Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Part 2 of Series on how Delusional and Self-Serving Behavior Will Not Help Solve D181's Budget Crisis Caused by Years of Administrative Neglect -- How to Erase the Deficit

Part 2 of this series will now address How To Erase the Deficit.

Before we begin, we want to point out a new development that took place since the 2/12 board meeting that may make the district's financial crisis even worse than what was projected. In an attempt to deal with Illinois' fiscal crisis, Governor Rauner has proposed shifting teacher pension costs to suburban school districts. This might save the state money, but will it would increase expenditures for districts such as D181 by millions of dollars.  (Source:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-met-bruce-rauner-illinois-budget-20180213-story.htmlhttp://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-rauner-speech-pensions-budget-20180214-story.html).

Over the last several years the D181 BOE has discussed the possibility of this happening, however, each time, the administration kicked the can down the road and failed to take any proactive steps to "save for this rainy day" by levying to the maximum allowed by law and growing our reserves.  Case in point: back in February 2016, when the BOE was discussing the proposed $65 million HMS referendum, a couple of board members voiced concerns that we wrote about in our 2/8/16 Blog Post.  Despite the concerns raised about possible future liabilities, the majority of the board charged ahead to build an expensive new school without including funds for improvements needed at other schools.  We now know that the board was kept in the dark about the true conditions of the other buildings in D181 and the $10+ million that needs to be spent over the next five years. If Rauner's pension reform goes through and it finally does "rain," D181 is not prepared to handle the increased budget deficit.

In light of the state of the district, and the possibility that State legislation will make the deficit worse, what should be done to balance the budget? The following are our opinions. We encourage ALL readers to sound off and make your opinions known to the Board of Education before they cast their deciding votes on what to slash and what to keep.

To begin, we are not going to opine on the specifics of the cuts that the BOE has already indicated it supports. Rather, we are going to focus on the possible cuts the administration is still discussing and has asked the adminsitration for more information on. Per the Board Meeting Summary, the board already agreed to trim the deficit by correcting inefficiencies, and were supportive of eliminating the SELAS consultant and middle school Content Leaders, reducing summertime professional development, eliminating the Central Offic reception position, eliminating one TOSA (Teacher on assignment), reducing the cost of the Community Relations position, changing hiring practices in an effort to improve the balance of new graduates and veteran teachers, managing art teachers' time more efficiently, starting orchestra in 5th grade rather than 4th and finding a new location for the District office.  (Source: Summary of 2/12/18 board meeting.)

Unfortunately, these combined cost reductions will not erase the deficit.

The board asked for more information and will continue discussion on the following possible cuts:
-- Reduction of PE classes to 3 times per week from 5 times per week
-- changing the school times in order to achieve transporation efficiencies
-- increasing transporation eligibility to 1/5 miles (from the current 1.0 miles)
-- an administartive salary freeze
-- a teacher salary freeze.
(Source:   (Source: Summary of 2/12/18 board meeting.)

As discuss below, in our opinion, the board should only pay for things that are legally required and approve these cuts and freezes. This will position the district to permanently erase the budget deficit, allow the disrtrict to pay the $10 million in needed capital iimprovements at 8 schools over the next five years, as well as absorb a possible shift in pension liability from the state to the district.


1.  $690,000 of the deficit will be erased with the "efficiencies" that Mr. Dada has identified, none of which impact our students. (Source:  2/8/18 proposed cut list.) The BOE has already agreed to those cuts.  One can only wonder why these efficiencies were not identified sooner, and how much smaller the deficit would be if they had been implemented three years ago.  Remember, Mr. Surma was hired into a brand new position, created especially for him by Dr. White.  Dr. White identified what Surma's role would be when he told the press:

"White added that Surma will also be looking for ways to save the district money.  His duties could include bidding out contracts to find less expensive alternative business, or finding ways to save on transportation costs, according to White.  He will also analyze technology purchases inside and outside of the classrooms, as well as facility needs.  White said the goal is for Surma to improve the district all areas." (Source:  7/15/14 Suburban Life Article.)

Excuse us while we cry FOUL!!!!  Did any of these promised things actually take place?  We think not and would urge all community members to storm the next board meeting and ASK WHITE WHY NOT!

2. Since correcting the inefficiencies and making the cuts that the full board has agreed to will not wipe out the deficit, in our opinion, the next thing to keep in mind is that D181 is a PUBLIC school district.  Expenditures are paid for primarily with tax dollars and tax dollars are dependent on the tax levy rates set each December for the following year.  Public schools are regulated by state laws that define specific programs that must be provided.  If required, the public schools must pay for those programs.  If they are not required, then public schools need only offer what they can afford.  Continuing to pay for wants that are not required by law should be suspended if to continue them will drive the district into financial ruin.

3.  The third thing to keep in mind is that taxing laws allow taxing bodies to increase taxes annually to a MAXIMUM amount -- the lesser of CPI or 5%.  D181 has had years where the tax increase was virtually flat due to very lower CPI rates.  However, as we pointed out, for several years, the BOE has also not levied to the maximum allowed by law and as a result, revenues that could have lowered a future deficit were never collected (and now cannot be recouped).  It is, in our opinion, unconscionable that the administration didn't do the work needed to properly identify the capital needs (to the tune of over $10 million) and build those expenses into the recommended tax levy rates.   But once the truth was told, it was the obligation of the Board to levy the maximum amount in order to allow the district's programs to be funded and not put in jeopardy.

4.  Last December 18th, after the Chief Financial Officer finally did the work that had been neglected and explained the true state of the district's budget, 6 members voted to finally LEVY to the MAX for the upcoming year.  One did not  -- Marty Turek.  (Source:  See roll call vote summary at bottom of Agenda page describing 2017 Tax Levy resolution on Board Docs for 12/18/17 BOE meeting.)

5.  We were shocked then at Mr. Turek's blatant act of irresponsibility in voting NO -- a vote that reflected a complete disregard of the NEEDS facing D181, but we were even more shocked to listen to the delusional suggestions he made at the 2/12/18 Board Meeting.  Rather than acknowledging that perhaps his vote had been a mistake last December, he continued ignoring the District's NEEDS and financial condition.  He suggested that the Capital NEEDS at 8 of our schools that Mr. Dada said were critical and must be addressed immediately should be DELAYED.  That's right folks -- delayed.

6.  In our opinion, until the deficit is erased, the BOE must levy to the maximum allowed by law EVERY YEAR going forward.  The community may not like it, but if anyone leaves money on the table they are hypocrites to also suggest NOT cutting programs or other budget line items that the district cannot afford any longer and ignore capital needs.  If Mr. Turek is unwilling to raise taxes to fund NEEDS, then he should resign!  And anyone unwilling to levy to the max to help erase the deficit should not consider running for the BOE in the next election cycle.

7.  As if Mr. Turek's refusal to levy to the max last December wasn't bad enough, at the 2/12/18 BOE meeting, he suggested that the deficit be handled by dipping into reserves.  He claimed that he was concurring with Board Member Giltner's suggestion about using reserves. Take the time to listen to the Podcast because you will first hear Mr. Dada's explanation of why the district CANNOT AFFORD to use ANY of the district's reserves to lower the deficit.  Then you will hear Mr. Giltner AGREE with Mr. Dada.  Next you will hear Mr. Turek -- who either wasn't listening or doesn't have the mental capacity to comprehend what the grown ups at the board table were discussing -- claim to "agree" with Mr. Giltner and then suggest that the deficit be handled with reserves.  If you listen to this part of the discussion, you may conclude, as we have, that Mr. Turek is delusional.  (Fortunately Mr. Giltner was quick to correct him and inform "smarty" Marty (our words not his) that he had said the exact opposite of what Turek was representing.

8.  In our opinion Mr. Turek was pandering to the crowd of teachers who attended the 2/12 meeting since during public comment they also suggested that reserves be spent down.  We are baffled by Mr. Turek's conduct, since his suggestion is not in the long term interests of the taxpayers and district.

9. We believe that anyone who suggests that reserves should be used to offset the deficit should be criticized as irresponsible and unwilling to face REALITY! Even Dr. White publicly acknowledged that the deficit cannot be fixed by spending reserves.  He said so during the meeting. In light of his unwillingess to be fully transparent in the past, the situation must be really bad if he felt the need to actually be candid and open about this reality. As reported in the Doing's article: 

"Several teachers, including Maura Fagan, a teacher at Monroe School and president of the Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Teachers Association, suggested the district use its reserves to help offset the deficit.

If this was just a one-time occurrence, the district might consider using reserves, Superintendent Don White said. But an architect identified needed improvements that will cost $2 million to $2.5 million in each of the next five years.  And the district should allocate about that much for the next 10 years to properly maintain its facilities."  (Source:  2/13/18 Doings Article.)

Further, as reported in the Hinsdalean's article, "Superintendent Don White said using the district’s reserve funds as a remedy would be a short-sighted approach for a long-range issue.
“These are recurring costs that we know we are facing, so we’re going to have to take action now to balance the budget,” said White, who also pointed out numerous state-level unknowns that could adversely affect funding the district receives from the state." (Source:  See Page 5 of 2/15/18 Hinsdalean.)

10.  We actually agree with Dr. White and in our opinion, the deficit cannot and must not be reduced by spending any of the district's reserves.

11.  Before the BOE approves cutting any programs that impact our students, it must first stop the self-serving behavior of the administration and teachers.  If you take the time to listen to the Podcast of the 2/6 Finance Committee or review the cut list presented to them for discussion, you will realize that the initial cut list prepared by the administration failed to include any suggestion of an Administrator or Teacher salary freeze. (Source:  2/2/18 Draft Cut List.)  During the finance meeting, it was finally disclosed that almost $1,000,000 can be saved by freezing salaries for just one year and those amounts have been added to the draft cut list presented to the full board on 2/12/18.  (Source:   2/8/18 proposed cut list.)  So why wasn't the suggestion of freezing salaries on the list of ways to reduce the deficit?  In our opinion, freezing salaries is a MUST before any cuts are made that will impact the classrooms and our students, especially, if as discussed below, teachers are unwilling to support cutting programs that are no longer required by law.  The BOE must immediately begin discussions with the administrators and union leaders of both the teachers and support staff and get a commitment from them to reduce or freeze their salaries for one year in their next contract, if not sooner.

12.  Salary freezes are a no-brainer in a district that pays its teachers the second highest salaries in the states and that has been giving administrators raises at a ridiculously high rate.  More than 80% of the district's budget is used to pay salaries and benefits for the teachers and administrators.  If you look at Slide 10  of a Power Point presented to the Finance commimttee, you will see that D181 teachers are the second highest paid of all comporable districts in the state.  Their average salary is $30,000/year higher than neighboring Western Springs, and $14,000/year higher than Butler's district in Oak Brook. Teachers are fortunate to be locked into multi-year contracts that set their salaries and annual increases.  But in past crisis, both D181 administrators and teachers have agreed to SACRIFICE and lowered their salary expectations.  During the last national fiscal crisis almost 10 years ago, the administrators' salaries were frozen for one year (January 2010). (Source: Minutes of 1/11/2010 Board Meeting).  The teachers also agreed to a one year base salary freeze in a 3 year contract approved in October 2011.  (Source:  10/24/2011 Joint Statement.)

13.  Such sacrifices were applauded by our community and will be applauded if our highly paid employees agree to them again.  Teachers and Administrators cannot simply expect the community to support spending cuts that will impact our students, or call for spending down reserves that are needed for future unexpected expenses, without being willing to be part of the solution, especially when a one year salary freeze in combination with the $690k in "efficiencies" identified by Mr. Dada would wipe out the deficit.  If teachers are unwilling to agree to a freeze, we would urge them to consider lowering their salary increase expectations going into the next contract. The reality is that expenses have outpaced the revenues collected and since over 80% of the budget expenditures are for salaries and benefits, something has to give, especially if teachers' pension liability may be shifted to our district.

14. However, since it is unlikely that salary freezes or salary reductions will be agreed to before the next teachers' contract is negotiated, the BOE must still identify other means to lower the deficit.  The remaining "big ticket" items are: changing the start times of school in order to allow efficiencies in bus transportation to realize over $300k in savings, changing the bus pickup eligibility from 1 mile to 1.5 and reducing PE from 5 days to 3.

15.  Changing school start times.  In our opinion this is a no brainer if it will save $300,000 per year.  We are frustrated that the community will have to go through a second start time change in 2 years and once again cry FOUL against an administration that was tasked with finding ways to reduce expenditures but instead implemented a change that raised expenses.  To now have to reverse course does not seem fair to students, parents or teachers, but it is one change that will not have a direct impact on the services offered to students in the classroom.  

