Saturday, December 17, 2005

District 300 March 21st building and education referendums

This post will be used to post information about the District 300 March 21st referenda. New information about the referenda will be added to this post in the form of comments. We encourage both sides to respond. We will remove offensive comments and foul language.

The article below appeared in the December 16, 2005 edition of the Northwest Herald. CRAFT finds it offensive that the school district appears to be using these children as political pawns. Are we to believe that these children on their own initiative understand and support the full ramifications of these referenda without independent research into school finances, contracts, audits, tax codes, etc? Or have they been coopted to serve a selfish political agenda? There are school boards and professional auditors who do not understand the effects of referenda. We would like to know how many of these children are related to teachers or District employees. How will these activities affect their academic life?

Will District 300 and the NWH give equal time to students and groups that oppose these referenda? Would such a group even dare expose itself in the recrimination culture of our pulic schools? "Student groups" are using taxpayer facilities to promote the referenda. Can students who oppose the referenda have equal time and facility use? Let us hope these children will seek answers from those who do not have a direct benefit from the passage of this referenda. We wish these students good luck in getting responsible answers. We found it odd that their goal is to pass the referendum before getting the information they need. They should decide that once they get their questions answered.

D-300 high-schoolers launch campaign on questions

[published on Fri, Dec 16, 2005]

ALGONQUIN – A growing group of District 300 high-schoolers has a New Year's resolution: Get voters to approve referendums this spring. The first chapter of their mission is under way, to understand the facts – about population growth, property taxes, district finances, and the No Child Left Behind Act.
The first chapter of their mission is under way, to understand the facts – about population growth, property taxes, district finances, and the No Child Left Behind Act.

To view the rest of the article click here

74 comments:

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

District 300 Claims one of the reasons they need the education referenda is because of the costs of NCLB. That myth is dispelled in the article below posted at www.twincities.com and in a book by Jay Greene call "Education Myths". We certainly hope that the District 300 students supporting this referendum will read this book.

They still don't get it

MARK YOST

I certainly touched a raw nerve — with teachers, superintendents and parents alike — with my column last week on education funding. A retired educator wrote, "Education bashing has not stopped and it appears that your column is trying to keep it alive and well."

He missed the point of the column, as did, sadly, most of the teachers and administrators who wrote in. Taxpayers continue to be asked to pour more and more money into a black hole called public education and they're not seeing vastly improved outcomes. That isn't "teacher bashing" but a demand for accountability from an enterprise that is clearly not doing what it has been tasked to do.

"Education Myths" by Jay Greene — and countless other analyses — clearly show that taxpayers aren't getting a good return on their money, and they know it. That's why parents are so outraged. But clearly what parents see and what teachers and administrators see are vastly different.

A principal wrote me and conceded that education spending has doubled since the 1970s with little improvement in test scores and outcomes. But, he asked, "how have corporate profits, the stock market … done over that time?" The short answer is a heck of a lot better than the flat returns we've seen from public schools. Ironically, a parent from the same school district, who has since taken her children out of public schools, wrote: "I feel hard pressed as a taxpayer to want to pay more to enable a broken system to continue."

Which brings us to accountability. Greene devotes three chapters to it, again dispelling most of the commonly held misconceptions. For instance, No Child Left Behind is not as burdensome as some would have us believe. Yes, the law requires testing but "it is up to the states to decide what specific material is included on the tests, what score counts as a passing grade, and how much annual progress counts as 'adequate' improvement," Greene writes.

Furthermore, many studies have shown that schools are adequately funded to comply with NCLB. A Harvard study put the cost of testing anywhere from $1.79 per pupil in South Carolina to $34.02 per pupil in Delaware. But even that higher figure only represented 0.35 percent of all per-pupil spending in the state.

Having said that, I'm no fan of NCLB because I think it sets us up to fail. Few cultures on the planet have ever educated 100 percent of the populace to a common standard. And no matter how minimal the requirements, I don't think some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., can really know if Stillwater, Minn., is doing a good job of educating its kids. Parents are the best judge of that and they're clearly not happy.

That's why vouchers and tax credits are so popular — and successful. They allow parents — especially poor parents — to have a voice while still working within a statewide system of public education (which, by the way, should include both public and private schools).

If we're serious about fixing what's clearly a broken system, then we should drastically trim back the state Education Department. Let it buy pencils and paper in bulk, and have a modicum of oversight, but that's about it. Again, parents know if their kids are getting a good education. If they're involved and want to foster change, they'll have a better chance of doing it at the local school board than in St. Paul or Washington.

Of course, I can read the e-mails already: What about those districts that don't have the tax base to adequately fund schools, Mr. Yost?

That's simple.

Instead of subjecting every district to the incompetence of statewide education funding, the Legislature can meet its constitutional obligations by allocating money from the general fund to augment those at-risk school districts that need financial help. To ensure that those schools (and taxpayers) get the biggest bang for their buck and that students aren't shortchanged, convince economist Art Rolnick to retire from the Minneapolis Fed and run them as charter schools, complete with early childhood education and after-care components, all held to measurable standards of accountability, the most important component of Rolnick's ECFE proposal.

While this is a radical departure from what we do today, I'd ask what's worse: Trying something new in the face of systemic failure, or continuing to subject the majority of fiscally responsible, functional school districts to work within a statewide bureaucracy that's clearly broken?

Yost is associate editor of the Pioneer Press editorial page. Write him at myost@pioneerpress.com or at the Pioneer Press, 345 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55101.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

A great article appeared in the December 19th issue of the Northwest Herald written by Allison Smith. It is great to see the Family Taxpayers Network opposing the referenda. Big bucks are working to pass the District -300 referenda it is nice to see Jack Roeser and the Family Taxpayers Network working for the families in the community who feel they can not speak out because of ramifications from the pro-referendum side.

D-300 measures face battle


[published on Mon, Dec 19, 2005]
By ALLISON L. SMITH

CARPENTERSVILLE – School District 300 must traverse a steeplechase before voters will support a pair of referendums set for the March 21 ballot.

Distrust is palpable after voters in nearby Huntley District 158 approved a referendum last year that gave the district access to much more tax revenue than was advertised.

Fear lingers that District 300 will not avoid Huntley's mistakes, though a plan the Carpentersville-based school district has devised appears poised to hold the tax increase to one year if voters pass it.

Confusion is common as residents try to understand why local officials feel they must turn to voters rather than Springfield to pay for the 7,200 new students expected in the district by 2011.

Some taxpayers, such as Nancy Zettler, hope measures will pass.

"We need this," she said. "I'm not pro-tax, but I am very much pro-education. We are just going to have to face the facts and come up with the cash."

Zettler lives in Algonquin and has a daughter at Westfield Community School. She said the biggest challenge will be to get accurate information to voters.

"There's a lot of disinformation out there and a lot of distrust," she said. "[Critics] win if they can create a feeling of mistrust in the community, which just ends up hurting our kids."

But Laura Bishop, whose children graduated from Dundee-Crown High School in the 1990s, said she had a hard time forgiving how the district came to have a large deficit.

District officials have conceded that they did not budget well enough for growth a few years ago, leading to a $27 million deficit in the education fund.

Bishop said she appreciated the district's budget cuts over the past few years. But she fears that current growth projections are wrong.

"I just want to know that if we vote for these [referendums], they will be enough," she said. "It's obvious this money is needed, but I want some reassuring that their projections are solid."

The Family Taxpayers Network, a statewide group based in Carpentersvile, has launched a campaign against the referendums.

"We're not bashing educators," said Lidia Downs, executive director. "We're bashing a system that just doesn't work. I don't know who's fault it is. But it certainly isn't the taxpayers."

The rest of the article can be viewed at http://www.nwherald.com/MainSection/10756575222305.php

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Jack Roeser president of the Family Taxpayers Network placed a great article on his website www.thechampion.org. It is titled D300 is the Grinch and can be viewed below.

D300 is the Grinch

By Jack Roeser

School District 300 is threatening to cancel all the good stuff- athletics, music, advanced courses, etc. - if the referendum next March isn’t passed by the voters. The Administration has notified the whole faculty to pitch in, organize the students who are already very upset about the impact of their vengeance on them. Some nice thought to think over for the Christmas season, isn’t it?

To make it more real and seemingly certain, the D300 school board has already passed the detailed resolution of just what gets tossed out if the taxpayers don’t cough up the dollars for the so-called Education Fund, over 80% of which goes into raising the already bloated salaries for teachers and staff. See www.thechampion.org.

This tactic of threatening the powerless students is reprehensible. It is an old tactic, used often in this and other school districts and accompanied by financial exaggeration and misrepresentation describing a doomsday budget collapse.

It is true that D300 is seriously in deficit and that they have made many cuts already, but the largest cause of the deficit is the spending they won’t control, the rapidly increasing salaries of the certified teachers and staff. Take a look at the Superintendent’s Recommendations, found on-line HERE. You’ll see that the bus drivers, ordinary workers to them, have not gotten raises for two years. The IEA union is the 800-pound gorilla that has pushed the overmatched D300 school board into excessive raises for the certified elite for the last five years.

The staff also falsely says that the Education Fund tax rate must be raised in order to hire teachers for the new schools that must be built. The fact is that the present tax rate applies to the new homes in addition to the existing homes and provides forever for the teachers salaries. There is a phased-in one year lag, but taxes don’t have to be increased to hire more teachers; the funding is automatic, and in fact at a somewhat greater amount per new house which is added at a new higher assessment value.

They also haven’t revealed that the new Cambridge Lakes Charter School will be provided for 1,000 students at no cost to D300. In fact, the State will give a rebate to D300 of about 60% of the tuition transfer payment. This will provide up to $14,000,000 cash over three years. This alone should pay for the athletics, music, etc. that they threaten to cancel. Also, they must correct the excessive raises and pension for themselves, the great continuing deficit builder.

They shouldn’t threaten, they shouldn’t cancel athletics, music, etc., they don’t need to, and they wouldn’t dare in the end. Students and moms, lighten up for Christmas, this too shall pass.

To view the complete article on the FTN site go to http://www.thechampion.org/?p=art&id=259.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The article below appeared in the Daily Herald, on the Daily Herald website at www.dailyherald.com and on Students First at http://studentsfirst.us/news/contentview.asp?c=170915. Jeffrey Gaunt is one of those rare and wonderful investigative reporters. A search of his name and you will find wonderful information regarding school districts and taxing issues.

In order for District 300 to solve this problem as quoted below they will be "Seeking to avoid a similar situation, district officials devised a way to collect the 55 cents in one year using a somewhat complex tactic which involves shifting money from the district’s operations and maintenance fund to the education fund."

The question you must ask yourself as a voter is....If they are robbing the operations and maintenance fund to increase the education fund in year one of the tax rate will they be increasing the tax rate in the operations and maintenance fund in year two? Do you trust the school board to actually only collect the 55 cents that they are promising?

You yourself can review the salaries and calculate out salary/compensation increases on www.thechampion.org. If this referendum passes do you trust the school board to balance the budget and not come back to you with a referendum request in a few years? The teachers contract is almost up. Do you trust the school board not to give out excessive raises if this referendum passes?


Dist. 300 solves tax-vote issues with county
12/1/2005
By Jeffrey Gaunt
Daily Herald

Community Unit District 300 officials received a bit of good news this week with respect to their proposed request for a 55-cent tax-rate increase.

Representatives from the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office earlier this month told District 300 officials that they would have to ask two separate questions on the March ballot in order to receive one 55-cent rate hike.

After the two sides met this week, district officials said the state’s attorney’s office is now saying the district only has to place one tax request on the March ballot.

“We have agreement with Kane County that one ballot question would suffice,” said Cheryl Crates, the district’s chief financial officer. “It’s really great news for us.”

Representatives from the state’s attorney’s office were unavailable for comment late Wednesday afternoon.

District 300 officials previously expressed concern that the two questions would confuse voters - particularly since the two would deal with two very distinct aspects of state tax law.

One question - the one district officials are still considering - asks voters to approve a 55-cent increase in the education fund.

The second question would have asked voters for a one-year lift of the tax cap - which ordinarily ties a district’s annual property tax increases to the rate of inflation.

Also at the meeting, Crates said the state’s attorney’s office agreed with the district’s proposed solution to avoid complications resulting from convoluted language in the state tax cap law.

State law allows district officials to collect the 55-cent increase over five years, not one. In other districts, that’s meant taxpayers have paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than expected.

Seeking to avoid a similar situation, district officials devised a way to collect the 55 cents in one year using a somewhat complex tactic which involves shifting money from the district’s operations and maintenance fund to the education fund.

The state’s attorney’s office “agreed with the concept we had come up with,” Crates said. “Once you hit the cap, you’re done.”

The school board is expected to vote Dec. 12 on the proposed tax increase requests.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

This is posted elsewhere on the forum. Because Tryon and Harmon's Bill has not passed it is trust that the voters have to place on the D-300 school board not to collect more than they are asking for in March. In order to collect 55 cents in the first year they will have to collect less in other funds to reach the 55 cents for the education fund. However, I do not see an in print solution to restore the other funds. Will they increase those funds in the second year if the referendum passes? If so they will be collecting more than the 55 cents promised.

This appeared as a letter to the editor in the January 1, 2006 issue of the Daily Herald. Imagine the millions of taxpayer dollars that could be saved if we had more responsible school board members like Mike Davitt.

Taxpayers deserve better from Dist. 203
Thanks to reporting by the Daily Herald, taxpayers discovered that many school districts were taking advantage of referendums through a loophole in the tax law (a loophole legislators are now scrambling to correct). Nevertheless, District 203 collected somewhere between $24 million to $36 million more than what was originally projected by the 2002 referendum.

I made a motion to reduce our 2005 levy by $5.8 million (3 percent of our $200 million budget). My rationale was since we over collected $24 million to $36 million more than what voters authorized in 2002, returning some of it was the simply the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, the majority of the board didn’t think we could afford to give any of the money back and voted 5-2 to keep it all. It was the same 5-2 vote that reasoned we could afford to give teachers a 5.2 percent raise for the next three years following six years of 6 percent raises.

Our operating budget has tripled in 15 years (from $69 million in 1990 to $200 million today). Has your home tripled in value? Taxpayers cannot be expected to sustain this level of spending growth.

If only taxpayers could borrow a page from the Naperville Unit Education Association play book and hold parents and students hostage with the threat of a strike perhaps they would have more leverage.

Merry Christmas, Naperville taxpayers.

Mike Davitt

Naperville

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

This excellent letter to the editor appeared in the January 5, 2006 edition of the Northwest Herald. Mr. Snow is a school board member in District 158. At this point I do not understand why anyone would consider voting yes for the District 300 referenda.



District 300 come clean
[published on Thu, Jan 5, 2006]

To the Editor:

Many well-meaning school District 158 residents advocated voting yes for their referendum.

Residents believed leaders, administrators and board members who said their children's education would be ruined if the referendum wasn't approved.

Residents were told that they should believe "their facts," and that a financial crisis existed.

I encourage District 300's leaders to disclose all important financial facts and use realistic enrollment and financial projections. Explain the $35 million of working cash that makes a $27 million education fund deficit largely irrelevant.

Explain the Sears tax increment financing district, expiring in 2012, which will annually generate $10 million. Show the true future property tax revenue from Randall Road's commercial property.

How much goes for a new teacher's contract?

Explain the tax inefficiency. A large referendum increase in the education fund results in about 60 percent of the tax increase returning to the state as a reduction in state aid.

I sincerely encourage District 300's leaders to avoid using District 158's referendum campaign playbook – selective information, deceptive omissions, emotional hype, threats to punish the kids, and fear-mongering rhetoric.

I hope that District 300's leaders objectively will provide all of the facts on a full disclosure basis to its community.


Larry Snow

Lake in the Hills

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

CRAFT has received notice of the following meeting. It is a shame that this group is not presenting both sides of the referenda story. If these referenda truly have merit they would let both sides of the story be heard and let the voter decide. It would not matter what the opposition would say. The fact that they are not presenting the other side of the story tells CRAFT they do not want the voters to hear the other side of the story.

Cathy Peschke

WHAT REFERENDUM????
NEED TO LEARN MORE?

WHEN: Thursday, January 12, 2006 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: Emmett's Tavern and Brewing Company, upstairs
128 West Main Street, West Dundee
WHAT: Informational meeting regarding the March 21, 2006 Referendum

WHY: To understand the impact a failed or passed referendum will have on our community.

Join other concerned citizens to discuss the current and future needs of District 300. A cross-functional group of experts will be available to present their perspectives and answer questions regarding the proposed District 300 referendum. Members of the discussion panel include: representatives from District 300, teachers, community leaders and real estate agents.

TOPICS:
Who needs this referendum anyway?
What does it mean to me?
What does it mean to the children in our community?
How are public schools in Illinois funded?
What has the District done in recent years to balance its budget?
Why we need your vote!
CONTACTS: Deb Price Teresa Stupar
847-426-8461 847-428-6576


Come prepared to ask questions!!

THIS CONCERNS OUR COMMUNITY AND OUR SCHOOLS.
BRING A FRIEND AND BECOME AN INFORMED VOTER TODAY!

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The great information below was obtained from Cal Skinners BLOG titled McHenry County BLOG. You can view his post by cutting and pasting this link into your browser.

http://mhbtherestofthestory.blogspot.com/2006/01/district-300-newsletter-fair-balanced.html

CRAFT has discussed this issue in many of our workshops, we do have a powerpoint presentation that dispels the lie about PTELL that school boards relate to voters. Please email us if you are interested in the presentation. The below piece was taken directly from Cal Skinners BLOG with the exception of correction of three spelling errors.

"The property tax cap, which District 300 calls by its more or less official name--the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL)--is known by most taxpayers as the Tax Cap or Property Tax Cap.

The law was pushed through the General Assembly in 1991 "over the dead bodies of Democrats," so to speak, by Governor Jim Edgar. Objections were heard from about every real estate taxer in the state and their employee unions. The law has been weakened somewhat for park districts, but continues to limit the increase in the amount of money that a school can tax to whatever is the increase in the cost of living.

In virtually every year, the value of real estate increases more than the cost of living, so this means the Tax Cap has saved taxpayers millions of dollars in District 300 alone. Please note at the bottom of the page that District 300 points out the increase in the Consumer Price Index, but not the increase in the value of homes--which is, or course, much, much higher than the rise in the CPI.

Of course, school administrators statewide take about how much the Tax Cap has "cost" their school district.

The newsletter talks about "the loss of $14 million of revenue for the 2004 tax year." It points out that its maximum tax rate has decreased from $3.76 to $3.18 since 1997, "a loss of 58 cents" (per $100 of assessed valuation

Implied, but not explicitly stated--as a fair and balanced article would be--is that District 300's property owners saved $14 million this year because of the Tax Cap.

District 300's article on the Tax Cap probably is capable of confusing almost everyone with its excessive detail, but it seems relatively accurate...as far as it goes.

It does not point out that besides inflationary growth allowed by an increase in the "tax take" amounting to the rise in the Consumer Price Index, all tax districts are able to capture all new assessed valuation resulting from new construction. It does not matter whether it is a new subdivision of homes or the massive commercial venture known as Algonquin Commons on Randall Road.

