Nov 18th BOE Meeting agenda is finally posted

Lots of interesting things in here. I’ll hit a few highlights that stand out to me, but you should read it for yourself:

http://www.boarddocs.com/il/champil/Board.nsf/public

 

  • Lot’s of Recognitions
  • Spotlight video on “building a high quality staff” – not yet on Vimeo so I can’t preview it
  • Newly hired high school site selection consultants Gorski/Reifsteck will give their schtick – no presentation available via boarddocs
  • District report card – only Bottenfield and South Side made AYP
  • Three high school students being recognized as Student Abassadors – interesting program, and I have a number of outstanding questions to Joe Williams about it
  • Local software company Codagami won the RFP bid for doing the Controlled Choice program to the tune of $98,500. No word on the actual contract, yet.
  • Other Misc items including a number of things about finances (change orders, Tax levy, grants, donations, etc).

 

Curious if anyone even cares about the Choice Policy anymore. 🙂 I mean, I do, but I have not heard much back from readers at all, yet. The final draft is going in the Consent Agenda (meaning, along with ten other items, it gets voted on in bulk). They threw in the fact that Choice program will also assign students for middle schools, and I take that to mean middle school students who are not matriculating from a fifth-grade Unit 4 school (otherwise they would follow the feeder program).

 

Lastly, I have asked for and am still waiting to see the RFP concerning the high school site selection consultant.

 

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An incomplete historical snapshot of bond issues, tax levies and referenda

After attending and chewing on the Community Dialog about various school options (which all lead to big tax referendums), I got to dwelling on the the Elementary School options. Partially, as I said before, I was surprised to see them in the packet on Tuesday in the first place. So let me state right off the bat, I am fully aware and acknowledge that our school buildings, at all levels, need a bit of help. We have known this for over two decades. The sad part is that we have not come up with a good plan to deal with these issues, which has resulted in a snowballing problem, an escalating urgency that eventually borders on a crisis.

First some definitions and attempts to bridge the financial jargon.

  • Bonds (Sales Tax Bonds, Working Cash Bonds, etc): Basically, these are long-term loans, like mortgages.  The district gets a bunch of money from a bank to do stuff, and the district slowly pays back the loan (including interest) over 20 years (typically). To “issue” a bond is therefore to put oneself in debt to another.1
  • Tax Levies: This one is a bit harder for me to wrap my head around, but here goes. We pay property taxes, right? Various groups get a slice of the pie from those property taxes, and public education usually gets the biggest slice.2 The tax levy by the Board of Education therefore determines exactly how big that slice will be. 3 5 7 Gene Logas often bragged that Unit 4 has one of the lowest rates going.4 At the same time, Gene complained that “tax caps hurt”. 6
  • Referenda: The law states that when the school district wishes to acquire more money above and beyond what tax levies can bring in, the school district can ask the voters to approve more money via vote during an election in the form of a referendum. Obviously, this does not happen often because taxpayers typically do not want to pay more taxes. The Working Cash Bond is special because it slips under a certain ceiling that allows the district to raise property taxes without a voter approval.

(NOTE: Both Gene and Greg were amazing warehouses of information, but even more impressive was their willingness to sit down and explain things to folks like me)

Elementary School funding (and lack thereof)

While there is a rich plethora of statistics, financial data and worthy history, I am going to just rewind the clock to 1998 and focus on the elementary schools and related funding projects.

Gene Logas tells that Read the rest of this entry »

Heads up – Nov 5 Regular Board Meeting

Just looking through the Nov 5 Regular Board Meeting agenda posted on BoardDocs and spotted a few things; it is my intention to chew on these and respond later, but I at least wanted to mention these so others could be thinking and commenting as well. The “Controlled Choice” is what prompted me to make this post.

 

  • What is School Board Member Day (Nov 15)? 🙂
  • Schools of Controlled Choice Seat Assignment – lots of modifications to the written Policy, including the global replacement of the word ‘Lottery’ with ‘assignment’
  • Eliminate Proximity A and B.  With the addition of a new school in Savoy, there is no longer a need to have both a Proximity A and B. All households have a Proximity school.
  • Magnet Registration will be concurrent with March Kindergarten registration.
  • Wait list for both elementary and middle school will expire at the end of the first semester.
  • School report card – 30 pages of data, wow. I still don’t get why they print it out, and then scan in the printout to be displayed on the webpage. Why not just post the original?
  • Abating property taxes (x3) – I wish they would provide a “common language” translation of this financial mumbo jumbo. How about something that a 5th grader can read? My understanding is that abatement is a good thing for us because we tax-payers no longer pay property tax on outstanding bond debt from 1997, 2006 and 2010. I think. But I am pretty sure we still pay the same amount of property tax, it just goes towards something else.
  • Having said that, the next items is a Tax Levy. I appreciate that Dr. Joe Davis is explaining this one a little more, but it is still confusing. Remember the big bally-hoo about Working Cash Bonds this summer? Part of the new Tax Levy will cover the first two payments. I think the bulk of the Tax Levy is being used to offset the expected decrease in revenues due to a lower “valuation”. AKA, Black Magic. 🙂
  • A number of other HR changes followed (new staff needed for Early Childhood Center, ESL, a summary report of how many resignations, terminations, etc).
  •  

    On top of all that, current Board President Sue Grey has been promoted to CEO of the local United Way (NG article) and according to the News-Gazette will step down as BOE President; the NG reports a finding in the School Board Policy that the VP usually takes over, that being Stig Lanesskog. Congrats to Sue Grey!!