16.  Changing Bus Eligibilty.  By law, D181 is only required to provide free transportation to students who live 1 1/2 miles or more from their school and to those living less than 1 1/2 miles from school but who must cross a designated hazardous crossing.  It is our understanding that for years D181 has been offering free busing to students who live 1 mile or more from their school regardless of the hazardous crossing.  Thus, the administration has recommended, as a possible cut, complying with the letter of the law and only providing free busing to students who live at least 1 1/2 miles from their school or those who must cross a hazardous crossing.  This would generate $250k in savings.  Again, since the district must live within its means, if something isn't required of a public school district, it should, in our opinion, only be offered if it can be afforded.  Unless the district finds sufficient other cuts to erase the deficit, this transporation eligibility change will have less impact the on students and parents than cuts to classroom programs.  The alternative is to charge these parents fees, but since no one likes to pay more for what they've previously gotten for free, we predict that most families would find alternate means to get their kids to school.

17.  Reducing Daily PE to 3 days per week.  Finally, the administration has proposed reducing daily PE to only 3 days per week, an action that would save $450k per year.  Listening to public comments made at the 2/12 board meeting and following parent comments on social media, we understand that teachers and many parents are not supportive of this change.  Studies have shown that daily PE is good for students.  No one can dispute that.  The problem is that a public school district should only offer what it can afford or raise the money needed to pay for it.  Unfortunately, we now know that the district cannot afford to offer daily PE unless it finds other ways to erase the deficit.  Teachers who are opposed to reducing PE to 3 days per week cannot have their cake and eat it too.  In our opinion, if they really want to keep daily PE in place, they need to offer some concessions, such as reduction in their salaries or a future freeze in their salaries.

18. Some teachers and parents have suggested going to an operational referendum to raise moneys needed to balance the budget.  We doubt that the D181 taxpayers would approve such a referendum at this time, unless all other cost reduction options were implemented and the district still found itself in financial trouble.  With new federal tax laws no longer providing any property tax incentive beyond a $10,000/year deduction, school districts are going to have a much tougher road to travel in convincing people to raise their property taxes to bail out a district that has over extended itself.  In our opinion, operational referendums will fail and should not even be proposed unless pension liability is shifted to the district, resulting in massive deficits that will require more money to be raised to keep our district's legally required programs in place.

19. D181 is in financial trouble. After years of overspending and not identifying millions in needed capital improvements, the BOE must make cuts that will be painful for someone. To do nothing, spend down reserves or ignore possible future legislation that will increase the deficit, serves NO ONE.  There are districts that have dug such a big financial hole for themselves that the state must take over running them.  This is not a road we, or anyone, should want D181 to go down.  Corrective steps must be taken now that are permanent and will lead to a balanced budget that the district can afford to maintain.

20.  Finally, we have not always praised the board, but after reviewing all the budget materials, we have concluded that this fiscal mess is NOT the BOE's fault and that almost all of them recognize the seriousness of the situation.  They are our elected officials and as fiduciaries of our tax dollars, they are tasked with fixing the mess.

We wish the BOE luck in making their final decision on what will stay and what will go.  Our expectation is that once the BOE figures out how to get D181 out of this mess, the board will not allow future administrations to turn a blind eye to the true needs of the district, and will demand that the district live within its means.  It is unfair to provide "wants" when in the end,  "needs" are not paid for.  It is unfair for the public to be asked to simply bail out a district that has lived beyond its means by asking us to approve an operational referendum.  What has happened is WRONG and the Board of Education must find a way to make things RIGHT.


Anonymous said...

Hi Parents, thank you for this. You mention “in our opinion, the board should only pay for things that are legally required and approve these cuts and freezes,” as well as having only the needs, and get rid of any “wants”. Can you or someone else explain what the district is legally required to do, as well as all (or at least as many as possible) the programs & personnel the district has that they aren’t required to have? From what I tell, I believe the district needs to have (and this list is by no means exhaustive):
-Language Arts
-3 days/week of PE
-Not sure about social studies
-Special ed
-director of special ed

The following list (also not exhaustive) are programs I think we are not required to have (please correct me if I’m wrong)
-Music (chorus, band, orchestra)
-Family and Consumer Sciences
-Applied Tech
-Annual musical & one act plays @ the middle schools
-Librarians (teacher-librarian & librarian aide)
-Foreign/World Languages

Also, minimum wage for hourly workers, mainly the support staff, is $8.25 an hour. I’ve heard rumors, but cannot confirm nor deny, that the minimum wage for teachers is $10,000 a year. Not sure what the minimum for administrators is. One issue I see with this is, I’ve seen a few comments on this blog complaining about how the teachers & staff don’t live in the district. One could argue about whether or not they could afford to live in district. But at the moment, that’s not the issue here.