That massive increase in assessed valuation is multiplied by the tax rate and District 300 gets every dime.

Also not mentioned is the huge Sears Tax Increment Financing District which is due to expire in 2012-13. District 300's assessed valuation for the TIF has been frozen since Sears moved to Hoffman Estates. All of the tax money generated from construction and rising property values have are now going to subsidize the developer. When the TIF expires, District 300 will see a windfall of $10 million per year, according to the outside audit.

That far-from-small-fact is not reported on page 6 or anywhere else in the newsletter. of $14 million of revenue for the 2004 tax year." "

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The great information below was obtained directly from Cal Skinners BLOG titled McHenry County BLOG. You can view his post by cutting and pasting this link into your browser.

http://mhbtherestofthestory.blogspot.com/2005/12/larry-snow-asks-for-transparency-in.html


"Here's the rest of Larry Snow's concerns:
Explain the $35 million of Working Cash Fund money that makes a $27 million Education Fund deficit largely irrelevant.

Explain the Sears TIF (Tax Increment Financing) District, expiring in 2012, which will annually generate $10 million in additional revenue.

Show the true future property tax revenue from Randall Road ’s commercial property.

How much goes for a new teachers contract?

Explain the tax inefficiency. A large referendum increase in the education fund results in about 60% of the tax increase returning to the state as a reduction in state aid.

D-300 shares common denominators with D-158.

First, the same independent audit firm.

Second, PMA Financial performs financial projections for D-300. They presented financial referendum projections to D-158 residents.

Third, D-158’s financial adviser at Harris Bank, during its referendums is now a D-300 board member and heads D-300’s Finance committee.

How real was D-158's debt crisis during its referendum?

Last year Harris assisted D-158 in borrowing $13 million that apparently wasn’t needed. ($9 million was kept in a PMA (Financial, Inc.) money market account, while working cash sources went unused).

Given their track record, should D-300’s sources of financial projections and information be trusted?

I sincerely encourage District 300’s leaders to avoid using D-158’s referendum campaign playbook – selective information, deceptive omissions, emotional hype, threats to punish the kids, and fear-mongering rhetoric.

Hopefully D-300’s leaders will objectively provide all of the facts on a full disclosure basis to its community."

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The below story appeared in the Northwest Herald. Schools are responsible and accountable for spending every dime spent or sought, it is taxpayer money. If they had been more responsible with staff raises maybe they would not be asking for the education fund increase in the first place.

D-300 to keep driver's ed

[published on Tue, Jan 10, 2006]

CARPENTERSVILLE – In the buildup to a March referendum to raise property taxes, School District 300 officials find themselves defending every dime spent or sought.

And Monday night, that included keeping the $159,000 that the district spends annually to provide driver's education to hundreds of high school sophomores.

School board member Mary Fioretti said she often was asked why the district did not cut the expense.

"But when we say, 'Let's cut driver's education,' you're just not talking about a lot of money," she said.

To view the complete post go to http://www.nwherald.com/CommunitySection/348319803211391.php .

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

This post below appeared as letter to the editor in the January 11, 2006 edition of the Daily Herald.

Sees no guarantees from District 300

This is in response to Leslie Russo’s Jan. 5 letter on District 300 finances.

Did Russo receive a raise to cover these increases? Do Russo and the pro-referendum committees think taxpayers have an open pocket book every year?

I and many other families work hard to keep what we have, yet every year District 300 asks for more. When is it going to stop? Got a committee to address that?

In regard to the hard work the committee has done to make sure that the problems that happen in District 158 won’t happen again, I have one question. Can all that hard work guarantee it? Having meetings with everyone is great, but where are the guarantees?

Please be aware that people cannot attend these meetings because we are all working hard to pay for the referendums that have been put in place in the past and will never go down in our tax bills.

Roger Case

Algonquin

The piece below appeared in the Daily Herald and was written by Amy Mack.

Where’s that whistle?

Maybe the Big Ten referee could lend his whistle to Community Unit District 300 residents for the next couple of months. As the rhetoric ratchets upward, it seems there will be a bitter divide over their proposed tax hike.

Digging for info

I’ve greatly appreciated all your calls and comments and am working on getting more answers. Please forgive me for the delay in responding to many of you — I’ve been inundated but promise to get back to each of you.

Meanwhile, I urge you to take advantage of every chance to get more details. District 300 resident Paula Caliendo asked me to make sure you all know of a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at Emmett’s Tavern on Main Street in West Dundee.

Concerned parents have invited a number of administrators, parents, teachers and real estate agents to address issues around the referendum request.

She, like others of you, wants more details. Stop by and ask away!

Jump in the fire?

The Lake in the Hills Village Board’s committee of the whole was slated to consider supporting the tax measure at Tuesday night’s meeting. Connect300 apparently is asking all area municipalities to consider such support. Judging from my mail and calls, I’d say that is one risky political move for village leaders. I’ve heard from as many who support the hike as oppose it … and all seem passionate in their view.

To view Amy Mack's complete article go to http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=141625 .

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

This great piece appeared in the Daily Herald. Author Unknown.

You may want to check under the hood of District 300’s bond-issue cost
Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I’m half an hour removed from a Community Unit District 300 school board meeting and a quick meal at Taco Bell.

And I’m having trouble digesting both.

District 300 officials continue to soft-sell the true cost of their proposed $185 million bond issue.

And while I don’t think they are intentionally trying to be deceptive, I do believe they are doing you a disservice.

In roughly 10 weeks, you’ll be asked to decide whether the district can borrow an additional $185 million to build new schools and improve existing ones.

Those aren’t small potatoes — especially given you would then pay back, with interest, an estimated $378 million over the 20-year life of the bonds.

District officials say the $378 million won’t cost you a dime more than you’re already paying.

But with all due respect, that’s a bunch of baloney.

It’s a little like tacking 10 years onto a five-year prison sentence. You’re already in prison, the argument goes, so what’s a few more years?

The difference of course, is that taxpayers will get some shiny new buildings out of the deal, rather than more laundry duty.

The point remains, however. I find it inconceivable that district officials are trying to minimize the impact of taking on a $185 million loan — whatever the need.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not, nor will I ever, say the district doesn’t need more classroom space.

I’ve seen the enrollment projections.

An estimated 7,000 to 10,000 new students are on the immediate horizon. And you don’t need a Sunday afternoon jaunt through Pingree Grove to know why.

You live in one of the fastest-growing areas in the state. New houses mean new students.

My only argument is that in agreeing to build new schools to house those new students, you should know exactly what you’re getting into.

District 300 officials hope to borrow $185 million. And the only reason they say it won’t increase your taxes, is because much of that debt will be paid off years down the road.

Think of it like this.

You want to trade in your old car. You’ve already racked up 70,000 miles on your Honda Civic — and still have to pay $300 a month for the next year before it’s yours.

You head to your local dealer, and find two cars you like.

You can trade in your Civic for a new one just like it — and extend those $300 payments out three years. Or instead, you can upgrade to a BMW — and commit to $300 a month for the next five years.

Your payment never increases. Only the length of the loan.

Under the district’s logic, there is no difference between payments on your old car, a new Honda Civic or a new BMW.

But I think there’s a difference — and district officials should know that nobody trusts a used-car salesman.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The article below appeared in the Daily Herald and can be viewed on-line at http://www.dailyherald.com/community/zonestory.asp?id=142084&zone=cvl. The article below helps to explain why an education fund referendum is never needed. Schools receive increased revenue each year do to increased growth and appreciation. Any individual can contact the Kane County Assessor's office or the Kane County ROE and get the numbers for the amount of dollars dispersed each year to the school. The problem is the school continually spends more money than they are taking in each year. Individuals can not run a referendum when they spend more money than they take in to their household. It is time for District 300 to start living within its means. Large assessment jumps cause an increase in revenues to District 300, the referendum will cost these residents much more than projected by the school district.

Homeowners reeling from assessments or
By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Thursday, January 12, 2006

Residents of Dundee Township have been buzzing recently about sharp increases in their property assessments, which happily translate to higher home values but also, unhappily, to higher taxes.

Assessments, the taxable portion of home’s value, went up by as much as 25 percent in some areas of Dundee Township, including parts of West Dundee, Sleepy Hollow and East Dundee, said Township Assessor Dan McMahon.

That came as a shock to many residents when they got their assessments in the mail last fall.

“Of course everyone’s surprised and alarmed by it,” said Dundee Township Supervisor Sue Harney, who declined to specify the increase in her home assessment, but said it was in the double digits.

McMahon said the jump is in part a reflection of the high prices builders are charging for new houses in this rapidly growing area, which drives up sale prices of existing homes. He said it’s also in part the result of a period of low interest rates that made home buying easier.

When residents call to complain about their assessments, McMahon says the first thing he asks is how much they could sell their home for.

In Carpentersville, for example, houses that used to be worth $100,000 to $115,000 are now worth between $150,000 and $170,000, he said.

And in West Dundee, a woman who had bought a downtown building two years ago for $240,000 was being assessed as though it was a $120,000 property — until this year, when her assessment increased to $210,000.

“We probably have caught up with what the market has said the value should be,” McMahon said.

When the township submitted its assessments to the county in 2004, McMahon said, the county added a blanket 8 percent increase to assessments across the township, saying they needed to be higher.

This year, McMahon said he examined individual markets to determine how much houses were selling for, and adjusted assessments on individual properties accordingly.

“Those that have seen a significant increase have probably been under-assessed for who knows how long,” said West Dundee Village Manager Joe Cavallaro. “In all likelihood, they have not been paying their fair share for a long time.”

That may be little consolation to residents who are facing hefty tax-increase requests from school districts. Higher home assessments mean higher taxes even if the tax rate stays the same, so a tax-rate hike will pose an even bigger burden.

Carpentersville Trustee Paul Humpfer said he estimates having to pay $600 to $700 more in taxes next year, as his assessment increased 20 percent. He opted against appealing the assessment, however, when he realized it was a function of the market.

“I talked about contesting it, but I started asking around to see if mine was an anomaly, and I found everyone else is feeling the pain as well,” Humpfer said.

The assessor’s office received 90 appeals this year, McMahon said, up from an average of 30 to 75 complaints in previous years. The deadline to file an appeal was Jan. 3, and hearings begin next week.

McMahon noted the township has seen large assessment increases before, sometimes by as much as 50 percent.

But from Harney’s vantage point in the office next door to McMahon’s, this year’s protest is striking.

“I think it’s safe to say that there have been a lot of people here complaining,” Harney said.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The article below can be viewed at http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=141748 . Jeffrey Gaunt has done an outstanding job reporting on tax issues. It appears that District 300 has fallen for that small class size myth. More important than class size is teacher quality. Just below the story below is another story by Scott Reeder titled "Impact of Poor Teachers Cripples Students for Years" this story can be viewed at http://thehiddencostsoftenure.com/stories/?prcss=display&id=266542 . We would rather have our daughter in a class of 35 any-day with a great teacher than a class of 15 with a poor teacher. Suddenly dropping a class size will not improve child performance if the quality of the teacher is poor. A family is better off voting down a referendum and sending a child to Sylvan than spending money on a referendum that will do nothing to improve the quality of education a child receives.

After reading this post be sure to visit http://thehiddencostsoftenure.com and view all of Scott Reeders excellent series.

Plan caps some of struggling school’s classes at 15
By Jeffrey Gaunt
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2006

ADVERTISEMENT


Students at Community Unit District 300’s Carpentersville Middle School may get a lot more face time with teachers next year.

Under a proposal pitched Monday night to District 300 board members, the district would put a 15-student cap on math and English classes at the struggling school.

Students at Carpentersville Middle School have failed to meet state testing standards for five consecutive years — one of the longest streaks in the state.

As a result, district officials have to submit a state-mandated restructuring plan, which could range from state takeover of the school to replacing most of the school’s top officials.

If district officials fail to submit the plan, they would risk losing all the district’s federal funding — which amounts to roughly 7 percent of the budget, Superintendent Ken Arndt said.

So officials came up with the plan to lower class sizes — a move that would require about five additional teachers, Arndt said.

“We have to do everything we can to help the kids at CMS,” Arndt said. “They’ve made progress.”

But their progress hasn’t met state expectations, based on the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Arndt said.

Board members will now be asked to formally sign off on the new restructuring plan.

If they do, Arndt said, the challenge will be in figuring out where to find more teachers.

“Those additional teachers will have to come off the allocation we are planning for next year, regardless of the outcome of the referendum,” Arndt said.

Without approval of the district’s March request for a 55-cent tax-rate increase — needed to hire more teachers to handle expected enrollment increases — those teachers will have to come from other district schools, Arndt said.

“Other schools will have to deal with less,” Arndt said.

2nd Story

Impact of Poor Teachers Cripples Students for Years

Impact of poor teachers cripples students for years

By Scott Reeder, Small Newspaper Group Springfield Bureau

SPRINGFIELD – Heidi Sample sat on the floor of her parent’s sun porch amid birthday presents and chattering relatives and struggled to read aloud the birthday cards piled in front of her.

It was the sort of performance one might expect of a grade school student, but not of a freshman in high school, her mother Becky recalled.

As she listened to her daughter’s halting performance, she said she couldn’t help but wonder: “Would she be doing better now, if she had been taught more effectively earlier?”

Heidi has dyslexia, a learning disability that makes reading difficult.

Like all student/teacher relationships, instructor effectiveness is difficult to measure. But like 83 percent of Illinois school districts no tenured teacher in Riverdale School District, where Heidi attended, has been given an unsatisfactory evaluation in the last 11 years.

Heidi, who is now 19 and a high school graduate, reads much better now, after being taught in a different manner during her high school years, Becky Sample said.
Just as an effective teacher can change a child’s life for the better, weak teaching can also have profound and long-lasting effects.

“There is a commonly held belief that it all washes out in the end. But that is simply not the case. Our research has found that if a student has an ineffective teacher, a learning deficit can almost always be measured four years later – even if they have had several highly effective teachers afterwards,” said June Rivers, an education researcher at the software firm SAS.

Despite this evidence, there has been reluctance among state lawmakers, school administrators and union officials to hold underperforming teachers accountable.

In a 1996 study, Rivers and William Sanders, who were then employed at the University of Tennessee, tracked thousands of elementary students' test scores year-to-year and used them to rate teachers as "effective" or "ineffective."

Then, they tracked two random groups of similar students who happened to be assigned to either three good or three ineffective teachers in a row between third and fifth grade. The result: a 50-percentage-point difference over three years in the average test-score changes of the two groups, with kids who had the effective teachers doing better.

Parents of children from higher-income, better-educated families are often able to offset the impact of a mediocre teacher by helping their children study or by hiring a tutor. But for students from lower-income families these are often not options.

Further aggravating this problem is a tendency of administrators to move underperforming or otherwise unprofessional teachers to schools in poor neighborhoods.

The negative consequences of a teacher who fails to be effective cannot be under-estimated.

“The quality of the teacher in the classroom is the most important factor that a school district can control. It’s more important than class size or school facilities or even course offering,” said James Stronge, professor of education policy at the College of William and Mary.

Stronge, a national authority in teacher quality, said it is important to remember an ineffective teacher can harm a student for many years.

“Children aren’t born into the bottom of their class. There are reasons they are there. Let’s say, a child has a ineffective first grade teacher for a full year, he’ll enter the second grade unprepared and the cumulative effect is that he’ll be behind five or six years later.

Richard Manatt, a former professor of education at Iowa State University and a widely regarded expert in teacher evaluation, goes one step further.

“Some teachers actually suck knowledge right out of kids,” he said. “At first blush, it doesn’t make sense. But we’ve found that about 6 percent of students of ineffective teachers actually see their abilities drop. They get so turned off by a particular teacher and begin hating a subject so much that they actually will score lower on tests than at the beginning of the year.”

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The below column appeared at http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=142495. In response to this column I sent Amy Mack the following email.

Today's column is great at the end of your column you posed the following question...."And does anyone who speaks out risk facing similar treatment?"

The answer is YES. The referenda supporters behave in such a way that discourages people from speaking out. CRAFT has experienced numerous venomous reactions in our three years of fighting education referenda and for education reform in the State of Illinois. We even had a teacher wish ill will upon our than 5 month old daughter.

Within the next month CRAFT along with the Family Taxpayers Network in Carpentersville will be doing community meetings as to why people should not support the referenda for D-300 if it is anything like are past meetings you will see the venom fly than too. You are welcome to come. I will take as much as they are willing to dish out and keep taking it until our legislators improve the quality of education in the State of Illinois. The way that will be done is by reform and not spending more money on a terribly broken system.

Best Regards,

Cathy

Column

Amy Mack

Joining the fray

Amy responds to an angry reader who left no contact info

When I decided to jump into the Community Unit District 300 referendum debate, I knew some of you would be unhappy. Even if I managed to stay smack in the middle, it is clearly an emotional issue and one bound to stir strong feelings.

I’ve greatly enjoyed your input the past couple of weeks. But it seems I’ve riled at least one of you quite a bit.

A female caller left one of the nastiest voicemails I’ve ever received Wednesday morning. Apparently unhappy that I voiced a bit of opinion, this reader blasted me for not writing of the District 300 honors band concert this week and, instead, writing of an effort to get municipalities to back the ballot proposals. Since this caller left no contact information, I’m responding here.

What I do

I’m sorry if you were offended by my words. That’s never my intent. You said my job is to not editorialize. I’d like to clarify my role.

Unlike a reporter objectively covering a news story, I’m a columnist and am quite free to express my opinions and thoughts. In fact, my boss encourages me to.

I also try to let you know what’s going on in the community, things I think many of you would enjoy: a new restaurant to try; some intriguing political move; someone’s interesting story; the odd, the fun, the new, and, yes, the controversial.

Sometimes I hope to spur debate or discussion. As a columnist, I have the joy of deciding what I write and how I write it. My boss has the joy of using the delete key. Often.

In effect, you’re all my boss. Because if you don’t like what or how I write, you’ll let my boss know and he’ll decide this column is toast.

Looking for answers

Although I am not wearing a reporter’s hat, I think I’ve been very objective on District 300. Part of that, to be honest, is I don’t yet know where I stand on the measures. I am, like many of you, reading and listening and trying to sort through the information. As a voter, I need to do much research before I make up my mind.

As a columnist, I hope to reflect what’s out there. Everywhere I go I hear discussion of the issue. I’ve tried to share that with you.

In Wednesday’s column I noted that some municipalities feel they’ve been asked to take a stance, and I suggested that would be a risky political move given the heated debate I’m hearing. Connect300, by the way, says they were simply trying to let people know of their meetings, not asking for endorsements. They said another group, however, may have approached town leaders.

As I told them, some public officials felt they’ve been asked for support, and that’s what I wrote.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Does my job description permit me to weigh in on that? Absolutely. Does that mean you’ll agree? Of course not. We aren’t always going to agree — but who does? But we can certainly have reasoned, respectful discussions.

So far, despite that one caller, all who have written or called have been passionate but respectful. Some folks have been angry, but understanding that other people’s views might differ.

People on both sides have accused me of siding with the other … which is usually a pretty good way of telling me I’m in the middle.

Is this what we want?

