School Bond Debt Drives Property Taxes

School districts need to keep borrowing so that they can spend today and tax tomorrow.  They think as long as they are not raising taxes much, we won’t notice.  But, we are paying attention.  When we approved the last referendums (Hubble, high schools…) those were to be paid off in 20 years – like a mortgage.  Instead, the school board has refinanced bonds to lower current payments and push the all-paid date out.  Then they borrow more – new, non-referendum bonds.  It is now more like a home equity line of credit that will never be paid off, so taxes will never go down.  Currently about 9% of our property tax bill pays for past school district borrowing.  If we STOP future bond issues our taxes will go down! Continue reading “School Bond Debt Drives Property Taxes”

QA Jefferson with links for details


I will be voting “NO” despite the fact that everyone (me included) would like to say “yes” to a new Jefferson Early Childhood Center…


Bottom line:

District 200 cannot afford a new building without issuing new debt that will let them spend today while taxing tomorrow. The latest 5-year forecast, which does includes a new building, shows a $26 million deficit.  In recent years, the end-of-May financial report shows that prior to the first installment of yearly property taxes, the District’s money in the bank dips to around $15 million.  So while the referendum wording says “without levying a separate, special property tax,” they will need to find money somewhere. Continue reading “QA Jefferson with links for details”

D200 Pre-K enrollment & Cost

Over the years we have a few snapshots of District 200 pre-k enrollment numbers.

I have no details about the growth in the program from 2001 to 2007.  The growth between 2012 and 2016 is due to non-mandated, federal grants for low-income families in the half-day Head Start program and the all-day Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) program. Total program numbers for 2018 are similar to 2016.  The district’s 2016 “future consideration” numbers show a forecasted growth in the non-mandated grant programs and the number of typically developing students in the blended classes.

As preciously posted on DuPageWatchdog:



2016 Pre-K enrollment numbers 

From the July 2016 FOIA, I have end of year 2015-2016 enrollment numbers.  Note: the school report cards will list numbers from the fall and since children with IEPs are enrolled in the program when they turn 3, the report card numbers will be lower.

The summary page from the FOIA:
d200prek june2016entollment

The raw data from that FOIA preK2016classEnrollment

When I copy the raw data into excel and add it up, it is almost the same (2 more in Jefferson.  i missed the speech only at at Madison – the first 50+ pages were almost completely redacted, original was most likely a student list).  The FOIA responses includes details of how many are special needs (mandated taxpayer funded education) vs. “typically developing” (pays tuition).  I am not sure if the bi-lingual program is mandated or tuition based.  PEG and Head Start are both federal grant programs that are NOT mandated.


d200prek june2016 detail entollment

The same FOIA response included “Future Considerations link

d200prek june2016 forecast entoll


Notice the predicted increase was in the number of blended classes (more tuition based students), and the number of low-income students in the non-mandated, federal grant programs.


There are mixed reviews on the Head Start program’s effectiveness.

“In the final phase of a large-scale, randomized, controlled study of nearly 5,000 children from low-income families, researchers found that the positive effects on literacy and language development demonstrated by children who entered Head Start at age 4 had dissipated by the end of 3rd grade, and that they were, on average, academically indistinguishable from their peers who had not been in Head Start.”

Cost of Grant Programs

The same article says “The $8 billion Head Start program serves nearly 1 million low-income children.”

That is about $8,000 per child.

The PEG all-day grant program, which also serves low-income families, will cost $17,000 per child.

See below for my notes on what pre-K costs in 2012-2013.


2018 Pre-K enrollment numbers

Another resident had received 2018 enrollment numbers via FOIA from CUSD200.

Those numbers are similar to what the district had in 2016

d200prek june2018 entollment


From My 2013 Notes on Pre-K Program Costs:

What does the pre-K program cost the district (taxpayer)?

I tried asking.  I tried a FOIA. I was told that the district does not have this data broken out and that it would not be easy to pull together because the specialist work in multiple schools. Pre-K tuition is $2,115 (9 months at $235/month). Dr Harris and Stephanie Farrelly have both stated publicly that the tuition based program is self supporting. According to the latest school report card, the average teacher salary in CUSD 200 is $77,162.  Pre-K classrooms have at least two aids. Based on 140 days per year (it is a four day per week program), 6 hours per day and $11.25 per hour, I estimate that to be $19,000 per pre-K room. Thus, salary per classroom for one teacher and two aids is approximately $96,000 According to Stephanie Farrelly, the blended classes consist of 6 tuition based students and 11 special needs students. Based on 17 students per class, 2 classes per day, the cost per student is $2,858, just to cover salaries. This does not include benefits, supplies, administration or building and maintenance cost.  I just cannot understand how $2,115 in tuition covers $2,858+ in expenses.

