Here is Susan Handelsman’s report on what happened Monday night at the Woodstock School District’s meeting on the Facilities Planning Committee Report:
Facility Review Committee Report to sparse crowd at WHS
Superintendent Moan reported the results of Facility Review Committee vote to a small crowd Monday night at WHS.
There were three options (14 options having been determined by super-majority vote of whole Committee (3 sub-committees)) gaining 75% of 49 committee voters ‘yes’ votes to proceed with investigation by the School Board in May.
Investigation will invite community input, we were told.
- Sell Admin building (cost $365,000 in 1998, selling price 2017: $400,000).
- Cancel lease on second Admin building.
(presumably the 42 Administrators now using these offices will find quarters among the 12 school buildings operating below 70% of enrollment capacity).
- Close Dean St. school and operate dual and mono programs.
The community survey was said to have been used by committee as some sort of guidance for their votes.
I demurred, and brought up that we (the committee) were told that there would be other, less ambiguous surveys given to the community as we progressed. I stated that I had read the 326 comments written on the survey, and the largest category by far (91 of 326) was typified by comments such as these from the first page:
- ‘”I believe the choices are poorly framed and badly worded. I do not believe you will be able to garner any actionable info from this instrument”.
- “The statements in this survey are not people friendly. They are put together with double meaning or make no sense. Asking more direct questions and not statements would have been more helpful”.
- “I feel the statements of this survey are extremely vague and offer the opportunity for multiple interpretations. I hope to see a new survey soon with specific questions about what is being considered for our district”.
There was a vote on closing Clay Academy building which failed to pass a super-majority vote of Facility Review Committee. The vote was 31 (of 49) yes to close Clay.
I brought up again that the vote was based on inaccurate and incomplete information presented to the voting committee.
Clay Academy building was said by Admin to be integral in D200’s ability to attract out-of-district tuition students, and data presented to original committee was different than that to voting committee 22 hours before vote.
However all 3 sets of Clay financial data presented by Admin deceptively imply that somehow taxpayers are ‘making money’ by taking in tuition students.
If one includes the actual costs left out of that worksheet, I am certain that D200 taxpayers are heavily subsidizing the out-of-district students.
Superintendent Moan declined to cite total specific costs of operating Clay Academy building for benefit of 59 tuition students and 11 in-district students.
Here are categories of expenditures left off the Clay Academy “Net Cost’ sheet presented to voting members 22 hours before final vote was held.
ESTIMATED ANNUAL COSTS TO OPERATE CLAY PROGRAM AND BUILDING (COSTS which were LEFT OFF ADMIN INFORMATION SHEET given to committee voters)
1. Exterior Maintenance: $91,000 or…?
(District wide maintenance and insurance on the Clay building are accounted in Ops&Maintenance Fund Costs Sheet, near bottom; TOTAL district wide expenses $2 million. 12 schools, one District Admin offices, assume high schools account for ½ of total $2 million budget. One 11th of $1 million=$91,000.) (Not that Clay building SHOULD cost $91,000 per year for exterior maintenance, but how else can the $2 million budget be accounted for?)
2. Liability: $8000…?
(Tort Fund $830,000, 70 students ~1% of enrollment, so 1% of tort fund=$8000).
3. * Clay share of OPEB: $50,000…?
(Clay employs 35 persons, minimum 12 current eligible staff, premiums for a female early 50’s $10,000? based on current insurance premium benefits packages. Future liability will be cumulative, paying for additional staff made necessary by 59 out-of-district tuition students.)(Currently, $460,000 OPEB are being paid annually by D200 taxpayers. As Clay goes forward, D200 taxpayers are accruing liability to pay health insurance premiums between ages 52 and 65 for eligible employees. I guessed at a present value estimate of present and future accruing liability).
4. Clay share of District wide IT staff, software licenses, high speed internet: $24,000+software?
(At least $400,000 IT staff, if Clay = 6% of IT staff usage=$24,000).
5. Clay share of District wide Special Ed Admin staff: >$28,000…
(3 Special Ed Admin are $360,000 not including secretarial staff. 70 of 900 students is 7.7%. 7.7% of special Ed =$28,000.)
