Yesterday, McHenry County Blog published the press release McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks released about his invitation to nine school superintendents and board presidents to meet with him on Thursday.
The superintendents said a number had scheduling conflicts, but all would be willing to meet with Franks and some County Board members on June 5th.
Below is Franks’ reply to the superintends’ counter offer.
Note how he uses the royal “we.”
Jack Franks’ Reply to the Superintendents’ Counteroffer
Thank you for your response to our request for a meeting in which we can discuss reducing school district property tax levies.
We are willing to accommodate your request to move the date back a month until after the end of the school year – 11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 6, is the better of the two options you presented.
However, in exchange for this courtesy, we would like to keep the format that we first presented, as well as the original location of the county Administration Building.
It is imperative to us that any meeting on this critical issue include the presidents of your elected school boards.
Each school district’s seven-member board is ultimately responsible for all budgetary, hiring and policy decisions, and every school superintendent ultimately answers to their respective boards of education. The school boards are the voice of the taxpayers whom we are trying to help, and as such it would be irresponsible to exclude them.
We also would like this first meeting to consist of the nine school districts we originally invited, which we picked to represent a diversity of size, enrollment, geography and issues.
As the goal is to begin a constructive dialogue with a manageable number of people, we firmly believe that having representatives from all 18 school districts at this first meeting would be counterproductive.
There will be future meetings in which others will be invited to the table. No district will be excluded.
Your group had asked in your letter what role we believe the McHenry County Board will play in reducing school levies by at least 10 percent by 2020.
As you know, the County Board has no statutory authority over school districts.
The most important role we can play is to bring in our administrative staff to explain how we found our levy reductions and offer ourselves as a resource for you to examine your own budgets and levies.
We very much understand that a county government and a school district are two very different taxing bodies with two very different budget setups.
However, our experience, such as singling out levies that had accumulated excess surpluses, will no doubt aid you in your efforts.
Like you, we firmly believe that quality schools are vital to children’s success as adults, and are a major contributor to McHenry County’s wonderful quality of life.
However, our residents’ tax burden has become too much for them to bear.
We’re losing population and student enrollment.
We believe that there are measures that school districts can take to ease that tax burden without sacrificing the quality education that our residents have come to expect. We can no longer afford inaction.
To review, we are willing to delay the meeting to 11 a.m. June 6, but with the original format that we requested.
We look forward to hearing from you and embarking on a positive and fruitful exchange of ideas.
I remain very truly yours,
Jack D. Franks