Sunday, December 18, 2005

McHenry District 15 Referendum

This post will be used to discuss the District 15 referendum. The post will be moderated and offensive comments will be removed. Further information about the referendum will be posted in the form of comments.

Naperville 204 has a great forum as well as Winthrop Harbor District 1. These blogs and forums are great for those who are afraid to speak out about upcoming referenda.

Bravo once again to Marla. We know how difficult it can be to speak out.

Don't punish the kids
[published on Sun, Dec 18, 2005 in the Northwest Herald]
To the Editor:

Re: Tracy Simon's Dec. 2 letter, "Two separate issues."

I did vote for the McHenry District 15 referendum the last two times it was up.

You are saying we should continue to vote for the referendum because the district needs it to run the schools; I agree to a point.

You also said I should not take it out on the children. The voters voted the referendum down at least twice previously, and yet the district is going to take it out on our children if it is voted down again.

So who is in the wrong here? The administration that punishes children for their parents' actions or the parents that expect the administration to run within its means without giving themselves yearly pay raises?

We are being bullied, and I stand by my statement that the administration is holding our children's education for ransom.

I think each board member should take a 10 percent pay decrease and reinvest it in their company, "our children," for one year.

Then maybe some of the other parents who voted down the previous referendums might see that our board does believe in our children. Then maybe the parents can believe in their board.

Marla Pfleger



Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Jim responds to Robert Doran's LTE that was published in the Northwest Herald. His letter is below Jim's response.

More Lies Against Education Reform

Another damage control fiction from the education establishment followed Jim Peschke's recent parody of teacher union propaganda. The latest from teacher Robert Doran is so filled with self-serving drivel as to demand a response.

"...(Peschke Family) crusade against public education..."

If "public education" means providing education for all, nothing could be further from the truth. But if "public education" refers to the government-run education monopoly which has been hijacked by the teachers unions and been a hugely expensive educational failure, then yes, we do oppose it and are proud to say so.

Don't kid yourself into thinking our views are unique. We are a vocal pair among thousands of Illinois taxpayers fed-up with the selfish greed of the education establishment.

"...(CRAFT) offers no viable solutions..."

Absurd. We at CRAFT have developed more real solutions to the problems facing public education than every school district in Northern Illinois combined. School districts and teachers unions have only one "solution" - more taxpayer dollars. Just because the education establishment chooses to ignore our numerous proposals does not mean we don't have any.

"I make a good salary and I deserve it."

Taxpayers, not teachers, should decide whether you deserve your salary. Because of the union-driven "dollars-for-years" policy, younger teachers tend to be a better bargain for taxpayers.

"My salary...pale in comparison to other professionals with equivalent education and experience."

Not likely. Most professionals can't retire at 55 with millions in retirement pay. Most professionals don't enjoy lifetime job guarantees.

Empty education degrees are not comparable to the genuine credentials common in the private sector. Teachers are often totally devoid of real-world experience so common in the private sector, and would fall flat on their face in private industry.

"...teachers would be at the mercy of taxpayers..."

As it should be, since we pay their salary. At present, taxpayers remain at the mercy of greedy teachers unions, a far worse scenario.

"...(Private school) tuitions are skyrocketing..."

Private school tuition increases are generally insignificant compared to the growing waste in public education. Private schools remain significantly less expensive than public schools.

"Their curriculums (sic) cannot compete with public schools."

True enough. While private schools offer boring yet effective instruction such as Phonics and Calculus, they usually don't offer Diversity Training, Water Polo, and Multiculturalism.

"...not accountable for state testing, NCLB and not victimized by unfunded mandates."

Private schools offer the only accountability that matters. They are directly accountable to parents, unlike public schools. If teachers are unhappy about state mandates, ask your unions to stop pushing for them.

"...(Private schools) do not serve students with 'special needs'."

Baloney. Private schools pride themselves in bringing success to students who would slip through the cracks at public schools. Private schools don't waste time and money trying to get more state funding by labeling normal children as "special needs" as public schools so often do.

"Most problems facing public schools can be traced directly to poor legislative decisions and a lack of funding."