6. Clay share of District wide General Admin staff: $25,000?
(District Admin accounts for over $2.5 million of expense not including secretarial or fringe benefits. If Clay uses 1% of the staff resource =$25,000).
7. ** Cost of building I: 2010 $10.5 million Fire Prevention and Safety Bond spending on Clay building: $200,000?
(Another 3-4 years to pay off these expenditures. Assuming only $2 million of $10.5 million went to Clay, taken over 10 years = $200,000 annually.).
8. Cost of building II: Wold Architects fee, and Future $2.2million Clay building expenditures: $221,400.
(Would charged $170,000 for 10 year inspection, 1/12th =$14166 over 10 years=$1400; plus $2.2 million over 10 years of building life&safety upgrades).
TOTAL: $647,400 (additional per year added to admin figures)
11 D200 student=$58854. Add to Admin claimed cost of $3821 per student= $62676 cost to local taxpayers per each Clay D200 student
*”The District’s annual other post-employment benefit (OPEB) obligation at the end of the 2015-16
school year was $460,942. Since the district prepares its budget on the cash basis, this amount
is not included in the budget on the following pages. However, it is included in the district’s audited
comprehensive annual financial report. The contributions required by the District are negotiated
with the four unions of the district. The plan provides for the District to pay for medical, dental
and life insurance for retired employees at various levels depending on type of employee. The
District contributes to the plan on a pay-as-you-go cash basis thereby funding no more than the
current year cost of the OPEB for retirees.”
2017 budget page 60
**”District 200 issued $10.47 million in Health/Life Safety Bonds and Debt Certificates in March,
2010. These funds were used to address the most urgent items in the Long-Range Facilities
Plan. Construction occurred during Summer 2010 and included domestic water replacement at
Clay Academy, Dean Elementary School, Olson Elementary School and Verda Dierzen Early
Learning Center; HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) replacement at Olson Elementary
School; Upgrade of ceilings and lighting at Clay Academy; Window system replacements at Dean
Elementary and Clay Academy; partial new roofs at Dean and Verda Dierzen, new asphalt
driveways at seven sites, new tennis courts at Woodstock High School, and a new districtwide
voice-over IP telephone system.”
2017 budget page 156
(Facility review Committee was not allowed to explore beyond the point of closing buildings.
Ideally D200 would like the deal we are giving other wealthier Districts who send 59 tuition students to Clay with 11 of D200 students: pay $29,000 tuition and recover $15,000 of that from Illinois.
Other alternatives open to D200 Clay students:
- Operate Clay as is now, in another facility, either without regard to cost, or with tuition students charged fair share of expenses incurred.
- Operate Clay for D200 students only (11 at present) in another building.
- Send (11) D200 Clay students to Allendale at $30,295 each.
- Sell Clay building and program at $0 to Allendale, all Clay staff and enrollment may stay as is. D200 cost-per-student would drop from $30,295 each to $28,846 with no transportation costs.
(At $43,000 tuition, Allendale would make a huge profit given Clay’s alleged operational costs.)
- Sell Clay building and program at $0 to a NFP group of stakeholders; such as parents and PTO and staff. Presumably they could operate Clay at a tuition rate closer to the $29,000 D200 is charging its 59 out-of-district tuition students.)
An audience member stated that D200 was killing our town.
Another stated that there was a lot of rhetoric about our high taxes, that McHenry school, and Lake County property taxes are higher than here.
Former school board member Nattress shouted from the audience ‘nice job spinning the numbers to prove your point’ or something to that effect to me.
I invite him to respond on this blog or in a public forum so that we can get to the specifics about D200 spending.
Since he voted yes on last year’s $109 million expenditure budget, he should be intimately familiar with all the specific cost and revenue details on Clay Academy, and the amount that D200 taxpayers are forced to subsidize other districts’ tuition students.
Finally, I BEG citizens to attend school board meetings.
I believe that decision-makers who have put Woodstock at 4.6% property tax rate have zero intent of acknowledging our tax crisis or changing any spending/borrowing habits.
You can’t get through to people who have no empathy for the economic pain they are causing this community, but you CAN make sure that history records that they have been made aware, and choose to ignore this factor.