Those who live and pay taxes in District 300 all share a community. No matter if voters approve or nix the ballot proposal, no matter where this columnist ultimately lands, we and our children will still be neighbors coping with whatever comes. Our homes’ value, our quality of life and our day-to-day enjoyment of one another will hinge on how we treat one another during this difficult debate.

You might wonder why I’d devote a whole column to one anonymous call. I’ll be honest. It frightened me to hear such venom. Is that what this referendum will bring? And does anyone who speaks out risk facing similar treatment?

How sad that would be.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Another Daily Herald writer hits one out of the ballpark. Great Job Chris Bailey. If you do not live in the Daily Herald readership area I strongly suggest you subscribe to the Daily Herald and have it mailed home. Their education pieces have been excellent.

This story appeared in the January 15th edition of the Daily Herald. Click on the post title to view the story at the Daily Herald website.

Bringing light to dark hours ahead no easy task for tax hike pushers
Chris Bailey
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2006

If the endless gray days haven’t already sent folks into a mid-winter funk, they should have no fear. Despair is just around the corner. The darkest hour for any taxpayer — referendum time — is upon us.

For the most part, the primary election on March 21 will be ignored by all but the most party-oriented or habitual voters, of which there are very few. The exceptions, of course, will be where voters are being asked to approve tax hike or bond sale requests for their school, fire, park or library districts.

That’s because most voters know they’re being asked to give more money to public servants who, by and large, already have it better than they do in terms of pay, pensions and health care benefits. And those who pay any attention to the numbers also recognize that such requests are coming from people proposing budgets and long-range plans that are not financially sustainable — unless taxpayers ante up again later.

If you think this is “all about the kids” or “all about public safety,” ask yourself who benefits from passage. And then ask who will be paying if the tax hike rejected.

The answer to the first question is “public servants.” The answer to the second is “students” or “consumers.” None of these proposed tax hikes will be accompanied by plans that freeze or control wages in any significant way or bring to an end the belief that the expense side of the ledger can grow forever without consequence. Few will be accompanied by serious attempts to control the growing health care or pension costs that are bankrupting governments everywhere. Some will actually ask to put more people on the government pension dole.

You will hear many heartfelt arguments about the need to remain “competitive” in the employment marketplace, but no one will be able to explain why community colleges require more and more students who come from those so-called competitive marketplaces to take remedial classes.

And then look at the consequences for non-approval of referendums. I am not among those who consider those explanations “threats,” but they do tell me who is serious and who isn’t. Athletics and extracurricular activities and gifted programs are drops in school budget buckets, for example. If they are at the top of the cut list, attempts to rein in spending aren’t serious, but simply dabbling in emotion.

Without wage controls, any serious attempt to restrain school expenditures must look seriously at the big, often bloated programs like special and bilingual education. Because of parental and political pressure, they are often far out of line with expenditures on other students and legal requirements.

Though Elgin School District U-46 is often maligned, it stands as proof that spending can be restrained. A few years ago it was buried in red ink — $60 million worth or so. It analyzed program costs and then acted decisively. It delayed opening four new schools and slashed hundreds of teachers, many of them in bilingual and special education programs, with little discernible negative impact. Without any referendums passing, it has halved its deficit, which now stands at less than $10 million, every year. Beyond that, its test scores are improving in most areas and it has involved its unions in attempts to scale back health-care expenditures. Though results in those areas are not yet worth wild celebration, there is no denying the numbers are moving in the right direction. Yes, the district has issued life-safety bonds that don’t require taxpayer approval but do affect tax bills. But at least that money goes toward the basics and the other gradual improvements show the expense side of the ledger can be restrained — with effort.

I’m guessing most upcoming referendums will fail for one of three reasons. Taxpayers will feel they can’t afford them. Taxpayers won’t trust those who’ve said one thing and done another. Or they will resent that increasing the revenue side of the ledger remains the first resort while little serious effort is expended to reduce the cost side. Anyone expecting the sun to be shining March 22 had better be prepared to address all three.

Go to http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=143447 to view this story online.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

These two letters appeared in the Daily Herald. Of course one is from CRAFT who is helping the Family Taxpayers Foundation on a volunteer basis. The letters can be viewed by going to the following link http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=143894. The link only lasts seven days so the letters are posted below. The Daily Herald has been better than most papers at presenting both sides please thank the paper.

Good example of Franklin’s ‘insanity’

This is in reference to the Dec. 8 front section, front page. On the upper right side, a teaser says, “Many in (School) District 300 want to pay more.” On the left side, a story says, “More community colleges requiring more students to take remedial courses” because they are “faced with a growing number of unprepared students.”

If there are “more people graduating from high school without basic skills,” as the story says, something must be wrong with the system. For years we have thrown ever-increasing amounts of money at this problem, and yet things are getting worse.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

It’s time to stop the insanity. Before we give any more money to schools, let’s figure out what’s wrong with public education in Illinois, and why it’s churning out so many young people in need of remedial classes.

Barbara Frank

Algonquin

District 300 voters deserve all numbers

Letter to the Editor District 300 is threatening 5.6 million dollars in cuts if the March referendums do not pass.

According to Superintendent Ken Arndt, these cuts are to include gifted education, special parochial bus routes, middle school exploratory classes, elementary music, and all sports and extracurricular activities.

Are these threats just to pass the referendums? According to the audit posted on the District 300 Web site, it has a $27 million deficit but also $35 million in the working cash fund. How convenient that the district touts the $27 million deficit but does not mention the $35 million surplus. It is time to stop playing with the numbers.

Could the push for the referendums because the teachers’ contract is about to expire? A review of salary increases on www.thechampion.org reveals

individuals getting as much as an 118 percent increase in salary over a period of six years, which averages out to 19 percent per year.

Clearly, if this school board was more responsible with salary increases, the March education referendum would not be needed. Despite these increases, I guarantee that come this spring and next fall, we will hear the teacher mantra that they are underpaid or do not get paid as much as teachers in neighboring communities.

School employees live cloistered lives, without an understanding of what people who actually pay their salaries make.

Cathy Peschke
Family Taxpayers Network
Carpentersville

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

This article appeared in the Daily Herald. A few notes about advanced300yes.com, the address to this website belongs to Richard and Donna Hendricks. We are assuming that Richard Hendricks is an administrator in Oak Lawn Schools who worked for District 214 in the past. Getting school administrators and teachers from other districts to promote a referendum is a tactic the many school districts use to get referendum passed.

As you know District 300 is comparing their salaries to salaries in surrounding districts. This is a tactic that involves parallel bargaining we at CRAFT like to call it the Crying Game aka Johnny Got More Than Me. This comparison game is a vicious circle to constantly keep raising teachers and administrators salaries.

http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=144234

Check out both sides of District 300 tax debate on the Internet
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2006


The sides are set. The lines are drawn.

And between now and the March 21 election, odds are you’ll be inundated with information about how to cast your votes for two tax requests in Community Unit School District 300.

Looking for more information?

Both the pro-tax and anti-tax groups now have Web sites up with all manner of information on teacher salaries, the effect of growth, budget cuts, the tax cap and more.

Advance 300, the pro-tax increase committee, launched their Web site over the weekend. Check it out at advance300yes.com.

The anti-tax crowd has two Web sites — that I know of — dedicated to defeating the March tax hikes. Links to more information can be found at www.noreferendum.org and www.thachampion.org.

If you are going to check out one Web site, let me suggest you look at them all.

I don’t vouch for any of the information the groups have posted. But I do think there’s something to be said for researching all sides of a debate.

If you have questions on anything you read, feel free to drop me a line. And if you know of other information folks should be made aware of, let me know.

Enjoy.

Internet not your thing? For the next six weeks, Connect 300, the citizen advisory group in District 300, will hold informational sessions on the upcoming tax votes.

The first one is scheduled for this Thursday at Hampshire High School. Next week’s meeting will be held at Carpentersville Middle School.

All of the sessions start at 7 p.m.

Again, I have no idea what you’ll hear at these meetings. My guess is you’ll get much the same information you see on the Web sites — the effect of proposed budget cuts, anticipated class sizes and so forth.

The anti-tax group will be holding their own meetings later this month.

I’ll let you know as soon as I have more information.

And finally: Congratulations to the eighth-grade band at District 300’s Westfield Community School.

The band is one of two middle school groups invited to perform later this month at the three-day Illinois Music Educators Association All-State Conference in Peoria.

If you would like your own chance to hear the band play, they’ll be performing for the community at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26 in the Westfield gym, 2100 Sleepy Hollow Road, Algonquin.

They’ll then give the same performance for their classmates during a middle school assembly the following day.

Good luck to everyone involved.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The below letter to the editor appeared in the Northwest Herald at http://www.nwherald.com/MainSection/opinion/172225893513509.php

Skeptics are not villains
[published on Wed, Jan 18, 2006]
To the Editor:

Every time "Freedom of Speech" meets "The Bully of Censorship," I wonder if I still live in America.

School tax increase referendum campaigns get ugly. Some referendum supporters disdainfully tell you that there's nothing to debate or question.

They don't want people or groups (with correct or incorrect rebuttals) from outside district boundaries to talk or help the local opposition understand the political games, agendas and facts. People who don't completely accept the "yes" argument become a created "enemy" where no enemy truly exists.

Fine, loving people get labeled as "anti-child." Outspoken movers and shakers such as Paul Revere and "The Magnificent Seven," simply aren't welcome. District 158's taxpayers and children are paying dearly for those attitudes and tactics while Springfield ponders corrective legislation.

Verbal attempts to stop people who question or oppose upcoming referendums (such as those scheduled in District 300) have begun.

Wherever you live, demand to vote on the whole truth.

Every time someone tells you to not listen, not learn, not question, or not think about a different viewpoint, remember this: No one is your friend who expects or demands your ignorance or your silence. No one.

Bill Seedorf
Huntley


A note about outsiders.
“What right do ‘outsiders’ have to speak about our referenda?”

1. 1st Amendment
2. Facts are facts, regardless of presenter’s home address.
3. Classic Sophist trick: “When you can’t attack the facts, attack the speaker.”
4. Teachers organize on both State and Federal levels. There is an Illinois Association of School Boards, and a statewide Superintendent’s association. Why shouldn’t taxpayers organize?
5. Every citizen of the State of Illinois has a direct financial interest in District 300 since it receives State funds.
6. Every citizen of the United States has a direct financial interest in District 300 since it receives Federal funds.
7. Every person on Earth has a direct interest in District 300 because we all have a stake in education.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

This appeared in the Daily Herald at http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=144272 .

Exaggeration simply cannot be tolerated

The sky is falling! Or so District 300’s student enrollment projections would have you believe.

Before its referendum, Huntley School District 158 projected 1,329 additional students attending school this year. Actual enrollment was 558 fewer.

A few years ago, District 158 projected 10,000 students this year. The actual number is 3,000 fewer.

A District 300 paid consultant’s report uses 1996 statistics (Appendix A-6) to state an unrealistic enrollment projection may happen in five years. District 300 then transformed this into a “will happen” cornerstone of its financial referendum plans.

Unrealistic enrollment projections generate unrealistic needs for too much money. Here’s how they can be used to easily manipulate a school district’s financial projections.

State payments to a district for a student’s actual attendance lag by a year. Assume District 300’s rapid increase of 1,440 students per year (7,200/5 = 1,440).

This will automatically generate a deficit. How? By showing the expenses of educating 1,440 kids, but without the general state aid for their attending school that year. It’s a recipe for instant financial crisis.

Three reasons it’s extremely likely District 300’s student population won’t increase by 7,200 in the next five years: the new homes won’t be instantly built and occupied. Mothers won’t give birth to 5-year-olds ready to enter school in those new homes.

District 300’s average daily attendance in 2004-2005 increased by 46 students (independent auditor’s report pg. 60). How believable is a 46 student attendance increase one year and a 1,440 student explosion the next year?

Administrators who use Chicken Little-like numbers to exaggerate and manipulate financial projections should be expelled from their school districts.

There should be a zero tolerance policy toward irresponsible administrators getting parents and children unnecessarily riled up. Irresponsible exaggerations from top school administrators, however rationalized, shouldn’t be tolerated.

Aileen Seedorf
Huntley

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

A number of District 300 parents are saying that their children are coming home upset because of teachers telling them programs will be cut if the referendums do not pass. This is not only election interference but unethical. Children should not be used as political pawns. If this is happening a parent should contact Dr. Kenneth M. Arndt, Superintendent Phone: (847) 426-1300 Ext. 308 Email: karndt@d300.kane.k12.il.us and ask him to tell the teachers to stop this practice immediately. They should also file a complaint with the school board at board_ed@fserver.d300.kane.k12.il.us.

Here is some information about election interference.

Below is a copy of the Election Interference Act. Many school districts in northern Illinois may have committed violations of this Act during the last election. CRAFT is working to provide local and State authorities with evidence of Election Interference.

If you find your office violating this Act contact your States Attorneys Office. If they fail to respond, contact Lisa Madigan and the Board of Elections. CRAFT is eager to assist any citizen in presenting an Election Interference case to the authorities.


Election Interference Act

(10 ILCS 5/9-25.1) Sec. 9-25.1. Election interference. (a) As used in this Section, "public funds" means any funds appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly or by any political subdivision of the State of Illinois. (b) No public funds shall be used to urge any elector to vote for or against any candidate or proposition, or be appropriated for political or campaign purposes to any candidate or political organization. This Section shall not prohibit the use of public funds for dissemination of factual information relative to any proposition appearing on an election ballot, or for dissemination of information and arguments published and distributed under law in connection with a proposition to amend the Constitution of the State of Illinois. (c) The first time any person violates any provision of this Section, that person shall be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. Upon the second or any subsequent violation of any provision of this Section, the person violating any provision of this Section shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Examples of Interference
1. Sending home "vote yes" materials with your children.
2. Presenting "vote yes" information to the children at the schools.
3. Using school funds to encourage a yes vote.
4. Putting on a presentation at the school and asking for a yes vote.
5. Providing false information in referendum material.
6. Calling members of the community who oppose the referendum into your office on school time and trying to persuade them to vote yes for the referendum.
7. Posting "yes" materials in the school.

The above list is not exhaustive if you have questions please feel free to contact us.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Www.advance300yes.com has changed their contact information on their website from the address in Sleepy Hollow to an address in Carpentersville. We have not been able to identify the address in Carpentersville and the site is now using a P.O. Box. Why the change and why the secrecy? The voters know the names of the person who run the opposition sites the voters should know the names and the funding for those promoting the referenda. If teachers or administrators are promoting the referendum the voters have a right to know this information.

Just take a look back at the Daily Herald article above titled "Bringing light to dark hours ahead no easy task for tax hike pushers." by Chris Bailey

Inside Unions. The two letters below were from District 211 obtained before lasts years election. There are two reasons for posting the letters. We want to show you how the unions in different districts work to raise your taxes and the mentality of the union members. The address change above that I discussed reminded me of these letters.

What follows is an actual email sent to union membership.

March 8, 2005

Dear Colleagues,

As president of this Union I would like to thank every staff member who is volunteering their time by walking precincts, telephone canvassing, working with data entry, presenting community outreach presentations and any other work that I may have forgotten to mention here. Your tireless efforts are not going unnoticed and are greatly appreciated. As you know we must maintain our momentum and continue to work hard through the election if success is to be attained.

I would also ask that you stay focused on the issue at hand, which is passage of the referendum. The proposed budget cuts for 2005-2006 are of great concern to all of us. However, we cannot afford to splinter or divide our union or our district over this issue now. As I have throughout this campaign, I am asking everyone to put any personal views concerning these proposed cuts aside, and to work together with parents, community members, administrators and staff towards a successful result.

At his time I thought it appropriate to provide a general update on the referendum effort, along with some reminders of upcoming events.

Teacher's Union
1. I met with the President and the executive Board for the District 54 Teacher's Association on Tuesday, March 8, 2005. I presented our case and provided some clarification concerning our contract and benefit package. The Board members seemed satisfied with my comments. I made myself available for any future questions they might have.

2. I agreed to a collaboration with the District 54 and the District 15 teachers on a mass mailing effort. We agreed that they would assist us in our referendum campaign and in return we would support the candidates for the school board they are recommending.

3. I am meeting with the local labor coalition for the Eighth District in Illinois at the Local 1211 office on Wednesday, March 16, 2005. Because of their size and the number of members they have in the area, their support is crucial to our efforts. Please continue to support all union workers whenever and wherever possible.

4. We will be assembling telephone canvassing lists and mass mailing labels
at the Local 1211 office sometime in the next two weeks. We will need volunteers to assist on this project. Please contact me if you are available.

5. Gary Wilson (Treasurer) is in the process of applying to the I.F.T. and the A.F.T. for the additional C.O.P.E. funds we are now eligible for. Thank you for your donations, the additional money will make a difference.

Fundraising
1. Our fundraising efforts have been quite successful. I am proud and
pleased to report that the staff and faculty has been responsible for a large portion of the funds that have been collected. Donations from the staff are still being collected in the buildings. If you wish to donate, please send your donation to Gary Wilson at FHS (make checks payable to Local 1211, C.O.P.E.) or see the fundraising representative in your building.

2. Toscano's Restaurant 704 Euclid Avenue, Palatine, will be hosting a
second fundraiser on Monday, March 15, 2005, 5:30 PM - 9:00 PM. There
will be appetizers, a wine tasting event, an artwork auction and a cash bar.

3. I would especially like to thank those who have contributed thus far.

Voter Mobilization
1. Signs and tri-fold brochures are completed and are available through the Voter Mobilization representatives in your building. See your representatives about availability and distribution.

2. Because we are trying to emphasize a grass roots approach to this campaign, the buildings have established deadlines and/or checkpoints for voter registration, voter canvassing, "Tell 10" cards, etc. Remember to check with the Voter Mobilization representatives in your building for your respective deadlines and/or checkpoints.

3. Over the last few weeks, several teams of people traveled to colleges and universities throughout Illinois to provide information about the referendum to alumnus from our schools.

4. Several members of our staff have been providing information and
answering questions to former D211 students currently enrolled at Harper College.

5. Please remember to follow-up with the people who were not home when you called or canvassed by calling them again or by revisiting their home.

6. The voting mobilization thus far has been wonderful, please do not slow down. Opponents to our efforts will now begin to emerge, which means your efforts are needed more now than before. Keep it up.

Data Management
1. The Data Management committee has been working diligently to provide us with updated lists of people supporting the referendum.

2. Please continue to comply with any requests they have concerning data gathering and/or reporting.

3. Remember, their consistent efficiency will provide all of us with a clear and effective mobilization effort.

Community Outreach
1. Presentations have been given throughout the district, and more are scheduled. The community outreach representatives have done a remarkable job providing information that is clear and on message.

2. Please remember to contact the community outreach representative in your building if you are aware of a group, subdivision, neighborhood, company, etc. that wishes to host a meeting/presentation. The people making the presentations and the materials being distributed, are objective and informative. Be sure to use them.

Marketing
1. The marketing committee has been hard at work preparing informational
materials for the general public . Signs, brochures and flyers have been prepared and either have been, or are currently being distributed to the building committees for circulation. Please be patient, everyone has been working hard to meet the requests from each building.

2. Please remember, use discretion when circulating/distributing these materials. Although our goal is to circulate as much of this information as possible, we don't want materials being thrown away or wasted.

