Susan Handelsman’s observations from the latest Woodstock School District 200 meeting:
5-30-17 Woodstock D200 school board meeting.
At their first experience in exercising power to control spending of over $100 million taxpayer money in the presumptive highest property tax rate City in America, three new Woodstock D200 school board members voted unanimously “yes” to Consent Agenda, and Amendment to spend ‘extra’ ‘Life &Safety’ funds on carpet replacement.
Taxpayers must ask if the Board Members did even rudimentary research before unanimously voting “YES” to fund all the payments which staff put before them.
Tax Rate = Spending Relative to the Means of Its Community.
Woodstock 4.2% Property Tax = Spending 3 TIMES what America spends Relative to the Means of Its Community.
Anecdotal examples of questionable Consent Agenda payments:
$22,000 fixed fee plus commissions plus expenses no-bid contract to ‘utilityhelp.org’ (non-functional website) no-bid contractor for examination of utility bills for mistakes.
Board voted without asking any questions to corroborate value received or competitive rates for this service.
There are scores of utility audit firms online which charge no fixed fee, only a percentage of refunds.
Who has investigated this?
The resolution states, as support for awarding this contract, that this woman has been doing it since 2002.
Who knows what her good/medium/poor results for D200 have been, results aren’t indicated on agenda packet.
Shouldn’t anyone awarded contracts to this school district for a long time be suspect, given how long property tax rate in Woodstock has stayed above 4% with national average 1.4% and Chicago rates in the lower 2% range?
Consent agenda also included payments $56,000+ to an administrative consulting software group for purposes of analyzing student progress.
What are the millions of dollars of Administrative compensation for if not to perform this function?
How dare new Board Members who professed empathy for taxpayers simply vote YES to spending $56,000 of OPM on a software vendor program without even rudimentary research on validity, efficacy, or relative cost comparisons?
(Are there not several educational software programs purchased by D200 which might also perform this progress monitoring function of Admin would take the time to access it?).
Consent agenda also contained $5,000 payment to Polar Electro. That company makes sports watches.
Consent agenda also contained total $12,600 payment to Amazon corporate credit (about 27 separate purchase listings).
Who is given credit cards, and with what constraints, and who audits purchases?
D200 Board Unanimously voted YES to amendment resolution to ‘use up’ ‘extra’ life & safety fund monies on extraneous re-carpeting project. (emphasis added)
“12.2 APPROVAL OF LIFE SAFETY AMENDMENT
A. SUBJECT The Board is asked to review and approve a Life Safety Amendment for carpet replacement at Woodstock HighS chool.
B. INFORMATION Summer 2017 Life Safety work for replacement of HV ACsystems, masonry repairs, and flooring replacement have been bid and approved by the Board. Total costs are far less than estimated and allow the district to perform additional life safety eligible work up to $93,708 (see attached). Administration is recommending that the carpet in the Library/Media Center at Woodstock High School be replaced. A Life Safety Amendment needs to be approved by the Board in order to access Life Safety Funds for this work. Wold Architects has prepared the amendment for a total estimated cost of $60,062.50 including fees and contingency. The approved amendment will be sent to the ISBE for approval and it is anticipated that this work can be completed over the Summer of2017.
C. RECOMMENDATION The Superintendent recommends approval of a Life Safety amendment for carpet replacement at Woodstock High School.
D. SUGGESTED MOTION Move to approve the use of Life Safety funds In order to replace carpet at Woodstock High School. “
No discussion. Looked like Board members were browsing through agenda packet before vote.
Estimate high, and then spend the ‘saved’ money?
Is THIS how the NEW D200 School Board wants to define itself?
Sign anything put in front of them by staff, without research on validity, efficacy, or cost comparisons?
D200 School Board Members:
I offer you my time and efforts, FREE, as a citizen concerned with equity for all taxpayers.
I will look into issues before you vote, just let me know what line-item details you have been told by staff.
I beg you not to bobblehead your votes any longer until YOU are convinced by evidence that the 4.2% property tax rate you have engendered and are sustaining is justified by academically acceptable standards of validity, efficacy, AND PRICE COMPARISON VALUE. (that goes double for the presumed man of science–evidence based practice? personal validation?–with the medical doctorate).