At least the first half is correct. Exclusive collective bargaining, tenure, and lack of school choice are three poor legislative decisions that have allowed the teachers unions to destroy public education. Fortunately, its not too late to change the laws and kick the parasitic teachers unions out of our schools once and for all.

Robert Doran's 2004-2005 salary was $93,692, he has had a 33% increase since 1999, if he retired last year his first year pension this year would have been $62,608, he would hit a million dollars in his 15th year of retirement.

Below is the letter to the editor in the Northwest Herald by Robert Doran and can be viewed at

Teachers earn salaries
[published on Thu, Dec 22, 2005]
To the Editor:

The Peschke family crusade against public education offers no viable solutions to their baseless complaints.

Allow me to respond to three of their issues.

I have been an educator for 37 years. I have two advanced degrees.

I am contracted to work 200 days per year. I make a good salary, and I deserve it. My salary, benefits and vacations pale in comparison to other professionals with equivalent education and experience.

Tenure laws are complex, but tenured teachers can be fired if school administrators follow the necessary steps.

Conversely, if it were not for tenure laws, excellent teachers would be at the mercy of taxpayers who have Peschke-like axes to grind.

Jim Peschke said (Oct. 23) that private schools offer a "lot more for a lot less." Tuition costs are skyrocketing. Their curriculums cannot compete with public schools. They are not accountable for state testing or the federal No Child Left Behind Act, and they are not victimized by unfunded mandates.

They are tax-supported yet do not serve students with "special needs." More for less? Not by a long shot.

Most problems facing public schools can be traced directly to poor legislative decisions and a lack of funding, not to poor teaching.

Robert J. Doran

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Before voting "yes" take a look at the salary and pension information for these two District 15 employees planning on retiring at the end of this year. Do you think this school board is really passing this referendum for the kids and salaries will be controlled?

James LaShelle 2004-2005 salary/compensation package was $119,231, he had a salary increase of 58% since 1999. If he retired last year instead of this year he would have taken home $78,019 his first year of retirement (this amount will be more next year because it will be based on this years salary). Based on his last documented salary he will hit 1 million dollars in his 12th year of retirement.

Judith Lashelle had a salary/compensation package of $80,709 dollars in 2004-2005, she has had a 66% increase in salary since 1999. If she retired last year instead of this year her first year pension would be $53,313. She will hit one million dollars by her 17th year of retirement.

This husband and wife team combined will have taken home 1 million dollars by their 8th year of retirement. The TRS is a Ponzi scheme retirement system that the taxpayer will be forced to bail out. Passing a referendum will not solve the spending problem that school districts have.

Husband, wife educators to retire
By Scott Ray
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2005

After 27 years at Edgebrook Elementary School, Jim LaShelle and his wife, Judy, are calling it quits.

The two educators, with a combined 54 years invested in McHenry Elementary District 15, will retire together at the end of this school year.

Jim, the school’s principal, will hand over the reins to Vicki Chrisman, Parkland Elementary School’s assistant principal, when school ends June 21.

Judy, who has been a reading specialist, also plans to retire the same date after 27 years with the district.

“We’re going to miss it,” Jim LaShelle said of the memories and relationships he and his wife have made in the district. “Vicki is inheriting a wonderful building.”

Chrisman, who has been with the district for five years, said she looks forward to the move.

“I’m very excited and honored to work with a staff that is as passionate about education as they are at Edgebrook,” she said.

Before becoming assistant principal at Parkland, Chrisman was a band teacher at Riverwood, Valley View and Parkland elementary schools, eventually becoming the dean at Parkland.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

This is posted elsewhere in the BLOG but I thought I would post it here to because it is from a McHenry resident.

This letter is against Jim. This one really cracks me up. If this teacher did his research he would have found that CRAFT supporters include current and former teachers. He would also know that I have spent time in a classroom. If he would have reviewed our BLOG he would have found the following piece from a teacher.

Just below is a response we received from a teacher.