3. Please return any unused materials to the proper committee representatives in each building.

Thank you again for the fine work you are doing.

In Unity,
John Braglia
President,
District 211 Teacher's Union

What follows is an actual email sent from an unamed union teacher to other union teachers.

I just got back from a nice restaurant that happens to be within the boundaries of our district. It's been a rough week. Grading papers, attending meetings, helping kids, calling parents, dealing with kids who for some reason just can't seem to get excited about direct object pronouns... juggling my family responsibilities...we all know the routine. So I treated myself to a nice T-bone steak and a glass of wine. My son had his favorite strawberry cheesecake dessert and my wife had her club sandwich which she loves (but probably knows at the same time it off-sets the cost of the steak!) We paid our bill and as always we left a nice tip for the waitress because we know what it is like to work in a sometimes thankless job. The best part of the meal, and something for which I never take for granted, is paying the bill without blinking an eye. This is a luxury I can afford now and then thanks to being a part of District 211 and our union local 1211.

This started to make me think about all of the other employees in our district from teachers and administrators to support staff and custodians. Has anyone thought about how much money we spend in our community? Groceries, restaurants, gas...not to mention Starbucks!!!

It seems to me that in addition to "taking money from our community" in the form of taxes to support our programs, we also give a lot back to the community economy. If the referendum fails, there will be less money. There will be RIFs. Yes our programs will suffer, and our kids will suffer. My question is does the local business community realize that they too will suffer? After all, hamburger is a lot cheaper than steak! Would it not be a good idea for those of us who spend money on a daily basis within district 211 to seek the support of the businesses we patronize?

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

We now know who in part is running Advance300. We also know they are reading our materials and reacting to our materials.

Another case of reverse Robin Hood wealthy people pushing the referenda on working class families. Developers who earned millions upon million of dollars adding houses without providing the funds for new schools. As usual the pushers of referenda have something to gain. The architect says his donation is not a conflict of interest but if the building referenda passes his company will make money off the deal. Are we to believe he will work for free.

The people who lived in District 300 for years have already paid for the schools. The developers and the new residents should have been responsible to pay for the new schools through impact fees and deals with the city when these developments were being planned.

These millionaires have the power of money, you have something much more powerful the power of your ability to vote as an American. Stop the reverse Robin Hood referenda vote "No" March 21st.

To the "no" voters do not be discouraged. The great thing about all the "yes" materials being sent out is that they remind "no" voters to get out the vote. Essentially they are advertising the referenda for you.

These people will invest $153,000 and they will take millions of dollars from you and your middle class neighbors in District 300. This money could be put to much better use in some school districts $153,000 is the entire extra-curricular budget.

The story below appeared in the January 20th, 2006 edition of the Northwest Herald at http://www.nwherald.com/CommunitySection/352982828658812.php .

Movers, shakers back D-300 referendums
[published on Fri, Jan 20, 2006]


WEST DUNDEE – About 25 builders and real-estate agents met Thursday at Randall Oaks Golf Club to discuss a $153,000 campaign to get the two District 300 referendums to pass in March.

They were joined by village officials from Algonquin, West Dundee, and Hampshire. Superintendent Ken Arndt called it an unprecedented coalition.

"This is an inaugural event," Arndt said at a luncheon. "For more than five years, we've been trying to get the movers and shakers of our community together ... and really talk seriously about our future."

The builders said their industry could take a big hit if home buyers did not continue to perceive District 300 schools as strong.

If the referendums fail March 21, the school board has pledged split shifts at the high schools; fewer electives; and the districtwide elimination of sports, extracurricular groups, and more.

But the builders and real-estate agents said their funding of the marketing effort was as much about giving back as taking in.

Alan Scimeca of Lakeland Development, which has projects in Algonquin and other District 300 communities, spearheaded the outreach to area builders.

"When I called people to join in this, nobody ever said how it would affect their wallets," Scimeca said. "It was all about the effect on the kids. It's far less financial for us than critics might believe."

The developers represented many of those already booked to build 15,000 new homes in the Carpentersville-based district. The homes are projected to bring 7,200 additional students by 2011. Combined with limited state funding for education, the growth prompted the district to seek a pair of referendums for four new schools, several additions and renovations, and 408 more teachers.

The campaign money, administered by the Advance 300 citizens group, will pay for an office, mailings, T-shirts, yard signs, TV and radio ads, and possibly even billboards.

Charles Burnidge of the Elgin-based Burnidge & Cassell Architects, would be designing the new schools that a successful $185 million bond issue would allow. Burnidge said his campaign donation was not a conflict of interest.

"If the developers who are benefiting from the schools, and myself, are not philanthropic, then that's wrong," he said. "We all benefit from providing the best quality public education we can."

Advance 300 launched a Web site this week, www.advance300yes.com, and already has spent thousands to research the district's 54,000 registered voters.

"It's tough enough to get one 'yes' in this climate. A double 'yes' takes a world-class effort," said Doug Sibery, Advance 300 co-founder.

Nancy Zettler, also with Advance 300, said her camp faced well-financed opposition.

"We really need everybody to step up to the plate with big money," she said, "so we can really drive our message home."

By ALLISON L. SMITH
asmith@nwherald.com

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

P.O. Box address off the site. HMMMM?

There is nothing wrong with self interest but the teachers and administrators need to admit this fact. They should not pretend it is for the children.

Cheryl Crates at a meeting regarding the referendum stated in the Northwest Herald. "And the tax cap limits our revenue to just the rate of inflation."

Yes this is a problem when salary increases far exceed inflation. From 1998 - 2004 the CPI went up 16%.
Examples of some salary increases for that same period include Craig Zieleniswki 116%, Douglas Wright 102%, Robert Whitehouse 92%, Joyce Westenberg 79.9%, Randall Valdivia 68.23%. The list goes on you can review these increases at www.thechampion.org they obtain their salary information from the Illinois State Board of Education.

This school has a spending problem, if salary increases were in line with inflation they would not have a problem. If this referendum passes they will have to come to the voters again for a tax increase if they keep raising salaries in this manor. The teachers contract expires this year. What guarantee do the voters have that D-300 will be more responsible with their money?

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Questions to ask D - 300 referenda promoters.

1. How will you balance the budget if these referenda fail?

2. How come the cost of education is going up so much faster than the cost of living?

3. Some teachers received over a 100% pay increase over six years. How do you expect people in the community to afford the referenda when their salaries went up about 3% per year and even less if you have social security?

4. If the referendum does pass do you promise to balance the budget and never come again to the public for another referendum?

5. If you plan on coming to us again for a referendum when will that be?

6. 15% of the population does not have health insurance and the rest of the working population pays in part for their own insurance and as much as 100% of their families’ premiums. What percentage of their insurance premiums do teachers and administrators pay for themselves and their families?

7. Does this plan to spend more money include class size reduction? If so do the teachers plan to take a proportionate pay cut for the reduction in workload?

8. The tax cap limits property tax increases to the consumer price index (CPI) or 5%; whichever is lower. For 2004 to 2005 the consumer price index went up 3%. Why do you want an increase larger than the CPI?

9. Are you trying to raise our state taxes as well as our property taxes? In other words do you support an increase in income taxes to support schools?

10. If a referendum passes, when will the tax be collected?

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

District 300 is promoting a reduction in class-sizes to 15 if the education referendum passes.

Studies show that reducing class size does not improve performance as shown in this study discussed below.

Let's Re-think the Class-Size Amendment
by Dom Armentano

Dom Armentano is an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute and lives in Florida.

Most of the public policy world is ruled by warm and fuzzy myths. Take the important issue of class size and student achievement. Florida is in the process of mandating smaller class size on the assumption, presumably, that students will learn more in smaller classes with more teacher attention. Sounds good, but is it generally true?

There have been close to 300 separate studies nation-wide on the relationship between class size and student achievement. Professor Eric Hanushek, an economist at the University of Rochester, reviewed these studies and discovered that only 15% of them suggest that reducing class size improves student learning as measured by standardized tests. Indeed, in 72% of the studies reviewed, there was no statistically significant effect on measurable student achievement associated with smaller classes. Even more surprisingly, in 13% of the studies reviewed, student test scores actually declined as class size was reduced. In sum, a full 85% of all of the studies on class size and student achievement found that reducing class size did not improve student performance.

None of this should really surprise anyone since, contrary to conventional wisdom, the nationwide average class size has actually been falling for decades (it was 30 students per class in 1961 and only 23 students per class in 1998); yet there has been no overall improvement in student classroom performance nationwide as measured by standardized tests. In short, class size may not generally matter (or may not matter much) in terms of how your daughter or my son actually performs in public school. To view the complete article go to http://www.cato.org/dailys/08-10-03.html.

Jim's response to District 300.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines "Featherbedding" as "The practice of requiring an employer to hire more workers than are needed." They could have clarified this definition by adding the
footnote "See 'Class Size Reduction'" or by linking to the D-300 website.

Featherbedding, whether in railroads or school districts, creates an artificial demand for workers, drives up salaries, and dramatically increases operating costs. Class size reduction featherbedding is hardly needed in D-300, as teacher salary and per-pupil spending
increases already exceed inflation.

In this climate of waste, D-300 has the audacity to ask homeowners to reach deeper into their pocketbooks with two spring referenda. They'll blame growth, state mandates, and anything else that helps voters
ignore the double-digit increases in teacher and administrator salaries. They want to shock you with projections of enrollment growth yet ignore the extra revenue such growth produces.

D-300 doesn't need more money. Their willingness to spend on a discredited class size reduction fad proves it. D-300 doesn't deserve more money. Their 45% per-pupil spending increase over 7 years proves
it.

Residents of D-300, when you lie down on your spring mattress tonight, ask yourselves if you want to pay higher taxes to stuff the featherbeds in D-300. Parents, ask yourselves "Who will best use my money to
benefit my child, myself or the government schools?"

Vote NO in March. Imagine how much good you can do for your child with the money you'll save.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The following story appeared in the Courier News newspaper on January 23, 2006.

It all comes down to money

• D300 referendum: Seniors who oppose tax increase say they can't afford it

By Christine S. Moyer
STAFF WRITER

Guy Nastasi, 75, of Algonquin, is worried about how he will be able to pay his property taxes if Community Unit School District 300's referendums are approved March 21.

Turning away from the bingo table at the Dundee Township Park District Senior Center, Nastasi laid out his financial predicament. High gasoline costs, expensive heating bills and a social security check stretched so thin it may not be able to cover a property tax increase.

And it's not just senior citizens who are considering voting down the district's referendums for financial reasons, according to Nastasi.

"No matter how many people you talk to, it comes down to money," he said.

According to some senior citizens on fixed incomes and district residents with tight budgets, financing a property tax increase would not be easy and, in some cases, not even possible.

Among them is West Dundee resident Kathleen Jacobs who lost her job in August, around the same time her husband was laid off.


Now Jacobs, who has two children in college, is considering moving out of the district if the referendums pass in order to dodge the rising property taxes.

Then there are area residents like Jeanine Michie, a senior citizen living in West Dundee, who is torn between the far-reaching budget cuts that would affect her two granddaughters in District 300 schools if the referendums fail, and her own pocket.

"I'm really torn. I'm on a fixed income," Michie said, surrounded by her friends nodding in agreement at the senior center. "And this isn't just me. It's a general feeling of senior citizens."

As alternative solutions to District 300's problems, those seniors interviewed suggested parents pay more money for their children to participate in extracurricular activities and that district administrators and teachers give up pay raises for a few years.

In the past, District 300 officials have referred to their teacher's salaries as "around the average" of the schools in the Large Unit School District Association.

According to district figures, the average annual salaries of District 300 teachers with bachelor's degrees and 10 and 20 years of experience — about $39,916 — is slightly below that of teachers with comparable experience at other large unit schools.

Those District 300 teachers who have their master's degree and are at the top of the district's pay scale make an average annual salary — ranging from roughly $50,000 to $87,000 — which is slightly more than that of teachers with comparable experience at other large unit schools.

"It's a hardship. I worry about the taxes," Nastasi said as he waited for the Friday afternoon bingo game to begin.

"The kids are getting cheated (if cuts are made) ... But I don't know. It's a questionable situation."

How much you'll pay

Here's a look at homes and their property tax increases should voters in Community Unit School District 300 approve an education fund tax rate increase:

Market value / tax increase*

$150,000 / $248

$200,000 / $339

$250,000 / $431

$350,000 / $614

$450,000 / $798


*Assumes homeowner has applied for and is receiving the $5,000 Homeowner Exemption.

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Courier News newspaper on January 23, 2006.

D300 sloppy in reporting its financial data


How careful are School District 300's superintendent and financial people when they submit financial statements and report the district's finances? You decide.
When D300's official financial information shows monies in the billions instead of millions, shouldn't it be easy for officials to spot such obvious errors? D300 submitted a "Management's Discussion and Analysis" section for inclusion in its recent independent auditor's report. The following three items are on page 9, under "Budgetary Highlights":

• Working Cash Fund: Anticipated increasing its fund balance by $75,073 million.

• Educational Fund: Additional revenues resulted in an actual current-year balance of $447.5 million.

• Operations & Maintenance Fund: Additional revenues resulted in an actual current-year balance of $359.9 million.


Together, these gaffes total more than $75 billion. They're obviously not even reading their own reports, and they certainly weren't expecting taxpayers like me to read them.

Did D300's independent auditor think billions was correct when it included D300's information in the official audit report?

D300's administrators confidently reported the wrong financial facts to their auditor. D300's lack of financial oversight and the presentation of erroneous referendum "facts" demonstrate that confidence and competence are not the same.

John Biver
Carpentersville

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The below story appeared in the Courier News newspaper. I know some will not shed a tear that Ms. Rafanello will be leaving the board. Some felt that she had a conflict of interest because she was associated with PMA Financial Network. PMA has earned millions of dollars contracting with schools and other public entities, they often tell schools that they need more money and than donate funds to pro-referendum groups in order for schools to get more money. PMA Financial is one of the many organizations that has popped up because of the cash cow that the public schools have become for groups like this.

Our guess is that this will probably not be the last that we hear from Ms. Rafanello. Now that she is no longer a board member she is free to push the referendum as much as she likes without worry of an ethics violation. It is our hope that Ms. Rafanello suddenly realized that the schools truly do not need money and she felt guilty about what she was doing and now was going to speak out about the referendum.


D300 board member resigns

By Christine S. Moyer
STAFF WRITER

CARPENTERSVILLE — Linda Rafanello, a board member for Community Unit School District 300, officially resigned from the board of education during Monday night's meeting, with more than one year remaining in her term.

Rafanello did not attend Monday's board meeting. However, her letter of resignation — dated Jan. 23 — was read by board secretary Anne Miller.

In the letter, Rafanello said the decision to resign came after "some serious soul searching" and that it was a result of an increasing demand from her personal and professional life, which made attending all the board meetings difficult.

Rafanello was appointed to the District 300 board of education in November 2004 to fill a vacant seat. In April 2005, Rafanello was elected to complete the remaining two years of the term.

To view the complete story go to http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/couriernews/city/3_1_EL24_A3D300_S1.htm .

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

I sent this response to a reporter in response to D - 300 school board members statement "Small class sizes produce much better results."

Dear Christine,

I read your article today titled "D300 OKs plan for CMS." In your article school board member Kopacz said. "Small class sizes produce much better results." This statement was made without supporting facts. Here are some facts "There have been close to 300 separate studies nation-wide on the relationship between class size and student achievement. Professor Eric Hanushek, an economist at the University of Rochester, reviewed these studies and discovered that only 15% of them suggest that reducing class size improves student learning as measured by standardized tests. Indeed, in 72% of the studies reviewed, there was no statistically significant effect on measurable student achievement associated with smaller classes. Even more surprisingly, in 13% of the studies reviewed, student test scores actually declined as class size was reduced. In sum, a full 85% of all of the studies on class size and student achievement found that reducing class size did not improve student performance." To view the article go to http://www.cato.org/dailys/08-10-03.html

More facts about class size "Class Size - The National Education Association (NEA) supports limiting classes to 15 or fewer students, based on an experiment conducted in the 1980s in which students from kindergarten to third grade were randomly assigned to one of three types of classes: about 25 students with one teacher; 25 students with a teacher and an aide; or 15 students and one teacher. The study found students in the small classes had slightly better test scores, and 3 percent more of them took the SAT or ACT than their peers in larger classes.
However, Greene notes, the test-score improvement was a one-time benefit, meaning "students who had been in smaller classes for four years were no further ahead of their peers in regular-sized classes than they had been after only one year of smaller classes."

Harvard University professor Caroline Hoxby calculates the cost of a 10 percent class-size reduction to be $615 per student. To reduce classes to 15 students, they would have to shrink 37.5 percent--at a cost of $2,306. Greene concludes, "even if all the claims made to promote the Class Size Myth were right, improving student performance by reducing class sizes is a little bit like driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco by way of Pittsburgh." To view the complete story go to http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=18237 .

One last must read abcnews.go.com/2020/Stossel/story?id=1500338 .

Just an FYI for District 300 from 1990 - 2004, total revenues up 252%, properties taxes up 314%, average daily attendance up 52%, revenues per student 132%, and inflation 44%. Their spending and revenues far exceed the rate of inflation and it is not enough. When will they control spending? This school has a spending problem not a funding problem.


Here is what smaller class sizes do... Increases per-student cost of running a school. Creates an artificial shortage of education labor and materials.
Compels construction of unneeded school buildings.

District 300 could reduce class sizes by having their teachers, teach more classes during the day. If I remember correctly 41% of the teachers in District 300 have two classes periods off a day. If these teachers were teaching during this time class sizes would be smaller without passing a referendum.

Cathy Peschke
Co-founder

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

A parent who gets it, how wonderful! It is not the amount of money spent on education but the quality of the program and the quality of the teacher that is in the best interest of school children. The LTE below appeared in the Daily Herald on January 26th, 2006.

Lack of basics fuels reluctant ‘no’ vote

After reading all the letters about the upcoming District 300 referendum, I wanted to tell our family’s experience with the district.

My son started first grade in one of the district’s newer schools, built after an approved tax increase.

During his next three years there he learned how to read and write using the district’s approved “whole language” approach, which disregards the formal learning of phonics and with no formal spelling lessons.

He did finally have a spelling program in third grade, but even then, his teacher — a longtime veteran of the district — told me she and other teachers did not understand how it worked.

The district’s usage of these programs in no way helped my son develop the crucial life skills of being able to effectively read, write and spell.

The final straw came for us when my son was in third grade.

He brought home practice tests to take in preparation for the ISATs. Is this not teaching the tests, even if it’s in the guise of “homework?”

Should not the district be more concerned with correctly teaching the basics in the first place, instead of using clearly unworkable teaching pedagogues?

My son is now in fourth grade, but in a private school within the district’s boundaries. Upon his taking his placement tests there, it was determined he literally had to relearn how to read and spell.

Fortunately for us, his teachers there took the time and effort to help him get up to speed, something the district, with all its reading and teaching “resources,” apparently never did.

Five months after starting there, he has made more progress both academically and socially than in the four years he was in District 300.

I realize we have many needs in the district, we have many fine teachers and there are many factors that have combined in a “perfect storm” to put this district, and many others into the binds they are in.

But as a parent, I am profoundly disappointed by this district’s decisions as to what and how to teach their students.

No amount of money will fix District 300’s problems if the district fails in its mission to properly educate our children. With this in mind, I will reluctantly be voting “no” on March 21.

When it came to my son’s education, I received a poor return on my investment.

Elizabeth Marshall
Carpentersville

The letter below is from someone who does not understand the problems of our current education system and who has not done her homework. Mr. Snow and her so called "critics" pursue education accountability and education reform throughout the year not just at election time. This LTE appeared in the Northwest Herald on January 26th, 2006.

Re: Larry Snow's Jan. 5 letter.
Referendums seem to be gatherings of critics.

"Blow it up and let someone else fix it" is the main message I get from those against the referendums. I am surprised that someone has not suggested outsourcing education to India.

What's amazing is the number of critics who disappear between referendums. Where are these people, working with the school district to help it change?

If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.

For those who claim no district cuts will be made, put your money where your mouth is.

Larry Snow, you ask for full disclosure. Where is District 158's financial information on your district's Web site? Or is this, "Do as I say, not as I do"?

Lynnae Odden
Algonquin

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The letter to the editor below appeared in the Courier News newspaper on January 27, 2006.

Keep saying 'yes' and they'll just ask for more

The hundred or so school districts whining for money this time around need to live within their means. If they're not continually told "no," the tax increases will be unending.
At a Jan. 13 information session, the School District 300 chief financial officer said, "if both D300 referenda pass, there will be no more (referendum requests) for five years."

Five years? Raise your taxes to the bejeezus belt and five years later, they'll come begging for more?

The D300 CFO also moaned about the tax cap and how much it had "cost" D300. Between 1998 and 2005, D300's property assessments increased 38 percent, while the consumer price index rose only 19 percent. D300 property taxes would have risen twice the amount they did had there been no tax cap.

But D300 spent as if there was no tax cap. In that same time frame, average teacher and administrative salaries rose 39 percent and 43 percent, respectively. Could that have anything to do with why D300 is out of money now?

More of this is what a "yes" vote will get you. Don't be bamboozled into thinking it's "for the kids."

Well, what can you expect when government not only bestows a monopoly, but tries to do the job itself?

The worst part is who it hurts the most: our country's future generations.

Chris Jenner
Cary

The letter to the editor below appeared in the Daily Herald.

Who really has the vested interest here?

The recent letter from Stuart Haughee accused me of using biased, self-serving and incorrect information in my earlier letter about the District 300 referendum.

Since our Web site, www.thechampion.org, is presented by the Family Taxpayers Foundation, he accuses me of “using oneself as a source.”

Information found on our Web site showing teacher salaries is received from the State Board of Education which, incidentally, will refer inquiries to our Web site as a matter of convenience and accuracy.

Haughee accuses us of being “a vested interest” while he presents himself as only altruistic. However, his wife is a teacher making $61,036 a year.

Not bad, but not near the “bloated salaries” of the many reaching over $100,000 a year. Is he biased? Maybe not, but it is nice to have a household income in six figures and a wife whose job and hours coincide with their children’s schedule.

One of the benefits of a teaching job is the required six-hour day and 180-day yearly attendance. Also, consider the retirement pay at 75 percent of final salary. Similar career teachers retire at age 55 or 60 receiving over $60,000, which goes up 3 percent each year.

Haughee’s accusation of “self serving” opens up the issue of who gets the taxpayers money in the education referendum. It’s not the kids.

Does Haughee know that we support the present referendum for Elgin Community College? Does he know I invested over $500,000 to start a charter school in District 59 for students not served well by that district?

Has he ever looked at Otto Engineering’s involvement in the community? Come by and see our site on the Fox River. We could also tell him of our many other costly initiatives to rehab the larger community.

He argues that the salaries they seek to increase in the upcoming referendum, are only 61 percent, not more than 80 percent of the budget. Unfortunately, he compares it to a summary of all funds, not the education fund that is the subject of the referendum.

In fact, District 300 is seeking more tax money for the fund that pays the already large salaries that are the cause of the deficits that frustrate all other cost cutting efforts.

Haughee should shift his indignation to the District 300 Board and its staff. They are threatening to punish the community with loss of sports, music, etc., if we don’t vote for their pockets.

The board won’t get the money, but they are responsible for the excessive union contract that continues to exacerbate the problems with District 300 finances.

Jack Roeser, president
Family Taxpayers Foundation
Chairman, founder
Otto Engineering
Carpentersville

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

This piece appeared in the Courier News Newspaper on January 29th, 2006.

Here's a little ditty about the D300 referendum


Regarding the School District 300 referendum, the amount they want from taxpayers: $185 million (for the school construction bond issue) and 55 cents/$100 (education tax rate increase); crawling in bed with local realtors and builders to finance (pro-referendum) propaganda: $153,000 and rising; actually saying it's for the kids with a straight face: Priceless.

John Ryan
Algonquin

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Cal Skinner of McHenry County Blog at http://www.mchenrycountyblog.com/ Has some great pieces on people supporting the D - 300 referendum.

Vendors, Contractors Give to District 300 Referendum Tax Hike Committees; Pay to Play?

McHenry County Blog has submitted Freedom of Information requests asking Carpentersville District 300 to reveal which among a list of companies that have made contributions to its political action committees have been paid for District 300 work.

The purpose was to determine whether evidence of a “pay to play” relationship might exist among those financing campaigns to extract additional property tax dollars from district real estate owners.

Some are obvious:
Burnidge Cassell & Associates, Inc., has photographs of Lincoln Prairie Elementary School in Lake in the Hills, Carpentersville’s Liberty Elementary School,
its Carpentersville Middle School Remodeling,
says Dundee and Algonquin Middle School re-modeling is “coming soon,” and Dundee-Crown and Jacobs High School
Addition & Remodeling of District 300 schools.

Lamp, Inc., lists District 300 as a client.

Turner Construction says it provided construction management services for the following District 300 schools: Eastview, Huntley/Miller, Algonquin Lakes, and Lake in the Hills Elementary.
While requesting that the information be provided without cost, the FOI letter puts it more delicately than what statewide media say about Governor Rod Blagojevich’s receiving contributions from companies who receive state contracts:
Because this request and your response will result in an internet article or articles on McHenry County Blog, I request that any fees be waived in the public interest, that public interest being that citizens should know of any connection between District 300 expenditures and campaign contributions made to committees supporting tax increases or the passage of bond issues prior to the March primary election.
The campaign check writing companies—some of whom reveal the business they do with District 300 on their web sites--follow:

· Burnidge Cassell & Associates, Inc., Elgin (Click here, and here,too. 1/30/02 - $10,000, 2/14/02 - $1,613, 1/21/03 - $5,000
· Carey Electric, McHenry 2/28/02 - $1,000
· Cruise Boiler & Repair, Elmhurst 3/26/02 - $500
· Elgin Roofing, Elgin 3/04/02 - $300
· First American Bank, Elk Grove Village 12/26/03 - $845
· Freund International, Huntley 3/25/02 - $250
· Hawks Auto Parts, Elgin 3/01/02 - $200
· J&E Duff Inc. Mason Contractors, West Chicago 3/04/02 - $1,000
· Kane County Associates LLC, Chicago 3/08/02 - $5,000
· Lamp Inc., Elgin (Click here, too.) 4/29/02 -$725, 4/29/02 - $5,642.56, 4/2/03 - $5,000
· MFB Development, 558 McLean Blvd, Elgin 2/05/02 -$250
· PMA Financial Network, Aurora 3/20/02 - $250
· Rage Management Inc., Elgin 11/20/03 - $200
· Randall Huntley Partners LLC, Elgin 3/06/02 - $1,000
· RWS Inc, Markham 3/18/02 - $200
· Seigle’s, Elgin 2/12/02 - $2,500, 2/06/03 - $2,500
· Taylor Johnson & Assoc., Chicago 11/27/02 - $1,650
· Techstar America Corp, Grayslake 2/07/02 - $850
· Tessendorf Mechanical Industries, Inc., Gilberts 3/21/02 - $1,000
· The Trane Company, Willowbrook 3/12/02 - $1,000
· Turner Construction, Arlington Heights 4/2/03 - $4,000

Check out all of his pieces. You will have to cut and paste these links into your browsers. If you see a 20% line appear be sure to delete that before hitting enter.

http://www.mchenrycountyblog.com/2006/01/vendors-contractors-give-to-district.html

http://www.mchenrycountyblog.com/2006/01/who-wants-to-raise-your-taxes.html


http://www.mchenrycountyblog.com/2006/01/where-else-do-district-300-developers.html

http://www.mchenrycountyblog.com/2006/01/district-300-referendum-campaign-pitch.html

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) just came out with a recent report and discussion of 2003 and 2005 wages.

According to this report the average wage of a Kane County worker in 2003 was $647 per week or $33,644 annually. At the same time the average District 300 teacher made $53,820 annually and the average administrator made $92,760 annually.

For 2005 the numbers are as follows
Average wage of Kane County worker $693 weekly or $36,036 annually. Average teacher pay $58,623 annually and average administrator pay $97,575 annually.

The average teacher works about 185 days.
The average worker works about 250 days.

Just one more thing to show how out of touch District 300 referendum supporters are with the people who pay their salaries.

You can view the article at http://money.cnn.com/2006/01/30/pf/real_wage_growth_slow/index.htm?cnn=yes

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

This was posted in the speakout section of the Courier News.


The real culprits


District 300 crisis: District 300 and The Courier News seemed to have teamed up to sell the voters on an offer they can't refuse. Why don't they discuss the real education culprits — the teacher unions, the greedy developers, and the politicians who all refuse to stand up and face the real causes of our education crisis upon crisis.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The letter below was written in the Beacon News newspaper. This letter could have been written by any parent in any school district including District 300. Parents must speak out about these threats a number of parents have been intimidated by the pro-referendum group from speaking out but many say I may not be able to speak out now but they will hear me loud and clear at the polls on election day. Remember vote no March 21st it is the first step toward fiscal accountability.

Not a terrible parent


The Yorkville School District referendum is turning neighbor against neighbor because folks are making it personal. I do not believe that anybody against the referendum believes that the school system does not need more money. They just believe, as I do, that the way to get the money is not through increased property taxes on existing homes. Yes, there are an abundant number of new families moving to the area and those children need to be schooled. The way to pay for those schools is to include that cost in the cost of all the new housing going up, not through increasing existing property taxes. The School Board can't seem to figure out why what they do comes across as a threat to most of us decent parents and residents. It is because it is. To close the schools for all activities is an absolute threat. Stopping extracurricular activities may be needed, but to close the publicly funded properties to the community is a threat for no other reason than to scare folks in to voting for this proposal. Why not say that anyone using the school will have to pay the true cost of using the facility or even a little more? That didn't seem to enter the conversation. There are always many options if you dig deep enough. Increasing taxes is just the easiest answer.
I am personally really, really sick of hearing what a terrible parent I am because I oppose the referendum. Sorry, but I volunteer to coach basketball, baseball and soccer.

Randy Cavanaugh

Bristol

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Information about the advance300yes.com website and why this parent says he will vote no on the District 300 referenda.

The District 300 referendum is a passionate issue with emotions running high on both sides. Although, my views will support a “no” vote, my interest in getting involved is to simply provide transparency and clarity. The decision of how to vote is, of course, yours to make. State Senator (and Lt. Governor Candidate) Steven Rauschenberger (R-Elgin) said recently at a campaign forum in Huntley that today’s school districts “…are seemingly run for the benefit of the adults working within it.” What I have found thus far seems to support his view.

My concerns with this referendum are twofold:
1) In my view, District 300 has not provided what I consider a quality education for my children and has not demonstrated fiscal self-discipline. Simply throwing more money at a problem doesn’t solve it.
2) I suspect there is more to the Advance300 organization than what they would like you to believe.

My research into Advance300 (formerly Schools for Now Dist. # 300 Committee) began in mid-January after I visited their website. I was impressed by its construction and concluded immediately that it was professionally produced (i.e. expensive). I emailed them and asked very specific questions:
1) Would you provide me a list of your leadership and members?
2) How are you funded?
3) Who created and paid for the website?

I received a response from Nancy Zettler (who serves on District 300’s Community Finance Committee), who identified herself as co-chair with Douglas Sibery. Her response was evasive at best, stating that… “Advance 300 is a growing coalition of several hundred parents, grandparents, students, business owners, community leaders and other community members dedicated to providing our children the excellent education they deserve and ensuring the health and strength of our communities… We are funded by donations. The website was put together by a hard-working, dedicated group of Advance 300 volunteers who have worked very hard for several hundred man-hours researching dozens of sources of information for accuracy, truthfulness and relevance.” My impression was that is their standard response to all inquiries which was likely created with professional assistance.

Ms. Zettler’s comment stating the website was created by volunteers is not truthful. According to their Schedule B document filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections on January 31, $7,000.00 was paid to M&R Strategic Services of Washington, DC for “web site services” on December 19, 2005. In M&R’s website, their self-description is, “For over 15 years, M+R has been helping groups we believe in (notice the phrase, “we believe in”) accomplish their policy and organizational goals... we provide integrated strategy, field organizing, communications, lobbying, direct mail, web production, online advocacy and fundraising services.” A review of their client list reveals the groups they “believe in” point toward a far left political philosophy naming clients such as The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, International Planned Parenthood/Western Hemisphere, The Lesbian, Gay and Transgender Community Center of New York and People for the American Way.

As instructed on M&R’s website, I also requested a list of their “electoral” clients from Ms. Debra Rosen, Senior Consultant. As of February 2nd, I have received no response from her. Incidentally, Advance300’s Schedule B also reveals $6,750.00 was paid to Campaign Solutions of Algonquin for “referendum consulting”. Campaign Solutions has a P.O. Box for an address and has no phone number listed in the Internet Yellow Pages. Last time I checked, volunteers are not paid for their services, and I wonder who owns that company.

District 300 cannot legally financially support Advance300 directly, even though it appears they have hired (with taxpayer funds?) St. Louis based public relations firm Unicom.ARC. As of February 1, a request from Unicom to confirm this has been unanswered.

On January 20, Northwest Herald Reporter Allison Smith published an article on a meeting she attended with District 300 Superintendent Ken Arndt, “about” 25 builders and real estate agents, as well as village officials from Algonquin, West Dundee and Hampshire to raise $153,000 (the minimum amount needed to fund a successful referendum according to Unicom.ARC). As Allison points out in her article, “The campaign money, administered by the Advance 300 citizens group, will pay for an office, mailings, T-shirts, yard signs, TV and radio ads, and possibly even billboards.” Cal Skinner’s blog site, McHenry County Blog (mchenrycountyblog.com), has recently detailed the extent of the pro-referendum contributions that have rolled in (and who they are from). Keep scrolling down until you find them (there are several posts on this topic) or if you prefer, I can send you copies. Check back there often.

Another topic worthy of discussion is District 300’s handling of its finances. Besides the issue of having $38 million available in its working fund to cover the $27 million deficit in the education fund (which the District claims it cannot use because its in a trust and is needed to ease cash flow problems between property tax receipts), were you aware that in 2003, the District had to repay the U.S. Dept. of Education $607,908.06 for violating the terms of a grant that was provided to support the effort to serve limited English proficient students? According to the Federal Register, the funds "...had been used for improper or unsupported expenditures for personnel, fringe benefits, travel, supplies, training and other items."

I personally spoke with the contact person from the D.O.E. for this matter, who verified this information as correct. I have a copy of the Federal Register document as well and was informed by the D.O.E. contact person that District 300 has a copy of the settlement agreement. Also, because of current loopholes in property tax law, we must take the District at their word that the 55 cents/$100 they are asking for the education fund will only be used for the current tax year. State Rep. Michael Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) has introduced legislation in Springfield to close these loopholes. However, even if passed, it will not be in place in time for our referendum.

Although Advance300 portrays itself as a local grassroots organization, it is clear what we have here is a well calculated, well financed and covert public relations effort on the part of District 300 to win this referendum. The deplorable tactic of using our children as pawns to accomplish their desire is nothing short of extortion. I personally don’t believe for a minute that all extracurricular activities will be cut if the referendum fails. The amount of money spent on athletics and music amounts to approximately 1% of the budget and I assure you, no elected school board official who is interested in retaining their office would ever be re-elected if that happened and the public outcry for Superintendent Arndt’s resignation would be immediate. Also, don’t believe the myth that our home values will decline if the referendum fails. Simply ask yourself how much your home has risen in value over the past several years since the last referendum was voted down?

Although my views on this referendum are unmistakable, I hope you can see that my opinion is based upon objective, verified information — not less than truthful rhetoric designed to play on your fears and emotions. Please pass this along to others who are interested, regardless of what their present opinion may be. Besides the McHenry County Blog, I encourage you to visit the web sites of The Family Taxpayer’s Network (thechampion.org) and Citizen’s For Fair and Reasonable Taxes (http://user.mc.net/~igloo/craft.htm). Please feel free to contact me and I will do my best to keep you informed.

Sincerely,


John Ryan
Committeeman
Precinct 62
Algonquin Township

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The below article appeared in the Beacon News Newspaper at http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/city/2_1_au02_ipflier_s1.htm . The similarity between the behavior of District 300 and this school district are uncanny. Gurnee school district's were reprimanded by the Lake County States Attorney for the same behavior. Perhaps an attorney in District 300 would like to pursue this matter.

Legality of Indian Prairie flier called into question


By Tim Waldorf
STAFF WRITER

AURORA — Boundary changes aren't the only issue on the minds of Indian Prairie School District residents. Some are suggesting the district has violated election laws by apparently advocating for the passage of a referendum measure.

On behalf of the Will-DuPage Taxpayers Alliance, which describes itself as a "nonpartisan organization that guards against wasteful spending of public funds," Naperville resident Ari Rosenthal sent a letter requesting the investigation of such allegations to the state's attorney's offices of DuPage and Will counties. Attached to the letter, which Rosenthal sent this week, is a copy of a flier that can be found on the district's Web site under the Frequently Asked Questions link at www.ipsd.org/3rdhs .aspcq.

"We just want them to investigate to see whether it is an abuse of taxpayer money," Rosenthal said.


Rosenthal said residents brought the copies of the flier to the Will-DuPage Taxpayers Alliance. According to Rosenthal's letter, the group believes the flier was passed out at each of the Indian Prairie elementary schools, as well as at public hearings held Jan. 17 and Jan. 19.

Rosenthal states in the letter that the flier "may be construed as advocating for the passage of the district's upcoming third high school referendum (measure)" by lauding it as the "best solution" and predicting split shifts and the need to move gym and music classes into hallways should voters turn down the district's request.

In the letter, Rosenthal states that the School Board has not voted on how the district would progress should the referendum measure fail.

"So the mention of split shifts and/or classes being held in hallways may be construed as intending to threaten 'dire consequences' by not voting for the referendum," Rosenthal wrote.

In describing the third high school as its best solution, the district's flier states that the referendum proposal has "advantages" because it "avoids having mega-sized high schools with 5,000 students, solves our middle school overcrowding and continues to provide quality academic and extracurricular opportunities for our kids."

