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A word on D203's referendum: No

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Today's Sun editorial encourages Naperville School District 203 residents to vote for the tax-increase referendum. Here is my dissenting opinion about why they shouldn't.

By Ted Slowik, managing editor, The Naperville Sun.

There is no doubt Naperville Central High School needs repairs. One has to question the wisdom of the strategy to intentionally "defer" maintenance. This makes me uncomfortable, like my teenager telling me, "Dad, I didn't take care of the old car you let me drive, so I guess you'll have to buy me a new one." If Central is a dump, why did we let it get that way?

But what's done is done, and I'll concede that Central needs to be repaired. And an early childhood center would be nice. However, I believe D203 has enough cash reserves on hand to do these projects without going to voters and asking for more money. Draw up a budget that allows these two projects to be done using the funds the district has available, I say. (The Mill Street overcrowding problem could be addressed cheaply and creatively with redistricting.)

These are difficult times, for our economy and our nation. The economy is the No. 1 issue among voters in the presidential election--both Republican and Democratic. Right now Congress and the president are trying to rush through an economic stimulus package to CUT taxes. This is hardly the time to be asking for a tax increase.

I believe D203 did nothing wrong when it overcollected taxes after the 2002 referendum. I believe D203, once the mistake was discovered, did the right thing be keeping the money instead of refunding it to taxpayers, like other school districts did. D203 kept it, knowing it could use the money for building improvements. I say, take that money, put it to good use fixing Central and creating an ECC, and create a plan for accomplishing all the other projects at all the other schools. But I think asking taxpayers for additional funds right now creates a burden that ought not to be shouldered when our nation's leaders are trying to cut taxes to get the economy going again.


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101 Comments

Poll,

Is there something wrong with your thought process?

Again, how does "George and Grant" get into this argument at all? Are you George or Grant? Because if not, you seem pretty fixated on them.

Did I EVER say any of it was illegitimate? No, you did!

And where did I SMEAR the Board and supporters of the schools? Instead of just accusing, why not show the specifics? As usual, anyone without your particular, exact point of view is slandered and attacked (par for you, I've noticed).

It is pretty hard for you to take on the items directly as they are true. You read it in the Sun a few times, yet you will not accept it because it doesn't fit into your little story of blind adoration.

The fact is they DID put off a lot of maintenance over the years to get ready for the referendum. The proof was as simple as viewing the broken bathrooms and water fountains, as examples (both of which were readily pointed out by the doscents during the tours). The result was a great addition to the PIT affect at Central. Disagree and get nasty all you want, but you are wrong on the FACTS!

By the way, I think I directed the graceless comment at specific posters (you included).

Anonymous @3:57& 4:03 pm,

I see you are posting your "The referendum result isn't legitimate because it's only 33% of the registered voter." here too.

Well as I posted on the other page, Mayor Pradel and Grant Wherli received only 17% of the registered vote. So when you going own to city hall and tell them they hold office illegitimately?

Your attempt to smear the school board and the people that support the schools as being somehow lacking grace, and you implication that the district has made a conscious attempt to have students attend school in a "pit" are as transparent as your attempt to convince us that the vote itself was not a legitimate result.

The people that live here are way too smart to fall for any of this.

Troll,

Can you explain why my February 6, 2008 06:20 PM post makes me a troll?

Can I assume you believe it was okay for the District to ensure a "pit" for about two generations of high schoolers so they could get a referendum passed?

I am being real here ---- please explain how you could support this action?

Perhaps your moniker is correct and you ARE a troll? If I remember correctly, Trolls in European lore often had violent issues with children, and your support for denying them the simple human needs in our high school COULD qualify you!

MDAV,

I think a more important view is that only about 32% of registered voters passed the referendum.

Hardly a landslide. But a victory nonetheless. I agree with your comments on how the win Could have been handled.

If you have ever had the "pleasure" of dealing directly with either the Board, the Admin, or the groups like PURE, QE203, & BTF203, on issues they disagree with you on, you would understand that "grace" is not a word they are familier with!

Hello Happily Investing $82:

I am not Mr. Davitt and I have "claimed" to be no one. MDav is portion of my name ... M Davis. There are many others who could say the same. You've made an improper assumption ... and done so very rudely and at someone else's expense.

Why the personal attacks on this blog? We live in a democracy. You voted yes, I voted no. The proposition passed. To the victors go the spoils. Please reread the original post by Mr. Slowak. He didn't say the buildings didn't need improvements, he disagreed with how they were to be paid for. I DID understand what this referendum was about. And I decided not to vote for it. Let's agree to disagree and not attack one another. Let's all get over our righteous selves and move on.

MDav,

First, I'm sure noone on this blog is naive enough to believe you are who your name claims you are.

Second, the margin of victory was 18 percentage points - with a heavy voter turnout (almost 50%) for a primary election. That is unheard of - both the voter turnout AND the margin of victory! If you feel this was "...hardly a landslide...", would you please define "landslide" for all of us?

I believe Mr. Davitt at one time said that District 203 was hoping for a small voter turnout to get this passed. Oops! Looks like he drastically underestimated the vast number of people who clearly understood what this referendum was about and voted to invest in updating these buildings.

To Hoping Kraus makes it:

You missed the point.
MDav

MDav It was

59% to 41% not 57% to 43% for the referendum. Big turnout too, 49% in DuPage.

Don't think the absentee or provisionals are in that percentage as they will be reported (next week?) I know that Doug Krause is waiting for those, but I wonder if they also will count and report these votes on the referendum question.

Anybody know?

Ted,

Thank you for your insights on Feb 3 regarding the District 203 proposal. I agreed with your assessment. I was disappointed to see that it passed. I was equally disappointed to see that it received top headline status including a photo of the celebration. Perhaps it should have been a "sigh of relief" photo since the vote outcome (57% to 43%) was hardly a landslide victory. I hope that you closely monitor and report on the renovation and improvements over the coming years. District 203 may have won the vote, but they have a great deal of convincing to bring 43% to the table. Instead of celebrating, perhaps District 203 representatives should have simply said, "Thank you for your support. We realize that there are many district residents who did not agree with this proposal and we will work diligently to ensure that your hard earned tax dollars are used wisely and efficiently. We understand that we've lightened 100% of your wallets, but only 57% of you approved. It's obvious we have more than a school to rebuild."

Thanks again, Ted, for keeping us informed and being the voice of dissent. It's rarely popular, but genuinely appreciated.

MDav

Interesting comments in USA Today on the difference a new school, or rather the environment created in a new school, makes.

http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2008/02/bricks-mortar-a.html

Cue the Hyenas.

Ted,

That was my attempt at black humor.

The guy that posted:
Posted by: Anonymous | February 6, 2008 06:20 PM

is nothing more than a troll. Some of these posts are really getting out of hand, and that was my way or discrediting his post.

I wouldn't have thought anyone would have taken it seriously. Just like I cannot that the above post seriously.

To Troll,

We're not publishing your post that attacked district employees, and FYI Thom Higgins is a real person. I've met him.

So, Mr Higgins only point of reference is they didn't break any laws? The ethics apparently don't concern him!

By the way, are you sure they didn't break any campaign laws? You might want to look a little closer at the filings.

Frank,

Your comments are cerainly astute!

With the info the District noew has, it is apparent that Leis should be FIRED.

Why? Well, besides your solid points, above, someone needs to be held accoutnable for the fact that an entire generation and a half of graduates from Central will have gone through their years in high school in a pit (as described by Mr Higgins and others over the past 8 months) because the District made a Conscious, calculated decision to deprive them of a livable school!

We now now they deliberatley held off on the simplest of human needs and pleasures, like adequate plumbing! In short, they treated ALL of our children like cattle!

This is an absolute scandal and should upset ALL parents, regardless of their stance on the referendum. If we are all REALLY concerned about the children, there should be an investigation inot this.

Uh, Anne?

I'm game, but can you maybe convince the editors to stop putting up new threads?

It would be nice to get back to my real life!

I've been off of here for awhile...congrats to the pro team. Good show by the con team.

Now then, the vote is in, I accept the fact that it's done and administrators will do what they will with it.

It's time to let this go, guys...the bashing and mud slinging, how old are all of you? Totally crazy to see you all still here.

As Ferris would say "Are you still here" It's over, go on—go home."

oops! wrong link

http://www.qe203.org/denysifabondfailure.shtml

TB,

PURE broke no laws, so there was no punishment

As for Denys IRS issue go here, especially the IRS Adverse Determination letter link on the bottom, It is all public record.

http://www.qe203.org/20080205referendum/thecaseforcentral.shtml

Thom -

Been off this thread for a while. Sorry for the delay.

So what ever happened to those who participated in the PURE charade? How were they punished, if at all? I feel so much safer from a future scam knowing you're going to advise them not to do this again.

Also, I've read the posts here and can't keep up with the various IRS accusations. I'm curious to hear how you seem to know so much about someone else's IRS problems. Aren't those records private?

Just wondering.

T.B.

Danny,

School construction is governed by state statutes written specifically for schools. Districts don't get to just freelance a school design.

I am quite certain that it is inspected by local municipal building inspectors.

I'm posting this here because I think it will be lost in the District 204 blog items, but it might apply here as well...

School districts are exempt from having their building plans reviewed for permit by the govering municipality (At least in Aurora as it pertains to the new HS for 204).

The fire protection portion will be reviewed by the Fire Marshall, but as far as the occupancy, washrooms, etc, they can build what ever they want.

Seems a little scary doesn't it??

Frank,

For the record, this is the 3rd time I've posted this:

http://www.naperville203.org/faq/index.asp?CATEGORY_ID=12#FAQ90

http://www.naperville203.org/assets/MasterFacilitiesPlanWeb.pdf

Frank,

You can always try to find the cloud in the sky, or criticize any outcome I guess, but the district was very public with their desire to start a conversation regarding facilities, and it started a couple of years ago with 2 different community groups.

It is also a misrepresentation that there was no maintenance performed, however, items that could safely and reasonably be deferred, were. That decision's looking pretty smart this morning.

You also need to realize that the leaky roof, the non functioning water fountains, and such, are a tiny portion of the reason Central needs renovation. The following link explains the myriad of issues that the building plan addresses.

http://www.qe203.org/20080205referendum/thecaseforcentral.shtml

Thom writes :

> 6. My understanding is District 203 administrators made the decision 2-3?
> years ago to defer any maintenance of Central they could, pending the
> outcome of this referendum. It does not make sense to spend money
> needlessly, if all you are going to do is a year or two later tear it up
> and start over, or make expensive repairs now, when as part of a major
> renovation the cost would be much less. People should thank 203 for trying
> to be fiscally responsible, rather than criticizing them for not spending
> money.


Your point implies that a plan was hatched (apparently in public ?) 2 to 3 years ago to go for this referendum. You applaud the district for not spending money on maintenance that should have been completed. How is this fiscally responsible ? What if the referendum had failed ? Wouldn't the repairs now be more costly because you are now paying in 2008 dollars (instead of 2005 dollars), the problems are now worse, and further damage may have occurred because they delayed the repairs.

This is hardly what I would call leadership.

I could defer repairing the roof on my house this year on the hopes that next year I'll get a fat bonus and I'll be able to afford it more. Hey guess what, instead of getting a fat bonus, I got layed off !

By your judgement, this would have been a "good" decision.

One could argue also that the tours this year were a complete scam; they let the building go fallow for 2 years, say, "Gee, what a dump this place is", and guess what, all those "smart" people (as Joe calls them) vote for the referendum.

Sounds like a complete setup to me.

Joe - who were the "smart" voters ? Those that fell for this complete setup, or those who saw through what the District was trying to do ?

Anonymous, you should really let this go. It's not helping Mr. Denys to have more people go read about it.

So, regarding this,

.... Then, you go from wording that implies Mr Denis is a felon who somehow escapes justice to an inference of wrong doing 'cause you say so, though the IRS disagrees?

You might want to read the IRS Adverse Determination letter for yourself. The link is posted at the bottom of this page.

http://www.qe203.org/denysifabondfailure.shtml

Stanley,

A couple of comments.

First, all that has happened in the design process is Wight and Assoc has created preliminary plans. Now the referendum has been approved, the design process will commence in earnest. So your questions 1-4 are a little premature.

As to number 5. The district was very very open that the cost of the bonds is fixed and that the projected annual payment is $3.34 million for 20 years. However since that projection was made interest rates for muni's have dropped 1% point. I can't tell you the aggregate, but if this holds when they are issued the $82.00 cost will be reduced to $78.72. These are real numbers.

For a house with a billing value of $107,330, your increase in taxes to pay for the referendum will be $79.10 per year fixed for the 20 years. This based on current interest rates. They could well go lower. This too is a real number.

