Woodstock School District Tax Protest Meeting Next Friday Night

Taxpayers in Woodstock District 200 are invited to a meeting about paying taxes under protest.

The details are below:

TAX OBJECTION LAWSUIT against Woodstock D200

Attorney Tim Dwyer will explain issues and Woodstock field questions from prospective plaintiffs:

Friday September 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

McHenry County Farm Bureau building: 1102 McConnell Rd, Woodstock, IL 60098

(Just East of 47, first driveway past car wash).

  • Join with other taxpayers to send a clear message to the School Board: tax rate cap evasion will no longer be tolerated.
  • If citizens do not speak up, our tax rate crisis can only get worse.
  • There will be no legal fees charged to those who join tax rate objection; attorney is taking the case on contingency.

Any questions? Contact Susan Handelsman 815-540-7526 fourto5@aol.com


Comments

Woodstock School District Tax Protest Meeting Next Friday Night — 33 Comments

  1. At the meeting you will hear about one way that Woodstock District 200 is hiking property taxes.

    ++++++

    Government and non profit accounting use fund accounting, which is different from private sector accounting.

    ++++++

    Woodstock District 200 has the following funds.

    – Education Fund

    – Operations and Maintenance Fund

    – Working Cash Fund

    – General Fund

    – Transportation Fund

    – Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF)

    – Tort Fund

    – Debt Service Fund

    – Capital Projects Fund

    – Fire Prevention and Safety Fund

    – Agency Funds (Student Activity Funds)

    Detail on these funds is found in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) which is on the district website.

    ++++++++

    The District is levied, and the County extended, more money than is being spent in the Transportation Fund.

    The District transferred the excess Transportation funds to two other funds:

    – Education Fund

    – Operations and Maintenance Fund.

    ++++++++

    District 200 in its 2015 CAFR identifies the Transportation Fund as a restricted fund.

    “Special Revenue Funds are by definition restricted for those specified purposes.

    The restricted fund balances are: Transportation Fund $4,257,907; Municipal Retirement Fund $1,847,194; Tort Fund $272,910; Debt Service Fund $6,611,252; Capital Projects Fund $1,288,618; and the Fire Prevention and Safety Fund $653,624.”

    ++++++

    Also in the CUSD 200 FY 2015 CAFR:

    “Special Revenue Funds

    To account for proceeds from specific revenue sources which are designated to finance expenditures for specific purposes.

    The District maintains the follow Special Revenue Funds:

    Transportation Fund – to account for activity relating to student transportation to and from school.”

    ++++++

    Also in the CUSD 200 fiscal year 2015 CAFR:

    Transportation Fund

    Local Revenues

    2015 – $4.99 million

    2014 – $2.52 million

    +++++++++++

    That is a 98% increase.

    Transportation costs did not almost double in one year.

    But property tax revenue to the transportation fund did almost double in one year.

    +++++++++++

    The biggest cost in a school district is for teachers.

    The District 200 collective bargaining agreement with the teachers union was set to expire at the end of the 2015 – 2016 school year, in the summer of 2016.

    The school board approved a new teacher contract December 15, 2015.

    The teachers are paid from the Education Fund.

    ++++++++

    On March 15, 2016, the school board approved collective bargaining agreements for the other three bargaining units in the district:

    – Custodians

    – Support Staff

    – Transportation

    ++++++++

    All four collective bargaining agreements now expire in 2021.

    A copy of the collective bargaining agreement is on the district website.

    http://www.woodstockschools.org > School Board > Collective Bargaining Agreements

    ++++++++

    Instead of transferring money from the Transportation Fund, to the Education Fund and / or the Operations & Maintenance Fund, the school district has at least other options to generate revenue:

    – Issue non referendum working cash bonds (subject to state law restrictions)

    – Tax rate referendum for the Education Fund and / or the Operations and Maintenance Fund.

    +++++++

    The teacher union is by far the most powerful political entity in a large school district such as Woodstock District 200.

    Not the school board, Superintendent or other administration, or taxpayers.

    The teacher unions are well financed and organized.

  2. Well stated.

    If the school board (owned and operated by the Teacher’s Union) wants to get their Springfield vassels to raise or eliminate the 4% of EAV tax rate cap on the Ed Fund, it would be the simplest way to satisfy their desires for ever-more tax money.

    Meanwhile, we taxpayers have the expectation that protections provided by law will not be cavalierly and improperly circumvented.

  3. If Susan were to run and win some election in McHenry. You’d finally have some kind of representation, come teachers strike and extort time.

    I’m not talking watering down her voice on those rediculous school boards, but something like State Senator.

    Someone that would call out pols that crawl under their rocks, every time a “it’s for the kids” strike or bond comes up.

  4. Susan definitely has leadership skills
    & is a MASTER at doing the MATH
    That the rest of these douchebags
    Are clueless about & CAN’T DO !