According to the Illinois Election Code, public funds may be used to distribute information relative to a proposition appearing on a ballot. Yet those funds may not be "used to urge any elector to vote for or against any candidate or proposition" or be used for campaign purposes for any candidate or proposition.

"Advocacy is not only a direct appeal to someone to vote in favor or against, but also includes campaigning for the referendum by describing it in positive terms ... or by describing dire consequences if the referendum does not pass," Rosenthal wrote.

Indian Prairie Superintendent Howard Crouse said he had no comment on the issue.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

We received this from John Ryan in regard to his letter posted above.

Dear Members of CRAFT,
I met this afternoon with Nancy Zettler, co-chair of the Advance 300 to discuss my letter which recently appeared in CRAFT's blog According to Ms. Zettler, neither D300 Supt. Arndt or any of the current board members were in office at the time the grant violations took place.
Sincerely,
John Ryan

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

District 300 had a choice they could have paid back the taxpayers 13 million dollars and they did not. Yet another reason to vote "NO" and "NO" March 21st. The article below appeared in the Daily Herald on February 6th. Be sure to pick up a copy at the news stands or order a subscription. http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=151254

By Jeffrey Gaunt
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Monday, February 06, 2006

Community Unit District 300 officials had a choice.

In early 2004, the Carpentersville-based district had an extra $13 million in its site and construction fund — leftover money, officials said, after voters signed off on an $88 million bond issue in 2000.

School board members held public meetings to decide how best to spend the money. Residents chimed in.

And in March, the board chose to use that $13 million to air-condition older schools and build a brand new deLacey Center, a preschool for at-risk and special needs kids.

But there was a second choice — one that wasn’t discussed at those public meetings. The district could have given the $13 million back to taxpayers.

Most taxpayers probably didn’t know they had agreed to pay the extra $13 million in the first place.

That’s because the money came in the form of a premium — a cash bonus for agreeing to pay higher interest rates on the original $88 million.

Officials collected $101 million, not $88 million, after voters gave them the green light. With interest, taxpayers will pay back $178.5 million — or $2.03 for every dollar taxpayers approved.

School officials said they opted to take the premium because they were worried the state wouldn’t chip in a $15 million grant to help cover their construction costs.

The state grant arrived two years later.

“The need for air conditioning was still a hot issue,” Cheryl Crates, the district’s chief financial officer, said of the board’s decision. “The deLacey structure needed to be more adequate for those children.

“I don’t think at that point it was done to be malicious.”

In fact, the deLacey Center had long been a topic of discussion in District 300.

The old building was ill-suited for the preschoolers who walked its halls. The coat hooks were too high. Some classrooms had no windows. And the kids couldn’t reach the sinks and drinking fountains without the help of wooden platforms.

The students deserved better, officials said.

But the money to repair the building — or build a new one — was specifically excluded from the district’s plans when pitching the $88 million question to the public.

There just wasn’t enough money to go around — or so district officials thought.

School officials say their decision to spend the additional money came down to a matter of necessity.

“The reality is you have got a responsibility to both your kids and your taxpayers,” school board President John Court said. “The trick is finding that delicate balance.”

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The Letter to the Editor Below appeared in the Northwest Herald

Arrogance in finance

To the Editor:

Disturbing information from the Federal Register about District 300 financial incompetence was sent to us.

District 300 had to return $607,908.06 for violating a grant intended to "to serve limited English proficient students." However, the funds "had been used for improper or unsupported expenditures for personnel, fringe benefits, travel supplies, etc."

District 300 issued misleading figures to justify canceling sports, music, etc. Chief Financial Officer Sheryl Crates has adamantly rejected our presentations that disagree.

Pretending faculty raises are only 4 percent, actually over 10 percent a year per State Board of Education stats, makes for a busted budget and large deficits.

Their threatening to deprive the community of extracurricular services is a mean, arrogant act and shows how weak their fiscal argument is.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Bravo to those village trustees who abstained from supporting the referenda. Thank you to those who had the courage to vote against supporting the referendum. The article below appeared in the Daily Herald at http://www.dailyherald.com/news/mchenrystory.asp?id=152044 . The last referenda were defeated by about 70% of the population. We just read were that District 300 could have paid back taxpayers 13 millions dollars and did not. No voters let these officials who supported the referendum know how you feel if you disagree. Call them or vote them out of office.

Villages get behind Dist. 300’s requests
School district to ask voters for tax hike, bond issue

By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Wednesday, February 08, 2006

At the urging of school advocates, some village governments are lending their official support to the upcoming referendum requests in Community Unit District 300.

The village boards in Lake in the Hills, West Dundee and Sleepy Hollow have adopted resolutions endorsing the district’s March request for a 55-cent tax increase for new teachers and a $185 million bond issue for new schools.

Advance 300, a pro-referendum community group that asked for the support, also approached Carpentersville, Algonquin and Pingree Grove, which declined to consider such a resolution.

Gilberts’ village board was scheduled to vote on the matter Tuesday night.

To West Dundee, which officially endorsed the ballot requests Monday night, and Lake in the Hills, which did so last month, supporting school referendums is customary.

“I can’t fathom why anyone wouldn’t support it,” said Lake in the Hills President Ed Plaza, whose wife is a District 300 employee. “We’re not a community that hides from issues or puts their head in the sand.”

The Lake in the Hills board approved the measure with five votes. Trustee Liz Wakeman, who opposed the endorsement, and Trustee Paula Yensen, who abstained, could not be reached Tuesday, but the meeting minutes describe both women as being concerned they didn’t have enough information about the referendum request to support it.

West Dundee approved the endorsement unanimously, and Village President Larry Keller said the health of the schools is important to the village because it is one of the primary quality of life issues for residents.

“We aren’t telling them what to do; we are supporting education in general,” said Keller, a retired teacher. “We would love to see more support from the state, however, we also recognize that is currently not happening.”

Sleepy Hollow’s endorsement Monday night was a departure from its tradition of not taking an official position on matters not directly related to its government. The resolution passed with two approvals, one objection and two abstentions.

Trustee Donald Ziemba, who cast the “no” vote, said he didn’t think it was the village’s place to weigh in.

“It’s a separate taxing district, and we should not be trying to sway the voters,” Ziemba said.

Sleepy Hollow Trustee Scott Finney, who voted “yes” on the measure, said towns can’t avoid the issue because it is growth in those towns, after all, that is stretching the school district’s capacity.

“It would be unfair to the district not to get behind their referendum,” Finney said. “At some point you have to take stand on it.”

Advance 300’s request to present its case to the Carpentersville board was refused, village Manager Craig Anderson said, because it would violate the board’s code of conduct restricting board meetings to village business.

Algonquin village Manager Bill Ganek said it was also his town’s policy not to get involved in outside elections.

“A referendum is a question for the public, not for elected officials,” Gannick said.

Vote: Mum’s the word for other boards

Contact to the Boards and tell them how you feel.
Lake in the Hills 847-960-7400 - Ed Plaza - eplaza@lith.org, Denise Wasserman - dwasserman@lith.org, James Kennedy - jkennedy@lith.org, Stephen Harlfinger - sharlfinger@lith.org , Ray Bogdanowski - rbogdanowski@lith.org Joseph Murawski - jmurawski@lith.org

West Dundee Village Hall 847.551.3800 or email villagehall@west-dundee.il.us

Sleepy Hollow - 847-426-6700 offrecp@sleepy-hollow.il.us

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

This is priceless! They want to raise your taxes forever .....

"But Warren said that if voters approved the education-fund rate hike and a $185 million construction bond, the board would consider freezing all extracurricular fees for two years."

For the full story go to http://www.nwherald.com/CommunitySection/361863415155385.php . To top that off Cheryl Crates stated at one of the pro-referendum meetings they would be back in 5 years for another tax increase. This will not stop in D-300 until we get a responsible school board like in Cary and Grayslake.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

It is no wonder we have a problem with bullying in public schools. The very people that are to be educating our children bully our children, their families, the taxpayers and government officials into supporting referenda. The children learn bullying from the pro-referendum hoodlums. All across Illinois school districts are threatening program cuts and shunning fiscal responsibility. Some school districts are threatening lawsuits against those who are opposing referenda. This must stop.

The school district and school board exist to educate our child and to be good stewards of our taxpayer dollars. The school board is not there to serve the interests of the teachers unions, administrators, banks, contractors, real estate agents, bound counsels and various other special interests groups.

Developers’ not current homeowners should shoulder the burden for the building of new schools. This can be done through impact fees and agreements with the city councils and zoning boards before these developments are built.

School boards, teachers and administrators cry that there is a funding problem, the problem is their spending. One just needs to review the teachers’ and administrators’ contracts and a history of revenues to understand that spending is the problem.

Bravo to those public officials who will not take a position on referenda. Bravo to those parents who are speaking out against these referenda if more parents like you speak out these referenda will fail. Parents can teach their children a great deal about sticking up for themselves by not giving into these bullies. Sticking up for yourself also leads to better self esteem. Parents as well as children should write school boards and let them know the boards primary interests are to the children and being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars. Reasonable contracts would lead to balanced budgets. A "no" vote does not mean cut programs, it means we think you have enough money and we want you to spend it wisely. Vote "no" on March 21st this is the first step toward fiscal accountability.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

This article speaks for itself and appeared in the Beacon News at http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/opinions/2_4_AU07_KOBULNICKY_S1.htm .

End 'insanity' of school funding

The noted physicist Albert Einstein is alleged to have said, "To do the same thing in the same way and expect different results is insanity."

Doesn't this perfectly describe public education in Illinois?

The overused mantra, "We are out of space and need more buildings, else your children will be in crowded classrooms," appears early in a local funding campaign. The unspoken, underlying threatening message is that your child's education is endangered.

No school district in Illinois is out of space. They all choose to waste space because they have previously successfully hoodwinked/terrorized the public. The public becomes fearful of uncertainty and continually votes to build more buildings while allowing school boards and administrations to waste classroom space. Does this describe your school district?

How is space wasted? The answer is the education model. It is one of 19th century tradition, habit, and convenience, based around the current school calendar. Of course, it is an expensive education model and very lucrative for those in the system. After all, it is a government job. The establishment feeds off your taxes. It is time for Illinoisans to call a halt to this inefficiency. Our tax bills are unnecessarily expensive and growing more so.

We need to stop building more buildings to leave unused for 185 days each year. Can your family waste a quarter to a third of your assets annually? We need to demand the efficient utilization of space even if that means we all become uncomfortable, initially, with the changes in our lives.

What is the most important focus in your education world? Is it comfort and convenience with today's stagnant or falling test scores? Or is it better scores, albeit after an initial adjustment to a new instructional model? Are you happy with constantly increasing tax bills with no hope of that process slowing or ending? Perhaps you prefer a slowing or a halt to your school rate increases.

Need I mention the extravagance of land acquisitions upon which your district's current model depends as construction of more wasted building space continues? Is your district spending millions to acquire land and or homes upon which to build more white elephants?

I encourage you to push for year-round schooling in your school district. How much more instructional space would you like next year? Is 25 percent or 33 percent enough for your district? A 25 percent increase in space can be had with a 45-15 day rotation with no additional buildings needed. A 60-20 rotation gives you 33 percent more space. We need to take back control of our futures by being courageous in the voting booth. We need to turn down every building issue.

Springfield will not change Illinois' ranking of 49th place in the U.S. in education funding. Politics, power and posturing are more important than our students. All bankrupt Springfield does is tinker with a broken outdated model while politically orating about the "new money" being spent on education.

The naysayer will find many reasons why year-round schooling can't be done. In all the discussions I've had with school boards, the public, teachers, and administrators, I've never heard an education-based reason for not adopting year-round schooling.

Einstein would have an intellectual field day with our politicians. He would be amazed at those telling us that more money will fix our agrarian-based education model. He would be appalled by those who profess caring and devotion toward our students, then shut down the classrooms (strike) or threaten to do so, while stridently demanding pay increases when the non-government economy is suffering job loss, salary reductions and benefits reduction/elimination.

We need to decide if we want the education rut to continue as is or whether we are going to demand that 21st century light shine into our schools and upon our students. We can do that in the voting booth.


- Hank Kobulnicky was a member of the East Aurora School Board between 1985 and 1993. He lives in Oswego.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Someone sent this to me in regard to the fee articles in the 2/8/06 edition of the Northwest Herald.

1. If the parents can't afford to pay the fees - and fees are the norm in most schools - how would the parents pay a tax increase?

2. If they have groups like PTO PTA, etc. etc. and other good hearted contributors - why aren't they offsetting the fee differences?

To answer question 2 some schools are using there PTA monies to promote pro-referendum groups? See the following sites http://educationmatters.us/?p=283 and http://educationmatters.us/wharbor/cqs63005sceda2.pdf . For more on how the Teachers' Unions have hijacked the PTA see http://www.illinoisloop.org/pt.html .

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Dear Friends,

District 203 in Naperville over charged taxpayers $24 million now they are considering returning those tax dollars to taxpayers.

"Whether Naperville Unit District 203 gives back some of the extra $24 million it says it collected from its 2002 referendum drive could depend in part on what taxpayers have to say." for the rest of the story go to http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=152106

District 300 over charged taxpayers $13 million dollars their response.....
"There just wasn’t enough money to go around — or so district officials thought. School officials say their decision to spend the additional money came down to a matter of necessity. “The reality is you have got a responsibility to both your kids and your taxpayers,” school board President John Court said. “The trick is finding that delicate balance.” " for the rest of the story go to http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=151274 .

District 300 passed a working cash bond in 2002. They are asking for two referenda on March 21st if this passes they will ask for a new referenda....

http://www.d300.kane.k12.il.us/click/district300referendumfacts/b.1457.r.1194.html?filename=THEFINALQA.pdf

Q9.: If these referenda pass, when will the next
referendum be for the Education Rate (operations)? For
Bond Rate (more schools)?

A9: Both the CFC and CBC indicated that their
respective reports would be good for five years. By
2009-10, new groups will need to address both the
Education Fund and the need for more buildings.

One last interesting piece of information. This was obtain from http://mchenrycountyblog.com/.

$2 million in state aid to education.
Snow had pointed out that District 300 estimated state aid to increase only $50 per pupil, while this year’s increase had been $200 per child. That ignored as much $2.5 million in new revenue next year, Snow said. See slide 22 on the low state aid estimate, slide 23 on how much 1% to 4% increases would yield and slide 24 on the amount of new money the State Board of Education recommended state aid increase would bring District 300—over $2 million.

Under questioning by Rotary Club member Gene Brown about whether she rejected “all of the data Larry has presented, Crates replied I’m always interested in people’s opinion. The only thing that’s not in there is state aid (at) $170 (per pupil). That’s the over $2 million underestimated revenue Snow pointed out.

The school board has threatened to cut extracurricular activities and sports to save $1.25 million.

Let’s see.
Is $2 million larger than $1.25 million?

To become more informed on the matter please attend the Family Taxpayer Network meetings on Saturday February 11th from 1 - 2:30 p.m. and Wednesday February 15th from 7:00 - 8:30p.m. New materials and different speakers will be presenting at the next 2 meetings.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Parents of D - 300 please note the letter below that appeared in the Beacon News from a Yorkville Parent. I would like to suggest to parents that you write a similar letter to the editor for D - 300 or send the letters to the school board.

It is time for fiscally accountability and education results instead of excuses. The schools exist to serve the public the public does not exist to serve the school employees. Vote "NO" March 21st.

D - 300 parents it is time to speak up.

http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/opinions/letters/2_4_AU09_LETTERS_S1.htm

Threats don't work


After reading all the threats about cutting activities if the school referendum doesn't pass, we've received a letter from the school, through our children, highlighting the cuts. This begs me to ask a few questions about the people on the School Board and the administrators for the school. First, why do they have to resort to threatening rhetoric? I work, along with my wife, to pay the taxes on our house in Yorkville, but neither of us respond well to the threats. If my children want to participate in after-school activities, we would find a way to pay for them. So by cutting the after-school activities they have not hurt our feelings. If you want to play, you should have to pay.
Why do we need buildings of such opulence with curved walls? Isn't it cheaper to make it a straight-forward building with square corners? Do we need a showcase for someone's ego, or a facility in which to teach the children? Every school I ever attended was a brick building, with square corners and minimal architectural details. All of them are still in use today. Why not pick one plan that can be replicated as the need grows, instead of several different designs?

I think the people of Yorkville should be very leery of the direction we're heading, when threats instead of logical options are the way to get in peoples pocketbooks. You are not going to embarrass me into voting for some referendum by bullying me and telling me my kids will suffer. This just shows me that you placed the children second.

Tony Pekich

Yorkville

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

To see a copy of the powerpoint presented by Larry Snow at the Family Taxpayers Network offices on Wednesday night go to http://www.thechampion.org/?p=art&id=315.

D - 300 voters keep in mind if you vote yes on the education referenda you will be losing tax dollars from the state while increasing the amount of property taxes that you pay.

Illinois State Board of Education, John Cpin, said
the greater the district's local resources, the fewer dollars it receives from the state.

To read the complete article go to http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/couriernews/top/3_1_EL10_A1D300_S1.htm .

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Cal Skinner of mchenrycountyblog.com has some great resources once a again on his site. You will need to cut and paste his link into your browser or type the address of his BLOG to get to his site. To keep up-to-date on the District 300 information be sure to view mchenrycountyblog.com, wwwthechampion.org, www.noreferendum.org and click on District 300 referendum discussion on a fairly regular basis. It is a good idea to bookmark these links for easy access.

New to the advance300yes.com site is a list of who they are. We think it is great that they are disclosing this to the public be sure to take a look at this information. Taxpayers should have a right to know who is promoting the referenda and what financial stake those promoting the referenda have in the tax increases. That burden is greater on those promoting the referenda and taking money from the taxpayers. Advance 300 also has an open letter to the District 300 residents. In this letter you will note that Cheryl Meyers a Lake in the Hills Resident was hired as a referendum consultant. She runs a business called Campaign Solutions. For those of you who don't remember she was part of the BEST committee in District 158. I think we all recall the ramifications of the District 158 referendum. Advance 300's Schedule B reveals that 6750.00 dollars was paid toward Cheryl Meyers Campaign Solutions.

District 300 is continuing with the campaign to cancel extracurricular activities if this referendum does not pass. They insist it is not a threat. Each voter has to decide for themselves whether this is a threat or not. One should ask themselves should the educators who are responsible for education of our children be using the children's activities as leverage for their agenda. The teachers contract expires this year. Unless they have a set mind of the raises they will be giving out there is no need to cancel activities except to punish the children for those parents who voted no on the referenda.

This is a great time to teach your kids not to give into bullies and not to be bullied into a tax increase.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The Daily Herald hits another one out of the park. Be sure to pick up a copy of the Daily Herald. We could not agree more with this editorial.

http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=153918

Village resolutions wrong point of emphasis
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2006

Once upon a time, school districts and municipal boards pretty much acted as though the other didn’t really exist, to the detriment of taxpayers.

Most now communicate regularly about developments and work better together on impact fees. In what may be a new trend, city councils and village boards now are being asked to publicly support school referendums, a request that has raised some as yet unanswered legal and ethical questions.

