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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:

CUSD 200 PR spending

How much has CUSD 200 been spending on public relations?
Was this a good use of taxpayer funds?
What did it provide for the students?
Should this and other funds (we are working to identify) have been spent of building maintenance instead?

Jan Shaw put in a FOIA:

…all money spent on consultants (facilitators, survey takers, or outside firms) for community engagement and public relations from 12/1/12 to present (2/4/17).  This should include, but not be limited to purchased services for:
  • The 2013 Jefferson referendum.
  • Engage 200.
  • Community surveys.
  • Videos about the District.
  • Mailings.
Rather than insisting upon invoices for all, we agreed to data queries for payments made.  Sorted data, determined most likely project for some vendors based on the date, and the vendor website, summed entries… In summary:
prejeff pr spending
They did not give up – in the next 4 years:
pr spending 2017 ref

* Jim G was told the final cost for Engage200 was $80,000.  The board approved estimate for Unicom was $49,500.  See below for more detail.
† Jim G said the community survey was $30,000.  Are we missing something?

This (almost $200,000) figure for PR in anticipation of the referendum  does not include:

  • Perkin Wills for the Master Facility Plan project ($250K)
  • Engage 200, table & chair rental, room set up and take down, printed handouts (done in-house), snacks or
  • staff time.

Prior to 2010, public relations was part time work for one of the administrators and administrative assistants.  A new PR position  was created in 2010.  From the supplemental personnel report dated 9/22/2010:

pr erica hired 9_22_2010

She is now Erica Loiacono, Director of Communications.  According to Ms. Loiacono earned $73,588 in 2015.
And she has an assistant, Mary Ann Gudmundson (did not find her salary)

[update 3/2/2017 – From the IMRF Compensation report for school year 2015-2016 we find that ERICA LOIACONO has a base salary of $79,317, and $41,441 for other benefits for a total compensation of  $120,758. The report can be found on click department->human resources then in the left column “Compensation Reports.” Her assistant is not listed.]

TOTAL Spending on Public Relations is the salary and benefits for these two people, the purchased services ($198,000 in the last four years, as documented in this post) and the celebration the PR department hosts (see )  We have a rough estimate of at least $200,000 per year.

Purchased Services in more detail – same data

There have been a lot of mailers, meetings, and surveys.  (“pdf page(s) refers to the page in the response file linked at the end of this post)


pr_FOL newsletter


po online print


pr boost marketing

See:   cusd-200-referendum-videos

There have been 3 more videos posted in February 2017.  Will there be more charges?  When were these charges approved by the board?

pr_2017 referendum

pr_2017 ref mailer

pr grand total

And finally, for those who would like to see the raw data:  the pdf response file: pr purchased services

CUSD 200 Referendum videos


CUSD 200 paid Boost Marketing LLC $19,818 from 1/30/2015 to 12/30/2016. We believe this was for a series of  18 videos – total run-time 33:40.
Three of these videos have been posted in February. Will there be more charges?


Investing in Our Future – April 4 Referendum Overview 4:08 1,033 views 4 months ago
April 4 Referendum – Capital Improvements 1:15 184 views 3 months ago
April 4 Referendum – Secure Entry 2:15 436 views 3 months ago
April 4 Referendum – Library Learning Centers (LLC) 2:15 251 views 2 months ago
April 4 Referendum – New Early Learning Center 2:17 407 views 3 months ago
Why do we need to renovate our schools NOW? 1:11 228 views 3 months ago
April 4 Referendum – Financial Impact 1:18 83 views 2 weeks ago
April 4 Referendum – What Happens if a referendum is not approved? 1:45 93 views 2 weeks ago
April 4 Referendum – Why is there so much work? 1:36 69 views 1 week ago
Facility Projects at Franklin Middle School 2:28 946 views 3 months ago
Facility Projects at Monroe Middle School 1:59 869 views 3 months ago
Facility Projects at Edison Middle School 2:34 745 views 3 months ago
April 4 Referendum – Projects at Bower Elementary 1:29 255 views 3 months ago
April 4 Referendum – Projects at Emerson Elementary 1:23 374 views 3 months ago
April 4 Referendum – Projects at Hawthorne Elementary 0:49 245 views 3 months ago
April 4 Referendum – Projects at Johnson Elementary 1:07 209 views 3 months ago
Facility Projects at Wheaton North High School 2:06 943 views 3 months ago
Facility Projects at Wheaton Warrenville South High School 1:45 817 views 3 months ago