    Kudos to SUSAN, we are cheering
    You on !

  5. Don’t just hold Susan’s coat, go to the meeting whether you live in D-200 or not.

  6. Take away the teachers’ ability to strike, then see if the tail continues to wags the dog.

    Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that.

    School boards cannot strike nor can they just stop negotiating, unlike the unions.

    Or change the law such that strike days are lost pay days, not make up days or dollars.

    Voluntarily stay off the job, then district saves the payroll money.

  7. FOIA the exact changes to the collective bargaining agreements for each of the four bargaining units in Woodstock District 200.

    That would be the teacher contract approved by the board in 2015, and the other three agreements (custodial, support staff, and transportation) approved by the board in 2016.

    The negotiators presumably had a change document indicating the exact changes from the previous agreement.

    An example of how changes are identified would be underline text for additions, and stricken text for deletions.

    Be careful not to submit too many FOIA requests with the same taxing district in a certain timeframe, which results in the state law labeling such a person a frequent requester.

  8. I have been speaking to home schooling parents to assemble a ‘strike kit’.

    Between free internet resources, and the myriad number of online programs mandatory in classes at D200 (big school spending on software), there appear to be ample resources to hold school (keeping to pre-programmed lesson plans online) with or without striking teachers.

    My position is that teachers can be paid whatever the union demands, but then the number of teachers (and other personnel) must be limited.

    Start with the budget (the amount of money available), then hire what you can within that budget.

    Schools all across America educate children to a higher percentage of college readiness with much lower per-pupil-annual-spending.

    It isn’t even a rare occurrence.

    D200 is the anomaly with its 4.6% property tax rate and mediocre results.

    And don’t start with ‘it’s for the children’, when that rationale is used to take parents’ household budget allocation for children’s college funds relative to the rest of American households.

  9. I wish I had your energy and determination when I was young enough to do so.

    You are truly a hero, Susan.

    God bless and God speed!

  10. Thanks but I disagree.

    I am acting in my own selfish interests.

    In this case, however, I believe my own selfish interests are aligned with many more persons than those who are benefiting from the status quo.

  11. Susan, while your zeal is admirable, your premise is catastrophically flawed.

    The IEA union reps are taught how to divide communities and boards by using that dreaded six-letter word: S T R I K E.

    Paying teachers whatever they want, but limiting the number of teachers is a trainwreck in the making.

    Because in the next contract (if they ever agree to your geniousness in the first place), they will return to the table expecting -yes, EXPECTING – the same amount plus another 10%.

    You cannot simply keep reducing the volume of teachers every time there’s a free-wheeling reckless raise given.

    Your “plan”, taken to the Nth degree, ends up with highly paid teachers, but you can only afford a couple of them.

    Essentially, the result is a one-room schoolhouse with two teachers for a ton of kids.

    That’s a joke and you know it.

    I get that you want better results, but if school is not a priority in the home, the kids bring that negativity to the schools.

    A “strike kit”? Free computer resources?

    You advocate plopping kids in front of a screen and putting on headphones with the hope that they sit still and “learn” thru osmosis?

    What grades?

    Put your energies into getting strikes outlawed.

  12. I am taking online classes for many years now, and there are sites like Blackboard where assignments are followed, tests are conducted, taped lectures observed, all requiring very little ‘teacher time’.

    Discussion boards encourage interaction with other students and ‘teaching each other’ atmosphere.

    Online tests are challenging and fun (see Khan Academy to brush up for free on math and sciences.

    I have been doing modules for fun and it really helps me remember old skills and learn new ones).

    Another wonderful free resource is Edx.org, with free classes from the finest Universities.

    Home school parents, retired or active teachers who disagree with holding children hostage, and school administrators may be willing to lead classes and shepherd children through pre-programmed lesson plans on Blackboard.

    The internet, in all other areas. has served as a tool to leverage managerial time.

    In public education, however, the student/teacher ratio keeps shrinking(at least in Woodstock D200) despite more and more reliance on computer software teaching modules purchased by the District.

    The hours of school work each day if described by modular online classes would be less than the amounts of hours spent including transportation, and free periods.

    Alaskan children attend ‘remote learning’.

    So there are solutions to strikes but it takes 4.6% property tax rate (American average is 1.4%) to ignite activation energy to implement solutions.

  13. It’s not selfish at all to want a better place to live and be left alone to do whatever you like (this includes keeping your hard-earned money).

  14. Illinois trains 10 teachers for every opening every year according to the NCTQ.

    If they strike fire them!

    New hires start out at the entry level and future increases must be approved by those of us footing the bill, the real taxpayers.

    What a novel idea. Actually paying for what the market dictates.

    I remember reading somewhere about that concept, but along the line the Public Sector forced me to forget while stuffing their pockets with my cash.