When approached by Advance 300, which is promoting passage of Community Unit District 300’s two referendum questions, communities within the district have reacted in a variety of ways. Lake in the Hills, West Dundee and Sleepy Hollow adopted resolutions supporting the district’s 55-cent increase in the education fund tax rate and an $185 million construction bond sale.

“I can’t fathom why anyone wouldn’t support it,” said Lake in the Hills Village President Ed Plaza.

But Carpentersville wouldn’t even allow an Advance 300 presentation, saying it would violate the board’s code of conduct. And Algonquin also rejected the idea, citing policy to stay away from outside elections and ethics policy.

“A referendum is a question for the public, not for elected officials,” said Algonquin Village Manager Bill Ganek.

The Daily Herald editorial board also was widely split during discussions, some members saying that government bodies working together was generally more beneficial than not, as long as no taxpayer money was involved. Others thought the effort coercive, an attempt to use taxpayers to solve the problems those various public bodies had helped create. Some questioned whether village boards knew enough about the issue to have an informed opinion. Still others thought the effort unethical on its face.

It also could be illegal. The seventh item listed under “prohibited political activity” in state statute 5ILCS430 includes: “Soliciting votes on behalf of a candidate for elective office or a political organization or for or against any referendum question or helping in an effort to get voters to the polls.”

But the director of the Illinois Municipal League told a Daily Herald reporter that passing a resolution endorsing another government’s referendum doesn’t violate law because it doesn't involve money. Some village attorneys also told us a resolution declaring support for something doesn’t constitute “soliciting votes.”

Thus, there is no definitive legal answer, at least at this point. But we don’t think the issue is one keeping voters up at night in consternation. A substantial tax hike is what has them studying their bank accounts and lying awake at night, wondering what’s best for they and their children.

We also seriously doubt voters entering the polls will care one whit whether their village leaders recommended a “yes,” a “no” or stayed out of the fray. Thus, referendum advocates could more productively spend their time providing full and complete answers to any question raised by those who’ll be providing the definitive resolution — voters.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

What does the story below tell you about the ethics of the pro-referendum group. This article appeared in the Daily Herald. The Daily Herald has been an excellent source of education issues and the D - 300 referenda. Be sure to subscribe today. http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=154427 Ethics rules prohibit backing or fighting referenda.

Residents want stand on taxes in District 300
By Patrick Garmoe
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Some Algonquin residents angry that the village board won’t take a position on the Community Unit District 300 tax-rate increase plan to voice their frustration during the board’s Feb. 21 meeting.

“I honestly don’t understand how they cannot, with a third of the kids going to District 300,” said Kathleen Burley, an Algonquin resident.

She’s attempting to rally her friends to attend the Algonquin meeting, after Lake in the Hills, West Dundee and Sleepy Hollow all endorsed the tax-rate increase.

“The villages have put us in this situation,” Burley said. “They need to take a stand.”

By that she means that villages allowed residential growth, but in the past did not make sure the developers and new homeowners paid enough money to the district to cover the influx of students.

Village officials argue that these days they try hard to work with the school districts when developers want to build new subdivisions, and ensure the districts aren’t shortchanged.

The district is seeking a 55-cent bump in the education fund tax rate, and a $185æmillion bond issue to build new schools and renovate existing ones, in the March 21 election.

Together, the tax increases are estimated to cost the owner of a $200,000 home, on average, roughly $700 a year over the next 20 years.

In the short term, however, that homeowner would pay closer to $500 a year. The larger increases are several years out.

John Schmitt, Algonquin village president, says he personally supports the tax-rate increase, but the village is simply forbidden from taking a position.

“We can’t. I would love to, but I can’t,” he said. “The state statute clearly says it is illegal for any municipality to support any referendum.”

So it frustrated him that some residents talked about boycotting Algonquin businesses, because Algonquin wouldn’t take a position.

Carpentersville also refused to take a position, citing its local code of conduct.

The two villages are not alone in arguing the move is illegal.

Scott Mulford, a spokesman with the Illinois Attorney General's office, said that state law doesn’t allow government bodies to endorse or reject tax-rate increase proposals.

Mulford points to the seventh item listed under “prohibited political activity” in state statute 5ILCS430. “Soliciting votes on behalf of a candidate for elective office or a political organization or for or against any referendum question or helping in an effort to get voters to the polls.”

Other officials say the ethics laws collectively advise against a government body taking a position.

Several local village attorneys however, have argued that it is legal for villages to take a position because they aren’t technically soliciting votes.

“It’s a messy issue,” said Ruth Schlossberg, an attorney with the Crystal Lake law firm Zukowski Rogers Flood & McArdle, which represents many local government bodies including Algonquin.

Although the Illinois State Board of Elections thinks it’s illegal, until there are some legal challenges decided in court, there won’t be a clear opinion on whether it’s legal, Schlossberg said.

Legal or not, Steve Zissman, president of the Algonquin Lake in the Hills Soccer Association, said he empathized with the village.

“I’m faced with the same problem,” he said.

Even though he personally supports the tax-rate increase, he refuses to send out an e-mail to parents saying the soccer association endorses this tax-rate increase.

“That’s politics. And we’re not a political organization,” he said.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Hmm? There are too many unanswered questions about the finances of District 300. How much more money will they find? There are too many questions left about District 300 finances to risk your house, your retirement and your child's college education fund on a tax increase.

http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=154412

Dist. 300 finances may get a boost from state
By Jeffrey Gaunt
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2006

New budget projections in Community Unit District 300 are slightly rosier, but district officials cautioned the numbers will change — for better or for worse — by the fall.

The new projections show the district could get an additional $2.3 million from the state — money officials say could be used to avoid further teacher cuts if voters reject a pair of tax requests in March.

But the district also projects $1.4 million less in local property taxes because the rate of inflation — the basis for annual tax increases — has slowed.

All told, district officials previously said they would have to make $8.2 million in cuts over two years if the tax increases fail. Now, officials say they would only have to cut $6.4 million — if the new figures hold up.

“The budget goes through many, many revisions,” said Superintendent Ken Arndt, pointing out that last year district officials went through nearly 10 revisions.

The latest changes represent only the third version of the budget presented to the school board this year.

Some school board members criticized the new figures, saying district officials should not budget large increases in state aid because there is no guarantee the extra money will pan out.

“You can never count on the state,” board member Mary Fioretti said.

“We know the state doesn’t have any money,” board member Mary Warren said. “We don’t have fund balances to be able to correct projections that are off. We are in a deficit situation.”

The new projections also included the impact of the new Pingree Grove charter school, expected to open as soon as this fall.

“For the sake of being chastised for not including it, we’ve included it at this time,” chief financial officer Cheryl Crates said of the charter school.

But district officials said they can’t yet predict how many fewer teachers the district would need if the charter school is operating by the fall.

By adding the charter school in projections, the district’s financial situation is made to appear worse than if the school doesn’t open.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The below post was taken in part from Cal Skinners BLOG http://mchenryblog.com.

Let me see now, the lessons our children are learning from the D-300 Yes supporters (and other school tax increase referendum PACs) are as follows:

1. If local businesses don't bow to the YES position or choose to remain neutral, take your business elsewhere which hurts them, their families, and employees financially and impresses them with the power of political “muscle”.

2. If public officials don't bow to the YES position or choose to remain neutral (possibly in keeping with the LAW), let them know you'll do what you can to shove them out of office, again, impressing them with the power of political “muscle”.

3. If you don't act like a mindless drone and accept any and all YES arguments (even those the District is now acknowledging were/are flawed - only after independent analysts and their own consultants point it out, of course), you aren't smart or right, you're anti-child/education and they are what? Self-appointed, elite “thought police”?

4. If it costs more to build a school because of PLA, bureaucracy, and “creative” funding, we should just pay up and shut up.

5. Freedom of Speech belongs only to YES supporters living on the side of the street that includes D-300. Anyone else should be muzzled or mind their own business - even though EVERY taxpayer in Illinois is affected by what happens in EVERY district.( Um - shouldn't their theory also mean that any ALUMNI people they’re recruiting who don't live in the district anymore should keep out of the battle too?)


6. Even while proclaiming they won't sink to the levels THEY define for those who question the referendums, they sure know how to sling a few mud balls themselves. When THEY do it, it’s apparently not slime, innuendo, or a personal attack.

7. It's okay to omit information that might not subsequently present a bad enough financial picture in a tax increase promotion - much as some teens are adept at not giving a complete answer to a parent asking where they're going, who they'll be with, etc.

To view the rest of the post and BLOG cut and clip the following into your browser. http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=18132518&postID=114013300060575224
The title of the post is "What's the District 300 Tax Hike Committee up to."

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

There are at least 6 newspapers reporting on the District 300 referenda. Only one leads the pack as being extremely unbiased with well informed investigative reporting and that is the Daily Herald.

Here is a recent report from the incredible investigative reporter Jeff Gaunt.

Critics: Dist. 300 bad with money
By Jeffrey Gaunt
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2006

Opponents of two proposed tax increases in Community Unit School District 300 lashed out Wednesday, saying district officials have misspent money in the past, and need to better control spending in the future.

“There are too many inconsistencies in the district’s projections,” District 300 resident John Ryan said during an informational meeting held by the Family Taxpayers Network, an anti-tax hike group. “There are too many lingering doubts in my mind.”

The district is seeking a 55-cent bump in the education fund tax rate — and a $185 million bond issue to build new schools and renovate existing ones — in the March election.

Together, the two increases are estimated to cost the owner of a $200,000 home, on average, roughly $700 a year over the next 20 years, according to the district’s projections.

For the rest of the story go to

http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=156872

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Below Jim responds to a parent who feels pressured into voting yes even though her head tells her to vote NO. Remind the school exists to serve us, we do not exist to serve them. This a good time to teach your children not to give into bullies. Remember the Boston Tea Party.

Dear D-300 Parent,

Many parents and homeowners in D-300 share your concerns. While I wholeheartedly believe the board is bluffing in an attempt to pass these referenda, I certainly can make no guarantees, nor would you be wise to act on such a guarantee.

The correlation between school issues and property values is dubious at best. (There is absolutely no evidence that property value decreases in Rockford during the 70s had anything to do with school issues.) One irrefutable fact is that higher taxes alone DECREASE property values.

Even if the board carries out its threat to cancel programs, there are many options available. Parents all over Illinois faced with reduced or eliminated extracurricular activities have found creative ways to bring them back to their communities.

For starters, some groups have provided self-funded extracurriculars. These exist both as in-district and non-district organizations. Private schools have done this for years, and it allows parents to pay extra for the duration of their child's school term instead of forever. Would you rather pay an extra $300/year while your children are in school, or $500/year in higher property taxes forever?

District 300 is forcing you to make this choice to pressure a "yes" vote. Parents and taxpayers like yourself can make a difference by going to a school board meeting en masse and demanding that they do NOT cancel programs regardless of the referendum outcome. Larry Snow and others have shown unaccounted funds which prove that these low-cost cuts are completely unnecessary. Cheryl Crates admitted that she failed to account for millions in potential new revenue. What else have they missed?

Keep in mind also that the present teachers contract (soon to expire) requires that extracurricular coaches and support staff receive certain pay levels. What this means is that the District CANNOT ALLOW VOLUNTEERS unless they receive permission from the teachers union. I would suggest bringing pressure on the board to remove these stipends from the next contract, thereby allowing volunteer coaches. In the meantime, make it known that the teachers union is all that stands in the way of programs maintained through volunteers. Its been my experience that most communities cherish their sports programs enough to produce sufficient volunteers to keep such programs alive.

If you're concerned about feeling bad if programs get cancelled, think of how bad you'll feel if higher taxes force foreclosures, or cause an elderly couple to forgo medicine. If you really feel the District needs and deserves more money, write them a check, but don't force those who cannot afford the increase to bear the burden.

I hope this has answered some of your questions. It is completely inappropriate for the school board or any other government organization to pressure or threaten citizens. If this trick works, they'll keep doing it.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The follwing appeared in the Daily Herald on 2-20-06.

dailyherald.com
Posted Monday, February 20, 2006

'Gang of Four' has much to answer for

This is in response to a letter written by Carpentersville Trustees Judy Sigwalt, Paul Humpfer, Jim Frost, and ex-Trustee Karen Roeckner.

Apparently, the Gang of Four is in denial of the fact that its members' approval of the Winchester Heights Subdivision left the taxpayers of Carpentersville and District 300 holding the bag.

Infrastructure upgrades needed to bring in this development will cost the village $2.5 million. The developer will chip in $750,000. This alone will
put the village $1.75 million in the red. That does not include the hiring of police and fire personnel.

The Gang of Four states that there will be 455 students from this development, not the 600-plus as I stated in my letter.

I used an average of 1.4 children per household (the national average is 2.3 children per household) multiplied by 432 homes and that totals 604.8
students.

The Gang of Four mentions my hometown, Algonquin, annexed nine new subdivisions. That is true, but all but two are in District 158.

Of the two in District 300, one is a seniors-only development. All have paid more impact and transition fees than what Pulte is paying in Carpentersville.

The Algonquin Lakes subdivision on the east side of Algonquin is an excellent example of a good annexation agreement. It has low-density, upscale housing, increased impact fees, a nature preserve, a park, ball
fields, a trail system, a school site, and money for construction of Algonquin Lakes School.

Another example of a good development is the Lakeland Development in Sleepy Hollow, with its low-density, upscale housing that is environmentally friendly. These are the types of developments that should have been considered for the Huntley Marsh property.

Local elected officials must be held accountable for their irresponsible conduct. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves on the issues and get out and vote for candidates who are intelligent enough to know what is best for the taxpayers, not the developers.

With Sigwalt, Humpfer, Frost and Roeckner, the taxpayers do not have that.

David Reece
Algonquin

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Courier News.

D300 referendum really about money for teachers

The time has come for educators and taxpayers to try to work together. Anyone can look at The Champion ( www.thechampion.org ) Web site and easily see the bloated salaries that are really killing education.
We need to ask ourselves if teachers really need a union. Is there actually a risk that getting rid of the union would result in sweatshop labor conditions for teachers? The free enterprise system dictates that in order to acquire and retain quality employees, the employer must pay them well and keep them happy. If not, they'll find employment elsewhere. Why do educators really fear getting rid of the union?

In all the years these school funding problems have been going on, I have yet to hear of a single educator who would be willing to take a voluntary pay freeze. This is what makes me wonder if in fact it is really "about the children," as the educators would expect you to believe.

District 300 has sent out their list of threats. One of these is the split shift, which educators hail as the end of the world as we know it. I remember doing the split shift thing in high school in the early '70s. I think it actually was a good thing. Sure, the teachers maybe had to work almost a whole day. That was indeed a supreme sacrifice, yet I can't recall a single teacher dying from being overworked during that time.

Another threat is having to resort to mobile classrooms. Not a bad idea, due to the temporary nature of mobile classrooms as opposed to tax hikes, which are more permanent than death.

Another is "reduced money available in the education and operation and maintenance funds." Is that really a threat, or just restating the obvious consequence of putting the educators payroll, pensions, benefits, raises, etc., ahead of everything else? Again, the educators can well afford to take a temporary pay freeze to show good faith.

Yet another threat is "plummeting property values." They've been dragging out this old threat for years with no obvious declines in spite of the voters saying "no" repeatedly. If our local property values are plummeting, then why is there a developer on every square inch of land in our area?

One pro-referendum writer claims that another writer had "skewed salary information... by including pension earnings as annual income to inflate results." Let's think about that one. OK, maybe it's not part of the take home pay this year, but it's costing taxpayers as much as if it were. Who's the one who's really trying to skew?

Another pro-referendum writer claims that her fourth- grade daughter wanted money to help keep her music teacher. Now who put that idea into that little girl's head? Give us a break already. Those pro-referendum people should be allowed to hand over all the cash they want to "help education." What bothers me is that they are brainwashing and manipulating the children.

To summarize, it is time for the educators to stop the lying.

Come out and boldly admit that it isn't really "about the children." It's in fact about the money. If you want more money, then earn it honestly like the rest of us have to.

Get rid of the union.

Give the taxpayers a better product and you will be rewarded for your efforts. I would happily pay more taxes for education if I knew that it was paying to produce the best educated children in the world, rather than just the highest paid teachers.

Larry Schultz

Hampshire

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

A letter from a D - 300 parent.

I am a parent in Disgrace 300 (D300) and keep having children my kids play with coming into my home saying that we wont have this next year or this sport next year. Sounds like teachers as Westfield are opening their mouths to the kids as a scare tactic lately. Whom do I talk to put this to rest? Its ridiculous that our kids (yeah its for our kids right) are being told this and coming home all worried. It needs to stop. Whom do I go to since I know it’s a state law they shouldn’t be using our kids as propaganda for pro ref.
Any suggestions???

Personally this referendum is like a crack addict on a street corner that keeps coming back!

These teachers need to stop making our kids have ulcers like we do from them begging for money every year!

Keep up the fight, we will win the war!!!

Roger

Our answer to this parent was to complain to the school board and encourage fellow parents to do the same. Not confronting the school board only condones this behavior. Remember the school districts exists to serve us. We do not exist to school districts.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

A parent who is vehemently opposed to this referendum sent CRAFT the following sign idea.

Would you keep giving drugs to a drug addict or try to help them with their problem???
Giving more money to D300 is the same thing! Vote NO for financial responsibility March 21st!

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

This referendum is not about the children. It is about using the children and parents by threatening them with program cuts, a shortened school day and split shifts. The threat whether they follow through or not is still a threat. The school district should not be using the children or their programs as political leverage. The worse part is this group is to educate and protect the children while not in parents care. Instead they use them as political leverage.

All parents whether for or against the referendum should confront the school board and say do not cut any programs even if the referendum fails. People forget that government schools exist to serve the people the people do not exist to serve government employees.

If these referenda fail and duplicate the results of February 2003 it could fail as much as 70% no and 30% yes, canceling of the programs falls squarely on the board. It is the board not the voters who will decide to cancel programs. The teacher's contract expires this year. There is no reason to balance the budget on the backs of the very children these people are to educate and protect. If they cancel the programs and cut teachers, elect a new board who will be fiscally responsible with your tax dollars. A no vote does not mean cancel programs, a no vote means you have plenty of money use it wisely.

If the school board follows through they have decided to put the interests of the employees ahead of the children they are to educate.

I will leave with this final quote. "That is the biggest lie in America. They waste money." Ben Chavis, Principal, response to public schools' complaints about money.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Do the pro-referendum people really want to hear facts? Why do they trust the district without question?

The following transaction was taken in part from Cal Skinner's BLOG McHenry County Blog at http://www.mchenrycountyblog.com/2006/02/district-300-tax-hikers-organizing.html. Please cut and paste the link above to view the whole conversation. Or go to the blog and click on District 300 Tax Hikers Organizing Students, Teachers & Staff at Jacobs High School a February 28th, 2006 post.

A referendum opponent states.....

"Lamentably, your latest post falls into a typical pattern of pro-referendum supporters when posed with questions that make sense--deny, decry, dismiss and insult. Vote as you will, but to me this is a no-brainer."

A referendum proponent states....

"As for your comments about being a "typical pro-referendum supporter" I will accept it and I'll celebrate it on March 21st."

It is amazing that a proponent admitted he is proud to deny, decry, dismiss and insult when posed with questions that make sense.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The following Letters to the Editor appeared in the Daily Herald on March 3rd, 2006.