I am not sure what teachers the author knows, but I do not know of any teachers that take home 100 papers to grade each night. I usually stay around school for an hour or two and get all my grading and planning done before I leave. I also have a couple of hours of planning time built into my day. In short, I work a pretty standard 8-9 hour day, and I only work 180 days per year (not counting summer school for which I get paid extra). At any rate, any teacher who does not like the hand they are being dealt is free to find other work - just like everyone else.

The author is also full of it when he says that 120 voters stood in the way of the tax increase. That was the margin of the referendum's defeat. There were far more voters that stood behind that 120 to make it a majority. At any rate, if even one property owner objected to it, I think he should have the right not to pay. Let those voting for the increase pay the increase, and let the rest keep what is rightfully theirs.

Finally, if the district is growing so rapidly, its property tax base must also be growing. Given skyrocketing property values and the fact that new construction is not subject to the tax caps, there should be plenty of new revenue to fund those schools without an increase, and even if that is not the case, let the people who want the new schools fund the new schools.

Go Sox!

Now the letter that spoke out against Jim in the December 27th edition of the Northwest Herald.

Re: Jim Peschke's Dec. 14 letter.

Jim and Cathy Peschke say whatever they feel will bring about distrust and animosity for our teachers and school districts. I feel that some of what they say is motivated by envy. They feel that teachers are not worth their pay. The drop-out rate for new teachers is high. Studies into attrition show that nearly one-third of new teachers drop out in their first year. Low pay is only part of the problem. Difficult student behavior and the resulting lost productivity is disillusioning to new teachers. Also, most new teachers have no idea of the workload required to do a good job; a workload that includes nights and weekends.

High school teachers see about 150 students every day. Each encounter requires planning in advance and subsequent record keeping with evaluation for each unique student. Teachers must get their job satisfaction from seeing their students do well. I do not believe any teacher would stay in the job for money alone.

Before the Peschkes write one more word, they should spend one full day in a school. Their opinions won't carry water until they spend time in a school and get some facts.

William H. Guild


Now for a note to Mr. Guild. For you to suggest envy on our part suggests that you realize that teachers make a rather large salary. No we are not envious if you were to view our website and our BLOG you would realize we are truly fighting for education reform. Too many children are left behind and become a burden on society because they are undereducated. No I do not feel envious in fact I pity public school teachers who accept the status quo and let fellow teachers who they know are bad remain in the classroom. Frankly I wonder how so many public school teachers ( I have a great deal of respect for public school teachers who are not part of the union, home school teachers and private school teachers) sleep at night knowing the kind of money they rake in and not being accountable to the students, parents and taxpayers for which they work. We do what we do to improve the education system in Illinois not to be used as a verbal punching bag for teachers who think they are secular saints and their relatives.


Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

This excellent letter to the editor appeared in the January 5, 2006 edition of the Northwest Herald. Bravo Don and Carol Regul.

Schools can save money

[published on Thu, Jan 5, 2006]

To the Editor:

Re: The Dec. 27, 2005, story about schools turning down heat to save money.

School districts trying to save money makes sense. We have a few suggestions besides lowering the thermostat.

We live near McHenry West High School. It seems as if it never turns off the lights. No matter what time of the day or night we drive by the school, the lights are on. It also has the air conditioning on all summer. Is this really necessary? Another suggestion is to have summer school at only one of the McHenry high schools. We think the students who go to summer school all could go to one campus.

These suggestions seem like common sense to us. It seems like common sense isn't common anymore.

I bet if you ask your readers, they would come up with more common-sense ideas for the schools to save money.

Don and Carol Regul


Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

School Boards are elected to represent the people and to be good stewards of the people's tax-dollars. They are not elected to represent the interests of the teachers (they have a union to represent them) or the administrators.

The school board has yet to return dollars to taxpayers that they were promised. Ms. Simon stated that District 15 has been responsible. Is it responsible to put teacher pay and administrators pay ahead of the interests of the children? From 1999 to 2005 inflation increased 17% yet during this time period salaries increased far above this rate. Oscar Sola 78% salary increase, William Burke 67% increase, Ronald Jania 56% increase, Patricia Mccrystal 68% increase, Eugene Vitale 79% increase, John Griffith 80%, etc. view these increases at

This school board has not been good stewards of taxpayer's dollars. Salary increases as much as 5 times the rate of inflation is irresponsible. Their is no guarantee that the board will be responsible with future salary increases.

