This testimonial from current Cary School District Board President Scott Coffey appeared under the article reporting that McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks has nominated Chris Sproel to replace Andrew Gasser on the County Board.
Chris Spoerl’s Role in Righting Decimated Finances in the Cary Grade School District
Board members will vote Thursday on whether to ratify Franks’ choice.
To refresh your memory, Mr. Spoerl was elected to the Board in the spring of 2009.
By the end of that year, the State indicated that they would take over D-26 if the district didn’t make substantial changes to its operating cost structure after having run 9 consecutive annual deficits.
That triggered the resignation of several existing members which resulted in Mr. Spoerl becoming president and my appointment to one of the open spots.
The Board immediately began the restructuring process which resulted in the closure of a school, the layoff of more than 100 employees, and the elimination of many programs.
The net effect was a roughly 20% in operating expenses that generated the district’s first balanced budget for FY11 in over 9 years.
With the significant cuts and a balanced budget, the voters approved a working cash bond referendum in November 2010 to recapitalize our balance sheet and prevent the State from taking over the district.
After 9 years of deficits, I believe our Education Fund balance stood at negative $10 million and the successful referendum eliminated our need to issue Tax Anticipation Warrants every year and eliminated the takeover threat.
The Board then immediately pivoted to the renegotiation process of the expiring union contract.
Some may remember how difficult and drawn out those negotiations were.
The process concluded with an affordable and sustainable contract that resulted in a reduction in salaries/benefits and the elimination of the retirement incentives of 4 year/6% spikes and $20K bonuses.
Since Mr. Spoerl’s departure 4 years ago, the Board has been able to build off the groundwork that was done during his tenure to execute the long term plan to move from the restructuring phase, to a rebuild phase, to a position where district is now better off under just about any metric while maintaing an affordable cost structure.
I think Chris has the right skill sets and financial acumen necessary to be extremely successful in this position.
It was no small task in leading the effort in pulling off what one banker told me was a miracle in turning around what was, financially, the worst district in the State.
If County Board members want someone that has a proven record of reducing costs, analyzing alternatives, setting effective long term strategy, and developing consensus, all while operating under the most extreme adverse circumstances, then I can think of no one more qualified than Chris Spoerl.