Thursday, April 20, 2006

Winthrop Harbor schools in money trouble

Below is my response to Diane Rado's story "Winthrop Harbor schools in money trouble."

Dear Ms. Rado,

In your story below "Winthrop Harbor schools in money trouble" Supt. Tenbusch states that "they are not making this up".  If this school district was so poor why did they hand out raises to the teachers and administrators last fall right after they claimed poor in front of a Lake County judge?  The answer pure and simple,  is greed.  These groups always put their pocketbooks ahead of the very children they are to teach.  Funny how their pocketbooks books are more important than textbooks.   I really wish you would ask the school boards more questions.  Ask them why they give out such large raises or raises when the school is in "financial difficulty".   The only ones to blame for this problem is the school board and administration.  If they can't balance the budget find someone who is capable of balancing the budget and not on the backs of the students they are to protect and educate while not in parental care.

Schools across Illinois have a spending problem not a funding problem. They have a problem with greed not need. No matter how much money they get it is never enough.  It does not take a grade school math teacher to figure out the TRS is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme that is unsustainable and will bankrupt Illinois.  Sadly the legislatures are bent on catering to these groups instead of the taxpayers and students of Illinois.

Cathy Peschke

Winthrop Harbor schools in money trouble

By Diane Rado
Tribune staff reporter
Published April 20, 2006, 9:53 PM CDT

In a rare move, state education officials voted Thursday to intervene in the financial affairs of Winthrop Harbor School District 1 in Lake County, where budget problems are some of the most severe in the state.

The Illinois State Board of Education certified that the district is in "financial difficulty," a status that allows state monitoring and could lead to even stronger oversight down the road.

Such state involvement is highly unusual and has happened in only a handful of districts, state education officials said.

Winthrop Harbor Supt. James Tenbusch said he and a majority of board members support the state's intervention after four years of budget cuts, including eliminating staff and cutting $45,000 for textbooks.

The district's tattered textbooks, some held together by rubber bands, were featured in a Tribune story Sunday on old and worn schoolbooks across Illinois.

The state monitoring "serves notice to our community we are not making this up," Tenbusch said about the district's financial problems.

The district relies mostly on residential property for its tax collections and has low tax rates compared with neighboring districts, he said. Trying to make ends meet, the district has been borrowing heavily and running deficits in its operating funds.

Voters repeatedly have rejected tax increases, including the latest ballot measure in March, and the issue has divided the community.

Tenbusch on Thursday accused some tax-increase opponents of making false claims about how an increase would affect property owners, prompting concern by state board chairman Jesse Ruiz. The chairman asked state board attorneys to look into how the state could regulate organizations making false claims.

Such charges are not unique in the clash over school tax increases. Elsewhere in the state, opponents have claimed that ballot language is deceptive and fails to inform voters of the true cost of tax increases.

Winthrop Harbor now has to submit a financial plan to the state and agree to monitoring, including providing budget and other information at the state's request. If the district fails to follow the financial plan, the state can appoint a financial oversight panel.

Also Thursday, state school Supt. Randy Dunn said the state board is looking at ways to curb violence after incidents at Chicago high schools and news reports about when schools fall into the category of "persistently dangerous" as defined by federal law. The Tribune reported this month that not one school in Illinois meets the state's definition despite reports of gang fights, teacher assaults and other serious problems.

Dunn said after the board meeting that the state's definition of persistently dangerous may need to be "more robust," given that no schools are fitting the definition. A change would require approval by state lawmakers.

Dunn also reported Thursday that delivery of 11th grade state exams to high schools is proceeding "pretty well," following a debacle over the delivery of grade school tests this spring. There have been some delays in districts getting instruction booklets and student identification labels for the tests scheduled next week, but high schools have been receiving the exam booklets, Dunn said.

For the rest of the story go to the

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