discussion, it was implied that bond council looked at the legality.  But, bond council simply looked at the legality of issuing lease certificates.  The district’s general council should look at the requirement for referendum.

Did anyone actually look at the legality of leasing a yet to be constructed school, on school property, using “lease certificates” for funding without taxpayer approval as required by 10-22.36?


(105 ILCS 5/10-22.36) 

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.


You can find these portions of school code by  starting at

  • Click on “Illinois Compiled Statutes”
  • Click on “CHAPTER 105   SCHOOLS”
  • Click on “105 ILCS 5/ School Code.”
  • Press <ctrl-f> and Search for “10-22.36”


2001 modification to the law

The original law (105 ILCS 5/10-22.36) 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 or grants, provided that no funds were derived from the district’s bonded indebtedness or tax levy.  That was clear.  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

In the transcripts for the House on 5/1/2001,

on pages 49-52 Rep. Black asked

“…I want to make sure, Representative, that we’re not circumventing the right of the voters to say, ‘I don’t think that you ought to buy that building.’”

And Rep Crotty (bill sponsor) replied

“That is not in the Bill….When we’re talking about leasing, many school districts lease a building maybe for a dollar an hour just to be sure that that is not something that needs to be done with referendum.  So, we’re not changing that part.  And if there are added dollars needed for a school district, they most definitely have to still go through referendum.”

Those who passed it understood that it does NOT allow lease to own in order to avoid the referendum!


(105 ILCS 5/10-22.12)
Sec. 10-22.12. Lease of property for school purposes. To lease, for a period not exceeding 99 years, any building, rooms, grounds and appurtenances to be used by the district for the use of schools or for school administration purposes; and to pay for the use of such leased property in accordance with the terms of the lease. The board shall not make or renew any lease for a term longer than 10 years, nor alter the terms of any lease whose unexpired term may exceed 10 years without the vote of 2/3 of the full membership of the board.


See previous articles:

CUSD 200 can’t afford a new Jefferson Pre-school

Last year CUSD 200 produced a serrries of videos about the referendum.  This one discusses what happens if the referendum fails (which it did).

In it, Dr. Schuler says that if the referendum fails the model shows the board would need to set aside $6.5 million per year to maintain existing buildings.


At the Financial meeting on 1/31/2018 the staff presented a five year financial forecast

Wheaton 200 5Cast Presentation 1-31-18.pdf

On page 4 it says “Revenue by Source – Operating Funds Budget Total = $163,442,000” for FY 2018 Budget.  On page 10 “Expenditures by Object – Operating Funds Budget Total = $162,953,842.” Looks good, Revenues exceed expenditures.

But, one major omission – They did not include $6.5 million for anticipated capital expenditures that would be needed if the referendum failed.  It shows 1.94% (of $163 million) which is about $3 million for capital outlay. The predicted $6.5 million per year to maintain the buildings will result in a negative $3 million rather than surplus $0.5 million.

The district does NOT have the money to build a new Jefferson (financed by reserves and future revenues), maintain the other 19 schools and give the staff their anticipated annual raises without cutting any benefits and without raising taxes.  And yet, that is what district staff is recommending the board of education approve.

The next board meeting is Wed. Feb. 14, 2018.  Let’s see what the board decides.

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 <>; Jeff Schuler <>
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 ( 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


CUSD 200 budget review tonight

There is a board meeting tomorrow – 8/16/2017, 7:00 PM at the School Service Center (130 West Park Ave. Wheaton, IL).

Would love to have others show up and speak out! Or simply listen and give moral support.


At this meeting they plan to approve the 2018 budget, then this year’s contracts for the 50 administrators whose contracts expired 6/30/2017.  It appears they will be taking no raises.  However, I have spoken out in June and July about aligning administrator benefits with the teacher benefits  and doing away with the lump sum they will get when they retire.


On the meeting agenda, I see the administrators who are now working on expired contracts are listed in the personnel report as having new base salary the same as last year.  OK.  But, I’ve asked for a copy of the contract to be attached so the taxpayers can see everything they are on the hook for.  Not there.  Does that mean no change?  If so, who is in charge of the school district?  Is it the board?


For these 50 administrators:

  • The total base salary is almost $6 million
  • The pension pick up is 9.8% of that base or almost $600,000.  Everyone else in the district pays their own pension contribution.  Administrators should as well.
  • In addition they pay only 10% of their benefit premiums.  Teachers pay 20%.  BTW: at one point the district paid 100% so this has been diminished in the past.  It can be done!

