District 300 Touts Sears EDA Compromise Proposal

A press release from District 300:

The following is a statement from Superintendent Michael Bregy, speaking during a press conference at Senator Michael Noland’s Office in the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield (1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25):

“As you may know, Community Unit School District 300 is the sixth largest school district in the state of Illinois, with 21,000 students and 3,000 employees. We are based in Kane County in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago, but we include 15 different cities in 4 counties.

For nearly 23 years, Sears Corporate Holdings has been headquartered in our district, within the Village of Hoffman Estates.

The symbol of the Sears devlopment in Hoffman Estates.

During that time, more than $200 million in District 300 school property taxes has gone to support Sears and the Village of Hoffman Estates to develop an 800-acre property known as the Sears EDA, which stands for Economic Development Area.

We have no problem with that.

But we believe that 23 years has been long enough.

Conservative estimates are that we spend well over $7 million a year educating the children of the Sears employees, which means that we are heavily subsidizing their education.

And while we want Sears to stay in our district forever, it is no longer necessary or morally appropriate for school property taxes to continue footing nearly the entire bill to keep Sears here.

So for the last several years, D300 leaders have proactively sought meetings with state legislators and Hoffman Estates to ensure that the EDA expires next year as planned.

But ever since legislation was secretively proposed this spring to extend the EDA for another 15 years, we have been trying our sincere best to be included in the negotiations.

After 6 months of pleading to be included in a deal that would have such a huge impact on tens of thousands of District 300 students and taxpayers, late last week we were finally invited to the table by the sponsor of the Bill, Senator Dan Kotowski.  His legislative district includes the EDA property.  Senator Kotowski asked to meet with me and representatives from Sears Holdings Corporation to negotiate the terms of the proposed extension of the EDA.

The timing of this conversation on the eve of the Veto Session was critical.

Chicago Tribune October 19, 2011, editorial in support of the General Assembly's not forcing District 300 to bear all of the subsidy Sears demands to stay in Illinois.

Because as the Chicago Tribune stated in a recent editorial that supported our opposition to Amendment 3 of Senate Bill 540, it would be BACKWARDS to approve this legislation without first defining the terms.

This is what the leaders of Hoffman Estates want: to rush through the legislation, and then talk about the terms later.

This is unacceptable.

At this time, I would like to outline the terms of the D300 proposal, which I gave to Senator Kotowski last Friday and told him to distribute as he saw fit. 

To be very clear, the proposal Senator Kotowski recently mentioned to the press and his colleagues has never been shared with us. 

We have no idea if it is indeed a fair compromise. 

And COMPROMISE is truly what is needed here.

So far, the concept of “negotiations” has been framed as District 300 should be the only one that compromises.

The problem of how to keep Sears here in Illinois is a shared problem.

And therefore we should all share in the responsibility of solving the problem –  not just District 300.

We believe strongly that a fair and reasonable plan will require all four of the fiscal stakeholders to move off of their positions.

Those four parties are

  • District 300,
  • Sears,
  • he Village of Hoffman Estates, and
  • the State of Illinois.

District 300’s compromise proposal is extremely reasonable.

It allows the EDA to stay in place, but with some major structural changes.   A copy of this proposal is being shared today (Oct. 25) with the news media, as well as all of the Senators.  Our proposal includes 3 parts. (SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THE PROPOSAL, ATTACHED.) It is based on Sears’ stated goal of receiving $125 million from the EDA.


  • The legislation should name Sears and specifically require Sears – not “the developer” and not “the development” – to maintain 4,000 jobs in the EDA. Right now, Amendment 3 only requires the entire EDA property to maintain 4,000 jobs, which includes many other businesses besides Sears.
  • If Sears moves away from Illinois, the EDA should automatically expire.


  • There has never been an audit specifically of the EDA funds in the past 20 years. We propose that an audit be required for the EDA, just like for traditional Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIFs).
  • The audit should be overseen by a Joint Review Committee, which includes representatives of District 300, Hoffman Estates, and the other taxing bodies within the EDA like parks and libraries.


As I mentioned earlier, Sears recently told us that its financial goal for the EDA extension is to receive another $125 million.

We don’t know how they came up with that figure, but it is the basis of our proposal.

To get to that $125 million, we propose that each of the four parties –

  • D300,
  • Sears,
  • Hoffman Estates, and
  • the State –

contributes $2 million a year for the next 15 years.

  • So for example, instead of D300 getting an additional $14 million a year in school property taxes from the EDA, we would only get $12 million additional. (Any money that D300 receives from the EDA should not be taken out of our state aid.)
  • Instead of Hoffman Estates getting $5 million a year to manage the EDA, perhaps the village may only get $3 million.
  • The State of Illinois would find a way to chip in $2 million a year.
  • Sears would reduce its goal by $2 million a year. As soon as Sears reaches its overall goal of $125 million, the EDA would automatically expire.

In summary, we must all have skin in the game.”


“Things cannot continue the way they are.  The expiration of the current EDA was a light at the end of the tunnel for our district, as we continued to cut jobs and programs.  We have cut $28 million in the last 10 years, $14 million of which was cut in the last 2 years.  We have sacrificed.  We cannot continue sacrificing.

$1,500 less is spent on ME per year than the state average per student.  This financial problem is tangible to us.  It is not “next quarter’s projections.”  It’s my daily environment!  It’s the teachers who haven’t received pay raises.  It’s the 40+ kids in my English class.  It’s the Board meetings in the spring that announce our teachers being laid off and programs being cut.  I have watched as my district was forced to pink-slip 363 teachers in order to remain fiscally responsible.  It’s those things that make this issue tangible to me.

As a student, the answer is clear that compromise is needed.  EVERYONE needs to give a little, meaning ALL parties, in order to protect education, jobs in the EDA, and jobs in our district.

This burden cannot and should not be carried by my teachers, my principals, my peers, and my SIBLINGS who will continue to go through this district.  But rather, this burden should be dealt with in a way that can be carried all parties as a true compromise.”


District 300 Touts Sears EDA Compromise Proposal — 1 Comment

  1. When Kelly Moss speaks of the “burden”, she has forgotten to mention the taxpayers of D300 who are still waiting for:
    (1) test scores to go up;
    (2) teachers to stop asking for raises;
    (3) counselors to actually provide some thoughtful guidance to students.

    Students graduating from Dist 300 are not prepared for college, meaningful employment and must pay for remedial education at ECC or other junior colleges that the students should have received in high school (as part of our tax bills)

    Students rallying in Springfield and waving banners on the bridge in Algonquin some years ago for Pro-Referendum should be replaced by more time in the classroom with quality teaching time invested in the students’ educational success.

    P.S. How many 18 yr olds in Dist 300 are registered to vote?

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