Not Many Attend Woodstock School District Post-Election Facility Review Committee Report Meeting

Here is Susan Handelsman’s report on what happened Monday night at the Woodstock School District’s meeting on the Facilities Planning Committee Report:

Facility Review Committee Report to sparse crowd at WHS

Superintendent Moan reported the results of Facility Review Committee vote to a small crowd Monday night at WHS.

There were three options (14 options having been determined by super-majority vote of whole Committee (3 sub-committees)) gaining 75% of 49 committee voters ‘yes’ votes to proceed with investigation by the School Board in May.

Investigation will invite community input, we were told.

  1. Sell Admin building (cost $365,000 in 1998, selling price 2017: $400,000).
  2. Cancel lease on second Admin building.
    (presumably the 42 Administrators now using these offices will find quarters among the 12 school buildings operating below 70% of enrollment capacity).
  3. Close Dean St. school and operate dual and mono programs.

Discussed:

The community survey was said to have been used by committee as some sort of guidance for their votes.

I demurred, and brought up that we (the committee) were told that there would be other, less ambiguous surveys given to the community as we progressed. I stated that I had read the 326 comments written on the survey, and the largest category by far (91 of 326) was typified by comments such as these from the first page:

  • ‘”I believe the choices are poorly framed and badly worded. I do not believe you will be able to garner any actionable info from this instrument”.
  • “The statements in this survey are not people friendly. They are put together with double meaning or make no sense. Asking more direct questions and not statements would have been more helpful”.
  • “I feel the statements of this survey are extremely vague and offer the opportunity for multiple interpretations. I hope to see a new survey soon with specific questions about what is being considered for our district”.

There was a vote on closing Clay Academy building which failed to pass a super-majority vote of Facility Review Committee. The vote was 31 (of 49) yes to close Clay.

I brought up again that the vote was based on inaccurate and incomplete information presented to the voting committee.

Clay Academy building was said by Admin to be integral in D200’s ability to attract out-of-district tuition students, and data presented to original committee was different than that to voting committee 22 hours before vote.

However all 3 sets of Clay financial data presented by Admin deceptively imply that somehow taxpayers are ‘making money’ by taking in tuition students.

If one includes the actual costs left out of that worksheet, I am certain that D200 taxpayers are heavily subsidizing the out-of-district students.

Superintendent Moan declined to cite total specific costs of operating Clay Academy building for benefit of 59 tuition students and 11 in-district students.

Here are categories of expenditures left off the Clay Academy “Net Cost’ sheet presented to voting members 22 hours before final vote was held.

ESTIMATED ANNUAL COSTS TO OPERATE CLAY PROGRAM AND BUILDING (COSTS which were LEFT OFF ADMIN INFORMATION SHEET given to committee voters)

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.) (Not that Clay building SHOULD cost $91,000 per year for exterior maintenance, but how else can the $2 million budget be accounted for?)

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…?
(Clay employs 35 persons, minimum 12 current 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 59 out-of-district tuition students.)(Currently, $460,000 OPEB are being paid annually by D200 taxpayers. As Clay goes forward, D200 taxpayers are accruing liability to pay health insurance premiums between ages 52 and 65 for eligible employees. I guessed at a present value estimate of present and future accruing liability).

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 expense not including secretarial or fringe benefits. If Clay uses 1% of the staff resource =$25,000).

7. ** Cost of building I: 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. Cost of building II: Wold Architects fee, and Future $2.2million Clay building expenditures: $221,400.
(Would charged $170,000 for 10 year inspection, 1/12th =$14166 over 10 years=$1400; plus $2.2 million over 10 years of building life&safety upgrades).

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

11 D200 student=$58854. Add to Admin claimed cost of $3821 per student= $62676 cost to local taxpayers per each Clay D200 student

*”The District’s annual other post-employment benefit (OPEB) obligation at the end of the 2015-16
school year was $460,942. Since the district prepares its budget on the cash basis, this amount
is not included in the budget on the following pages. However, it is included in the district’s audited
comprehensive annual financial report. The contributions required by the District are negotiated
with the four unions of the district. The plan provides for the District to pay for medical, dental
and life insurance for retired employees at various levels depending on type of employee. The
District contributes to the plan on a pay-as-you-go cash basis thereby funding no more than the
current year cost of the OPEB for retirees.”
2017 budget page 60

**”District 200 issued $10.47 million in Health/Life Safety Bonds and Debt Certificates in March,
2010. These funds were used to address the most urgent items in the Long-Range Facilities
Plan. Construction occurred during Summer 2010 and included domestic water replacement at
Clay Academy, Dean Elementary School, Olson Elementary School and Verda Dierzen Early
Learning Center; HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) replacement at Olson Elementary
School; Upgrade of ceilings and lighting at Clay Academy; Window system replacements at Dean
Elementary and Clay Academy; partial new roofs at Dean and Verda Dierzen, new asphalt
driveways at seven sites, new tennis courts at Woodstock High School, and a new districtwide
voice-over IP telephone system.”
2017 budget page 156

(Facility review Committee was not allowed to explore beyond the point of closing buildings.
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 open to D200 Clay students:

  1. Operate Clay as is now, in another facility, either without regard to cost, or with tuition students charged fair share of expenses incurred.
  2. Operate Clay for D200 students only (11 at present) in another building.
  3. Send (11) D200 Clay students to Allendale at $30,295 each.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.)

An audience member stated that D200 was killing our town.

Another stated that there was a lot of rhetoric about our high taxes, that McHenry school, and Lake County property taxes are higher than here.

Former school board member Nattress shouted from the audience ‘nice job spinning the numbers to prove your point’ or something to that effect to me.

I invite him to respond on this blog or in a public forum so that we can get to the specifics about D200 spending.