More importantly, we need to set a precedent by removing the end of career bonus (aka post-employment-compensation) from the administrator contracts this year to have leverage to remove it from the teacher contract next year.

  • End of career salary spikes should never have been granted?
  • When they were removed, there was no reason to grant a large end of career bonus in their place.
  • Nor was there any reason to increase the size of the bonus when the contract renewed.
  • None of this should have exited!

The current maximum bonus for administrators is $25,000.  If all 50 end up with this eventually, leaving this in the contract means the taxpayers are on the hook for 50 x $25,000 = $1,250,000.  That is $1.2 million – for what?


There are 850 teachers.

  • In the last three years, 83% of the TRS retirees had 18 years or more – In fact that group averaged 28.6 years.  35 teachers x 83% x 28.6 x $750 = $620,000 expected retirement bonuses per year.
  •  If everyone works 25 years that would be: 850 x 25 x $750 = $15,937,500 (about $16 million) spread over the years.


If the board insists on diminishing benefits for administrators, they have a choice: accept it, like so many in the private sector have done. or quit/retire.  Most will stay.  Yes, they will grumble.  But, they will not be surprised – We have been making public comments about their overly-generous benefits for at least a decade.  I’ve been providing data at the last few meeting.  They’ve heard it.

This had already been identified by the public in 2010 when the district had major cuts – but none was done then.  At that point they

  • removed B-sports reduced the number of teacher aids
  • increased student fees
  • and the teachers agreed to a temporary salary freeze.

They threatened to cut

  • the gifted program
  • PE for kinder garden
  • orchestra and
  • band

So far, teachers, taxpayers and parents have all made concessions, it is time for the administrators to do the same.

Budget Review

With a budget review set for August 16, and the top administrators currently working on expired contracts, a little public pressure could help convince the school board and the administrators that CUSD 200 cannot continue business as usual.  Taxpayers and teachers should insist that administrators pay their own pension contributions just like teachers do. This would save the district about $600,000 per year and slightly reduce future TRS pension obligations.

A little history:

It appears that the district was in good shape financially back in 2001, and had to make major cuts by 2010.  That is a time frame in which many in the private sector were taking pay cuts or at least not seeing the raises they had been getting when inflation was so high.  School districts including CUSD 200 were giving step & lane increases as well as end-of-career salary spikes.  They had yet to curtail anything.


The Education Fund: total expenditures, salaries and benefits had gone up significantly faster than inflation from 2001 to 2010.  They were running out of cash by the end of May each year. The balance would have been negative in 2008 without Hubble construction loan, and in 2009, 2010 & 2011 the district issued tax anticipation warrants in order to avoid being in the “Red.”  In May 2012 the district received $14,478,784 from a capital improvement grant.  This year, at its low point (May), the districts end of month balance on hand was down to $6.3 million.  With State funding being unreliable, reductions should be made now while renewing the administrator contracts.  And a precedence set for next year when the teacher’s contract will renew.

I have recommended that all administrators pay the same for benefits as teachers do.  And that the post-career-compensation (lump sum at retirement that replace the salary spike) needs to go!

Take a look at what parents said in 2010 when student programs were threatened.  This could happen again.

minutes 2010_3_3

And the value of the proposed 2010 cuts.

2010 cuts proposed


CUSD200 Admin contracts renewing SOON

The current administrator contracts were approve last year at the June 8, 2016 board meeting as entries in the personnel report which was attached to the meeting’s agenda.

The salaries for our sample administrators are:
admin 2017 salatiesEach received a 0.8% increase.

Several years ago I asked the board in my public comments if they had any idea what they had approved?  The board packets listed who had contracts renewing, but nothing about salaries or benefits.  I thank the board for including the administrator’s salaries in the personnel reports after that.

However,  I don’t see a sample contract attached to last year’s agenda so that the board & public can know what benefits are included.

There is a finance committee meeting at 7:30 AM on May 31.  Meeting Notice  And the next regularly scheduled board meeting is 7:00 pm on June 14.  That board meeting is when the administrative contracts should be approved.  Expect the meeting notice to be posted on the preceding Friday.  By law it must be available at least 48 hours prior to the meeting. 

  • The administrators contracts that I have were all for one year – expiring June 30, 2017.  That is the end of next month! (correction the ones I have were for July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.  The renewed last year)
  • The current WWEA teacher contract expires June 30, 2018
  • The Classified Education Association (CEA) 2014-2017 (support staff)  also expires end of June.
  • The Superintendent’s contract also runs through June 30, 2018

In my opinion:

  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.

For my analysis of the current contracts see: