Woodstock School District Talks Closing School Buildings

Susan Handelsman reports on the

Facility review committee meeting

Motion to identify which of 49 voting committee members’ households were compensated by D200 failed to pass by a huge margin.

The motion and vote were not recorded by the committee record keeper.

The only recommendations passing committee:

  • close admin building lease ($70,000)
  • sell owned admin building ($400,000; saving annual $56,000 ops&maintenance and external upkeep), and
  • closing Dean St. School (capacity 500, enrollment 325) and creating dual and mono classes.

Clay Academy

Clay Academy building closure failed to pass at 63%: 31 yes votes of 49, a supermajority of 75% was required.

This was with committee informed that Clay building housed predominantly out-of district students and that D200 taxpayers have to subsidize them in order to keep Clay building open.

The figure I estimated was that we were paying $63,000 per each of 11 District 200 Clay students in order to provide a low cost option for wealthier districts tuition ($29,000) students.

Discussion about Clay Academy:

Last year Clay Academy enrollment included 29 in-district students and some number of out-of district tuition students.

This year D200 in-district enrollment dropped to 11, with 59 out-of-district tuition students.

Superintendent Moan said that because no such Option was on the list describing alternatives for Clay, he would not address the question of whether D200 taxpayers are obligated to keep Clay building open in order to offer a low- cost tuition option for all out-of-district students even if D200 special ed enrollment fell to zero.

Wold Architects $170,000 10 year life-safety survey indicated Clay building need $2.2 million capital improvements.

The facility review committee on buildings had recommended that Clay building (300 capacity, 70 current enrollment of which only 11 now were local D200 students) be investigated for closure.

Since Initial Facility review of physical buildings committee met in November Superintendent Moan, in person and in emails, had promised to supply specific breakdown of undisclosed costs to operate Clay Academy.

Dr. Moan repeatedly stated that “Clay operates at about a break even”.

I have repeatedly insisted that the costs of operating Clay Academy which were not disclosed to the voting committee were quite substantial, created a deficit per tuition-student which was required to be funded by D200 taxpayers, and would have bearing on the committee’s analysis and vote.

Yesterday, less than 24 hours before tonight’s vote, the facility review committee was sent an email which again failed to include those substantial and significant cost figures, and also overstated (relative to two handouts previously distributed by admin to our committee) tuition revenue by $120,000.

The handout again implied that Clay Academy was operating at a “profit ” generated by tuition.

When costs of the Clay building, life safety mandated improvement costs, exterior maintenance, building insurance, OPEB including D200 guaranteed insurance premium payments for retirees pre-Medicare, shared general admin, shared special ed admin, tech and IT, tort fund liability premiums, and the D200 portion of State personnel reimbursement allocations are taken into account, it is clear that D200 taxpayers are paying more per student than is covered by tuition revenues paid.


Comments

Woodstock School District Talks Closing School Buildings — 23 Comments

  1. “Motion to identify which of 49 voting committee members’ households were compensated by D200 failed to pass by a huge margin.”

    Is that information that could be obtained via FOIA?

  2. Closing Dean Street school is bs.

    No schools should be closed!

  3. Woodstock District 200 Facility Review Committee 2016 – 2017

    Gabi Anguiano

    Amanda Bergstrom

    Jennifer Bigler

    Amy Blalock

    Tricia Bogott

    Catherine Cantwell

    Diane Carter

    Ray Caywood

    Artuor Flores

    Diana Frisbie

    Linda Gabrielson

    Brian Gerloff

    Carl Gilmore

    Maria Gonzalez – Echevarria

    Joan Grandrath

    Kirsten Green

    Susan Handelsman

    John Hanlin

    Risa Hanson

    Ryan Hart

    Meri Jaco

    Julie Jennett

    Suzanne Kockler

    Tom Krieger

    Keely Krueger

    Maureen Larson

    Vicki Larson

    Brian McAdow

    Rob McClurg

    Tom McGrath

    Joe Meier

    Mike Moan

    Lynn Mohan

    Bill Nattress

    Michele Neuhart

    George Oslovich

    John Parisi

    Toby Parker-Goad

    Julia Patterson

    Lisa Pearson

    Virginia Peschke

    Angie Ribbe

    John Rigby

    Christopher Riley

    Ken Roiland

    Yesenia Sanchez

    Jeremy Schaaf

    Eric Schleutermann

    Dana Smith

    Justin Smith

    Jenn Spear

    Liz Stroh

    Brady Stromquist

    Mike Thomas

    Debra Walsdorf

    Michael Wheatley

    Jennifer Wiegel

    Glen Wilson

    Dave Zinnen

    http://www.woodstockschools.org/sites/default/files/woodstockschooldistrict200/document/FacilitiesCommitteMembers.pdf

  4. Woodstock Community Unit School District 200

    Facilities Review Committee

    The Facilities Review Committee, comprised of community members, administration, and staff, was created after the conclusion of the District’s 10-year life safety review.

