THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN
VOTERS of Elmhurst
School District 205 Issues
Expanded Observer Coverage
October 22, 2009
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Transparency
in
Government
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Transparency in Government
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Citizens must be able to know exactly what goes on
when public officials transact public business; allows
public oversight of decision making
Open meeting Law: mandates that government
business, with some exceptions, be conducted in open
meetings to which the public has access
FOIA: public access to government documents and
records
*Nadler J and Schulman M. Open meetings, open records, and transparency in
government. Markula Center for Applied Ethics; Santa Clara University, CA. 2008
www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/government_ethics/introduction/openmeetings
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Transparency in Government
School Districts
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Government school districts are public bodies
whose inner workings should be visible to all
residents, taxpayers, & education consumers
FOIA and Open Meetings Act are a start
Making government information available in
proactive fashion on an easy-access, searchable,
& intuitive website for citizen to view without
having to make a request for records
*Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009. www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html.
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FOIA
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Downloadable form for requesting documents
Directions on how to file the FOIA request
Documents supplied in response to FOIA requests within
2 business days
Procedure for appeals to FOIA request denials
Summary reports to Board of Education of recent FOIA
requests & their status & on website for citizens
Searchable archives of submitted FOIA requests &
associated response documents
*Guides from IL Attorney General’s Office regarding citizens’ rights under FOIA & the Open
Meetings Act, The District 300 Freedom of Information Act Online Program. 2009.
http://old.d300.org/web/freedomofinfomationactrequests.html , LWV of Elmhurst
recommendation
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Transparency Website for
Taxpayers
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Opening of the books online in easily searchable database with all
government expenditures & details of every tax dollar
The amount, date, authorizer, payer, and payee of all expenditures
Details and purpose of payments, including check numbers
All contract agreements and grants
All vendors used and the contracts pertaining to those vendors
A listing of expenditures by:
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Object of expense with links to the warrant or check register level
In a reportable format, class, and item levels
At a minimum, the site must allow users to:
Search and aggregate funding by any element of the information
Ascertain through a single search the total amount of funding awarded to a
person, group, or organization
Download information yielded by a search of the database
*Illinois Policy Institute. How to achieve government transparency. 2009
www.illinoispolicyinstitute.org
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School District Website
Checklist of Public Information
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Operations
Board Policies: The collected “board policies” of the school district,
including administrative procedures, should be readily available in
print and searchable online. (in plain English)1
Ethics
Statement on prohibition on district business with contributors to
election or referendum campaigns (pay-for-play)1
Searchable/downloadable campaign finance reports2
Report of lobbying activities2
*1Illinois Loop.org.
Checklist of Public Information. 2009.www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html.
*2Campbell, Joel: A Web Site Review: Ratings on Transparency Best Practices. Preliminary
Report on Salt Lake City’s Greater Transparency for Collaborative Government Initiative. May 26,
2009 [email protected]
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Checklist of Public Information
Budget & Spending
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Detailed budget (not merely the very brief outline required by the state)
The district check register, showing all payments
Narrative detailing how the budget was created*
Item by item comparisons with projected & actual revenue & spending
figures from the previous year & the percentage of change wherever it
occurs.*
Succinct explanations for every change from the previous year.*
Full explanations for the substantial administration staffing increases
budgeted for the coming year, including the exact nature of each position to
be added, salaries, & specific reasons for doing so.*
Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009. www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html.
*League of Women Voter of Elmhurst request 2009
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Checklist of Public Information
Staffing
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Complete CV for key administrators (superintendent, assistant
superintendents, curriculum directors, & school principals)
Contracts with key administrators & their salaries and bonuses
Negotiated union contracts
Teacher salary schedule
District’s Master Schedule
Breakout of degrees earned by teachers, categorized by degree
subject and awarding departments
Degrees awarded by Ed. Schools should be reported separately from
degrees awarded by other college departments
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Ed. School Ed.D. degrees should be reported separately from Ph.D.s
Identification of hired/retained educational consultants, facilitators,
workshop presenters & contractors, including names, website
addresses, salaries & expenses
*Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009.
www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html.
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Checklist of Public Information
School Board & Meetings
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Board member information & contacts
Calendar of meetings
Notice and agenda of upcoming board meetings
Complete copies of board packets (documents provided to board members at each meeting)
Minutes, taken in sufficient detail to understand each issue in question, the nature of various
positions, & resolution
Searchable archives of minutes by date & subject
Posting of minutes of closed sessions as soon as available*
Video/audio records & searchable transcripts of meetings*
Searchable archives of resolutions and votes
Disabled accessibility (e.g., easy way to increase size of text)
Multiple languages
Remote access to participate in meetings or other means to submit public comment
Opportunity for public comments & questions with respectful reciprocity and exchange of ideas &
concerns and with on-point, meaningful answers supplied to citizens questions and concerns*
Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009. www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html.
Campbell, Joel: A Web Site Review: Ratings on Transparency Best Practices. Preliminary Report on Salt Lake City’s Greater Transparency for
Collaborative Government Initiative. May 26, 2009 [email protected]
*LWV of Elmhurst recommendation
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Checklist of Public Information
Committees:
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committees or task forces created by and responsible to a primarily
public body, e.g., a school district, is also considered a public body &
subject to the Open Meetings Act
Notice and agenda of upcoming committee meetings
Names and email addresses of participants, including board
members, district employees, & local citizens
Identification of leader or facilitator(s)
Detailed minutes of meetings
All documents distributed at meetings
Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009.
www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html
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Checklist of Public Information
Communications
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Email addresses for all board members
Public surveys: If any public surveys are
conducted or commissioned by the district, the
complete results, rather than carefully excerpted
tidbits, should be available in print & online
Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009.
www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html
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Checklist of Public Information
Teacher workshops and inservice programs
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Full descriptions of content, facilitators, speakers
Dates and time allotted
All materials distributed
Budget information on related expenditures,
outside speakers, & suppliers
Video or audio tape should be available for
viewing by board members, parents & citizens
Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009.
www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html
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Checklist of Public Information
Curriculum
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Detailed curriculum
Syllabus for each course
Identification of specific textbooks & other major curriculum and
instructional materials, by grade and subject
A list of textbooks & instructional materials used in the district, revised
annually by administrators under the Superintendent’s direction
A list of additional study aids available for textbooks or instructional
materials, e.g., online study guides, quizzes, etc.
Anyone may inspect any textbook or instructional material in person, with
reasonable rules established for dates and times of access
Statement of commitment to intellectual diversity in hiring
Statement of commitment to balance in treatment of controversial issues
Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009. www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html
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Checklist of Public Information
Assessment
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Results on state tests
All group and summary tabulations of any
standardized tests taken that go beyond
the required state tests, e, g., ISAT, PSAE
Percent distribution of teacher-assigned
letter grades
Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009.
www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html
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Checklist of Public Information
Student-Specific Information for
Parents (password protected)
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A general description of what is happening
in each class: current unit or topic
Current long-term assignments, plus goal
& description of any major project
Student status: grades, homework
completion
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Open Meeting Act
Freedom of Speech
Public Comments
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The Illinois Open Meetings Act
The Illinois Open Meetings Act was
designed to ensure that the actions of
public bodies be taken openly and that
their deliberations be conducted openly.
The Act promotes public participation in
local government. It requires:
Meetings be open to the public
Meeting times adequately publicized
Keeping records of public meetings
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The Illinois Open Meetings Act
The Illinois Open Meetings Act requires the
Elmhurst School Board to provide an
opportunity for Public Comment at each of
its open meetings. A meeting is defined
as any gathering for 3 or more school
board members for the purpose of
discussing public business. This Public
Comment has full protection of the First
Amendment’s right to speech.
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What You Can’t Say…
Some speech is not protected
1. Obscene language
2. Fighting words
3. Defamatory statements
4. Causing panic
5. Incitement to crime
6. Sedition
Regulations
The school district can impose time, place, and
manner regulations. This can be done by limiting
the amount of time given to all speakers, limiting
the location public comments can be made, and
the way in which public comments can be
expressed.
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What you Can Say
Most speech is protected under the First Amendment. This is one of the
basic constitutional rights guaranteed to Americans in the First Amendment
of the Bill of Rights. The Founding Fathers believed that a free society must
allow its citizens to freely express themselves without government
interference.