6. My understanding is District 203 administrators made the decision 2-3? years ago to defer any maintenance of Central they could, pending the outcome of this referendum. It does not make sense to spend money needlessly, if all you are going to do is a year or two later tear it up and start over, or make expensive repairs now, when as part of a major renovation the cost would be much less. People should thank 203 for trying to be fiscally responsible, rather than criticizing them for not spending money.


Congratulations to the voters for making the right choice! I believe that a nearly 60/40 margin for any referendum is HUGE, considering the very vague wording on the ballot. Here's why:

Given that no one likes to pay taxes, if you were to put the ballot in front of people cold (with no prior knowledge of it's purpose), the vote would almost certainly be 100% NO. You can't say that about a candidate vote since a "cold" vote would likely result in a 50/50 split.

Also, it is impossible to tell what percentage of NO voters were aware of the issues. There may have very well been a large percent that were uninformed and simply voted NO because they saw the $43M number.

But the fact is that nearly 60% of the voters were smart enough to realize long term benefits of the referendum, and as a result put the community first. This says a lot about D203 voters and they should be commended.

Joe,

You continue to exhibit your utter lack of class even to the end (bitter, in your case).

Remember, you repeating it over and over again doesn't make it right. It was you, and others like you, who made this argument about money.

From my view, it was and always will be about corruption and/or the appearance of it. Half truths, partial lies, policies and procedures designed to create bigger emergencies, secretive funding, bogus independent citizens groups, excessive union control & involvement ---- it all adds up to things that need to change. Note here that I did NOT say anything illegal, by the way, so please refrain from that tired offense of yours.

Anyway, it's time to move on. As Stanley implies, we and the world will be watching.

Hey Mary P.

Better get out your red pen.

I see a lot of spelling mistakes that you have missed since my last post.

Are you being lazy???????

Mr Higgins,

So you went from all three being sloshed with your general catch-all os being mean spirited, to Mr Buch is okay, to some websites that are plenty mean spirited in your opinion. Then, you go from wording that implies Mr Denis is a felon who somehow escapes justice to an inference of wrong doing 'cause you say so, though the IRS disagrees?

And you still think your actions aren't personal and mean spirited?


Get a clue.

Final combined numbers DuPage and Will

YES 17,612 58.8%

NO 12,356 41.2%

Thanks again to all who voted, and those who worked so very hard to make this a reality.

I'm looking forward to the grand opening of the Early Childhood Center, and the New Naperville Central.

Naperville should be proud.

Now that the votes are in and the celebrating is over how about a couple of questions.
1. Will the Temperature Controls for the schools including Central be obtained through Cost Sharing programs available at no cost to the District? Provided by equipment and system suppliers.
2. Will the Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning upgrades and replacements be obtained through Cost Sharing programs available to the District at no cost? Again from equipment and system suppliers.
3. Why were the lighting system upgrades funded in part by the District not obtained at no cost through Cost Sharing programs? Again from equipment and system suppliers.
4. Are all of the contracts that are going to be awarded going to be written to exclude extras? Those are the added costs that exceed the contract amount due to poor planning, investigation and design.
5. What will be the total cost to all of the taxpayers for the 20 years of increases in taxes based in todays dollars? Please drop the $82.00 a year as the typical increase, we are not that stupid.
6. Why have the schools been allowed to deteriorate over the years without any attention to maintenance of critical systems? 7. What warrantees were provided for systems such as roofs by the contractors?

Can anyone in the District answer these questions and if they can not, why not.

Congrats to 203. You are so very fortunate not to have the number of cheap-a$$ people who only think about their own short-sighted wallet. Cry foul all you want (you NAY sayers), the right thing was done.

Anonymous,

Both mikedavitt.com and the taxpayersticket.com were active during the election and they are plenty mean spirited.

As for Mr. Denys, while he escaped paying a fine the IFA did, and there is no escaping the fact that Mr. Denys elected to sell the bonds after a respected legal council withdrew, charging the bond scheme that Mr. Denys concocted was a violation of Fed Tax Law,(which the IRS later found to be true.)and elected to sell the bonds even after his partner resigned. Without his partner it was illegal to sell the bonds, he did so anyway, was discovered, and the deal fell apart. This is all in the IRS Adverse Decision letter. The fact that the IRS felt the state finance authority should have known better, and fined them, does not negate Mr. Denys actions that precipitated that action.

Does that mean the 11,464 who voted "No" did Not take the time to study the issue?

I'm proud of the fact that people got off of their butts and voted.

I'm also proud that so many took the time to study it, understand it, match the results to hard economics, and vote No though they knew it had no chance of not passing. A margin of 4462 votes, while obviously a clear endorsment, also represents less than the total vote of the District employees and spouses. If the actual community was divided, well,.........

Jim, you need to be at least a Little more genuine. Otherwise, one might see you as condescending!

Did anyone EVER have serious doubt it would pass?

The Sun puff pieces leading up to it (including the cover picture today ---- the only thing missing in the pictures was starving babies and helicopters on building roofs!) ensured a strong, emotional vote.

The fact that the article itself had nothing to do with resolving the issue indicated in the picture was peripheral to the intended affect of the pic itself.

However, it is over and it is time to move on to the next issue.

Mr Higgins,

I think I was very specific when I said the three other candidates said nothing I could see as mean spirited during the campaign (which is when I was following the "action").

Anything that has happened SINCE is open season, and I think I was also clear that what I have seen since shows you are personally as guilty as the others (you know the old saying, "It takes two to tango!"

I saw the "teacher thing" as a much bigger issue than you. If I heard correctly, he received legal counsel (union paid) and ensured the files (employee files) were sealed as he did not want the community to know he did it ---he new it was a grievous act, no doubt. Sometimes I think you need to "see" the entire District without the rose-colored glasses on, as they make a lot of mistakes, and that was one of them!

For one final time, if yuu Ever dealt with the IRS, you would know that the fact (as you stated) that mr Denis paid no penalties, signed no consent decrees, and kept the fees means he was pure (no pun intended). The IRS takes NO prisoners and has a long history of punishing even the innocent.

I think it is time for you to move on from that thread --- as I sadi earlier, it is as demeaning to you as it is to Mr Denis.

I'd like to be the first to congratulate the residents of Naperville, who took the time to study the issue and overwhelmingly choose to support 203 schools.

Can't tell you how proud I am to live in a community that values it's schools.

To Dan D and Thom: While you guys slug it out on the blog, check the news on our web site that indicates that the referendum looks like it has a decent shot at passing....as I write this. We'll see if the #s hold up.

Frank,

You are absolutely correct. I expressed concern to Doug Wilson, leader of the task force about the lack of seeking community input on the facilities. I asked him how he felt ANYONE could deal with a 23 acre high school campus when most suburban high school campuses are at least 50 to 75 acres. He did not know what I was talking about. I asked what he felt about a new Central on the Meier property next to Benedictine University (they could use the Village of Lisle football stadium) and he never thought about it. This is the head of the committee.

Your idea about alternative high schools make sense. A perfect bridge to the developing home school concept. I too wait for Mr. Higgins to criticize you.

Tom, please look at the attached file, it shows the list of the top ten Chicago High Schools compiled by the Sun Times, not on test scores, but multiple facets.

http://www.mediafire.com/?drztbgmm4dd

For those of you who do not want to open the file, the following are the top ten schools (in no particular order, the Sun Times did not rank one to ten):

Deerfield High School
IMSA
Lake Forest Academy
Latin School of Chicago
Morgan Park Academy
New Trier
Northridge Prep
St. Ignatius
University of Chicago Lab School
Benet Academy

Again, not based on test scores, but by the programs offered and surveys of parents and students. It is amazing that private schools with less resources are able to offer programs that people want more.

I guess that is why the 203 administrator sent their child to St. Francis instead of Central. They had even more first hand knowledge.

To Anonymous,

I have tried not to get personal in these threads. Committed to my arguments, sure. Is it unfortunate that the District paid consultants for work they simply did not do and then do not respond to questions.

Unfortunately, as the thread proceeded, the responses by Mr. Higgins became more selective and vindictive, probably hoping that I give up and capitulate. It has been tiring and unfortunately the people who respond to Mr. Higgins are being characterized in the same manner as him. Let me state, I have no personal issues against Mr. Higgins, just the lack of support for the referendum on several fronts. And lack of integrity of the District in dealing with the 2002 referendum.

But I am glad that you were able to have him express his specific concern about me, because he does admit to have an issue. By the way Thom, the bonds were never declared taxable and nobody lost money no matter how hard you try to create such a problem. Ask Peter Shulman, the acting director of the IFA told him such.

But at least I know how personally vindictive Mr. Higgins is, I need to be vigilant.


Anonymous,

Lot to cover here but I'll make a partial stab at it.

For what it's worth I view Jerry Busch differently than Davitt and Denys. I agree with you on that score.

As for those two never uttering a mean spirited word, well, as we can not produce the audio tapes, their own written words will have to suffice. If you click on this link you will find the Taxpayers Ticket pages and Mike Davitt's three websites two of them anonymous. There's mean spiritedness in abundance there.

http://www.qe203.org/20080205referendum/anonymouswebsites.shtml

You might also be interested to know that Mike Davitt on a blog on this site, recently said the following,

Having respect for eternity, I'll only respond to one point within Higgins' endless rant. For the record, I don't hate teachers. I despise them. (I do though hate liberals who think money grows on trees; who equate money with education; and who resort to bullying on blogs). I have a problem with 75% of the teachers who threatened to strike in 2005 because they were not getting 5% raises. I have a problem with the teachers who were caught campaigning during the last school board election using school resources in violation of the state's Ethics & Gift Ban law. But then again, the end justifies the means for this group. I have a problem with a former teacher and union president (now running to fill Joe Dunn's seat) who produced ads implying I wanted to hire sex offenders for bus drivers and custodians. I have a problem with a certain girls basketball coach coming before the board saying "Central is a dump, and should be torn down." The money's been going to striking teachers, coach (would you volunteer to free up some of your strike-gotten gains for facility improvements for the students?). I have a problem with administrators who rate 75% of tenured teachers as "excellent." That's one hell of a public sector bell curve, and pure B.S. And I have a problem with enablers of this militant out-of-touch union. I hate to ruin my reputation, but I actually wrote a letter to one of my children's teacher's this semester complementing her for her hard work and creativity work. Not as creative as Higgins' rant though. Posted by: Mike Davitt | January 27, 2008 09:22 AM

Is that mean spirited enough for you?

We seem to agree on the PURE issue.

The issue of the teacher was as I understand it, he used 203 servers to send out a, and I think it was a as in singular, e-mail discussing the election. He received a reprimand.

Lastly mean spirited outing Mr. Denys? He has consistently shown here in these blogs that he is a master of mendacity. If you read the IRS Adverse Findings you will see much of the same, he concocted a scheme, convinced the IFA to offer it, the legal council saw it was illegal and bailed out, then his partner bailed out, leaving him unable to legally sell the bonds. He choose to do so anyway, was discovered, and the deal blew up. He managed not to pay any penalties to the IRS although the IFA did and the deal lost it's a non-taxable status and had to be changed to a taxable one. Oh, and he got to keep all his fees. Nice.


Mr Higgins:

"they ran an amazingly mean spirited campaign with the teachers and the district administration as their main objects of scorn"

Your memory is very selective on this one. I do not remember a singletime when, as an example, Mr Buch EVER utterred a single, mean-spirited word. I also cannot remember a single time when I heard any from candidate Denis or Davit during the campaign. I will interject here to say I attended every single public forum leading up to the election, including the parade and Quigley's afterward.

I understand since reading this blog that you have a lot of personal issues with both of those gentlemen (apparently they do with you, too!). I find the rancor twixt you guys to be demeaning and beneath ANY grown adult, but that is only my opinion.

I have tried to keep up with all of the "stuff" flying around for the last 12 or 14 months or so, and I am glad to here you, too, are upset by the hidden financing of PURE and others. Let me be clear: I have NO problem with the financing itself, only with the way it is compliant with laws but NOT the fully open disclosure I would prefer. Again, my opinion.

I was also very disturbed by the violation of state election laws and the negotiated contract 203 has with the Teachers' Union that occurred leading up to the April election. A teacher and coach, who was also a union negotiator (which means he knew better!) used 203 equipment and time to actively work on the Board election campaigns and against specific individuals. I am told there was absolutely no penalty to the perpetrator. I found myself again wondering if it was a case of de facto Board support. Again, only my opinion.

Finally,under the concept of nasty & mean spirited campaigns:

I have yet to read or hear anything as nasty and mean spirited as the PURE item referring to hiring sex offenders OR your posting of personal info about Mt Denis. I find both sickening.

Frank,

The bonds are for 20 years only.

Regarding this from MouthHungOpen | February 5, 2008 08:24 AM

> I love this:

> "3. PLAN FOR 2025, DON’T BUILD FOR 1970. Absolutely no vision for moving
> forward. Why not a Frontier campus in 203? You could buy a vacant office
> building along 88 a third the cost it took to build. Create a new program,
> let the area colleges staff it. Be innovative."

> We could buy one of the vacant Lucent buildings, gut it, and turn it
> into a really awesome field house! Put kids in cubicles! Let the area
> colleges staff it? What, we're going to get college students to teach our
> kids so we don't have to pay exorbitant teacher salaries??? This is
> priceless! What a visionary! All this to save $82 a year. What do you
> suspect will happen to property values after this debacle? Is your company
> selling the bonds? Absolutely priceless...

This shows the level of debate we're having here. If you would read what the poster said, all they suggested was *one* potential solution that was less expensive. This was also the problem I had with 204 when their referendum came around; they weren't interested in any ideas that would have been less expensive (such as condemning the Wagner farm and sharing facilities such as the football field/track, pool, etc.).

If you would think about what the poster suggested, you might come up with other less expensive plans.

Another one is investing in a program that isn't bricks and mortar at all, like electronic high school ( http://www.schools.utah.gov/ehs/ ). Again, I hear lots of talk about how community input was taken, but very little evidence that anything other than the huge plans were considered.

But I'm sure you'll ridicule that just like everything else.

If all of those so in favor of the referendum think it's such a pittance at $85/year into eternity, I would welcome them to open up their checkbooks and donate, say, $250/year into perpetuity to the school district for a building fund. Stop asking the seniors who have been paying for the schools for 30+ years to keep paying more, and more, and more.

Joe C.

Remember Mr. Denys is "truth challenged"

This is from the another Sun thread in the archive, but posted today.

Jill,

I’ve found that whenever Mr. Denys makes a claim it always pays to check it out as usually it isn’t the truth. Here is Mr. Denys comment to you,

Thanks again for your personal concern. I am very happy! I have great schools for my children. They go to a high school that was rated in the top ten in Chicago by the Sun Times. Not one of the Naperville Public Schools made this list. And they tried.

Two comments. First he sends his kids to Bennett, part of this $300,000.00 commitment to avoiding public school Rif-Raf for his two kids. Where is Bennett’s name if it’s in the top ten?

Secondly, as the poster above illustrates. Bennett, as well as the top three schools in the Sun Times study, are admissions based. Hardly a fair comparison to public schools who have to take all comers, not just those with high academic credentials.

Here’s the link to the study he is referring to, good luck finding Bennett.

http://media1.suntimes.com/multimedia/top50hs.pdf_20071030_16_37_40_56.imageContent

RANK PERCENTILE SCHOOL
1.--- 88.88--- Northside College Preparatory

2.--- 86.65--- Payton College Preparatory Hs

3.--- 83.65--- Young Magnet High School

4.--- 82.25--- New Trier Township H S

5.--- 80.51--- Hinsdale Central High School Hinsdale Twp

6.--- 80.09--- Adlai E Stevenson High School

7.--- 79.53--- Deerfield High School Twp

8.--- 79.10--- Glenbrook North High School

9.--- 77.19--- Highland Park High School

9.--- 77.19--- Libertyville High School

11.--- 76.88--- Naperville North High School

12.--- 75.17--- Prospect High School

13.--- 74.70--- Glenbrook South High School

14.--- 74.05--- Naperville Central High School

So if you remove the top three admissions based schools to get a fair comparison, Naperville North is 8th, and Central 11th, based on the Sun Times criterion, which is the percentage of students who score better than the statewide average in the PSAE test.

Besides signing his name to the posts, little else is true.

The story in the Sun today just drives home how badly needed the re-build of Central is.

They're running hurdles in the hall for goodness sake!

In addition to checking the definition of "shameful", Ron might also want to check how the word is spelled.

Joe C.

Today was the first time that there were any comments about the lack of an indoor track. After $350,000, this ALSO was not identified.

And none of the plans addressed. Another example of poor planning.

Thom and Mouth Hung Open,

Just like Soviet Russia, District 204 is nuts to give their parents and students a choice. Our way or the high way.

So what if Frontier is over subscribed. These students and parents do not know what is good for them.

Might as well take college level courses at Central from teachers that cannot get certified and students don't get college credit. But then Thom doesn't care, his children would go to North.

From the Sun article: "All the other things that are being built in the district need to be done - it would just be nice if somehow we could also have Naperville-standard athletic (facilities)."

So much for the "Taj Mahal" theory.

Ron,

The reason they are in the hallways is all the inside gym facilities are in use, and they have nowhere else to go. It's Central's problem in a nutshell. There are myriads of activities that take place in a modern high school. Central does not have the room currently to properly accommodate all of them in the appropriate places, so you get this.

It is my opinion that it is very shamefull of the Sun Newspaper to run a picture in today's newspaper of kids practicing track inside.

If you don't recall, it's winter. Where else would they practice, outside in the snow?

Where are the pictures of the overcrowded classrooms, lunchroom, sharing of lockers, etc.

Do they exisit?


Note from moderator: The story was about the athletic facilities....not the classrooms. And, as you point out, at this time of year it's hard to catch people practicing a sport in the snow. Maybe it's time to consult your dictionary as to the definition of "shameful."

Anonymous,

First it was Mouth Hung Open that made the comments you are responding to, not I.

Second as long as 204 and COD's frontier campus has come up again, let me make some comments of my own.

District 203 students have been going to the North Central College for over 10 years. 203 started working with Dr. Richard Wilders back in the mid 90's to invite students into their university during the high school years (and after graduation). 203 has students who go to NC college at all times in the day. North Central has also set up the Lederman Scholars program and now invite students with a minimum of a 3.75 to begin attending classes from their sophomore year to senior year. All other students can also apply for their general courses at any time during the high school years. 203 also has some students going to the College of DuPage if this is their choice.

As far as students going to college of DuPage in lieu of their senior year, I would bet that is not a direction the district would like to persue. The courses 203 offers seniors well prepares them for college as our 25.0 ACT scores, the exceptional performance in ACT college readiness scores, and Central's 26 National merit scholars, indicate. (I can't find North's number here). Neuqua is encouraging students to go to COD because they also have a space issue that will be resolved with the new school, as much as anything else.

Wooo Hoooo!!! I voted NO on the referendum today and I convinced all my neighbors to do the same today!!!!