    Home schooling?

    You mean as in parents actually taking responsibility and an active part in their kids Ed?

    Wow, what another great concept.

  15. BTW Susan.

    No one is altruistic except liberals and progressives.

    (And they are lieing.)

  16. People!

    Follow Susan’s lead and dig yourselves out of the Hell-hole the government has put you in.

    It has to start somewhere!

    She’s doing all the heavy lifting.

    Get off your fat lazy rumps; and at the very least show some support for all her hard work!

  17. Out of curiosity, what’s the standard deviation for that 1.4% average?

    To frame a local community property tax against the backdrop of a national statistic isn’t quite an apples to oranges comparison.

    How about in the context of this wasteland we call Illinois?

    Where does 4.6% fall on that spectrum and what kind of statistical consistency is there in your numbers – i.e. Std Deviations?

    And Alaska’s model for education is by necessity because communities are spaced far apart, and due to the terrain, the best mode of transportation is actually by a Cessna.

    Again, using an extreme to illustrate the norm.

  18. Friday’s meeting is informational for potential plaintiffs in D200 tax objection suit.

    We don’t hope to get a lot of money in recovery, but we do hope to make this behavior stop in the future as a result.

    BUT: this is almost certainly NOT the only school district executing this type of tax-rate-cap evasion strategy.

    Any taxpayer can look up their own district’s transportation fund levy/expenditure history and determine whether they too should file tax objections.

    It is not too late for anyone in any district to do so if warranted.

  19. Indiana and Cali: 1% property tax rate cap.
    Massachusetts: 2.5% tax rate cap
    Chicago homes pay around 2.3%

    New Jersey was said to be highest while still below 3% average.

    I do not believe that any municipality in McHenry County is below 3% (except maybe Lakewood).

    A very telling stat is the BLS numbers on Categorical Spending as a percentage of Household Income

    The national average for property taxes is below 4% of mean or median household income.

    In Woodstock, a median income household living in a median priced home with a homestead exemption pays over 12% of household income in property taxes.

    That additional 8% essentially steals the entire fraction of household income which typical Americans are ‘allowed to keep’ for children’s college funds, retirement savings, family pets, and then some.

  20. The norm for college learning is heavily weighted toward internet usage (Blackboard).

    The grade schools and HS here also use similar online programs to conduct teaching and homework, as I was at several School board meetings where these programs were demo’d.

  21. The Alaskan reference wasn’t articulated well: my point was not that it was done by choice rather than dictated by circumstances…

    my point was that it can and is being done.

    And you might want to do a bit more research before insulting a great deal of home school parents, on the quality of non-traditional education sources.

    We have powerful technology available today, and it seems to me that while our school district is spending oceans of money to purchase tech they are not using it effectively if their productivity per employee seems to be falling annually (as evidenced by increased hiring each year for a decade, with absolutely flat enrollment).

  22. Chicago’s property tax formula is far different that what is used by the rest of the state.

    Heck, even the statutes for calculation are written in such a way that the only community it even applies to is Chicago, without specifically naming it.

    Additionally, there’s a ton of land in the city boundaries that has been TIF’d because it’s blighted.

    And while Chicago’s tax rate is comparatively low, CPS keeps squeezing Springpatch for more money at the expense of the rest of the state.

    I’ve seen districts that purchase tons of tech, only to allow the kids to use it for an hour during the day while it sits in a charging cart.

    Definitely head scratching.

    I’ve used Blackboard myself for school as well as other similar applications.

    Works fine for adults in grad school and even young adults in undergrad.

    Younger kids — bad, which is why there are alternatives for online learning.

    But at those younger ages, you can only do so much due to attention spans, motor skills for starters.

    Heck, I’ve seen kids skipping their lessons and instead go to youtube for gory and disgustingly violent videos that got through school sensors.

    While you provide tax rates for states, what model of school funding do they use to fill the financial gaps?

    Every state provides different depths of support either through state aid and/or property taxes.

    Illinois is amongst the most reliant on property taxes, which in some ways is good because the state is in such dreadful condition fiscally.

    This year was the first in recent years where schools’ state aid was not prorated.

    And now unions are salivating to seize a piece of that pie while its there, but I digress.

    North Carolina school system is bizarre in that all the teachers work for the state and dictate wages and headcount based on enrollment.

    Pay is very low, and those teachers are being poached by neighboring states leaving the less talented behind.

    So comparing property taxes state to state is a hit or miss argument at best.

    Another option i spending per pupil, but now you are comparing have vs have nots in metropolitan, rural and urban locations that still differ regionally by cost of living (Illinois has a high COL too, I believe).

    Oh, and by the way, most states’ districts are segmented by county, which tends to take away most local community voices.

  23. Dick is ignoring the problem and throwing straw dogs.

    Ignore this, Susan.