District 15 is responsible
[published on Mon, Jan 23, 2006 in the Northwest Herald]
To the Editor:

Re: Marla Pfleger's Dec. 18 letter.

McHenry School District 15 is the third largest elementary district in the county.

Of 14 districts, our average administrator salary ranks eighth. These "managers" are committed to the "company" – experienced administrators could move to other districts and make more money.

Our administration has been fiscally responsible. It has operated the schools for 13 years on a referendum passed in 1993 that was intended to support the district for only seven years.

District 15 has one of the lowest education-tax rates in the county (we are 11th of 13).

The board is holding an open forum to discuss the referendum at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Please attend and get the facts.

Tracy Simon

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Funding is not obsolete the problem is spending. If you review revenues over time you will see that they continue to increase despite a referendum not passing recently. You will also see that the district and the administrators put their salaries before spending for items as the one stated below.

The title should have been spending has been irresponsible. The letter to the editor below appeared in the Northwest Herald.

Funding obsolete
[published on Tue, Jan 31, 2006]
To the Editor:

For those that have gone through the technology upgrades since 1990 – wow.

We started with Apples and basic IBMs. Pentium I, Internet, e-mail, graphics, Windows and XP have made our lives much easier. Look at the positives that have come from upgrading our technology.

In education, if we do not "upgrade" how we fund education, we will be stuck with an initial "Apple" system.

When the funding system was installed, we thought it was a great tool, but now it's obsolete.

School districts need to be responsible and accountable. Districts throughout the state are stuck with obsolete funding that is putting school districts in a financial "crash."

We need to continue "upgrading" our schools, not "delete" programs so the students are regressing toward the original "Apple."

We need to take action. Contact your state representatives and your governor.

Demand "upgrading" of the funding process for schools so it is funded fairly and not a burden on communities. If they do not "upgrade" funding, upgrade the elected officials.

Brian Schweitzer


Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

The story below appeared in the Daily Herald on January 25, 2006. The reason it drew little ire is because each time the school promotes the referendum they give the public the same rhetoric. People express their ire at the polls that is why the referendum has been defeated time and time again.

Daily Herald
Tax-increase plan draws little ire
McHenry Elementary referendum forum draws more support than opposition

By Scott Ray
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Residents filled McHenry Middle School on Tuesday to express their views on McHenry Elementary District 15’s upcoming referendum.

School board members reiterated the need to win votes in March to dig the district out of its $2.1 million budget deficit, blaming the state’s school funding model for its woes.

Most of the 75 community members in attendance were in favor of the district’s push for a 44-cent education fund tax-rate increase at the polls March 21, but at least one spoke out against.

McHenry resident Russ Gazzano, who has two children in the district, said he would not vote for the increase.

“They’re (the board) is going to people that have already paid,” Gazzano said.

“They need to go to the person who is not paying and say pay up,” he said referring to the state.

Rather than going to the local taxpayer for money, Gazzano suggested the board should find creative ways to raise revenue.

“They have assets here,” Gazzano said, referring to the district’s facilities. “Run it like a business. If I was running my business like the district, I’d be ashamed.”

He also suggested the board should freeze or cut administrator and teacher pay.

Bob Ungaro, the district’s director of facilities, said approximately 20 organizations rent out district facilities. For a three-hour block of indoor use, such as renting out a basketball court, the district charges $15.70 for youth organizations. For adult programs there is a $50 charge. Use of outdoor facilities is free, Ungaro said.

But even if the district charged hundreds for using its facilities, it would not come close to supporting its financial needs, Ungaro said.

Unlike Gazzano, most in the audience backed the request.

“I support what the district is trying to do,” said Riverwood music teacher Vicki Cummings, who also has two children in district schools. “It takes a community to raise a child.”

This is the district’s sixth straight attempt at a tax increase. If voters approve the increase, it would cost the owner of a $200,000 home an additional $191 the first year.