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The values associated with free speech include:
~The Discovery of Truth
~ Facilitating Participation by Citizens in Political DecisionMaking
~ Creating a More Adaptable and Stable Community
~ Checking Abuse of Governmental Power
~ Creating a More Robust and Interesting Community
The school district (or any governmental agency) cannot prohibit a
speaker because of the viewpoint that person wishes to expresses or
because they do not want that particular person to speak.
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205’s Policy
The District’s policy impeded people’s
freedom of speech. The policy stated that
Public Comment, “should not include
discussion of personnel matters,” This
Policy was posted on the District’s website,
on an audio visual screen during board
meetings, printed in pamphlets and orally
recited at meetings.
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District Policy Regarding Public
Comments Prior to August 11, 2009
“The Board will receive public comments
for up to three minutes concerning items
on this agenda, as well as communication,
petitions, reports from citizens or
representatives of other public agencies.
Such comments should not include
discussion of personnel matters, which
should be directed to the Administration.”
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District’s Defense of Its Policy
When called upon to explain their rational for attempting to limit discussion
involving the superintendent’s performance on recent community events the
school board president defended its restrictive stance by citing:
1. “Robert Rules of Order”
Only obligatory for the school
board not the community
2. Board Policy: “governance portion
of our policy manual,”
Only obligatory for the school
board not the community
3. District Procedures: “agenda of
Violation of the Open Meetings
each meeting under public comments, Act.
the guidelines are stated”
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Citizen Advocacy Center
CONCERNS
July 8, 2009
A letter from the Citizen Advocacy Center
stated, “Both the Illinois and United States
Constitutions provide for broad protections
for the freedom of speech within open
forums. Any content-based prohibition is
impermissible unless it is necessary to
serve a compelling state interest and is
narrowly drawn.”
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Citizen Advocacy Center
FINDINGS
July 8, 2009
“In analyzing the circumstances under which the District’s
policy is being implemented, the Citizen Advocacy Center
found no compelling state interest which would permit the
District to direct what issues members of the public may
comment on. According to the Citizen Advocacy Center, the
fact that the Board has a general policy that mandates that
personnel issues be communicated to the Superintendent
rather than the Board, is irrelevant to the public’s capacity
and legal right to comment on personnel issues directly to
the Board. Such comments are political in nature and lie at
the heart of protected speech. Accordingly, the District’s
policy is a content based restriction that violates the free
speech protections afforded by the Illinois and United States
Constitutions.”
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Citizen Advocacy Center
Request
July 8, 2009
The Citizen Advocacy Center requested
that the District immediately remove the
public comment policy that asks members
of the public to refrain from commenting
on personnel matters, cease reading the
policy prior to public comment
opportunities, and no longer post the
policy before or during public comment.
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District Policy Regarding Public
Comments After to August 11,
2009
“The Board will receive public
comments for up to three minutes
concerning items on this agenda, as
well as communication, petitions,
reports from citizens or
representatives of other public
agencies.”
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Communicating Concerns
written on the 205 website
October 20, 2009
“At every open meeting or hearing, the Board allows any member of
the public to provide comments. Citizens who wish to speak must
sign the speaker’s roster prior to the start of the public comments
portion of the agenda. Speakers are allowed three minutes to
address the Board and must begin by stating their name and local
address. Comments shall be respectful.
Many issues are often best served by addressing a teacher or
principal directly. If an issue pertains to a specific student and/or
class, it is advised that the citizen contact the teacher directly. If the
issue pertains to a specific school, it is advised that the citizen
contact the principal of that school directly. If the issue pertains to
the district as a whole, or is global in nature, the citizen may wish to
contact the Superintendent or the Board of Education.”
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Administration
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Administration
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Within the last 5 years, the administration
has grown from 5 (2006-2007) central
office administrators to 12 (2009-2010)
Movement of positions has occurred
Support staff to administrator
Additional Staff
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Curriculum coordinators
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For several years previous to the 2007-2008 school year there had
been several curriculum coordinator positions that were filled by
“Teachers on Special Assignment,” (TOSA) which were paid from the
teachers salary line item.