Since he voted yes on last year’s $109 million expenditure budget, he should be intimately familiar with all the specific cost and revenue details on Clay Academy, and the amount that D200 taxpayers are forced to subsidize other districts’ tuition students.

Finally, I BEG citizens to attend school board meetings.

I believe that decision-makers who have put Woodstock at 4.6% property tax rate have zero intent of acknowledging our tax crisis or changing any spending/borrowing habits.

You can’t get through to people who have no empathy for the economic pain they are causing this community, but you CAN make sure that history records that they have been made aware, and choose to ignore this factor.


Comments

Not Many Attend Woodstock School District Post-Election Facility Review Committee Report Meeting — 21 Comments

  1. Of course not.

    They got their minions in office who will only work for the teachers/administration getting their union contracts with as many buildings open as they can.

    The claim that ‘no one wants to close any buildings “for the kids”‘ is the biggest crock of excrement!

  2. The idea of closing Dean Street school is ridiculous.

    It’s at 65% capacity and covers the south side of town.

    The “reduce taxes at all costs” mantra was just rejected at the ballot box.

  3. “A genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus but a molder of consensus.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Susan, thank you for assuming such unprecedented community leadership.

  4. Ditto’s on Scott’s message.

    Please do not give up Susan.

    You are so needed to shine the light on what is really wrong with our taxes.

  5. Was there any cost comparison of returning Woodstock special education students to SEDOM (Special Education District of McHenry County)?

    +++++++++

    The makeup of any committee is important, as results can be skewed if any certain special interest category has more members.

    For transparency, the District should identify the stakeholder category of every member of the committee:

    – District 200 employee

    – Retired District 200 employee

    – Relative of current or former District 200 employee

    – Current or retired employee of another school district.

    – Vendor to the school district or another school district.

    – PTA/PTO member

    – Property taxpayer to District 200 that is not in any of the above categories (yes we know some of those in other categories are property taxpayers to District 200 also).

    ++++++++++

    There should be a committee member stakeholder transparency document for such committees.

    Don’t believe that has ever been done in any school district in the state.

  6. The original facility review committee on buildings was given a sheet indicating that SEDOM would charge $35,000.

    The whole committee voted down a motion to reveal whether voters’ households were compensated by D200.

  7. Susan never tells you that her own property tax rate is 3.8%, not 4.6%, and the reason why is because she lives in an unincorporated area and does not pay city tax.

    If she said that, people would realize that it’s the Woodstock city levy, not D200, that is ~5x higher than surrounding towns, and is the real reason for Woodstock’s 4.6% rate.

    She never tells you that the D200 levy was just reduced, and is in line with surrounding towns.

    I’m proud of Woodstock for voting her agenda down last week.

    Susan may claim to represent the underrepresented, but she clearly does not represent the majority of voters.

    Or should we FOIA the voters in the election, too?

  8. I live in incorporated Woodstock.

    My mailing address is Woodstock, and home value is devastated as a result.

    Our property tax rate is still double to triple national average, and extremely higher than all areas of McHenry County and Illinois

  9. We should be honest.

    Those extraordinarily highly compensated administrators and medical personnel compensated by D200 have incentive to preserve a status quo which richly rewards a tiny group at the great expense of the entire d200 (fairly assessed) taxpayer community.

    We SHOULD, now that you mention it, FOIA the hours worked and case load of all these richly compensated staff.

    We should also determine whether job posting and hiring protocols in compliance with Federal anti-discriminatory hiring practices are being followed.

    Does Chairman Frank endorse patronage hiring as fair practice for Woodstock D200?

  10. D200 abated $1 million of levy for 2017 budget.

    This accomplishes two things:

    1.for PTELL purposes, D200 can raise levy full amount of actual levy PLUS that abated $1 million.

    2. D200 may have been taxing illegal amounts and this $1 million reduction of transportation budget which was in writing projected to be “transferred out” was part of that alleged illegal taxation

  11. I’m looking right at Susan’s bill, which is public record. There is no city levy on it and the rate is 3.8% (11.54/3 = 3.8). This is comparable to other McHenry County towns because it’s the Woodstock city levy that is so much higher, not D200. In other words, if she cared so much about the 4.6% “crisis”, she’d fight the city levy, but that wouldn’t benefit her personally.

    Anyone can do this themselves. Run some searches of property tax bills in Woodstock and other towns, and compare the levies on the 2nd page.

    https://www.co.mchenry.il.us/county-government/departments-j-z/treasurer

    “you CAN make sure that history records that they have been made aware, and choose to ignore this factor.”

  12. Absolutely.

    Every D200 teach, administrator, booster, PTO member SHOULD be scrutinized to make sure that those advocating for contained extravagant spending are fairly assessed and paying their fair share.

    Joe mama, your pin number is…?

  13. Woodstock is indeed egregiously overtaxing the means of its community by all comparisons.

    D200 has seemed to collude with Woodstock mayor and City Council member for benefit of Lakewood TIF Sportsplex , doing great harm to D200 taxpayers in the process.

    But D200 is the taxing body taking 2/3 of homeowners’ tax bills, and overcharging relative to other peer districts in the County,State, and Country for similar services.

  14. You can search by name: Mama, Joe.

    You should welcome this same scrutiny of yourself.

    I didn’t run for public office.

    I notice you don’t dispute the substance of my statement.

  15. I dispute all the distance of your statement.

    D200 taxing body levy is obscenely high relative to peers.

  16. Didn’t find property listed in the name of “Joe Mama”.

    But you gave me the idea to look at public candidates.

    Started with John Parisi.

    Seems his home is assessed at $91,000 fair market value.

    But that includes a homeowners exemption, and the house is listed as owned in someone else’s name.

    Are the owners also residents of that house?

    That would have to be their primary residence to qualify for homestead exemption.

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