Higgens must be on the Teachers Union payroll.

Not college students teaching high school students. QUALIFIED COLLEGE PROFESSORS (with meaningful graduate degrees) teaching COLLEGE CLASSES to high school students.

That is the Frontier Campus in 204, taught and operated by COD!

Close your moth Thom so you don't swallow a bug.

TB

A lifetime ago on another thread the PURE issue was brought up. I stated then, and I will state now, I don't like anonymous groups, on either side. So I have a real problem with the fact that PURE was essentially funded, by the state teachers PAC I believe, in the last election, and was not more upfront in their literature. If I have any ability to influence actions for the next election, I will tell them to not commit the same sin twice.

But I also have the same very problem with Davitt's anonymous front group. PURsE, which I assume is a parody on PURE. It's more than a little disingenuous for him to rail against PURE as he does, and then commit the same sin.

As to your other question, yes there were other plans considered. From as little as $10 million at Central to $125-150 million for a new school. In the end the district decided, based on a lot of community input, to make make the recommendations that we are voting on today.

I never heard of anyone moving to Naperville because they have good roads.

Thom H -

"they ran an amazingly mean spirited campaign with the teachers and the district administration as their main objects of scorn"

Wasn't it the teacher's union who secretly supported a "citizens" group in this election? Seems they deserved some scorn.


Ted & Thom -

Was there even a $72 million dollar plan considered? Did the district even make an effort to see what they could do with the money they have available (or will have soon)?

I think it is too late now, but if the board didn't even considered what they could do under the current financial situation that would be negligent.

T.B.

I would boldly suggest that the safety of our town has a lot to do with home values.

Our Police
Our Firemen
Our Roads
Our alert and concerned citizens


Don't you thinl it's time ALL of you started giving credit to at least some of the things in Naperviulle to something besides the school system?

I love this:

"3. PLAN FOR 2025, DON’T BUILD FOR 1970. Absolutely no vision for moving forward. Why not a Frontier campus in 203? You could buy a vacant office building along 88 a third the cost it took to build. Create a new program, let the area colleges staff it. Be innovative."

We could buy one of the vacant Lucent buildings, gut it, and turn it into a really awesome field house! Put kids in cubicles! Let the area colleges staff it? What, we're going to get college students to teach our kids so we don't have to pay exorbitant teacher salaries??? This is priceless! What a visionary! All this to save $82 a year. What do you suspect will happen to property values after this debacle? Is your company selling the bonds? Absolutely priceless...

Why vote yes on the referendum?

Because in the end this is about supporting the school district, and the students that attend it.

I've shown in my posts here in the various D203 threads, how fiscally responsible 203 is. I know that messes up the narrative of the critics, but the fact remains that 203 is below the state averages in cost, and stands alone in academic achievement and the cost to get there vs. other Chicago school districts. This referendum request is for $43 million. The district has through a variety of sources, including surplus's from the 2002 referendum, dedicated $72 million in funds to cover the balance. That is responsible stewardship of our tax dollars.

There's a lot of work to be done at Central, upgrading the infrastructure, modernizing, enlarging to accommodate new and different types of classes, and correcting some past sins.

Building an Early Childhood Center is the right and efficient thing to do.

North and some other schools get work here through this effort too, and we all need to realize that the district has in place a Master Facilities Plan to also, over time, renovate and upgrade the other schools in the district as well through cash flow, and funds freed up for maintaining Central that now can be allocated elsewhere.

So why the opposition? Ted Slowik here is of the opinion that the economic conditions of the country are such that now is not the time for a referendum. I understand his concern, it is a valid one, and I respect his opinion and argument. However, I disagree with his contention that D203 has the funds to do more than they are without a referendum. But that is a discussion for another day.

But the reader of this blog will see a number of posts by Mr. Mike Davitt and Mr. Dan Denys, of Taxpayers Ticket fame from the last election. No one will be surprised that they are against this referendum for the same underlying reason they ran for the school board. They do not believe in the promise of a public education system in this country. Their volume of posts accusing the district of being incompetent, and wasteful, is staggering. They are also staggeringly wrong, as I have successfully shown. Naperville deserves better than this kind of abuse.

So to conclude, the amount of work being done is reasonable and correct, and the cost of the referendum to you and me is a modest one.

It's decision time.

Vote today, and vote yes.

Central was a dump 15 years ago when I attended the school. Buildings get old. Do some of you people expect the existing building to last another 60 years without any major renovations?

By the way.... The school district is what drives your property values!!!!!!!!

"But I think their lower taxes reflects Reagan economics. You lower the tax rate and PRESTO, MORE MONEY. That is why you get more businesses, higher home values, etc."

Well, then, let's go all the way and lower our tax rate to zero. Then our receipts should be infinite, and we can give every citizen a pony!

I guess that only 430 foreclosures isn't too bad - except if you are one of the 430... I have had double-digit tax increases for the last several years and the value of my home is based upon exactly ONE comparable home that sold in all of 2007. No kidding - ONE! Water rates are up, gas at all rime highs, a new collar county tax increase... Uncle already! Vote NO this time.

Vote Tomorrow!
NO!

QUESTION THAT I DO NOT HAVE AN ANSWER.

If your house is foreclosed and you are evicted, do you still get to vote?

Latest Realty Trac report, Naperville has leaped (or is it lept)to 430 forereclosures, 108 bank owned and 92 auction properties.

I guess they only can run as a writein for mayor.


Again, for all voters, please go to

WWW.HOLD203ACCOUNTABLE.ORG

And there have been many comments, so lets just summarize.

1. THE DISTRICT HAS MORE THAN ENOUGH MONEY, THEY TOOK IT FROM US ONCE ALREADY

2. THE SHOULD LOOK AT OBJECTIVE PLANS INSTEAD OF TRYING TO PUSH WANTS OF THE SQUEAKY WHEELS.

3. PLAN FOR 2025, DON’T BUILD FOR 1970. Absolutely no vision for moving forward. Why not a Frontier campus in 203? You could buy a vacant office building along 88 a third the cost it took to build. Create a new program, let the area colleges staff it. Be innovative.

We could go on. I love the comment from Higgens, your ideas during the election were just too good, we could never figure out how you would pay for them?

DUH!?!?!?

$40 million in the bank, $10 million in annual cost savings due to declining enrollment.

NAH!!!!!

Let’s teach them like it was still a one room school house.

AMAZING--WE CAN DO MORE, BUT WE HAVE TO PRESERVE LESS.

