# Cary Grade School Board President Explains How a District 155 Unit District Might Work

From Cary Elementary School District 26 Board President Scott Coffey:

Creating a D-155 Unit District with a more affordable and sustainable operating cost structure is completely dependent upon the 7 new Board members that would have to restructure operations and negotiate new union contracts.

The current Operating Tax Rate differential that exists between the 4 elementary districts would dictate that any new rate results in, at a minimum, matching the current lowest rate (D-26).

Based on the levy collected in 2017, driving down to D-26’s rate would reduce the combined levy by \$11.7 million.

There is no where near that amount of duplicative administrative spending that could be eliminated to generate enough savings to offset that revenue loss.

That means, the new Board would have to look elsewhere for savings.

By combining with D-155, this process becomes exponentially harder.

Clearly, the D-155 teacher contract is much more expensive than the elementary district’s contracts.

Additionally, there is a substantial teacher-equity differential just on required student contact time between the contracts.

Negotiating an affordable new teacher’s contract covering almost 1,200 teachers would be challenging.

The math gets interesting if you apply the “Cut 10%” Theory to what a Unit D-155 referendum Operating Tax Rate would look like.

Today, Cary residents have the lowest combined tax rate (D26+D155) of \$6.469228 per \$100/EAV, if you cut that by 10% down to \$5.822 and apply it across all of the communities it would yield a combined tax cut of \$28.3 million.

That means we [would] need to have 7 Board members that would be prepared to do some heavy lifting in order to generate the savings required to have a balanced budget.

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Based on the results of the last two District 155 High School Board elections, a Board willing to cut as much as Coffey projects would not get elected.

#### Cary Grade School Board President Explains How a District 155 Unit District Might Work — 10 Comments

1. Cal, if the taxpayers were to approve a consolidation referendum with a “Cut 10” combined Operating Tax Rate of \$5.822, as indicated above, the 7 Board members would have no choice.

The new Unit District would have their operating revenue cut by the \$28.3 million and they would have to make the appropriate cuts immediately or run massive deficits until fund balances were exhausted.

As with most things, there is an easy way of doing things and a hard way.

The easy way recognizes that an approval of a referendum by the taxpayers puts a fire underneath the new Board to effectively reorganize the district to operate within the parameters of its new, reduced revenue environment.

The hard way is for the new Board to fail to reduce its operating cost structure and run large deficits until it runs out of fund balances, and then runs out of borrowing capacity, and then the State comes in and puts a gun next to their head and says “fix it or we take over control of the district”.

Given that D-26 inexplicably employed the latter strategy during the decade of the 2000’s, I can state from experience that it would be MUCH easier to fix it sooner rather than later.

2. My understanding of the new state funding bill allows taxpayer petition to require referendum if ‘adequacy target’ spending is 110%.

My understanding of ‘adequacy target’ calculation is that it contains no ceilings on amounts spent on frivolous, non-evidence-based expenditures at the whim of school administration (such as lavish remuneration and excessive FTE-pupil-ratio retention for Administration).

That is, taxation/spending may exceed any reasonable ratio adhered to by other Districts, so long as spending on 27 adequacy target points is kept below 109% of State’s “Evidence based formula”.)

Any suggestions?

3. Back in 1975, a group of Cary residents wanted to unitize the Cary-Grove portion of D155 with elementary districts 3 (FRG) and 26 (Cary).

After months of debates the referendum to create the unit district was overwhelmingly defeated.

Since that time frame there have been no changes to the school finance formulas that would result in any savings and the costs to equalize teacher salaries within the new Unit District would be astronomical.

As for savings of administrative salaries, it will not result in any meaningful savings.

Few people realize that a part of every administrators job description is attendance at all student events, home and away…..all sporting and extracurricular activities, all club activities,etc.

It is almost comical the way this issue resurfaces every generation (30-40 years)….what do they say about crazy???

4. It is not comical when seniors cannot afford medication because need to pay their annually escalating property taxes to avoid losing homes at sales-prices which fall annually
(either in real dollars, but certainly in dollar value comparable to inflation and comparable to real estate value escalation EVERYWHERE ELSE which maintains reasonable ratios of spending-to-means-of-the-taxed-community).

You think it is comical that administrators, who must work more than the 65 hours-a-day and 160 days-a-year that teachers are contractually obligated to work, still earn more per hour than Centegra doctors?

I don’t see anything funny in the overstuffed staffing of Admin and the payment system which requires society to reward teachers and administrators who are public employees at roughly double the total remuneration of doctors and nurses.

I see suffering citizens.

5. Regarding the cut 10% plan with a new formed unit school district.

You have a major issue.

When school districts are combined, the school district with the highest salaries and best benefits is then used as the sole contract for the entire district.

So you can’t possibly combine all of the elementary schools (low salary schedule) with a high school (higher salaries) and then expect a reduction in tax levy.

State law does not allow the newly formed unit district to begin with brand new contract negotiations. S

o by passing a new unit district you would be shooting yourself in the foot, by actually increasing the cost of salaries/benefits for everyone in the new unit district.

6. Waiting for you to run for the District 155 High School Board.

7. Susan…learn the facts before spouting…administrators work 12 months a year….probably 12 or more hours a day during school year…more per hour than Centegr

8. About 15 months until the next school board election cycle.

Sadly, a “Cut 10” approach to D-155’s Operating Levy would still leave its operating tax rate higher than its smaller neighbor, McHenry HS District D-156.

Which gives one a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

D-155 would need a 16% cut just to match current tax rates.

If there are candidates that run looking to make changes, the good news is that they would be supported by all the McHenry County Board members that recently advocated and subsequently passed the Cut 10% referendum.