“Curriculum coordinators in the content areas consistently work with
administration, teams of teachers and committees to review and
improve learning experiences for students and assessment. District
205 provides services not only in the content areas but in additional
programs for student support: English Language Learners (ELL),
Instructional Support (Reading Recovery and Plus), Reach (Gifted
Talented)”
---District 205 website.
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Teachers on Special Assignment,
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2007- 2008 some of the TOSA
coordinators were moved from the
teacher’s salary line item to administration
Some TOSA coordinators went from part
time to full time positions
2008 -2009 remainder of TOSA positions
became administrators
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Actual new positions added
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Director of Technology (2007-2008)
Instructional Technology Coordinator
(2007–2008)
Director of Research, Assessment and
Quality Assurance (2009 -2010 and as yet
unfilled)
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Specific job titles and
individual salaries for each?
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The actual counts that were supplied in an
answer to a question from the LWV of
Elmhurst to D205 Administration is
different than amount of positions listed.
We asked for specific job titles and
individual salaries for each.
The District’s response was that “ We will
need to do some significant additional
work to give the financial trends over the
past 5 years in this area”
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Comparison of positions for the
Years 2006-2007 /2009-2010
D205 Count = 5
2006-2007
~Superintendent
~ Asst. Supt.. For Personnel
~ Asst. Supt. For Curr. and Instr.
~ Asst. Supt. For Finance
~ Asst. Supt. For Student Services
Coded as Support staff
~ Dir. For Comm. Relations
Paid out of Teacher’s Salaries- TOSA
~.5 Literacy/Reach; .5 Math
~.5 Social Studies; .5 ELL
~ 1.0 Tech and Science
D205 Count = 12
2009-2010
~ Superintendent
~ Asst. Supt. For Personnel
~ Asst. Supt. For Curr. and Instr.
~ Asst. Supt. For Finance
~ Asst. Supt For Student Services
~ Dir. For Comm. Relations
~ Dir. Of Technology
~ 1.0 Literacy/Reach Coordinator
~ 1.0 Math/Science Coordinator
~ Instructional Tech. Coordinator
~ ELL/Social Studies Coordinator
~ Dir. of Research, Assess Quality Assurance
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Total Salaries
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2006 –2007 Central Office administrators and directors - $667,800
2009-2010 Central Office administrators and directors - $981,992
This is less than a 50% increase and yet
actual positions have increased from 5 to
12
and coordinators are no longer being paid
from the teacher’s salary line item.
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TIMELINE
PURCHASE OF
162 S. YORK
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December 15, 2008 Board of
Education Meeting
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Spending and Projects Approved
In One Day
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Classroom additions at Emerson
$4,331,532
York Stadium project
$2,330,000
York fencing for track and baseball field
$ 661,802
Bryan parking lot repaving
$ 664,388
Purchase of 162 N. York Rd.
$4,500,000
Total Dollars spent on the evening of December 15th
$12,437,722
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Available resources for
Emerson
Dr. Krizic identified existing sources of potential
funding were identified and include:
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Earned interest from the 2006 referendum
Capital Project funds from the working cash bond sale in 2007
Life Safety Funds
Total resources currently available
($3.7 million)
($1.4 million)
($900,000)
($6,000,000)
The board approved costs not to exceed
$4,331,532, from the funding source listed
above.
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Available Resources for Project
Project
Funding Source
Dollars Allotted
Bryan parking lot
Fire Life Safety Fund
$664,388
York track/ Baseball
field fencing
Capital Projects Fund
$661,802
Stadium Project
Debt Certificates
$2.25 million
162 York Property
Acquisition & renovation
of property
Debt Certificates
$4.5 million
Renovation of Madison
Debt Certificates
*We are unsure of the
source of these monies
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Subsequent Meeting
 The “remodeling” of Madison will be done in-house, with
costs estimated to be a total of $111,800 which includes:
Floor Tile Abatement ($47,000)
New PA System (entire building) (26,800)
In-House Building Materials ($25,000)
Fire Alarms/Low Voltage ($10,000)
Whiteboards/Corkboards ($3,000).