A rate increase would erase the district’s deficit and provide funding for program improvements, smaller class sizes and a 15 percent reduction in all student fees.

If the vote fails, the district said it would cut $2.1 million from its budget, eliminating art, music, elementary physical education, foreign language and all after-school extra curricular activities, along with administration and staff.

The board will field more comments and questions at a second forum scheduled for Feb. 28 at Parkland Middle School, 1802 North Ringwood Road.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Bill Zettler wrote this in response to Distirct 15's pro-referendum meeting. To see the salary increases of employees who worked from 2001-2005 go to . You will see an average increase of 41% with the highest salary increases being 101%. How does that compare to your salary increases for those four years?

"Big Ire" may be on the way
By Bill Zettler

I make this statement after reading a Jan 25th Daily Herald article about McHenry School District 15’s proposed referendum headlined “Tax Increase Plan Draws Little Ire”. I’m thinking “Big Ire” will show up quickly once taxpayers find out that the average salary increase for full-time District 15 employees who worked from 2001-2005 was 41%.

That’s right, while the average American taxpayer saw his salary go up 11% over those 4 years District 15 employee salaries increased by almost 4 times that amount. In fact 99.4 percent of District 15 employees (170 worked all 4 years) saw their salary go up by more than the Average American’s 11%.

Yep, I’m thinking “Big Ire” might say something like “Why do teachers get 41% when taxpayers are getting 11%?” Or “Why are we cutting music, art and extra curricular programs instead of salaries?” Or maybe “If Dist 15 employees got the same raises as taxpayers would we even be talking about a referendum or program cuts?”

This is just one more example, of many, that shows the Illinois Public School System has a monstrous spending problem not a funding problem. Control the spending problem, employee salaries, and the funding problem disappears.

That will be difficult, of course, because the monstrous grab for money by the teacher unions is concomitant with the monstrous grab for money by the politicians from the teachers unions (over $2 million to Blagojevich and Madigan alone).

So we must starve the teacher salary monster – vote “NO” on every referendum until Illinois politicians address the massive overspending occurring in our public schools.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

This is amazing this man is only 39 and 16 years from retirement.

Principal leaving for new role

[published on Wed, Feb 8, 2006]

McHENRY – When McHenry East High School Principal David Moyer came to the district in 2003, Superintendent Phil Hintz described him as "a young man who's coming up the ladder in a hurry."

Next school year, Moyer will grab the next rung as an assistant superintendent with Antioch-Lake Villa High School District 117, where he will make $105,000 a year.

Moyer, 39, said the new position would allow him to work on curriculum, staff development, and building improvement for a rapidly growing district.

"At some point, I wanted to get a district office position," he said. "The Antioch position offers a lot of areas that I feel are my greatest strengths."

Moyer said his current salary with District 156 was $98,785.

For the rest of the story go to

I asked our friend who does our pension calculations how much will this man make in retirement? This was Bill's response.

At least $216,000 annually with cash value at retirement $5.3 million.

Saying yes to referenda always results in one thing lucrative contracts for teachers and administrators. This in-turn leads to lucrative pensions. Pensions that your children will have to shore up.

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Bullying starts with pro-referendum pushers
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...

The following letter to the editor was printed in the Daily Herald. I can not say this enough, the Daily Herald reporting regarding education issues has been outstanding. In depth and unbiased. Be sure to review articles by Jeff Gaunt and Emily Krone, Amy Mack and Chris Baily have been doing a great job as well.


Leave ‘ire’ question to Dist. 15 residents

With all due respect, Mr. Zettler fails to present an accurate picture of teacher pay in McHenry Elementary School District 15. The facts are:

•Per the 2005 State Report Card, the average teacher’s salary in Illinois is $55,558. In the same year, the average teacher salary in District 15 was $47,931 — almost 14 percent below the state average.

•District 15 teachers are amongst the lowest paid teachers in McHenry County. Of the 14 elementary school districts in McHenry County, only four have an average teacher salary lower than District 15.

How does less competitive teacher pay effect education? For years, District 15 has been the training ground for new teachers. Teachers would work 1-2 years in the district to gain experience and then take that experience to other districts to make a competitive wage.