At the board meeting, someone stated the district has several part time positions, including elementary secretaries, as well as the PSAs. I’d like to know how “part time” they are. If “full time” is 1 Full-time Equivelent, are the secretaries & PSAs .8 FTE, .5, or lower? If 0.5 or lower, would it be possible to have them work at multiple schools, if they aren’t already? If there are 8 part time PSAs, maybe reduce them to 4 full time PSAs, working at 2 schools each? The net total salaries would probably be the same, but I think the district would save on benefits like insurance. Same thing with secretaries. Plus, there are a few teachers that “job share,” as in one teaches half the day/week, and the other works the other half. Maybe get rid of that, and have them work full time.

This is just for informational purposes; not trying top be in favor nor against any of these. People will have differing opinions on what’s a “need” and what’s a “want,” but obviously we need to take a good, hard look at what we absolutely need.

The Parents said...

9:23: Our post addressed thing the district had on the cut list and are not legally required to provide. We are sure there are other things, but honestly we are not prepared to do a full analysis of the district's budget/departments/programs/positions and determine what is legally required and what is not. We hope you understand tht we simply do not have the time to do that.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't the BOE suing Don White & Ken Surma for fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement? If White created a position for his buddy and, together, the two of them created this mess either intentionally or thru total incompetence, then they need to pay. Why do the taxpayers have to clean up their mess?

Why are we paying Don White to leave this school district when it seems that he led us into and supported this mess? Given this financial nightmare, if he had any class, he would be telling the board that he'll forego his payoff. If he won't forego his payoff, we really should be renegotiating his exit package given what we now know.

Given Turek and Clarin's complete and utter support of White and his cronies, D181 should look into asking the Inspector General or AG's office to determine if Turek and Clarin were complicit in aiding White and Surma. Turek and Clarin had a duty to the taxpayers. Both seemed to continually support White and Company while disregarding statements and issues (brought to their attention) that didn't fully support White. I would like to know why.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, many teachers and administrators greatly exaggerate our student's needs in order to serve their own. Schools claim that they have mandates from the state to implement standards, but no one from the state ever bothers to check that our district is actually implementing or enforcing them. The state is broke. NO ONE from the ROE or ISBE actually checks up on public schools - especially in Hinsdale. Teachers also have Union Representatives who will say anything to protect their member's livelihood over yours. Thats why teachers pay their union dues every year. But our kids only have us and volunteer board members to stand up for them against teacher's unions and their lobbyists.

Public school teachers have their own lobbyists in Springfield who will do or say anything to convince you and your state representatives that schools MUST have highly paid PE teachers and Librarians. Apparently no one has bothered to tell our state reps show many of our kids are already overwhelmed with exercise at their private soccer, dance and swimming clubs before and after school. Almost every elementary school child is involved in at least one after school sport like tennis, football, or soccer. The children who are not could easily stay after school to attend an after school, parent sponsored fitness program. No one can argue that our district will soon need to continue to spend more money to update student and teacher security. But overtime we add new expenses, others need to be cut.

Very few of our children really need buses or PE every day when almost everyone here lives less than 6 blocks from a school. Those who live more than 5 blocks from a school made a choice to pay less for a home that was not conveniently located, so they are prepared to pay for a bus or drop off their kids. If our kids walked 5 blocks to and from school, they would not need PE at all. Yes, it would be nice to continue overpaying PE teachers and for our kids to blow off steam during the school day, but we cannot afford the pensions and salaries for these staff when our kids' basic facilities are being ignored so HMS can get everything new. Did you realize that the PE teacher who just retired from the Lane made $120,000 when she retired? Calculate how much she will earn in pension for the rest of her life. One year of her pension would have given one of our schools a new roof. If new legislation passes, and our community is now suddenly forced to pay for teacher's pensions in addition to their salaries, this district will implode. Kids in other districts, whose parents don't have the means to pay to extracurricular sports might actually need a PE teacher. But unless a wealthy donor comes forward, it is outrageous to think that parents are OKAY paying for PE teachers and Librarians when the roofs over our kids' heads leak and mold is taking hold again.

It is all up the Board of Education and parents to stand up to these lobbyists and unions so that our community's and children's actual needs, not wants, can be met.

Anonymous said...

