IL Legislation to close “Lease” to avoid referendum loophole

Wheaton’s state Rep, Amy Grant has submitted a bill, HB2145 and Palatine Rep. Thomas Morrison has submitted a bill, HB2738 (virtually the same), to close the “loophole” that district 200 tried to use to avoid the referendum for a new Jefferson pre-school building. Other districts have already done this, and we fear it may be catching on like wildfire. If school boards can build new facilities without referendum by signing a lease-to-own agreement, then issue debt service extension base (DSEB) Bonds, without a referendum to shore up their general revenues (raising future taxes to pay then back), we are in real trouble. Using the magic word “Lease should not void the clear intent of the original law that requires a referendum for new construction.

I submitted written comments (similar to this post) with my witness slip in support of HB2145.

Continue reading “IL Legislation to close “Lease” to avoid referendum loophole”

Shall Lisle D202 Reduce the Excess Tax Levy?

Lisle, school district 202 taxpayers will have a question on the April 2, 2019 ballot to lower property taxes. The question that will appear is:

Shall the amount extended for educational purposes by the Lisle Community Unit School District 202 be reduced from $19,062,127.15 to $17,155,915.00  for the 2018 levy year, but in no event lower than the amount required to maintain an adequacy target of 110%?

The following are screen shots (and a link) from Lisle Watchdog’s twitter page, taken on 2/28/2019.

Continue reading “Shall Lisle D202 Reduce the Excess Tax Levy?”

REFERENDUM TO NOWHERE – Part 8 – Unfair, Wasteful and Unaffordable – $140,000,000.00 Referendum 3.1

This Referendum to Nowhere is UNFAIR because it does not address the fundamental and systemic issues faced by District 86.  The referendum does nothing to correct the student population imbalance between the Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South.  It does nothing to correct the curriculum inequity between Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South.  And finally, and more egregiously the referendum does nothing to address segregation within the District.

Continue reading “REFERENDUM TO NOWHERE – Part 8 – Unfair, Wasteful and Unaffordable – $140,000,000.00 Referendum 3.1”

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

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


Jefferson – Plan B – Facilities Master Plan

On January 31, 2018 the District presented to the board their “District Wide Facilities Category and Condition Ranking.”

2018_1_31 capital improve plan

For Jefferson to maintain the building with no addition or remodeling, it will cost $5,319,800 for paving, roofing, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, doors / hardware, windows, and other.

While, there is no doubt that building new will result in a newer, bigger, nicer facility.  Is it a “NEED” or a “WANT”?

To build a new building, the construction cost alone is estimated at $15 million.  Total costs will include:

  • design costs (most already spent)
  • $15M construction costs.
  • “debt services” or “lease interest”
  • “owner’s cost” – removal of old Jefferson, landscaping, furnishing the new building and storm water retention.

My guess is total cost will be at least $21 million.  (FOIA pending)

The total costs for “needs” at each of the CUSD 200 facilities according to the “District Wide Facilities Category and Condition Ranking.” (linked above):

Jefferson Early Learning Center $5,319,800
Bower Elementary School $6,217,600
Emerson Elementary School $1,338,700
Hawthorn Elementary School $1,742,900
Johnson Elementary School $3,037,500
Lincoln Elementary School $3,097,900
Longfellow Elementary School $1,911,500
Lowell Elementary School $5,626,700
Madison Elementary School $2,726,600
Pleasant Hill Elementary School $2,859,300
Sandburg Elementary School $1,242,400
Washington Elementary School $5,366,800
Whittier Elementary School $2,087,300
Wiesbrook Elementary School $1,260,300
Edison Middle School $12,611,500
Franklin Middle School $10,830,800
Hubble Middle School $0
Monroe Middle School $10,376,300
Wheaton North High school $6,836,800
Wheaton-Warrenville South High School $6,817,300
GRAND TOTAL $92,308,000


CUSD 200 in the News – Jefferson Pre-K 2018

Community Unit School District (CUSD) 200 has been in the news, and they are now planning to try a third referendum to build a new Jefferson Pre-school.


8/15/2018 – Regular Board Meeting held

8/20/2018 – Special Board Meeting held

9/13/2018 – Law Suit Voluntarily Dismissed Without Prejudice


Originally posted September 4, 2018. Updated September 18, 2018 and October 6, 2018