Prior to 2001, the district was losing up to 40 teachers a year. Staff turnover is costly and decreases production in any business. In a school, where education is being produced, staff turnover means a decrease in education for the students.

As District 15 has worked toward closing the salary gap, the turnover rate has declined. D-15 is doing a better job of retaining good, experienced teachers. This translates to a better quality of education for the students.

I understand that Mr. Zettler is a resident of Mundelein and therefore may not know all the facts of District 15. As a resident of Mundelein, his property values won’t be affected by a defeated referendum in McHenry.

But those of us who do live in McHenry have a vested interest in maintaining a quality of school that will maintain our property values. Know the facts, be informed and vote “yes” for McHenry Elementary School District 15.

Tracy Simon

Bill Zettler's Response
There are 182 billion reasons why taxpayers in Mundelein (and Peoria and East St Louis) need to care about salary increases at McHenry District 15.

This is my answer to Tracy Simon’s letter of Feb 20th justifying 41% average salary increases for teachers in Dist 15 the last 4 years.

The 182 billion is the amount of taxpayer dollars that will be required to pay teachers pensions over the next 40 years. That’s according to Buck Consultants actuaries for the Teacher Retirement System. That’s an average of $4.5 billion per year. And pensions are paid at the state level not at the local referendum level.

And since pensions are directly related to salaries every increase in every school district affects every Illinois taxpayer.

The other issue is transparency or more correctly the absence of transparency. Why did it take someone outside of District 15 to bring up the point of 41% increase over 4 years? Why didn’t Ms. Simon and the school board mention this fact in 2001. They should have said “We think our teachers are underpaid and we would like them to average 41% increases over the next 4 years and we are going to tax you accordingly to pay for it.”

Either the school board did not know 41% raises were in store, which is nonfeasance, or they decided that it was not important that the taxpayer be made aware of the magnitude of the increase, which is malfeasance. Considering the lack of forthrightness by school boards and administrations in regard to previous referendums and bond issues (as reported by the Daily Herald) I would guess it is the latter.

If they had notified the public and the public voted for it then I have no complaint.

Now the public does know and let’s see what they say on March 21st.

Bill Zettler
Mundelein, Il

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

Cal Skinner has some great information on his website If you have not checked it out be sure to do so. The following letters to the editor are for District 300. However voters in District 15 should not be taking the word of their school district as gospel. Voters should do their own investigations before supporting this or any referendum.

If in doubt vote no.

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

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

bystander said...

CRAFT has commended the Daily Herald for it's investigative reporting on school finance issues. Therefore, they believe in the credibility in this publication. The Daily Herald endorsed the D-15 referendum request on 3/15/06 with the following article...

‘Yes’ in Districts 15 and 34; ‘no’ in Long Grove
Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2006
• There’s no point in pretending that McHenry Elementary District 15’s proposed tax increase would not be costly for homeowners — it would be. For a $200,000 home, the portion of the property tax bill paid to District 15 would gradually increase from a current level of about $1,500 a year to an estimated $2,211 by 2010, an increase of roughly 45 percent over five years.
But in deciding how to vote, residents also need to weigh the cost of rejecting the district’s request to boost its education fund tax rate by 27 cents per $100 assessed valuation for three years followed by an additional 17-cent increase in years four and five.
The board and administration are committed, should voters say “no,” to eliminating all art, music, physical education, foreign language and technology instruction, along with all sports. The school day would be pared back to only 5 hours and 40 minutes. This is not a threat; this is the only realistic means the board has to eliminate a budget deficit of a little more than $2 million.
Crucial to our decision to recommend a “yes” vote is that the price to homeowners has been fully communicated. Officials are factoring increased home values into their numbers, resulting in more accurate tax projections for the second through fifth years. They also are refraining from exploiting loopholes that remain legal — such as collecting at a legal maximum rate, higher than the increase suggested to voters — that has enabled some districts to collect far more than expected. Finally, the district has not been extravagant in salaries and already has negotiated a contract in which teachers pay a share of health-care coverage, a cost-control step that some districts have not yet taken.

Trust the source and VOTE YES.