Jan Shaw – press release – to stop unapproved ELC

Jan Shaw issued the following:

If District 200 voters choose to allow the District to borrow money to build a new school, I’ll accept that result.  What I won’t accept is the district ignoring the will of the community expressed in two separate referenda, to pile on more debt our District can’t afford with our already high property tax bills.  For that reason, I have filed a lawsuit to stop Wheaton-Warrenville, Community Unit School  District (CUSD) 200 from borrowing and building without the permission of our community in a referendum.

District 200 is tampering with election results right here in DuPage County.  On January 11, 2017, the District 200 Board told the community that the April 2017 referendum – the Board’s second attempt in four years to get the community to approve a new school building – was “all about giving the community their chance to vote.”  Our community did vote, and we voted NO.  Yet barely a year after that election, the Board began colluding with its financial advisors to take away our vote, through an alleged loophole in Illinois law.  In direct defiance of our legally cast votes, it is trying to do the exact same thing the voters rejected twice – borrow money to build another new school building – simply by calling the transaction a “lease”.  Elections have consequences; the Board needs to listen to the taxpayers and comply with the law.

The District signed a deal to “lease” a building that doesn’t even exist.  Even if the building isn’t completed or does not comply with life safety requirements – the District would still have to make the “lease” payments.  The District thinks that by using the magic word “lease” its two failed referendum efforts and the will of the community are somehow erased, and it can proceed in an identical manner as if a referendum had been adopted by the community to build and finance a new school.

Not only is the District ignoring its own voters, it’s ignoring financial reality:  it doesn’t have the money.  At the time of the 2017 referendum, Superintendent Schuler claimed the District would need to spend $6.5 million a year extra just to maintain its existing buildings if the referendum did not pass.  The District hasn’t said where it will find that money, let alone pay for its other obligations such as raises under the new teacher contract, yet it wants to add to its existing debt load to build another brand new building, even though the Board made a specific finding on March 14, 2018 that “there are insufficient funds on hand and available to pay the costs” of the new building.  Its own advisors say this “could squeeze other operating expenditures over time.”

District 200’s Vision statement talks about being regarded for the “character of our students”.  The District does not model character when it breaks its word to the voters and looks for legal loopholes rather than creating community consensus.  I have researched this issue and I believe the District is wrong; I am hopeful that our courts will agree.


More information

The Edgar County Watchdogs have included a copy of the complaint and attachments on their website  http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/2018/08/district-200-facing-lawsuit-for-building-school-without-required-referendum/

Let the School board know what you think:

  • Show up at the 7:00 pm, August 15, 2018 board meeting – location and agenda will be posted on the district website https://www.cusd200.org/ at least 48 hours prior to the meeting (normally the proceeding Friday late afternoon).
  • Send an email to all board members board@cusd200.org
  • Spread the word, let your neighbors know that D200 plans to ignore the Voters.


13 thoughts on “Jan Shaw – press release – to stop unapproved ELC

  1. My husband and I feel the same outrage. The referendum was voted down twice and the school district is still forcing a new building it can’t afford.

    Preschool education is not required. It is optional. I believe Jefferson should be self-sustaining. If they are not receiving enough funds from those needing “bright start” etc, then they needs to raise funds via tuition or fundraisers. Or lower their expenses! This should not be a burden to the taxpayers.


    1. I’m not equipped to debate but to say preschool education is not required may be true but is misleading. For the vulnerable children served by Jefferson, preschool education IS essentially required. First of all I’m pretty sure (but not positive) it’s required by state law that they be provided services. Second, by this is a critical developmental period and by getting the appropriate interventions at this early age, many of these children can avoid costly services in the future.


    2. please educate yourself!! this is exactly the problem. early childhood programs are required by federal law. the individuals with disabilities education act requires early childhood special ed programing for 3-5 years old in the least restrictive environment, which means opportunities to interact with neurotypical same aged peers. therefore, YES preschool is required, and the building in which we provide these services can no longer be patched with bandaids. please visit Jefferson. the principal stephanie farrelly will happily give you a tour and talk with you about the incredible services that are provided to families. stop being so angry and start listening and learning.


  2. By the way, Ms. Shaw, I do really appreciate what you’re doing with this blog. We don’t need this place turning into Cook County. I know nothing about lease agreements. I just think if your points are valid, you don’t need to allow misinformation on your own blog.

    (How would lowering expenses going to create space for physical therapy and storage, or make bathrooms accessible? Tuition for typically developing children is high for this area; how will they retain students if parents can’t afford to send their kids there?)


