Illinois Leaks Looking at CL High School District

Kirk Allen of Edgar County Watchdogs and American Watchdogs is taking a look at Crystal Lake High School District 155.

Here is the Freedom of Information Request that is published on the Agenda for next Tuesday’s tax hike meeting at the One South Virginia Road at 7:30.

(That’s the meeting people are being urged to attend and offer their opposition to a tax hike while student population is decreasing.)

Request for Records Under Freedom of Information Act 

Kirk Allen, American Watchdogs Inc. – Requested the following:

1. “A copy of all debt currently held by the School District in any form to include but not limited to, lines of credit, financial institution, bonds, credit card
2. A copy of all payment structures for that debt that reflects principal payment, interest payment, and time frame of those obligations.
3. A  copy of all compensation provided to the Superintendent.
4. A copy of the Superintendents employment contract.
5. A copy of the minutes and agenda where the Superintendents contract was approved.”


Illinois Leaks Looking at CL High School District — 20 Comments

  1. Cindy, they’re just watchdogs.

    It’s up to US to expose these rats and demand investigations and prosecutions when criminality comes to light.

    That’s why the Miller crime family is going to end up with exposure!

  2. I understand that OldMan. It was satirical. It was a poke at the people of this county that are sitting back waiting for a hero to ride into town.

  3. The Official Statement documents for both the 2014-B and 2015 series bonds can be found here:

    Its probably much more useful than the response from the district.

    We’ll be paying debt service on those bonds out to 2034.

    Even though the district is sitting on about $100 million in Cash.

    Unless Board members agree to call the bonds for early redemption on 6/30/23 for the 2015’s and 6/30/22 for the 2014-B’s.

  4. No metion of Jack Franks cutting 10?!


  5. Who needs hero when we have our very own sunshine blogger? Forget all those free meals; he risks his life for us every day in one of the toughest jobs on this democracy. Any cat stories today? tic, tock, tic, tock…

  6. Oh look…Angel defending waste and high spending at a high school district. Didn’t see that coming.

  7. I read that most school districts typically hold 90 to 120 days of funding in accounts but that D155 has over a years worth of funding put aside meaning they are over taxing us and have been for years to accumulate that much money plus all the interest.

  8. Compassionate conservatives despise deficits, and debt…unless school districts are fiscally responsible and they attack them anyway. This is what political parallel universe looks like…tic, tock, tic, tock…

  9. What’s angle gonna do when those pensions go belly up?

    Stand in the free govt cheese line and whine?

  10. So stupid to have a school district for elementary/middle schools and a district for high schools.

    There is no need for two separate boards, superintendents, etc. in Crystal Lake.

  11. CHSD 155 does not post a board agenda packet prior to board meetings.

    A good board agenda packet:

    – is a single pdf

    – contains all the documents to be discussed at the meeting in the single pdf.

    – is searchable using the Adobe find feature.

    – allows copy from the document and paste to another document for consolidation purposes.

    The lack of a board agenda packet can be seen at: > School Board > Board Meeting Agendas


    The county levy cut should be put into context with the existing debt.

    Last check in October 2016 McHenry County (the county unit of government) had $218M in debt.

    Much of that is for the Conservation District.

    Why does the county not present taxpayers with a “Debt Transparency Page” presenting all its debt with annual payment schedules to taxpayers, instead of having taxpayers hunt and peck through the CAFR and various documents to obtain the data?

    How does the county plan to fund its portion of the I-90 & State Route 23 interchange?

    Partially or fully by issuing more debt?

    A big problem with the County is its Equalized Assessed Value has plummeted 28% from a high of $10,491,258,538 in 2008 to $7,536,449,930 in 2016.

    Labor costs on the other hand kept increasing.

    Labor costs, largely in most collective bargaining agreements and administrator contracts at the various property taxing districts in the county steadily increased in that timeframe.

    Jack Franks has done nothing to address the collective bargaining agreements in place at the county level.

    There is no indication the county has approached the unions asking for reopeners, other than those built into previous agreements.

    The state has done seemingly nothing to reign in prevailing wages in place at the county level, which steadily increased.

    Prevailing wages come into play largely in pubic sector construction projects.

    There have been various comments in the press and on the blog about the cuts that were achieved at the county level.

    Have not seen the complete list of cuts.

    The county and state has major problems, and has mentioned a year ago, since Cut at the county level is 10%, and the county itself is about 10% of the property tax bill, and 10% of 10% is 1%, depending on what other property taxing districts do with their levy, property taxpayers will see little if any difference on their property tax bill.

    If the cuts can be sustained for years, then taxpayers may notice an appreciable difference over time.

    That will be very hard to do given the various forms of debt (pensions, retiree healthcare, bonds, past due bills, etc.) at the local and state level.

    That county property tax

  12. The amount of money a school district keeps is not a function of what other districts keep.

    The amount of money needed is a well defined function in business.

    It’s based on the variability of revenues and the greatest differential between revenues and expenditures during the year.

    If revenues are difficult to forecast, then greater reserves are needed.

    If revenues arrive with a high degree of regularity, then smaller reserves are needed.

    Given that the District receives the vast majority of its revenues in property taxes, and that they know with a very high degree of confidence how much they’ll receive and when, this variable essentially disappears from consideration.

    That leaves the greatest differential between revenues and expenditures during the year, i.e., the worst day of the year for cash flow imbalance.

    Based on the monthly financial data, I would estimate the District really needs no more than 45 to 60 days cash on hand.

    Any greater amount is simply excess taxation.

    Now, if anyone can refute this argument or provide evidence to dispute the conclusion, I will withdraw my conclusion.

    But unless or until that, this argument that they need the money, or what other school districts do, is simply irrelevant.

  13. You have not noticed that grade school teachers get paid a lot less than the high school teachers.

    Since there are more grade school teachers than high school teachers, they would control a newly-combined union.

    Might you agree that the grade school teacher-controlled union would negotiate to increase grade school salaries to the level of those in the high schools?

    I have done a cost-benefit analysis and the extra cost would be well over $20 million, while the savings in having fewer superintendents STATEWIDE would be about $100 million.

    You can read my 2011 analysis here:

    Here is an Associated Press story, published after mine, which came to the same conclusion:

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