PLEASE VOTE!!!!!

Regarding this post by Mike Davitt


The 2002 referendum expressly told voters the money WOULD NOT be used to fund anything other than 1) deficit reduction, 2) teacher pay, and 4) maintain programs. Oh, and one more lie. It also promised a two-year tax phase in period that miraculously turned into four by 203's finance magicians. If you want proof, please contact the 203 school board president and ask her for Community Partnership for Education campaign materials (she was the co-chair).

Mr. Davit has been nothing, if not obsessed with the 2002 referendum. He formed a group with two others called the Taxpayers Ticket in an attempt to take over the board. They ran an amazingly mean spirited campaign with the teachers and the district administration as their main objects of scorn.

The result?

The two challengers aligned with Mr. Davitt failed to attain office.

Mr. Davitt lost and was removed from office.

Why?

Because people in Naperville value their children's education, and the teachers and administrators that bring it to them. They know that 203 is fiscally responsible and does an exemplary job of educating them, as the following shows,

http://www.qualityeducation203.org/20080205referendum/documents/costperactreadiness_v2080128-2.pdf

Another reason is Mr. Davitt's unbridled hatred of the teachers that was evident in the campaign. In another thread of this blog, on Jan 27, Mr. Davitt made this amazing statement,

Having respect for eternity, I'll only respond to one point within Higgins' endless rant. For the record, I don't hate teachers. I despise them. (I do though hate liberals who think money grows on trees; who equate money with education; and who resort to bullying on blogs). I have a problem with 75% of the teachers who threatened to strike in 2005 because they were not getting 5% raises. I have a problem with the teachers who were caught campaigning during the last school board election using school resources in violation of the state's Ethics & Gift Ban law. But then again, the end justifies the means for this group. I have a problem with a former teacher and union president (now running to fill Joe Dunn's seat) who produced ads implying I wanted to hire sex offenders for bus drivers and custodians. I have a problem with a certain girls basketball coach coming before the board saying "Central is a dump, and should be torn down." The money's been going to striking teachers, coach (would you volunteer to free up some of your strike-gotten gains for facility improvements for the students?). I have a problem with administrators who rate 75% of tenured teachers as "excellent." That's one hell of a public sector bell curve, and pure B.S. And I have a problem with enablers of this militant out-of-touch union. I hate to ruin my reputation, but I actually wrote a letter to one of my children's teacher's this semester complementing her for her hard work and creativity work. Not as creative as Higgins' rant though.

Posted by: Mike Davitt | January 27, 2008 09:22 AM

For more information on Mr. Davitt and his many anonymous websites please go here,

http://www.qe203.org/20080205referendum/anonymouswebsites.shtml

Frank

Regarding this,

I have no doubt that 203 has facilities issues that need to be addressed. But like Ted and others have posted, they need to show fiscal responsibility as well. If they are sitting on $30M+ of over-collected property taxes, I think they need to go through that first.

There are two issues here, First the district has made the decision to apply $25 million of the operating surplus towards the referendum, Realize the building plan totals $114.9 million and the district is asking for $43 million in the referendum, I refer you here,

http://www.naperville203.org/faq/index.asp?CATEGORY_ID=12#FAQ77

This ballot question is about facilities and using a “fixed” funding method. In this referendum, the District is proposing a $114.9 million facilities project, asking the voter for permission to issue $43 million in bonds. The remaining $71.9 million is being funded by other sources:

a. Sale of Walnut Woods - $5.8 million
b. Land Cash money - $1.2 million
c. Interest Income - $3.5 million
d. Operating budget allocation - $25.4 million
e. Borrowing against TIF - $36.0 million

A portion of the $71.9 million, $25.4 million, is listed as a budget allocation from operating funds. In 2002, the community passed a tax rate increase referendum. This increase in taxes produced more funds than was originally projected, allowing the $25.4 million allocation, as noted above.

The second issue is some are claiming that if you look the projections they have $30-40 million floating around. Here is the districts response,

Q. Financial: How do recent economic events play into the District operating budget and the proposed bond issue?

A. The District 203 2007-08 Budget includes a section titled "Financial Projection – Trends and Assumptions." This document was prepared in April of 2007 – prior to the Board of Education finalizing the Master Facilities Plan and resolution to place a question on the February ballot. This projection does not include an increase of $9.2 million in additional funding for the facilities projects as outlined in the District 203 Plan for Upgrading School Facilities 2007-2012, so anticipated fund balances would have to be reduced accordingly.

Additionally, many events have occurred after the preparation of this financial projection. Among those events, interest rates have significantly declined. Future revenue from interest income would likely be reduced by about $2 million per year. Other revenue and expense estimate changes will effect the financial projection as well.

Dave Zager is preparing revised projection (the latest one was prepared in Aril of 07) to reflect the board’s decision to approve the building plan, and the current interest rate environment. These two items reduce the projected cumulative surplus of approx. $39 million at the end of 2002, down $9.2 million as discussed above, and approx $8 million in reduced interest income, reduce the projected balance to $22 million and everything else has to remain the same to get there.

We all need to realize that projections are just that. And the district needs to have some account balances for safety; Naperville itself runs a $20-30 million account balance in their accounts. To ask the district to reduce the referendum amount by let’s say the $22 million, would put the district in the position of going into the red and then having to borrow to cover the shortfall, if events didn’t go perfectly to plan.

Lastly this comment,

In addition, they need to be open to input from the community regarding other plans that are less expensive. Sounds like the board was not very receptive to any alternatives.

There was extensive community input through the Citizens Advisory Group, the Task Force Committee, and input gathered during the Touch the Future outreach process(1,000 people I think). The alternatives went from a brand new school @ $125-150 million to spending $10 million on minor repairs at Central. The critics will say it wasn’t enough, and the process was manipulated, etc, etc. But they would be wrong.

Mike,

I would greatly appreciate if for the good of the rest of us who utilize this blog to keep your poison to yourself. You were soundly defeated in the last election and have said how you "despise" teachers so please for the good of all let us keep going back and forth without you - I beg of you

The 2002 referendum expressly told voters the money WOULD NOT be used to fund anything other than 1) deficit reduction, 2) teacher pay, and 4) maintain programs. Oh, and one more lie. It also promised a two-year tax phase in period that miraculously turned into four by 203's finance magicians. If you want proof, please contact the 203 school board president and ask her for Community Partnership for Education campaign materials (she was the co-chair).