It appears that 6 classrooms would be reclaimed and the office would be
relocated.
 Both Mrs. Ostojic and Mrs. Conroy asked about phase 2 of
the Early Childhood remodel and were answered that it
would be dependent on funding that was as yet
undetermined. Mrs. Ostojic stated that she would have
preferred to remodel Madison for early childhood student
learning rather than do the York Stadium if she had known
this.
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Discussion in Open Meetings
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York Stadium discussions continued for 1
years time
Emerson Projected discussed openly and
with many community participants
Early Childhood project convened a task
force prior to remodeling
162 York building purchase showed little
discussion in open meetings
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Debt Certificates
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Debt Certificates
In Illinois, debt certificates may
be issued by a governmental unit
to evidence the payment
obligations of the governmental
unit under a lease or installment
contract.
- Chapman and Cutler, LLP website
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Debt Certificates
Debt Certificates, according to
District 205, cannot increase tax
rate and must be from alternate
revenue sources.
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Alternate Revenue Sources Were
Identified As:
TIF II release of funds
Interest earned from other funds and
Private Donations. (The private
pledges/donations amount of $800,000 is
to be paid over a three-year time period.)
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The Resolution the D205 School
Board Approved Was …
That the Board of Education approve the
Parameters Resolution as presented for the
purpose of issuing both 20 year and 5 year
debt certificates in an aggregate amount not
to exceed $6,750,000. The motion was
amended to “not to exceed $7,000,000” due
to issuance costs.
- According to Board Docs from the 12/15/2008 School
Board meeting
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This Is For:
$2.25 million for the stadium project,
which will be paid back in 5 years
$4.5 million for the 162 property
acquisition and renovation of this
property which will be paid back in 20
years.
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At the 8/11/09 School Board
meeting:
$350,000 was removed from the
“revenue” part of the budget because
D205 was told by the City of Elmhurst
there would probably not be any TIF II
revenue received by D205 this year
Interest rates have fallen significantly
The $800,000 in donations is over a threeyear period
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Payback
Payback of these debt certificates will be
coming from cuts to the Operations and
Maintenance fund, at least for this budget
year ('09-'10).
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Elmhurst School District 205
The Budget
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When Does It Need To Be Posted?
A school budget needs to be
posted for community input
in its official form for 30
days prior to approval of the
budget by the local school
board.
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When Does It Need To Be
Approved?
The budget must be approved
by September 30th of the year
of the budget.
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Timeline Perspective
For in excess of ten years, the District 205 administration
has presented the D205 school board with a comparison
budget document in June that was used for discussion
over the summer before the budget was to be approved.
For the 2009-2010 budget, the administration first
posted the legal budget document for the July 14, 2009
school board meeting.
For the August 11, 2009 school board meeting, some
additional budget information was available, but not the
comparison to the previous year.
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THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS of Elmhurst
On August 20, 2009, LWV Elmhurst
President, Laura Kratz, sent a letter
to D205 Superintendent
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THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS of Elmhurst…
strongly urges School District 205 to produce an annotated version
of its 2009 2010 tentative budget for immediate public review. It
is imperative that the public has complete budget information with
sufficient time to thoroughly analyze and understand the details
before the Board of Education final budget vote on September 22,
2009. Specifically, we urge the District to supply:
An introductory narrative detailing how the budget was created
including all the priorities that were set, assumptions that were
made. The District needs to explain where revenue shortfalls and
spending increases are anticipated, and what, if any, other factors
were considered.
Item by item comparisons with projected and actual revenue and
spending figures from the previous year and the percentage of
change wherever it occurs.
Succinct explanations for every change from the previous year.
Full explanations for the substantial administration staffing
increases budgeted for the coming year, including the exact
nature of each position to be added, salaries, and the specific
reasons for doing so.
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District’s Response to LWV
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Some of this requested information became
available on the D205 website (Finance
Department section) around September 4, 2009
Over 20 questions were directed at the
administration from the LWV Elmhurst and all
were "answered."
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APPROVAL
The D205 School Board voted
to approve the budget as it
was posted on September 22,
2009.
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www.lwvelmhurst.org
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