Pre-K listed in the 2012 audit report

The complete 2012 audit report is available here. [no longer available]  On 2012_audit_p64, it lists the cost of regular pre-K as $267,597.  In the 2011-2012 year there were 70 tuition based students (from FOIA).   Dividing $267,597 by 70 yields $3,822 as the per student cost of providing this program.  Tuition charged, $2,115, covers 55% of tuition based program costs, as reported in the audit. The same page of the audit list the cost associated with special education pre-K as $1,116,877.  There were 217 special ed students and 50 speech students.   1,116,877 divided by (217+50) is $4,110 for each special ed pre-K student.  This does not include transportation, administration cost or the salaries for the specialist. Note: In-district pre-K for special needs children is mandated by the state and the state does provide some funding.  The school district must continue to provide these services.

For Comparison

And for historical purposes, a chart from 2013 FOIA



vote “NO” Flyers to print

(originally posted 10/25/2018 updated to add links on 10/26/2018)

If you want to hand information to your friends & neighbors that explain the “NO” side for the Jefferson referendum.  Attached are a couple flyers that people have given me permission to share… you have permission to print and share. — Jan Shaw

vote no janshaw

pdf to print:  vote no janshaw



vote no Ives



pdf to print:  vote no Ives


vote no CitizenForFiscallyTesponsibleJeffersonELC


pdf to print:  vote no CitizenForFiscallyTesponsibleJeffersonELC



D200 facts Ives


Just the fact, nothing saying how to vote

D200 facts Ives


Links for footnotes

on the”Vote no Ives” flyer & “D200 facts Ives” flyer:

  1. CUSD 200 financial documents presented in meetings and obtained through Freedom of Information requests. details
  2. Forecast5Analytics, Inc. study for District 200 School Board, response to a FOIA dated 10/19/2018
  3. District financial statements, see p. 39: (pdf page 43)
  4. Illinois State Board of Education iLearn website.  enter data: District =”CUSD 200“ county=”DuPage”
  5. Daily Herald, District 200 pulls back on new Jefferson center, looks to referendum after all, 8/16/2018                              
  6. District audited financial statements, p. 7, 3_06_30_June_30,_2013_Audit_Report.pdf. [report is no longer there]  The check
  7. Dupage Policy Journal, Records: Taxpayers spending $17,220 per child on Wheaton ‘preschool’ for 4 year olds9/3/2018;

5-Year Forecast Shows $21M or $26M deficit

The January 2018 forecast-5 shows a $21M deficit an updated one received in October 2018 shows $26M.

On October 19 I received a response to a FOIA about district financials:

On October 9, 2018, you requested the following documents:

Please provide ALL documents that show any changes to the 5-year budget that was approved August 15, 2018 or any other documents that show how you plan to balance the budget.   

Your request is granted.  Please see attached document. (below)

forecast5 10.19.1

I had sent an update to the request later on Oct 9:
be sure to include the latest forecast-5 summary
see attached screenshot from 1/31/2018 presentation.
and included  a forecast-5 chart from page 15 of the January 2018 PMA presentation
  • on page 13, it includes funds for Jefferson
  • On page 15 the sum for years 2019 to 2023 of “Surplus / Deficit Incl Other Fin Sources” is -$20,736,934 or a $21M deficit of the next 5 years based on the January 2018 report.  Since then, a new teacher contract and administrator contracts that are more generous than originally assumed, have been signed.
  • on page 16,  the low point for fund balances is negative in FY-2020.
I copied the data from the Oct 2018 forecast-5 chart into excel and highlighted cells that changed since the January 2018 version.  Also added a column “Sum of Row” which is a total for years 2019 to 2023.  The most important one is “Surplus / Deficit Incl Other Fin Sources” which shows a total 5-year deficit of  $26,011,650 in the October 2018 forecast.
oct2018 forcast5 highlighted
 Note: the districts fiscal year (FY) runs July 1 to June 30.  Property taxes are due in June and September.  As a result the low point for cash on hand is end of May.  District 200 has been running around $15M cash on hand at the end of May.  That will NOT cover a $26M deficit.

So yes, while “Jefferson is in the budget,” D200 does not have the funds in reserve to cover their planned deficit.

How Much Will a New Jefferson Really Cost?