  24. Two comments:

    1 – Woodstock’s teachers’ union is the Illinois Federation of Teachers, not the Illinois Education Association.

    2 – All politics is local. Ending the ability of teachers to strike is a state issue upon which Susan would have minuscule impact.

  25. Maybe it is you that does not understand, Cal.

    The state and the fed are bankrupt (in more ways than one!) Soon they will have no bearing on any of our lives.

    Susan is fighting a home battle.

    This is where it will become vital.

  26. Breaking a teacher strike has many parts.

    1. Can technology and replacement teachers be successfully implemented.

    2. State laws that make it difficult to break a strike.

    3. Gaining public support.

    Breaking a teacher strike with technology and replacement teachers has not successfully been implemented, at least in Illinois.

    A school district on the north shore tried and failed a few years ago.

    It would be a massive undertaking to break a teacher strike at this point.

    As taxes continually increase, it will be easier to gain public support and volunteers.

    It’s a lot easier for people to live with tax hikes until the kids graduate and then move.

    A huge problem is parents want the best education for their children, and believe fighting the teachers will not lead to that end.

    That is due to the fact the public school district has a monopoly on taxes for public education.

    The best way to break a strike is to first bust up the monopoly school districts, by allowing public education funding follow the child.

    Thus, the local school district would have to compete for education funding against private, charter, virtual, home school, etc.

    ++++

    Another idea is to change the state law that requires mandatory fees to a union covered position.

    In other words, prohibit mandatory fees to a labor union as a condition of employment.

    The mandatory fees allow the unions to amass dollars against the will of those teachers who do not want to contribute a dime to the union.

    Since Illinois is not a right to work state, even if the teacher does not “join” the union, the teacher is required to pay reduced fees to the union.

  27. My logic is this…

    If a strike happens, we should be prepared to support seamless transition to online lessons which enable students to keep current.

    We (individual local citizens) have no power over the Illinois Legislative Industry.
    Therefore we must find creative ways to survive it’s crushing influence.

    We have just provided every student with IPad devices. We have enough administrative and ancillary staff to host merged-class classroom attendance (as parents must work).
    If superintendent insists, every teacher would be required to program lesson plan in advance into the many online teaching software programs purchased by D200.

    What objection can there be to planning and organization for surviving and thriving during a strike?

  28. The Woodstock CUSD 200 collective bargaining agreements expire in 2021.

    It would probably take that long to gain the support and put into place everything that would be required to break a strike.

    Remember there are subsets of students that have special reqirements:

    – ESL

    – Students with an IEP (special education)

    – Students with a 504 (need some sort of accomodation)

    – Drivers ED

    – Sports

    +++++

    Not every home has internet access.

    +++++

    Before attempting to have a replacement for teachers during a strike, focus first on transparency:

    – Searchable Board agenda packets that allow use of the find, and copy and paste, features in Adobe pdf.

    – Videotaped Board meetings

    – Post the lifetime annual salaries and pensions for every current and retired employees on a website, including administrators and non certified staff employees.

    Include columns for years worked in the district, years worked in the state, years worked out of state (ISBE used to include that in their report).

    Include sick day cash outs and exchanges for years of service credit.

    Include the annual employee contribution to the pension plan (TRS), the employer contribution, and the proportional state contribution.

    Include the GASB 68 figure for TRS and IMRF net pension liability (roughly equivalent to unfunded pension liability) that is found in the school district CAFR.

    Include the healthcare benefits package for current employees and retirees.

    Include administrator contracts (the Better Government Association website has many).

    etc.

    ++++++

    People have not a clue what has transpired because it has not been transparent.

    ++++++

    Notice County Board Chair candidate Jack Franks, who claims he has a goal to lower the property tax levy (request to county) of school districts and all taxing districts in the county by 10%, is not focused on any of the above.

    That’s because the unions, including the IEA, back and financially support Jack Franks.

    Our biggest problem in this state after hiked pension benefits and payouts, is too much labor union power coupled with a lack of transparency how that affects property taxes, including unfunded state legislative mandates to state and local units of government.

  29. A good way to learn what would be required to break a strike is to thoroughly understand what a teacher has to deal with.

    One way to thoroughly understand what a teacher has to deal with, is to substitute teach.

    Other ways including talking to students, teachers, staff, administrators, and the professional organizations such as IASB.

    There’s a lot that goes into teaching in no small part due to all the federal and state laws, many of them unfunded mandates.

  30. First we have to agree that the goal.is not to break a strike, but to survive and thrive during a strike.

    Then we develop the plan for provision of minimal critical replacement services (drivers ed, esl tutorial s are all available for hire outside the legal mandated requirement s.

  31. While the Illinois Legislative Industry blocks citizens from overarching long term viable solutions, citizens are still allowed to cobble together means of survival against the Industry’s adversarial tactics.

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