Retirees Out-Earn Teachers Who Replace Them

Look at the “TRS IL Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending June 30,2015”

pdf page 100 has active member data.  Page 109 retirees.


In 2015,

  • Average salary for new teachers (under 5 years of service) is $47,796
  • Average salary for soon to retire teachers (25-29 years of service) is $94,410
  • and (30-34 years) $100,785


Then look at retiree data.

  • Those retired less than 1 year who worked 25-29 years have an average starting (and current) benefit of $3,222/month = $38,664
  • And 30-34 years experience have $5,646/month = $67,752


Note, those retired longer, may have a higher current pension.  Current pensions peak for those retired 10-14 years ago (that would be retired in 2002-2006)

  • 25-29 years experience have a current pension of $4,580 = $54,960
  • and 30-34 years experience have a current pension of $6,295 = $75,540

This tells us a couple things.

  1.  When a teacher who worked a full career (30+ years) retires, the retiree will have a starting pension ($67,752) for not working that exceeds her replacement’s starting salary ($47,796) for working.
  2. Retiree COLA (3% annually compounded) exceeds the amount the salary curves are going up.

From page 100 of the pdf (active teachers salary chart)

trs salary2015

From page 109 of the pdf (retired teachers pension chart)

pension data 2015 p 109

The Common Core controversy

Common Core is being implemented across the USA, including all public and most private schools in Illinois.  For voters and school board candidates who don’t already know what it is, I’m proving a few links to give you a basic understanding of what is going on… and why the controversy.

Common Core: what it is,

where it came from, who is behind it.
Video   18:21

Poet: I can’t answer questions on Texas standardized tests about my own poems


Why the Education Establishment Hates Cursive

5 Years Into Common Core, 15-Year-Olds Behind 35 Countries in Math – it’s not working!!


Addition strategies

video  4:38


Nanny helps explain Common Core subtraction

video  1:36


Common Core math [multiplication] explained

video  6:31

GLSEN and their LGBT Common Core Public School Agenda

CUSD 200 Existing Bond Repayment Schedule

Wheaton-Warrenville, CUSD 200 is planning on placing a $132 million bond referendum on the April 2017 ballot.  The actual vote to approve (or not) should be during the regular board meeting on January 11, 2017.  The agenda must be posted at least 48 hours prior to the meeting. (normally agendas are available late Friday prior to the meeting)

In preparation for this, take a look at the existing debt.

The question (yet to be answered) is: Could the district have set aside $5 million more per year for capital projects by cutting back elsewhere?  With 20 building, one should assume something will need fixing or replacing every year.  Items such as the roof, mechanical systems, flooring, etc. should be part of the annual budget rather than requiring a referendum. 


Starting at the districts home page

  • Click on “Departments” And in the drop down menu, “business office”
  • You will see several different financial reports (left hand column).  The one that contains the bond repayment schedule in  “Financial Audit Reports.”
  • Click on it to see links to financial reports 2012 to 2016.

From 2016 report

Bonds issued after 2009 were all “working cash bonds” issue without referendum


  • May 9, 2012        : $10,250,000
  • March 25, 2015 : $ 9,540,000
  • April, 2015          : $ 5,890,000
  • Total new debt  : $25,680,000

(Update 3/20)
I was asked where this data came from – I’m not finding it.  Suspect it should be the following based on the “issued…” in the audit pages shown on this blog.