What really scares me is that I haven't heard anyone in the district talk about how they are going to vamp up security for our kids in any of the schools. All schools need better, safer drop off procedures that deter randoms from entering campuses. I would much rather be paying for a security guard at every school instead of a librarian or a PE teacher. Especially during drop off an pick up times.

If roofs are leaking and fences are sagging at every other school except HMS, it really does not lead me to believe that this district will ever take action to protect our kids.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 12:06. Any new superintendent we hire will come in with just as cavalier an attitude as White, Schneider and Schuster if they know that NO ONE will ever hold them accountable. These administrators are not above the law, but the Board treats them like they are.

White will never admit he did anything wrong. Listen to him at Board Meetings. His arrogance is unbelievable. However, I for one, do not think we should all be forced to pay for an investigation into his actions. He is a state employee. It is the responsibility of other state agencies to do the investigation. If our Board does not take action to ask the state to investigate this, taxpayers will again be stuck footing the bill for our own legal consultants. No one expects, or even necessarily wants our board members to do investigate him themselves, either. They already did more than enough work. There are already state agencies nearby whose job it is to investigate what public schools are doing with our tax dollars.

I agree it makes no sense for former and current board members to continue to bury their heads in the sand regarding financial, legal and facilities issues. The previous board did that and look where it got us.

Anonymous said...

I get that it's the teachers' unions job to protect the teachers no matter how awful they are and no matter what they do or don't do (or so it seems). I also have seen principals protect teachers and staff no matter how many legitimate complaints from parents.

But what I don't understand is why the board treats our administrators as if they are above the law and above reproach.

1:11 has it right: any new superintendent we hire will come in with the same cavalier attitude as White, Schneider and Schuster if they know they are not held accountable. The board (taxpayers) paid White a lot of money to leave. I seem to remember the board forgiving a long of money that Schuster should have reimbursed the district. Why? That money could have gone a long way in providing services for district children.

I think White, Schuster, Schneider et al should be reimbursing the Hinsdale and CHills taxpayers for all the money they wasted and for the position in which they left the district.

I want to ask the board if this was their business, would they ignore the mismanagement which led to the financial, legal, educational and facilities issues in which we are now immersed.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above comments. Functional schools, families, and businesses all have rules and consequences for good and bad behavior. Rewarding bad behavior and failing to punish bad actions sends a message that no one really cares what you do. People really live up to the expectations their supervisors have for them.

Anonymous said...

I believe we need exceptional MRC directors - and PE teachers. So many people don’t see what they contribute.

For my son, the MRC director kept him engaged in learning when teachers had given up. The MRC directors tend to be the technology experts in the district - they teach 21st century skills. As we implement 1-to1 devices (not really needed) the MRC directors make sure they are not simply electronic paper and pencil. My daughter had an exceptional relationship with the MRC directors too. They taught research skills, and often know kids better than their individual teachers.

As for PE, that is where team-building takes place. The Lane PE teacher who retired was in it for the kids- she came early and stayed late to help kids reach goals. Research shows kids need a brain break during the day. Recess doesn’t really cut it, due to playground conflict. SELAS tried to revamp recess to reduce conflict on the playground - but due to the teacher contract some schools only use aids at recess, others hire parents for lunch recess. I believe every school does there own thing. Several still put kids on the wall for misbehaving. Kids really need unstructured time to just be kids with guidance.

People talk about removing these special teachers, but unless it changed the teacher contract includes 2 planning periods every day (PE and library/art/music)and lunch, and some schools part-time recess.

D181 can increase class size, but the PE teacher and the MRC director provide continuity and really make a difference in the school community.

Anonymous said...

I think it is absolutely hundred percent true that no one wants to cut jobs, freeze salaries, or be known as a district that cuts PE, gets rid of MRC directors and support staff, etc. But the reality is we have a major budget deficit and there is NO MONEY unless we make major cuts.

Our emphasis and focus should be what makes the most sense for the largest groups of students and what services and resources are we unwilling to go without? Case in point, we must do more to support special education in our classrooms. This "special education" umbrella includes not only students on the higher academic end but those students that need for whatever reasons, extra supports, resources, teachers' aides, etc to receive quality education. We also want to stress maintaining smaller teacher to student ratios when we can/where we can knowing that some of our schools are operating at 24 or 25 kids per grade section. If you increase class size, there goes the opportunity to support students at either end of the spectrum. So increasing it more, might be challenging and not our first choice.