    The 10-year review provided information needed for a discussion on the current and future use of facilities district-wide.

    Information regarding Facilities Review can be found in the links below.

    [article continues]

    http://www.woodstockschools.org/facilities

  5. If the school district is not providing requested information, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request can be submitted, requesting documents.

    If one feels the request is not adequately fulfilled, the request can be appealed to the Public Access Counselor in the Illinois Attorney General’s office.

    The website has a lot of information including free training for the public on FOIA and Open Meetings Act (OMA).

    http://foia.ilattorneygeneral.net/Training.aspx

    FOIA is document based, not question based.

    So in general be sure to request documents.

  6. Old man winters comments should disgust any human being. I’m shocked no one has remarked on them.

  7. Lack of engagement is not acquiescence.

    I agree with you, but do you want to come here daily and engage with the same bigotry?

    You are not going to persuade anonymous posters from spewing.

  8. thoughts and a few questions

    Susan I am confused as to what clay data is missing. Could you please briefly list o would like to have that .

    Thnx

    I would hate to seen Dean closed but repurposed is a possibility.

    I feel is you close it the property values of that neighborhood will suffer.

    There are places to have savings for sure I feel most people are afraid of being too drastic.

    Lastly- I understand opinions are opinions but I Would really like to see the moderator of this page to use some power iand delete things that are derogatory, rude, mean racial etc. that is not going to help anyone

  9. Jaco, ” too drastic” ? You know what’s “too drastic”?

    Our damn property taxes!

    If unnecessary buildings are closed and money is saved (given back to the taxpayers) we ALL win. Properties around the closed buildings and all.

    It is TAXES that is making people leave (driving down enrollments) and TAXES making people pass us by.

    So knowing that, no one should be “afraid of being too drastic”.

    Secondly, McHenry County Blog is a bastion of Free Speech, unlike you Liberals who can’t handle the truth.

  10. Those on initial facility review buildings committee and the COW were given incomplete information on Clay Academy financials. I repeatedly asked that all data be given to,a committee in order to analyze and vote properly.

    On the last day before white vote, the COW was given the same incomplete information formatted to imply that somehow Clay tuition students create a “profit” for Woodstock D200.

    To the contrary, tuition students ( paying d200 $29,000 and receiving a $15,000 reimbursement from Illinois) are costing local taxpayers money.

    I will put separate comment listing costs I estimated which were repeatedly withheld from the voting committee by D200 Admin despite promises to specify those costs.
    In several statements and emails , Superintendent Moan has vaguely stated that Clay operates around break even.

  11. ALTERNATIVES:
    Ideally D200 would like the deal we are giving other wealthier Districts who send 59 tuition students to Clay with 11 of D200 students: pay $29,000 tuition and recover $15,000 of that from Illinois.
    Other alternatives are apparently withheld from D200 taxpayers due to a review committee process which was designed to fail.

    Other alternatives which should be open to D200 special Ed Clay students (enrollment 11):

    1. Keep Clay building open and operate without regard to cost, for all tuition students who so desire and any number of D200 students including zero.
    2. Operate Clay as is now, in another facility, without regard to cost.
    3. Operate Clay for D200 students only (11 at present) in another building.
    4. Send (11) D200 Clay students to Allendale at $30,295 each.
    5. Sell Clay building and program at $0 to Allendale, all Clay staff and enrollment may stay as is.
    D200 cost-per-student would drop from $30,295 each to $28,846 with no transportation costs.
    (At $43,000 tuition, Allendale would make a huge profit given Clay’s alleged operational costs.)
    6. Sell Clay building and program at $0 to a NFP group of stakeholders; such as parents and PTO and staff. Presumably they could operate Clay at a tuition rate closer to the $29,000 D200 is charging its 59 out-of-district tuition students.