  3. There are so many things wrong with Ms. Shaw’s approach to this issue, it is difficult to know where to start. But in this fact-free, science and math be damned, law optional world in which we currently find ourselves, I suppose we should not be surprised by the actions of a failed Board member to take on a personal crusade to drive a narrative that fits her previous agenda in the District.

    Those of you worried about spending alone don’t see the forest for the trees. It’s a simple reality. If you ignore $100 worth of maintenance on your car eventually it will cost you more to fix later. Still, many do it knowing they shouldn’t. But Ms. Shaw’s argument is akin to “let’s just walk instead.”

    JEEC is a current school upon which hundreds of residents depend for their children’s education (those arguing it is an “optional school” haven’t checked the regulations very carefully or aren’t familiar with the school). The efforts of the teachers and staff result in benefits and costs savings to the community and the taxpayers long term. Science and facts show early education produces more effective learning later on, especially for those with special needs, a key constituent of JEEC. This enables the District to save money and efforts later on teaching and providing infrastructure.

    The JEEC building is an embarrassment to our community. Built in 1958, it costs more to maintain, repair, and meet educational requirements than it should. The constant band-aides are insufficient and overly costly. The teachers and staff of JEEC do an incredible job with limited resources. I know. I have 2 kids there. The District has an obligation it must meet for the students of JEEC and those teachers and staff that must help those students later in their academic life. Continuing to do so at the ancient building eventually costs us all down the road.

    Yes. No one wants to see their taxes go up about $128 a year (that was the math I did for my more than average cost home). Yes. We want the District to be counting pennies and efficient, and we should hold their feet to that fire. Those who only read Ms. Shaw’s version of these events, please do your own research and also remember: One of the big reasons people move to Wheaton and want to buy homes here is because our schools are top-rated. That makes your homes more desirable…and eventually makes you more money…. if that’s all you care about. As someone who paid taxes in Wheaton for 12 years without having kids in schools, I didn’t whine and complain about it. I saw the long-term benefits for my community and my bottom line later. (You can thank me later for helping to pay for your kids, Jan).

    Ms. Shaw’s argument about lease and build are legally incorrect and void of the reality of how real-world infrastructure has been and is built. Might be a relatively novel application for a school, but it’s not new.

    But how does Ms. Shaw respond to “save us all”? A lawsuit that will COST the District to defend and take away resources, and delay of a necessary project that will hurt our community and children. Very helpful. So, I decided something this morning out of my disgust. As a practicing attorney, I will defend the District and will offer my services pro-bono to keep money where it should be…..with my community and our schools. Now more than ever, we can and should watch our chosen leaders carefully, but we also need to prevent individuals with a bullhorn from driving chest-thumping false narratives and agendas based more on their individual predilections than practical reality or what is best for our community.


    1. “Failed board member”? “Personal crusade”? All in the 1st. paragraph…Sorry,
      we do see the forest, for it includes your numerous personal attacks.
      If the suit is “Legally incorrect”, then why did CUSD staff attorneys collapse without a single day in court?


  4. Prior referendums sadly were voted down because of potential taxpayer implications. Now the Board has found a way to make things work well without those tax implications and Jan Shaw is still complaining. Her lawsuit will result in higher costs to our district! You don’t represent the voice of parents who currently have or will have school aged children. Your self-indulgent perspective (just to hear yourself speak) ignores the NEEDS of our youngest community members.


  5. 105 ILCS 5/26-1
    According to state law, the ages of compulsory school attendance is 6-17.
    Preschool is not required.
    Kindergarten is not required.

    The Individuals with Disabilities Act is a federal law that requires states identify and make reasonable accommodations for students who have disabilities. Because of this the ISBE started the Early Childhood Special Education which offers services to children ages 3-5 who will need accommodations to meet the education levels of their peers. This is the only preschool which is “required”.


    1. it is required that children at Jefferson receive services in the least restrictive environment, hence the need to offer preschool to community, tuition paying students. the district is consistently out of compliance due to lack of space. this is a problem.


  6. > Because of this the ISBE started the Early Childhood Special Education which offers services to children ages 3-5 who will need accommodations to meet the education levels of their peers. This is the only preschool which is “required”.

    Two-thirds of the students at Jefferson meet these criteria. Depending on their needs, they are either placed in a small class containing only special needs children, or a larger “blended” class containing a mix of typical and special needs children.

    The one-third of students who do not have special needs pay tuition to attend. (Anecdotally I would say Jefferson’s tuition is moderately high for our area.) These children are an integral part of the learning environment for children with mild to moderate delays, like my son. He was explicitly taught social and communication skills by his IEP team, and then he practiced those skills intensively through play and interaction with his typically developing classmates. This was the accommodation needed for him to catch up to his peers.

    I am unsure of the point you are making regarding the “required” preschool. Could you please clarify?


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