Many of our neighboring schools in surrounding districts have experienced lay offs, job cuts, salary freezes and administration cuts. Many of our neighboring school districts have gone to a 3 day PE system. Do I love it? No. Do I agree that PE like recess is important for student mental health, growth, etc? Yes! But we are not in a position to be offering extras.

If you want bussing, and you live a mile from school, I think you need to pay for it. If we can save money by changing schedules, I think we need to look at that. I have a middle schooler who babysits my younger kids. I'd be suffering. But guess what? If it means, my children and the children beside them are maintaining class size, math lab, reading lab, etc then I will suck it up. Because I want my children to have quality education. Bussing and class times don't affect that direct delivery.

But ultimately, we need to talk about salary freezes. This is a HUGE savings. Every other industry and job sector in America has experienced some sort of salary freeze or lay off or job cuts. Why should teachers or the education sector be any different? NOTE: This is not a criticism of our teachers. This is a FACT OF LIFE.

A salary freeze is a FREEZE. Everyone still gets paid. They just don't get a raise. Not for a few years. I don't think this is unheard of or unacceptable.

We need to be realistic. The Vote Yes HMS people were all over the community for a new school. We have a school being built. We don't have money. Where are the Vote Yes campaign people now? We should have a VOTE YES for BUDGET BALANCING.

I"m tired of the drama here.. Our buildings are aging. Our schools need remodeling. Our children deserve quality education. IF that means we downsize PE or remove bussing for free, then I say go for it. If that means our teachers have a salary freeze, I vote yes. Truth is, I'm pretty sure they will all come to work. The neighboring districts all pay less.

It is time to be harsh and realistic. I can't comment on what some teachers make over others. I can only comment that like all industries, teachers have to feel the responsibility of what is unfortunately a state of our economy. We won't be the first or last district to implement these types of cuts.

Anonymous said...

The problems in D181 are not unique to us. I recently found evidence of other public school district's in Illinois whose school boards are allowing themselves to be controlled by administrators and their attorneys. Go to www.EdgarCountyWatchdogs.com to read and watch the videos of other dysfunctional school boards.

This website shares some valuable information regarding recent legal decisions that courts have made regarding public school districts and their boards. Here is an article from this website that describes the behavior of of a Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick & Kohn attorney trying to actually run a school board meeting last month! The video is priceless.


During at least the last two Jasper County School Board meetings, their attorney, Anthony Loizzi, from Hodges Loizzi Eisenhammer Rodick & Kohn LLP, displayed a disrespectful, interruptive, and disruptive attitude towards School Board member Earnest and in some cases, towards citizens attending the meeting.

There is apparently a collusive effort to shut down board member Earnest at every turn, with interruptions, snide comments towards him, and the general attitude displayed by this attorney and the school superintendent.

At the beginning of this video, you can clearly see Attorney Loizzi shake his head “no” in an attempt at convincing the board chairman to disallow Earnest from commenting during the public comment period. This attitude continued with Loizzi interrupting him, and even at one point summoning a Police Officer into the room as a clear intimidation tactic against citizens.

What this attorney needs to understand, is that he does not run the meeting, he does not get to say when public comment is over, and he does not get to direct any police officer to do anything. We also suggest that the Newton Police and Jasper County Sheriff’s Departments review their policy on public meetings of public bodies to ensure that their officers only act on the motion of the board chairman – which is the only person who can state a claim of disruptions. He runs the meeting as law outlines. Period.

Below is merely an example of this attorney’s interruptions and attitude:( go to website to see the video)

Anonymous said...

Yes. Don't forget that most people can't retire with a full pension in their early or even mid 50's. Why don't teachers have to work until their mid 60's like the rest of us? Of course, I don't know many people who aren't public sector employees that get a pension, let alone one similar to what our teachers get.

We need to get real. Our district is broke. Even if it wasn't, we should have been more fiscally responsible the past few years. The Pro Hms people bombarded us with their stories of mold etc. In my opinion, they refused to hear anything the "other side" had to say, they manipulated facts and ostracized some parents who didn't believe the community could afford a new school.

Yes, where are the Vote Yes people now? I said it then and will say it now, it's a shame we can't impose additional taxes on the Vote Yes people.

One last thing, that still confuses me. Do the Vote Yes people believe that a pretty new building takes the place of a quality education? The IL Report Card scores indicate that D181 kids aren't doing so well relatively speaking. Will everything be just hunky dory when the new HMS opens?