The following 4 comments are included in the 27 pages:
The District should look at administrative expenses first and renegotiate teacher contracts. Plus, thanks to the members of the School Board for wasting tons of money on firing ______had the District on the right path and the morons that ousted him wasted tons of money and stunted the progress of our District. D181 is embarrassing ‐ led by the idiots that voted for _____ouster on the Board. Reduce salaries and cut positions ASAP.
I am disappointed in the board for allowing us to be in this situation. Please consider eliminating administrator positions. We are very top heavy. I am embarrassed to live in this district given that the board can not effectively allocate ample resources.
Every single parent I have spoken to is outraged that the board could let this happen and on such short notice. Your choices will not be forgotten at the voting booth.
It distresses me immensely that instead of finally talking about adding full day Kindergarten, like so many of the surrounding districts and other comparable districts, we are going to make our children suffer because of a budget shortfall that clearly the board should have seen coming for some time. Secondly, to take away physical education classes from students who so desperately need the difference in their day to help them learn is also hurting our children.
These comments stood out to us because they suggest that the BOE is at fault for the fiscal crisis D181 is in. We respectfully disagree.
The BOE is tasked with approving budgets recommended by the ADMINISTRATION. In order to make any decision, the BOE must rely on information it is provided by the ADMINSTRATION. While we, the bloggers, have criticized individual board members for not attending meetings, not preparing for meetings, not listening at meetings and grandstanding and pandering to their audience during meetings, we will not sit by and allow the full board to be blamed for a fiscal crisis that they did not cause.
On White's watch the district has gone from "seemingly" having a balanced budget to one with a $1.5 million deficit -- a deficit set to grow each year as NEEDED capital improvements at 8 of the 9 schools are finally included in the budget. In order to achieve and maintain a balanced budget for the next five years, $1.5 million (or more) need to be permanently removed from the budget to make room for the needed capital expenditures.
UNTIL this year, the BOE and the entire community were led to believe that the D181 budget was balanced or even had a surplus. For the last several years, as the BOE set the following year's tax levy rate and DID NOT levy to the maximum allowed by law (until it finally did last December), the Adminsitration failed to identify and/or inform the BOE that capital needs at 8 schools were not included in the annual budgets. Further, when the BOE was deciding whether to go to HMS refererendum, and some of the board members suggested including additional monies for capital needs at the other schools, the Administration did not inform the BOE of the $10 million in needs we now know exist. As a result, there was not majority support to include ANY amount, let alone $10 million, in the referendum for needed work at other schools.
The BOE and community were KEPT IN THE DARK about the true state of the disrict's needs or their potential impact on the BUDGET.
Further, while pension reform may now be imminent due to Governor Rauner's proposed budget ideas, this threat to the district's fiscal health is not a new one, but is one that the Administration has minimized each time the BOE has asked about it in the past. We have been listening to podcasts for years and know each time the BOE asked the Adminstration about possible pension reform implications on all suburban school budgets, the Adminstration suggested that because legislators are always talking about pension reform but have never followed through with actual legislation, it would be premature to build the possiblity of pension reform into the budget. Sadly, this lack of planning for the pension "rainy day" now puts the district in even greater jeopardy. Instead of pushing the BOE to levy to the max and grow the reserves in case the pension "rainy" day occurs, the BOE was advised that the lower levy rates would still generate enough revenues to maintain balanced budgets. Now it turns out, this was not the case.
Parents are certainly entitled to be outraged by the state of D181's fiscal situation, but let's place blame where blame is due. In our opinion, the budget was mismanaged by the very highly paid ADMINISTRATORS who failed to identify and/or inform the BOE of millions of dollars in capital needs that should have been included in the budget. (Again, we thank the current Chief Financial Officer for finally informing the BOE of what had been excluded from the budgets and making the BOE aware of the deficit situation.) In our opinion, had the ADMINISTRATORS told the BOE of the million of dollars in NEEDED capital improvements at Elm, Lane, Clarendon Hills Middle School, Oak, Prospect, Walker, Madison, and Monroe, the BOE would have realized the need to balance the budget sooner.
In our opinion, if the BOE had known about the capital needs, it would NOT have approved the Start Time changes last year that added over $300,000/year in transportation costs to the budget. It would not have approved a 1 to 1 initiative for All Grades. It would not have approved the creation of positions such as TOSA's or Content Area Specialists, positions that didn't exist until a few years ago. Moreover, in our opinion, the past Business Office administrator should have identified the $690,000 in inefficiencies that the new Chief Financial Officer identified very shortly after arriving in D181and is now going to permanently eliminate from the budget. Imagine the millions that could have been saved over the last few years, had these inefficiencies been corrected.
These information failures cannot be blamed on the BOE, a board of 7 UNPAID volunteers who cannot be expected to "know what they don't know." Some of the BOE members have been accused by irate community members, administrators and teachers of "micro-managing" the district. That accusation now seems ironic, since we, the bloggers, wish they actually had been micro-managing the district so that they might have realized that they were not being provided information to make informed and fiscally responsible budget and levy rate decisions.
We would be remiss in not reminding our readers that two BOE members actually went beyond what is normally expected of a BOE member and served on the HMS referendum accountability committee, closely scrutinized thousands of documents and the events leading up to the publication snafu, and discovered that the Superintendent had not provided the BOE with needed information. Some "critics" in the community have pilloried these diligent and responsible BOE members for finally demanding accountability. Little did we know then that that information failure was just the tip of the iceberg. Now we know that the BOE had also been kept in the dark about the true state of the district's needs at 8 schools and the negative impact addressing those needs would have on the budget.
It is very easy to lash out at the BOE and call then "morons and idiots", as one comment above does. It is also easy to say that the board's "choices will not be forgotten at the voting booth." But in our opinion, with the exception of one current board member who we have posted about numerous times in the past and frankly, have finally written off, we think the actions taken by the BOE in forcing a change in leadership at the end of this academic year, was the right action to pursue and shows their intelligence. How can anyone on the BOE or in this community trust an administration that in our opinion kept critical financial information from the board? How can anyone on the BOE or in this community trust an administration that did not properly budget for the capital needs of 8 out of 9 schools and in our opinion only focused on the needs at one school? How can anyone on the BOE or in this community trust an administration that does not even recommend freezing its own salaries in order to share in the painful cuts that the BOE must now approve in its efforts to once again balance a budget -- a budget that they were led to believe until last fall was not only balanced, but had a small surplus?
No doubt one or more of the 4 BOE members whose terms will end in Spring 2019 will choose not to run again, if for no other reason than the unwarranted attacks against them and the failure by this community to realize how hard they have actually worked or the challenges they dealt with in the face of repeated information failures by the Administration. (Of course, we hope that the 2 term board member will NOT seek a third term.) We, the bloggers, challenge those in the community who simply want to attack the BOE to step up and run to replace them. Put your money where your mouth is and good luck doing a better job than the current board majority. But those of you who want to oust any board member better start attending board meetings and closely following the issues. Everyone, but especially the critics, has a responsibility to stay informed. The authors of the Parent Survey comments above might then reach a different conclusion about who is to blame for the fiscal mess D181 is in.
It is time for everyone to recognize where the blame lies for the deficit crisis, and in our opinion it is not with the BOE. Come on people, get real!
And as always, SOUND OFF (and sound off soon, before we go silent......)