Sunday, November 12, 2017

Critics of BOE Must Wake Up to D181's Fiscal Reality!

Over the last two weeks, since the BOE approved a Mutual Agreement to part ways with Dr. White on June 30, 2018, we have heard angry parents cry foul and blame the BOE majority for acting without justification.  These critics have chosen to overlook or forgive the fact that Dr. White NEVER told the BOE that he had been given specific instructions by the district's attorney to ensure proper and timely publication by the DuPage Election Commission of the HMS referendum posting, and that he failed to accept ANY responsibility for an error that could have been avoided if he had actually done his job.They have labeled White's actions as a simple mistake. Most of the public critics, who have commented on the VOTE YES FOR HMS  facebook page or made public comments at recent BOE meetings, are HMS parents and supporters who have praised Dr. White for his efforts in getting the new school built.

But isn't this a district of 9 schools, not just one?  For the last 3 1/2 years on White's watch, the BOE has been waiting patiently for the administration to present a Facilities Master Plan for its approval, a plan that would outline and cost out in great detail, the projected capital improvements and needs of all 9 schools over a ten year period.  Time and again, the BOE has asked when the Facilities Master Plan would be presented for approval. Time and again, the administration has claimed it was coming. In fact, let's not forget that the administration actually misrepresented that a plan was already in place in its HMS referendum materials mailed out to the community. Back on March 13, 2016, we reported how an HMS referendum mailer (paid for with taxpayer dollars) represented that a Facilities Master Plan had been worked on for more than 2 years, when in fact, that was not the case.  Read our blog post at 3/16/2016 Post to remind yourselves of the administration's representations about the Facilities Master Plan.

Twenty months later, there is still NO FACILITIES MASTER PLAN -- which means that Dr. White failed to meet one of his most important contractually REQUIRED goals -- that a plan be  in place by November 1, 2014.  (See Section 3 in White's First Contract)  This of course means that Dr. White failed to meet a required goal prior to the BOE extending his first contract in December 2016, a failure that one board member believed prohibited the BOE from approving an extension of his contract.   Eleven months after his contract was extended by a BOE majority, and one full year after the missed contractually required deadline to have a Facilities Master Plan in place, NO PLAN HAS EVEN BEEN PRESENTED TO THE BOE FOR APPROVAL.

Instead, what we now know is that not ony has no plan been presented or approved, the immediate needs of the other 8 schools besides HMS have been neglected and only now, after the former Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Finance resigned and was replaced, is the administration telling the BOE the HARSH REALITIES of what the other 8 schools need and will cost. 

Tomorrow, Monday, November 13, the BOE will hold its monthly business meeting. Agenda Item 7D is called FY19 Capital Projects Discussion.   There are 2 relevant documents on Boarddocs that we suggest you all all read.  The first is a Memo that states:

"Background and Information:
The "Capital Projects Long-Term Planning Estimates" document posted on BoardDocs was prepared in response to Board requests for a multi-year outline of capital project needs to inform discussion on the tax levy. It was developed by the Building and Grounds Department in conjunction with District Architect Healy Bender by utilizing the Facilities Condition Assessment Report prepared by Wight & Co. Architects in 2015, as well as a prioritization scale to weight the timing of projects by necessity. The Board Facilities Committee has not yet reviewed this information, therefore it should be considered a preliminary document for initial discussion purposes only. This information ultimately needs to be included as part of ongoing Facilities Master Plan development."  (Source:  11/13/17 Memo.)

You will note the language we have highlighted in red, which indicates that information presented in the second document titled Capital Projects Long-Term Planning Estimates "will ultimately need to be included as part of the ongoing Facilities Master Plan development."

In other words, these estimates have not previously been included AND obviously the promised and much delayed Facilities Master Plan is still in development.  But the real problem with the delay in presenting this information to the BOE is that the information reveals a projected cost of more than $2 million per year to pay for needed captial projectsover the next ten years.  Anyone who has been following the finance discussions at BOE meetings over the last couple of months knows that during White's watch, the administration only budgeted $500,000 per year for capital needs.   And as the new Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer recently told the BOE, it will be facing a mulit-million dollar deficit if it decides to fund the needed improvements UNLESS cuts to the budget are made.

The document Capital Projects Long-Term Planning Estimates on board docs reveals the following projected capital needs costs over the next 9 fiscal years (which start on July 1, 2018):

2019  $1,965,000
2020  $2,079,000
2021  $2,203,500
2022  $2,269,500
2023  $2,146,250
2024  $2,409,375
2025  $2,122,250
2026  $2,237,750
2027  $2,017,375

These projected capital projects for the 8 other D181 schools total $19,450,000.