Lack of answers will lead to ‘no, no’ vote

I’m being forced to vote “no, no” on the District 300 referendum proposal. I’ve been waiting since Feb. 4 for answers to legitimate, researched questions I’ve posed to the district board and Superintendent Ken Arndt. I have yet to receive a response.

Their reasoning? They are busy working with Amy Mack and Daily Herald deadlines.

Although I would like to change my vote, I certainly can’t until the following are answered:

1. On page five of the 33-page yellow “Questions about the March 21, 2006, Referendum” at the bottom of the chart “Breakdown of Bond Project Costs,” it states “Impact fees available for other growth projects equals $14 million.” (This chart is also found on the district’s Web site.)

However, I have an e-mail dated Dec. 16, 2005, from Chuck Bumbales that states they will be receiving $28 million in impact fees and an additional $14 million in transition fees. I don’t understand why the $28 million isn’t being disclosed. Furthermore, Pulte Homes/Winchester Glen recently gave a $1.25 million contribution. Where are those monies?

2. Please further break down the Bond Project Costs related to your projections: a) New high school at $75 million. District 158 has an estimate of $70 million.

Additionally, it reads “all fees included,” yet there’s a line item of $4 million slated for land purchase? Bumbales stated in the Dec. 16 e-mail that the district already possessed seven school site properties. Why not use one of those?

3. And these line items, “Add 8-10 percent contingency of $6.2 million “ and “Inflation over construction period of $7.8 million” they are double what’s considered normal to financial analysts. Why double?

4. From what I understand, the new growth property tax goes directly into the Education Fund. The anticipated increase for this next school year is $6 million in property tax, plus an additional $170 per student from state aid, which equates to $3.6 million. Add the $1 million in federal entitlements and we have over $10 million. Wouldn’t this cover the $5 million shortfall described on page nine?

5. According to the 2005 audit, our student population growth was up only .03 percent, yet operating costs went up 6.41 percent and the Education Fund went up 8.2 percent. Please explain further.

6. If the proposed tax cap law passes, Senate Bill 1682, it wouldn’t become effective until November. Will the board “opt in” sooner with a resolution to protect taxpayers from being overcharged as in the case of District 158? What guarantees do we have?

7. I’ve recently checked the legislative committee section again on the district Web site. I still don’t see meeting minute activity, though I’ve been told time and again that the district is making every effort to increase state funding. Please advise on current efforts.

Sherry Dobson
Carpentersville

Say ‘no’ to tax hikes, ask for accountability

The education elite, administrators, school boards and teachers have only one solutions to all challenges facing school districts — more money. This is because they have found the ultimate “deep pockets,” the purses and wallets of taxpayers.

Taxpayers and students in District 300 are being held hostage by threats from administrators to cut music and art programs. Yet more than 80 percent of the budget goes for teacher salaries. If all the arts, music and other such programs were eliminated, the savings would only be a drop in the bucket compared to the whole budget.

Many teachers are making $60,000 or more a year for working only 180 days per year. This is equivalent to a lawyer, engineer or salesperson making $100,000 per year for working more than 300 days per year. Many of these professionals work Saturdays, Sundays and late at night. I know; I’ve been there.

If they don’t like what they are doing and what they are getting paid, they can go to work somewhere else.

Some years, as much as 62 percent of my real estate taxes have gone to the school district. Sixteen other beneficiaries of my tax dollars (library, township, forest preserve district, etc.) have had to scrounge and scramble to get their fair share of the remaining 38 percent of my tax dollar.

Yet, according to a recent report, only a third of the Illinois high school class of 2002 was prepared to complete college work at a four-year institution.

Of incoming students who took Elgin Community College placement exams, 67 percent placed in remedial writing, 20 percent in remedial reading and 90 percent in remedial math. This is pathetic and shameful.

We taxpayers are not getting our money’s worth. The above facts show why teacher’s salaries should be based on a merit system of performance and results rather than the number of years of service and number of college credits received.

We taxpayers must send a strong message to board members and administrators, demanding responsibility and accountability by defeating these continuous referendum questions.

L. Dean Hufsey
Elgin

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The letter below was sent to the Advance 300 group by a former District 300 school board member.

It is so sad that you have pushed those “sitting on the fence” to the no side by YOUR negative comments.

Any questions should be answered in a professional manner no matter how many times they may be asked.

I am so glad that I am gone from that area…when I do move back it won’t be to an area (that area) where those in charge and those who fancy themselves as their helpers (Your organization and all those that have popped up before and will after) do not hold themselves accountable for their actions.


Don’t forget I know how it works on the inside…….not providing all the information is the equivalent of lying just as you have told your children….I don’t know why some REAL financial housekeeping can’t be done on the inside first and then you will have supporters out there that are willing to answer YES to your ballot questions.


Jill Grung
Former SD 300 Board Member

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Cal Skinner's BLOG http://mchenrycountyblog.com/ has a great piece that is a must read for District 300 parents before considering voting yes on this referenda.

I have never read such sage political analysis and advice from high school students.

The editorial talks about how “…District 158 is picking up the pieces...,” noting, “…the controversy and fallout between district and the community in the last two years…”

The “bitter feelings” against the administration and school board are acknowledged as resulting from the campaign which advertised a tax rate hike of 55 cents, which turned out to be really $1.22. And, to top it off, because the voters narrowly approved the tax hike, the state withdrew $14 million in state aid to education, the students explain.

The theme is “You need to listen."
If the board of education had listened to concerns and criticisms from community members instead of writing them off as suddenly as they had, some problems may have been avoided. It turns out that community members were right about money problems and it was men as current board member Larry Snow who pointed out problems early on…

To view the whole piece go to http://mchenrycountyblog.com/ and read the story under Huntley Students Give New Superintendent Some Advice & Praise Board Member Larry Snow

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

There is a special school board meeting Monday night. This would be a good time to tell the school board that you do not appreciate the way they have been using your childrens' education and programs as leverage to pass these referenda. The school board and district exist to serve you the children and the taxpayers not vice versa. The teachers' contract expires this year with the found monies in the budget (thanks to Mr. Snow's investigative work) and a reasonable contract their is no need to cancel any programs, cut the class day, cut any other educational programs or go to split shifts.

We can not condone the current behavior of the school board and the district employees it will only encourage this behavior in the future.

Special Meeting
Board of Education, School District No. 300
Administration Center
300 Cleveland Avenue
Carpentersville, IL 60110
March 6, 2006
6:00 p.m.


P U B L I C N O T I C E

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a Special Meeting of the Board of

Education of COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 300, Kane,

McHenry, Cook, and DeKalb Counties, Illinois, will be held on Monday,

March 6, 2006, in the Board Room at the Administration Center, 300 Cleveland

Avenue, Carpentersville, Illinois, to interview candidates who wish to fill the
vacant position on the Board of Education.

The Board will recess to closed session to make their decision immediately thereafter.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Daily Herald. We at CRAFT agree with the author of this LTE.

Do more digging on fleecing of taxpayers

I respect the Daily Herald’s efforts to expose school funding problems, but I feel the reporting falls short. The school board members that make these decisions should be treated like any other politician who makes bad decisions.

Their names should be linked to stories and they should be subject to lawsuits and criminal prosecution. If they cannot be legally held accountable for their bad decisions then the laws should be changed to expose them to litigation.

Why aren’t the finance companies investigated? Why are no links made between board members and finance companies? Someone is getting rich off these deals.

I say treat the people on these boards to the same public scrutiny you do other politicians. Keep their names in the public eye. They are all elected and should be held accountable in the same manner.

Finally, why can’t there be reform in how these districts seek referendums? You should expose the business end of that. Districts use hired guns and consultants to fleece us.

Matthew Skarbek
Naperville

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

How low will referendum proponents go? It is appauling that they would stoop so low and teach students to do the same. I was just informed by a D - 300 parent that a District 300 truck was driving around town pulling out no signs. Also the track coach had students pulling out no signs.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

A parent sent the following information. You will have to cut and paste the links into your browser. If you are having difficulty email us at noreferendum@joltmail.com and we will email you the links.

There won't be 7,000 new students coming into D300

Because 90% of the developments (all those that have
not yet broken ground) will be CANCELLED SHORTLY.

The RE market is on its way into the basement with a
'HARD LANDING' predicted. Sad to say but huge
inventories of unsold homes (existing and new
construction), cancelled orders, huge "give-aways" by
the builders are not going to sell homes.

Rates are going UP. Lending practices have been lax
and are tightening fast (meaning that many folks who
would have been approved for a mortgage 3 months ago will not be able to now). There won't be 100%
financing (no down payment).

People who already bought houses are sadly going to
see their values DECLINING. This is because of all
their neighbors who took all the equity out of their
homes to buy BMW's and Plasma TV'S but now their ARM
are adjusting and they can't make the payments.
Foreclosures will be up. People will drop their asking
prices in panic to get rid of their houses.

The development is finally about to STOP.

30-Year Mortgage Rates Jump to 2-Year High
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/mortgage_rates;_ylt=Aq2WSkS.NsBFp8B97xzlJvCz1g4B;
_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl

Housing Slowdown Ripples Through Economy
Monday March 6, 3:01 pm ET
By David Koenig, AP Business Writer
Statistical Evidence Suggests Five-Year Housing Boom
Is Over; Slowdown Ripples Through Economy
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/060306/housing_slowdown.html?.v=2


LOOK AT THE CHARTS OF THE HOMEBUILDER'S STOCKS
They are all on their way down.
http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=CTX&t=3m&l=on&z=m&q=l&c=TOL,KBH,LEN,RYL


Still Bullish, But Bubble Wary
http://www.forbes.com/personalfinance/strategies/2006/03/08/stack-housing-bu
bble-cz_js_0309soapbox_inl.html

This site is collecting tons of links about the
bursting RE bubble:
http://thehousingbubbleblog.com/
Always something good on this site every day.

Homebuilders Fall on Higher Rate Fears
Wednesday March 8, 3:58 pm ET
Shares of Homebuilders Tumble on Rising Interest Rate
Fears
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/060308/homebuilders_mover.html?.v=1



THE GURU'S CORNER
Bulls beware
Commentary: Don't expect the consumer to keep this
market going
http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story/Story.aspx?guid=%7B141A5203%2D40D7%2D4
F7B%2D8F9D%2D87AFA797D11B%7D&dist=newsfinder&siteid=mktw&link=&keyword=real+
estate+inventory
Record home prices won't provide monetary support to
the consumer anymore. Former Federal Reserve Chairman
Alan Greenspan stated that the borrowing against these
homes contributed $700 billion to consumers' spending
power in 2004. Think of the ramifications to the
economy if the consumer reduces expenditures in a
significant way.
The various indicators point to a slower real estate
market. The housing inventory has shot up by nearly
36%. This backlog will hurt future sales. The chief
economist of Fannie Mae, David Benson, believes
housing activity will decline 8% in the current year.
While the National Association of Home Builders
predict home starts should decrease by 6%. We suspect
the news could be worse. It's our contention that a
hard landing is in the cards. Not a soft one.
What concerns us is how 43% of first-time homebuyers
across the country bought properties with no-money
down mortgages. Plus, what about all those
adjustable-rate deals? There have been 14 consecutive
interest rate hikes. And additional increases will
follow. To be sure, rates did originate from an
artificially low level. Still, these types of loans
with rising rates place the consumers and the economy
in an extremely vulnerable position. In actuality, the
combination of those leveraged obligations and the
increase in borrowing costs make the level of interest
rates much higher than the quoted figure.

National Foreclosures Increase 27 Percent in January
According to RealtyTrac(TM) U.S. Foreclosure Market
Report
http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/02-21
-2006/0004285804&EDATE=



U.S. housing overvalued by about 20%, Goldman Sachs
says
Print | RSS Feed | Disable live quotes
By Rex Nutting
Last Update: 6:18 PM ET Mar 7, 2006
http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story/Story.aspx?guid=%7B32626674%2DA507%2D4
A92%2DB929%2DFF54FB380A86%7D&siteid=mktw


Consolidation and lay-offs hit mortgage industry
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060224/bs_nm/economy_mortgages_dc;_ylt=A9FJqYSw
EAFEvisBYwuyBhIF;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA


ASSOCIATED PRESS
Housing cooling off - Could chill economy
By David Koenig
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/business/20060306-1130-housingslowdown.ht
ml
11:30 a.m. March 6, 2006
DALLAS - The five-year housing boom is indeed over,
judging from growing statistical evidence and the
performance of some of the nation's leading builders,
and the slowdown is already rippling through the
economy.


Here's a story on the Shanghai bubble bursting
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/world/3700615.html


A STAR CONSUMER WATCHDOG REPORT
Bogus appraisals stress housing market
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/consumer_news/13963021.htm


AP
Number of Unsold Homes Hits Record High
Monday February 27, 7:25 pm ET
By Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer
Number of Unsold Homes Hits Record High in January,
Shows That Market May Be Cooling
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/060227/economy.html?.v=9&printer=1

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

CRAFT received the following note from a Jacobs High School Student.

Hello, I am a student at Jacobs High School. Supposedly, and by law as well, schools including Jacobs, Dundee Crown, Westfield, and all other District 300 schools are not allowed to push for a yes,yes or no,no vote on March 21,2006's referenda questions. However, this has been ignored. Let me show you a (currently) typical day at Jacobs High School regarding the referendum:
1.Come to school, and around 7:15/7:20, an announcement comes on (with a teacher speaking) about how students should sign up for canvasing(walking door to door for referendum support). Today's message was along the lines of this: "Subliminal(repeated several times), come canvas for Jacobs and District 300."
2. During the morning announcements which run from 7:40-7:45, there is 9/10 chance that pro referendum "prodigy" Matthew Bishop will come onto the intercom for an "important announcement," telling us about how we should not stand idly by, and all at the same time, support his cause.
3.During our flex block lunch, an announcement comes onto the intercom to remind us to go to today(Friday's) pro-referendum meeting in the auditorium. In today's meeting, they signed up people for canvasing, gave out t-shirts, and gave out wristbands.
4.After the 2:41 release bell has sounded, Matt Bishop (today at least) comes on to yet again tell us of the referendum and how we should care.

The above mentioned are a day-to-day basis, however other such things occur as:
1. Pro referendum tshirts being worn by students
2. Pro referendum "Yes,Yes" posters are put onto school hallways
3. Students wear "I am District 300" wristbands

How is it possible for this referendum to occur if the pro-referendum side cannot simply abide by not local, but STATE law?


Just like I am, my friends are also sick of this bombardment of propaganda.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The following story appeared in the Daily Herald.


Yes, they want their ‘no’ signs returned
By Jeffrey Gaunt
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Saturday, March 11, 2006

The group opposing two tax requests in Community Unit District 300 filed a police report Thursday saying a District 300 truck was seen carting away “vote no” signs, Carpentersville police said.

Representatives from the Family Taxpayers Network said a red pickup with a plow on the front and the District 300 logo on the side was seen driving away with about 50 signs.

“We want our signs back,” said Lidia Downs, the group’s executive director. “And we want them to quit infringing on people’s rights.”

Downs said the group had received at least seven calls Friday from residents who complained their signs were missing.

Carpentersville police said they’ve contacted the district and are waiting to hear back from officials who said they would conduct their own investigation.

When asked about the signs, Superintendent Ken Arndt said Friday that he was under the impression that it was a white truck — not a red truck — and the district doesn’t own any white trucks.

“I have no idea,” Arndt said. “I heard it was a white pickup truck. That’s all I know.”

To view the rest of the story go to
http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=166051

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The following letters to the editor appeared in the Daily Herald.

Need new leaders not more money

As a resident of School District 300, it has become very clear to me current managers have no clue how to run a $140 million dollar a year operation.

An early clue that the wrong people were in charge was the report of a “very emotional” board meeting back in December. This is a time for serious minded leadership, not emotion.

D300 officials don’t know how to manage growth; something any successful business does. D300 officials don’t know how to budget, having overspent one fund by $27 million.

After learning a 20-cent tax increase would produce the same revenue as a 55-cent tax increase, due to the state aid formula, officials refused to prevent the waste of taxpayer’s money by changing course.

Revenue increases have and will continue to outpace both inflation and enrollment growth for many years.

To hide this, officials chose to leave out millions of dollars from their financial projections. Now caught, officials decided to manipulate figures — moving these “discovered” revenues into future years so they could still threaten cuts for next year. District 300 needs new management, not more money. Vote “no” on both referendums.

John Biver

Carpentersville

Cannot afford any but ‘no, no’ vote

“No, no” is my vote. I simply cannot afford this several hundred dollar increase again.

The state continues to shirk its part in this. If I pay the state’s share via another large increase, will it ever assume its responsibility? Write letters and demand state accountability. Why are the impact fees and new taxes never enough?

A quality teacher is not determined by how many degrees she or he has. Tenure guarantees job security, and it is not dismissed lightly by the teaching profession. Not many tenured teachers would be willing to forfeit that security.

Parents need to get more involved in their children’s education. More tax money is not the answer. It is your time, shared learning experiences, and the feeling that you care about them that kids are desperate to get from you.

A final thought: If you are a strong “ yes” voter, and truly believe this money is needed to better educate your child, I would like to suggest you send your several hundred dollar tax increase directly to District 300 the day after the referendum.

Kathy Kaminski

Algonquin

If raised impact fees slow growth, so be it

I just read an article in the Daily Herald stating that Central School District 301 is asking approval for a $34 million bond sale on March 21.

It said they actually need $40 million and Superintendent Brad Hawk said that in two to three years, the district will ask for another $42 million. That brings the total amount supposedly needed by the district to $76 million.

At a public hearing in Burlington on Feb. 28, the question was put to the board as to the amount the developer would be required to pay per dwelling built. The board mentioned the figure of $5,168.

My question is, why isn’t that figure much higher?

Instead, it is the existing residents who are asked to pay the bill for more housetops that are not welcome anyway. I say, raise the school impact fee to the amount where it pays for all the additional schools and property. If the developer finds it to be too high a price and decides not to go ahead with the project, I say “so be it.”

Tom Liebert

Burlington

A need for fewer blocks not justified

Recently, I filed a Freedom of Information request with District 300 for the budgeted amount for transportation for the 2005-06 school year. The amount, per District 300 administration, was $10,015,361.

Other information requested was the projected transportation cost for the 2006-07 school year if the referendums failed. The answer was $11,071,330.

The difference between the two years is $1,055,969.

The largest part of this increase is due to needing four trips at the high schools rather than two. If the referendums fail and the board cuts from four to three blocks at the high schools, the administration says it will save the district $1,250,000.

But when you subtract the increase in transportation from the money to be saved by reducing blocks you are left with $194,031. That makes our administration and board look spiteful. This is truly not a necessary cut.

Paula Caliendo

Algonquin

Calvin said...

I miss the old Citizens for Fair and Reasonable Taxes (aka. "C-FART") group. I wonder how the Peschke clan is doing these days....

Cathy Peschke with occasional posts by Jim Peschke said...

Calvin,

Oh my I never knew we were referred to as C-FART. I am surprised I did not catch it either. We are still around causing trouble.

http://www.vnews.com/05042010/6549198.htm

Did you really miss us or were you being facetious?