Category Archives: Uncategorized

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:

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