Current (10/21/2018) Cost Estimate:

Jeff cost4

(Our original prediction, prior to the last FOIA response was 23.6M)


Backup Documentation:

Cost estimates from the 8/15/2018 board agenda

As attached to the 8/15/2018 board agenda Action Item after the closed session.  On page 3  we found what the district anticipated had they gone ahead without the referendum.

New ELC_Program Summary 20180809

Jeff cost bkup

The districts’ FAQ for the referendum is advertising “$15 million in the latest construction bids.”

new Jefferson size cost

Architectural & Engineering (sum 3 lines)
994,949 + 66,920 + 368,164 = 1,430,033
957,719 + 17,248 + 368,175 = 1,343,142

Debt Service Cost

in the 8/15/2018 board packet, (item 2 in Action Items after the closed session) lease_certificate_resolution  pdf page 5.

The Certificates shall become due and payable serially or be subject to mandatory redemption (subject to option of prior redemption as hereinafter described) on the dates of each of the years (not later than 2038), in the amounts (not exceeding $1,200,000 per year) and bearing interest at the rates per annum (not exceeding 5.00%) as set forth in the Certificate Notification. 

The $1,200,000 is for principle + Interest.  Verbally they were talking $1M/year.

Borrowing $14M and paying back $1M/year for 20 years is a total payment of $20M or $6M in interest.

If it is $1.2M/year for 20 years that is $24M or $10M in interest.

Based on what bonds have been selling for, 4% interest and $1M/year is more likely.


Debt Service – Update (10/19/2018) 

On October 11 at 10:42 AM, I submitted the following FOIA:
Please provide the total cost estimate for the new Jefferson building if approved.  This should include, but not limited to:
  • design costs (how much has been already paid + estimate for remaining work)
  • construction costs
  • debt services or “lease interest”
  • “owner’s cost”  to include removal of old Jefferson, landscaping, furnishing the new building and storm water retention.

On October 19 at 9:04 AM, I received a response

Your request is granted.  Please see information below:

  • design costs (how much has been already paid + estimate for remaining work)  $813,138.26 paid to date

  • construction costs  see attached document (document can also be found on district website)

  • debt services or “lease interest” estimate of debt service schedule attached

  • “owner’s cost”  to include removal of old Jefferson, landscaping, furnishing the new building and storm water retention. see attached document (document can also be found on district website)

One of the attachments is the one I had found in the 8/15/2018 board packet.  The other is a Debt Service Schedule, dated  September 12, 2018 (after placing the referendum on the ballot).  It shows borrowing $13,675,000, a coupon rate of 4%, total interest of $6,231,936.11 and “Total P+I” of $19,906,936.11

20yr Lease Certs CM Est Debt Service

The difference between $14M and the $13,675,000 being borrowed is $325,000 which is most likely the cost of issuing the lease certificates.  Our original guess for interest was $6M.  We updated it to $6.5M based on this document ($6,231,936.11 + $325,000).

Updated 10/23/2018

Since i have not confirmed the $325,000 as being a cost… I decided to not include it.  Note: the cost is a close estimate based on district data.  Actual cost will be determined when/if certificates are actually sold.

Originally posted 10/18/2018, updated 10/19/2018 & 10/23/2018

Who is paying for all that “Yes” PR?

Have you noticed a strong “VOTE YES” campaign? 

Some of it is information from the district ($13,416.31 for the first two flyers) and some from a political organization –  District 200 Vote Yes to Work Together.

For the curious, this is what we have learned about their expenditures:


CUSD 200’s spending on PR for the Referendum

On September 26 I sent the following request:

Where in the budget has the board allocated funds for the expenses to pay for flyers, postage, town halls, etc. to alert citizens to the referendum?  Please provide me with all receipts for all of these expenditures and/or other documents to show the total being spent. Also provide documentation for when it was approved by the board.

On October 3 I received the following reply with an attached pdf containing a scan of the first two flyers and the invoices.

Your request is granted.  Please see attached.  The funds for the following expenses are paid out of the Education Fund:
Mailer #1 – $7599.28
Postage $3551.28
Printing $1515.82
Paper $1234.68
Wally’s Processing $1297.50

Mailer #2 – $5817.03
Postage $3356.67
Printing $75.46
Paper $1436.90
Wally’s Processing $948

That is a total of $13,416.31 from the district for the first two flyers.  There has since been one more flyer. A FAQ section on the district web site,  and a video staring Dr. Schuler. In addition to the money spent there is staff time.  The communications director, Erica Loiacono, receives a  $87,728 plus benefits.  Her position didn’t exist until 2010.