    Estimated
    ANNUAL COSTS TO OPERATE CLAY PROGRAM AND BUILDING (LEFT OFF ADMIN INFORMATION SHEET)
    1. Exterior Maintenance: $91,000 or…?
    (District wide maintenance and insurance on the Clay building are accounted in Ops&Maintenance Fund Costs Sheet, near bottom; TOTAL district wide expenses $2 million. 12 schools, one District Admin offices, assume high schools account for ½ of total $2 million budget. One 11th of $1 million=$91,000.)

    2. Liability: $8000…?
    (Tort Fund $830,000, 70 students ~1% of enrollment, so 1% of tort fund=$8000).

    3. Clay share of OPEB: $50,000…?
    (Minimum 12 eligible staff, premiums for a female early 50’s $10,000? based on current insurance premium benefits packages. Future liability will be cumulative, paying for additional staff made necessary by out-of-district tuition students.).

    4. Clay share of District wide IT staff, software licenses, high speed internet: $24,000+software?
    (At least $400,000 IT staff, if Clay = 6% of IT staff usage=$24,000).

    5. Clay share of District wide Special Ed Admin staff: >$28,000…
    (3 Special Ed Admin are $360,000 not including secretarial staff. 70 of 900 students is 7.7%. 7.7% of special Ed =$28,000.)

    6. Clay share of District wide General Admin staff: $25,000?
    (District Admin accounts for over $2.5 million of salaries not including secretarial or fringe benefits. If Clay uses 1% of the staff resource =$25,000).

    7. 2010 $10.5 million Fire Prevention and Safety Bond spending on Clay building: $200,000?
    (Another 3-4 years to [pay off these expenditures. Assuming only $2 million of $10.5 million went to Clay, taken over 10 years=$200,000 annually.).

    8. Wold Architects fee, and Future $2.2million Clay building expenditures: $221,400.
    (Wold charged $170,000 for 10 year inspection, 1/12th =$14166 over 10 years=$1400; plus $2.2 million over 10 years.

    9. Other costs related to keeping open one of 12 buildings in districts for purpose of running a day school for mostly out-of -district tuition students

    TOTAL: $647,400 (additional per year added to admin figures)

    Divided by 11 D200 students attending Clay =$59,000 per student added to the incomplete and arguably inaccurate information presented to the voting committee by D200 admin brings total local taxpayer cost to $63,000 per D200 Clay student.

  12. You lost in the run for the school board.

    You lost in the committee.

    What is your goal here?

    Lower your property taxes by a couple hundred?

    Seems like a lot of energy spent getting very little accomplished other than alienating yourself from the community that has rejected your values.

  13. It is certainly true that teachers have more at stake in school board elections than ordinary homeowners.

  14. The property tax rate in Woodstock is 4.6%, primarily due to D200 overspending in many categories.

    The tax rate affects all residents burdened by D200 taxes:

    Every taxpayer whose home is fairly assessed pays thousands of dollars more per year than almost every other homeowner in Illinois and America.

    And,

    Every taxpayer suffers a loss of home value annually equal to the differential between “normal” property tax rates and 4.6%.

    With national average rates 1.4%, Woodstock homes can expect to lose 3.2% per year compared to homes elsewhere in America. Every year.

    There are academic studies on property tax rate capitalization, but it is more jarringly apparent in the anecdotal evidence:

    D200 bought the Admin building 19 years ago, and now it is priced only 10% higher.

    In that same 19 year period the Case Schiller commercial property index is up 80% and home index up 110%.

    What am I trying to accomplish?

    Educate the people in that room about the pain suffered by people NOT in that room.

    I can see innocent naivete up to a point, but once evidence is presented and ignored it must be labelled as willful ignorance.

  15. Cal, in the immortal words of Hamilton (the musical) they “want to be in the room where it happens, the room where it happens, the room where it happens.”

    And They are.

  16. Re: “It is certainly true that teachers have more at stake in school board elections than ordinary homeowners.”

    The ORDINARY homeowners are the people who foot the bill!!

    The bill for school social workers/

    The bill for school nurses.

    The bill for school security.

    The bill for the admins required to administer federal and state mandates plus attempt to extract the tax dollars to administer those mandates.

    The bill for ESL!

    The bill for ‘counselor’!!

    On and on and on!!!

  17. But from a monetary viewpoint, homeowners don’t have as much at stake as teachers and their families.

  18. Nice argument there, Javy.

    Things are really crappy, let’s just let them roll that way.

    This is as stupid as it gets!

  19. Wow I’m really not a liberal.

    Everyone has a stake in this.

    My question is where was everyone when commitees were formed ?

    Do you show up to the forums?

    Susan does.

    I do.

  20. Thanks for letting us in that room Susan with your researching

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