So, in order to fund the needed projections at all the other D181 schools besides HMS, the district will have to find ways to cut millions of dollars out of the budget over the next 9 years.  You can see this for yourselvest the immediate impact of the capital needs on the budget in the Tax Levy documentation posted on Boarddocs for tomorrow's  meeting.  The Tax Levy Memo shows a projected deficit for FY2019 of $1,355,994 should the 2019 capital needs be included in the budget.  


All the BOE critics need to face that reality and start paying attention to how the administration under White's watch (for the next 7 1/2 months) will address this fiscal reality, if at all.

Why weren't these numbers presented to the BOE by November 1, 2014, the date the Facilities Master Plan was supposed to be in place per White's contract?  In our opinion, the fact that these numbers are being presented to the BOE for the first time, nearly one year after the last BOE majority extended his contract, is an absolute disgrace.

Will non-HMS parents be as forgiving as they were of White's "mistake" when they realize how their schools' needs have been ignored and not budgeted for by the current administration?  And what excuses will the VOTE YES supporters make this time to justify this failure?

Let's hope the BOE takes these projections seriously and immediately begins the hard work of figuring out how to fund the needed capital improvements without negatively impacting our children's educational experiences.  While non of us like our taxes to increase, this is not a year when the BOE should underlevy for next year's taxes? Will the BOE do the right thing and levy to the max this year? Will any of the BOE members ignore the fiscal realities?

Stay tuned, and as always, SOUND OFF!


Anonymous said...

Why do you continue to attack the Vote Yes Group? There are comments for and against White on the page and they have not taken a position about his leaving. Just because some of the people that voted for a new HMS also spoke critically against his departure, does not mean that anyone and everyone who was Yes for HMS should continue to be a target of yours. There are plenty of people who were in favor of a new school but agree with White's departure and the Board on this topic. Leave the group as a whole alone - it's petty and just seems you are a poor sport because the vote passed.

Anonymous said...

I voted yes for a new HMS, but was not part of the facebook group or pro-referendum group. I have to agree with the bloggers'criticism against the vote yes group and their harsh attacks against the boe members who voted to approve the termination agreement. I have listened to the public comments made by VOTE YES group administrators and their core group, heard them bash boe members both on their facebook page and at public events and I have been too much of a coward to speak up and tell them to stop. Why? Because I know that I will be socially ostracized if I do. That's right. While the whole world is talking these days about the sexual harassers who are finally getting their dues, everyone in our bubble community ignores how small but powerful groups of residents have the ability to identify, shun and ruin social status of people they disagree with. I find it so ironic that people have been openly critical of this blog when those same critics are more than happy to spread gossip and attack volunteers who have nothing to gain by voting their conscience. Some of these critics have accused these brave board members of having personal vendettas against White and having no real basis to approve the termination agreement. They need to start learning the facts about what is going on in the district beyond the HMS work site. I am very excited for the new HMS to open so I can send my 2 kids there in a couple of years, but I am also excited for a new superintendent to come in and clean up the rest of the district's mess. I am really afraid that programs are going to be cut or class sizes go up when the BOE is forced to start making cuts to the deficit budget. Instead of attacking the boe members who are trying to do right by the whole district, the HMS group should start demanding answers from White about what he plans to balance the budget.

Anonymous said...

7:59. I don't know if you are part of the Vote Yes Group or just a follower of their facebook page, so perhaps you don't know that the group has blocked many community members from posting any comments on their page. There may be comments for and against White on their current post about his departure, but unless they have lifted their blocks against people they don't want to hear from, they are being hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea that so much money has to be spent on the other 8 schools. Why didn't the HMS referendum include money to fund the other schools' needs? Didn't the referenda that were passed years ago to build other new schools also include money for renovations at the older schools? Why didn't the administration have the list that is now on board docs ready for the board to review before they decided what the referendum should include? I bet if it had included money for all nine school, a lot of the HMS drama on how to vote would have disappeared since everyone would have realized $20 million was being raised to fix the other schools. Pretty short sighted of the administration, or perhaps just incompetence.

Anonymous said...

My view is that when you pay people more than they could make in most other places (for doing the same job), these people do anything they can to keep their jobs. They will go along with what the bosses and higher ups say to ensure they remain in their positions and to ensure that the higher ups protect them if needed. In other words, my thought is that the principals, teachers and other administrators blindly followed White and never questioned anything for a reason.

Board of Ed and other district programs were held at Elm School for years when the administrative offices were there. You don't have to be too terribly bright to figure out that when it rained, the garbage cans placed at various places throughout the building were there for a reason. This didn't just happen during 1 or 2 rainstorms. As I recall, this went on for a good number of years.

Why is it a surprise now that Elm needs a new roof?