  • May 9, 2012 : $10,250,000
  • March, 2014 : $ 9,540,000
  • April, 2015 : $ 6,140,000
  • Total new debt : $25,930,000

 How much debt is that?

  • Total debt from the 2016 report: $198,845,494
  • Total debt from the 2012 report: $261,451,798
  •  If the $132,000,000 referendum passes, the new total debt will be $198,845,494 + $132,000,000 = $330,845,494
  • which is $69,393,696 more than we owed 4 years ago.


Graphing the planned payments from the 2012 debt services schedule , vs the 2016 debt services schedule with actual bond repayment, interest and new bond issues for the years 2013 to 2016 we see:

bond repay graph

Note: with the existing bond repayment schedule, debt services will soon become un-affordable.  Expect the district to refund/reissue some bonds, hopefully for lower interest, but also to lower the annual payments, most likely extending the repayment period.


The data for this graph comes from pages 110 & 111 of the 2016  pdf  (105 of the doc)

debt service 2016 cusd200

Pdf page 93 for 2012 pdf

debt service 2012 cusd200

Pdf page 95 for 2013 pdf

debt service 2013 cusd200

Pdf page 81 for 2014 pdf

debt service 2014 cusd200

Pdf page 112 for 2015 pdf

debt service 2015 cusd200



CUSD 200 Food Fest

Recent news stories about the COD board feasting at the Waterleaf restaurant reminded us of a CUSD 200 FOIA response.

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. They ordered   “Hilton Breakfast” at $18. 50 each, Asparagus & Smoked Mozzarella Ravioli with Tomato-Basil Sauce at $32.25/person… Grand total for using the Hilton’s conference room with A/V rental, food and soft drinks was $1,346.12.  That was for eight people – Most likely the seven board members and perspective superintendents (one at a time).

see the pdf    sup search food

In the pdf, after the Hilton receipts, there are two receipts for local restaurants on 7/17/2015.  Mary Lou Sender (Superintendent secretary) and Bill Farley (Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations) each took one candidate out to lunch.

The $600. for the Abelson Group was for what?  The Abelson Group webpage lists assessments

Then there is a list of “community member” names.  Our FOIA asked for the list of people involved in the selection process.  These people interviewed the final candidates and recommended one.  Note:  one of these “community members,” Diane Dillow, does not live in the district.   Conspicuously absent from the list is Harold Lonks who has run for school board twice, is an active member of the PTA and attends most, if not all school school board meetings.

Why did the League of Women voters and the Park District send representatives?

  • Dave Brummel – Mayor of Warrenville
  • Michael Gresk – Mayor of Wheaton
  • Diane Dillow -Warrenville Park District, lives out of school district
  • Gregg Ireland – Warrenville Park District
  • Chris Crabtree – PTA, on Engage 200 facilitating team and 2015 school board candidate
  • Eleanor McNear – Engage 200
  • Kyle Neninger – Tiger Paws (past president) and 2013 school board candidate
  • Susan Booten – President SEA Alliance
  • Jeanne Burda – President Gates 200
  • Joan Fefferman – League of Women Voters, Wheaton
  • Bob Hupp – Engage 200
  • Kathy Gotter – PTA
  • Michelle Triscik – PTA
  • Judith Zapf – PTA, on Engage 200 facilitating team and 2015 school board candidate
  • Jim Vroman – School board member and candidate 2015

Still wondering “WHY” these people were picked to interview the final candidates, but my FOIA for names and resumes was denied.  Response Letter rammer 9_22_2014  “…as only the name and resume of the successful candidate for a position with a public body are subject to disclosure under FOIA.”  However, once the district brought in the PUBLIC (even if only a select few) the argument can  be made that – the information is no longer PRIVATE – and should be released in a FOIA.  Other school districts have released the names of candidates under consideration.  CUSD 200 chose to release them to a selected few.