The headline above sums up what a group in Cary 26 called the
“Soar to Higher Heights Foundation”
is or appears to be proposing.
Rather than make a $4.3 million donation and trust the school board to do what’s best for the district, the group that is not yet incorporated brought a “we don’t really trust you proposal” to the Cary board and school administrators.
All of the specific requirements in the group’s proposal weren’t detailed. However, you have to be a bit suspicious or skeptical of any group whose spokesperson says,
“the foundation would verify the funds after it is formally established on Aug. 19.”
as reported by the Daily Herald.
Obviously they didn’t want to go through the bother of doing the paperwork to set up a foundation unless they knew it would be the beneficiary of a large grant once the local foundation existed.
The school board would be required to take on irreversible 12-month contracts to hire 68 teachers in return for the promise from a as-not-yet-formed foundation with unknown financial supporters to make 12 equal payments.
This mystery group would set up a foundation after dictating the details of education policy in a district, rather than trusting professional administrators to do the right thing for the district.
Of course getting the district out of its current position where it now can be taken over by the State on the basis of insolvency might be one of those responsible things, the outside moneyed group has no practical interest in.
School Superintendent Brian Coleman has proposed pushing back the start of school to after Labor Day to accommodate the actual hiring of teachers back, if this and if that.
If teachers found new positions in other districts, they would presumably stiff those districts and quit their jobs to come back to Cary for a higher salary schedule.
Some teachers who found jobs, however, might not return for a gig that is only funded for one year and in a district that remains financially insolvent.
I find it interesting the group in Cary doesn’t trust school administrators to do the right thing and use the money for a combination of financial solvency and increasing the educational resources including hiring back dozens of teachers.
The outside group apparently doesn’t want the school board to consider hiring back 55 teachers, for example, and being financially solvent. It doesn’t want administrators to consider how that could be far better than hiring back 68 teachers and remaining broke.
My guess is the group wants to keep Cary 26 just over the edge and in financial insolvency in order to justify the tax increases referendums on the ballot in November.
The school board would have to bet all the marbles that a new foundation wouldn’t change its mind if the referendum tax increases were rejected by voters, for example.
If the district didn’t have the entire $4.3 million in hand, it would risk being taken over by the State of Illinois if the to-be-formed mystery foundation stopped making payments and protracted litigation ensued.
Then there is a question of what happens when a new school board with newly elected school board members convenes next Spring. It should be obvious there is a risk with a to-be-formed foundation that has, by definition, no track record.
A side issue is what happens to the money teachers are receiving in unemployment compensation because they were laid off?
Do the teachers reimburse the district for any payments already received?
The group portraying itself as financial saviors is apparently recommending the some teachers hired back come out financially better because they will have gotten unemployment checks and their full salary for this coming year.
So far there is no group of parents willing to individually come forward to be personally liable for the $4.3 million and pledge equivalent collateral if the foundation doesn’t come across with the money.
No existing teachers have offered as collateral future payments from their paychecks, if there are not legal obstacles to putting individual agreements in place to do this. I wonder why.
Probably because the teachers union would insist such agreements, even on an individual voluntary basis, would have to be bargained for.
The Cary school board should first independently verify the $4.3 million is sitting in an unrestricted account under the complete control of the newly formed foundation. It then is a matter of:
“So with all this money, are you going to help our district or not?”
The board could make it clear that restrictive conditions keeping the district in insolvency, subject to State takeover, as it currently is, is not helping the district.
You might think it would be easy for a foundation to agree to hiring back a minimum of 50 teachers for a donation of $4.3 million dollars and allowing the board and administrators financial discretion after that.
Then there is the real world with people having uncompromising tax increase agendas for teacher salaries and benefits that taxpayers can’t afford.
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Photos from the meeting are contained in this WGN-TV story.