Note: the Education Fund obviously covers far more than “communications.”  The FOIA response did not answer that part of the request, so I sent another one on October 5”

Almost answered. “Where in the budget has the board allocated funds for the expenses” What line item covers the communications department and how much is allocated annually for PR?

when it was approved by the board.
I see referendum PR flyers were discussed at the Committee of the Whole, on September 26.  But, no board vote was taken to approve the expenditure.  Provide the policy that covers communications department expenditures.

October 15 he replied:

Here is the link to the CUSD 200 Board of Education Policy 4.60 that answers your question.   I wanted to make sure I got this to you so that you have the answers to your  FOIA request.

The key line in the policy is:

“Adoption of the annual budget authorizes the Superintendent or designee to purchase budgeted supplies, equipment, and services, provided that State law is followed. Purchases of items outside budget parameters require prior Board approval, except in an emergency.”

He still had not answered the most critical part of the question, so I sent another request.  Note: if funds were not budgeted for sending the referendum information (which by law must be neutral) then the superintendent and his designee do not have the authority to spend the money prior to board approval.

On October 15, I sent (to the FOIA officer with the board on copy-to):

Thank you for providing part of my FOIA request. I now have a copy of the policy that covers communications department expenditures & I know that $13416.31 was spent on the first two flyers. I also know it was approved by the board after the fact as part of bills payable in the consent agenda.

However, you still have not provided this item (third try):

Where in the budget has the board allocated funds for the expenses [referendum information]” What line item covers the communications department and how much is allocated annually for PR?

I want the dollar amount that was allocated in the budget for public relations.

Note: FOIA’s can request copies of documents or data from an on-line query.  I did not spot money allocated for the communications department in the budget as made available to the public for review.  It should be in a data that tracks budget vs.actual receipts and actual expenses.


VOTE “YES” Campaign

There also is a “District 200 Vote Yes to Work Together” political organization registered with the Illinois board of elections.

  • Chair – Barbara Intihar (former CUSD 200 board member 2001-2017)
  • Co-Chairperson – Summer King
  • Treasurer – Jeanne Huffer

They have done 2 Robo-calls, mailed one flyer, use social media, have a web site  and we see yard signs popping up all over.

Checking the Illinois State Board of Elections, we found their D2 statement

d2 stm d200 work together PAC

As of 9/30/2018 their report lists:

  • TOTAL RECEIPTS               $2,565.00
  • TOTAL EXPENDITURES    $1,353.71

Note: the PAC has expended $1,250 to Wally’s Printing, plus the PAC received a  $200  in-kind contribution for printing from Wally’s Printing.  Since the flyer they sent arrived in October, we assume the cost of postage will show up in their next report.

This is the same printer as the school district used.


 Update 10/19/2018 – FOIA Response.

Response received  October 19 at 8:47 AM.  It finally answered my original question

Your request is granted.  Please see the information below:

The estimated expenditures for the Communications departments are included, along with other departments, on row 69 of the “Estimated Disbursements/Expenditures” section of the District’s budget form posted on the District’s website.  Some of the accounts listed below are soley communication and others are budgets from multiple departments.  
The following is a breakdown of the amounts budgeted for the Communications department for FY19:
Function Object
Salaries  $  127,600.00 2630 100
Benefits  $    14,100.00 2630 200
Purchased Services  $    51,750.00 2630 300
Supplies  $    16,700.00 2630 400
Capital Outlay  $          750.00 2630 500
Other  $      5,500.00 2630 600
   $  216,400.00


Originally posted Oct. 16, 2018, updated October 19, 2018 

Faster than Inflation

Someone posted a link to ballotpedia’s entry for Wheaton-Warrenville CUDS 200 on social media.  I took a look. There is some nice historical data there.

If you have lived in CUSD 200 for two decades or longer, and “feel” like school taxes have gone up faster than inflation, you have good reason. 


ballotpedia 93 to 2003 total rev

ballotpedia 93 to 2003 exp

ballotpedia 93 to 2003 bonds

Using a US inflation calculator to determine what we should expect if revenue, expenses and debt went up with inflation, we find it all went up significantly faster:

Note:  Debt & Gov. Payments is “payments to state and local governments and interest on school system debt”


The number of students in the district does not account for this large budget growth.

From the CUSD 200 Demographic Trends and Enrollment Projections, June 2017 report by John D. Kasarda, Ph.D., in 1993 the total enrollment in D200 was 12,383.  Enrollment peaked in 2003 at 14,314.  In 2013 it was at 13,243 and in 2017 had dropped to 12,642.


enrollment 2000_2017