Huntley School District Financial Advisory Committee, Take 3

At one point in the Financial Advisory Committee meeting, Huntley School District Controller Altmayer tried to persuade the committee that special needs children receive $10 million  more than what comes in for special education.  (Subject addressed here.)

Parents in the audience were visibly angered by this misleading assertion.

It is apparent to the parents their children should receive a proportion of school expenditures by virtue they are 1,300 students (per Altmayer) out of about 8,600 students enrolled.

The parents, of course, also pay property taxes and State Aid to Education comes to the district, based on student attendance.

If their students attend the district’s schools, the district receives money from the state, regardless of whether they are regular or special ed students.

The parents are intelligent and some are as well-educated as the administrators.

They can figure out that 1300 students comprise 15% of the district’s 8,600.

Sara DiFucciWhen the money specifically designated as Special Ed from the state and federal grants are added to this, they know their students are being financially shortchanged.

Not just in dollars, which is pretty obvious), but they can see it in the lack of services delivered.

Sara DiFucci, a Special Ed Mom in the district took issue with Altmayer’s numbers.

She pointed out that what he classifies as “Special Ed” includes services that are provided to all students.

Not all of the extensive social workers’ services, counseling or psychologist services for example go to Special Ed students. His numbers always assume 100% of these services and others are exclusively consumed by Special Ed students and 0% is used by regular education students.

Teenage pregnancy counseling, homelessness issues, socialization of grade school kids and many home life issues occur for both regular and Special Ed students.

Parents have asked for transparency in the form of a comprehensive, line item detailed Special Education budget.

When parents have asked administrators for a copy of the Special Ed budget, they were referred to the no longer employed Special Ed director.

When they would then ask the Special Ed Director, she apparently received direction to refer parents back to Altmayer.

You can imagine that such a daisy chain does not result in parents’ trusting fiscal services.

Huntley School District 158 Controller Mark Altmayer

Altmayer said he wasn’t able to make his computer display the presentation he had for the meeting.

He referred to it as a “link up problem.”

On the one hand Altmayer said:

“I’m just the finance guy.”

Later on, the discussion got onto the budget agenda item.

Altmayer was advocating his spending priorities, which is to spend more on computer and technical upgrades.

He emphasized how he has the entire staff (including teachers and service providers in Special Ed) 100% buying into his budget priorities.

The parents who work with their students’ staff have a different story.

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See also Part 1 and Part 2.

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