I had to chuckle when I saw the reference to this :

> http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-tax_revolt_bdfeb03,0,2478984.story

As I read the Tribune article, I kept thinking, "Welcome to Naperville !" I would consider paying $35,000 in taxes on a 1.3M house a bargain in Naperville. The last time I looked up one of the houses over on Hobson road they were paying $24,000 in taxes. I paid $10,000 this year on a 4 BR house with an unfinished basement on the south end of town. When I asked the Director of Finance at District 204 what he thought of the possibility that when my Kindergartener graduates my property taxes would be $18,000 or more, he said (and this is a quote) "I can easily see the day when your property taxes will exceed the cost of your mortgage.". And that's directly from the Director of Finance (David Holm). And in an open forum no less. He had no qualms about saying this in front of a room full of people.

(And yes, I am aware that Mr. Holm no longer works for the district, having left shortly after the 204 referendum passed).

This is the level of fiscal responsibility of the school board members we've elected folks.

Joe C,

The cost per pupil can also be driven up (or down) by the number of students taught (I would think). So if Hinsdale, Downers Grove, have fewer pupils and are running at under capacity, you would expect to see a high per-pupil expense.

Likewise, in Naperville where the schools are over capacity, the per pupil cost might look "low" because there are lots of students. But if enrollment peaks / declines, you could see per-pupil costs go up because there are fewer students.

I agree it's an interesting statistic to look at, but I would also compare it to the occupancy of the schools.

As for whether Central needs major renovations, I would agree it probably needs repairs. This was also an issue with District 204. When I and other citizens commented on the last referendum that that the school shouldn't be using referendum proceeds to cover repairs (stair treads, roofing) they have now started funding basic repairs out of operating funds.

Sounds like 203 has similar issues at Central and other buildings.

I have no doubt that 203 has facilities issues that need to be addressed. But like Ted and others have posted, they need to show fiscal responsibility as well. If they are sitting on $30M+ of over-collected property taxes, I think they need to go through that first.

In addition, they need to be open to input from the community regarding other plans that are less expensive. Sounds like the board was not very receptive to any alternatives.

Illinois ranks the 7th worst in the nation in property tax rates. Anyone else see that in the Chicago Tribune article?

Sorry Ted, but your paper has endorsed some truly bone head candidates and status quo in politics in Illinois. Especially Mr. West.

ANN E.

He was talking about Naperville 60 years ago versus Naperville today.

Feel free to read it however you choose though we all know our town is much different now than it's past farming roots. Fortunately, high standards of educations and a community feeling has been preserved with an awesome downtown - we are fortunate to call Naperville home.

REPSONSE TO JOE C.

I agree they spend “slightly” more per student (a weighted average of $11,000 in DG versus $9,800 in Naperville. But remember, the OVER COLLECTION PER STUDENT THAT HAS NOT BEEN SPENT IS AT LEAST ANOTHER $1,000. Note a major difference.

But I think their lower taxes reflects Reagan economics. You lower the tax rate and PRESTO, MORE MONEY. That is why you get more businesses, higher home values, etc.

That is why the Red states are booming and the Blues are failing. It use to be that DuPage was VERY successful, but as the tax and spend mentality has taken over the County, we too will fall into the Blue state failure.

I liked Huckabees comment in the last debate, he was all for California implementing new socialist policies. It drives more businesses to Arkansas. Amazing, California needs immigrants to replace the exodus of people fleeing the state due to its taxes and costs.

Ann,

My point was that this school was built for a different time and purpose. The oldest part is the best though it was not built like some of the other gems in nearby cities or like some of the schools in Chicago that we keep hearing all about or like York with a beautiful facade. It was utilitarian and has served it's purpose. It's about what is proper and appropriate and had no intentions about associating wealth w/success - that was you.

Ted writes "Clear?"

Sorry Ted, it wasn't clear that you were writing responses inline. I thought they were quoted from other places, but couldn't find the original.

C'mon y'all:

They were your words, whether you meant them the way they read, or not:

"in a rural farming community not a successful suburb"


Ann,

My point was that this school was built for a different time and purpose. The oldest part is the best though it was not built like some of the other gems in nearby cities or like some of the schools in Chicago that we keep hearing all about or like York with a beautiful facade. It was utilitarian and has served it's purpose. It's about what is proper and appropriate and had no intentions about associating wealth w/success - that was you.

Anne E.

Boy did we get off topic here. The farm reference started from my comment that in 1948 when Naperville built the first part of Central, which is quite plain and amazingly small, Joliet Central a much larger, very expensively built school, was already 50 years old, and Joliet itself was in its heyday.

In 1948 Naperville was a rural community. I found a reference to the 1948 population stating it was 4,790! I'll go over to Central and see if the have any pictures of the original Central. I know the principal has a drawing on his the wall. You will be shocked to see it.

So, all this talk and references to farm kids is looking back 60 years.

To C'mon y'all:

You are quoting Ted said as saying he never toured NCHS? Ted Slowik, owner of this blog?


Response from Ted:

That's right, and I responded that I accept Central needs repairs or renovations--no disputing that. And I repeated my opinion that I believe the district could finance that work using funds it has available. Clear?

REPLY TO: dAN d | February 3, 2008 10:52 AM

Can you please cite your sources for these statements:

"DISTRICT 203 TAXES ARE SECOND HIGHEST IN COUNTY"

"Before this vote, only District 204 is higher."

"Taxes in Hinsdale and Downers Grove where real estate has higher values are 30% LOWER."

What do these statements even mean??? Real estate values are higher in Downers Grove than Naperville? Really?

Isn't the relevant statistic is "cost per student?

http://webprod.isbe.net/ereportcard/publicsite/getSearchCriteria.aspx shows:


Downers Grove CHSD 99 $12,769 HS
Downers Grove GSD 58 $10,218 Elementary
Hinsdale HSD 86 $14,130 HS
Hinsdale CCSD 181 $11,716 Elementary
Naperville 203 $ 9,881 Combined

So whatever the tax rate is, the amount they spend per student for school is more.

Isn't a major influence on residential tax rate the amount of taxes collected from businesses? Why didn't you throw Oak Brook in the mix? They have very low residential tax rates and high real estate values. They don't even have a high school, but they spend $15,187 per student for elementary education. Now that's a lot.

Where do they go to HS? York? That's $10,920 per student (not bad), but their ACT scores are a full 2 points lower than D203.

Sorry, I fail to see your point.

I agree with you, Ted, and your public statement restores my faith in the Sun editorial staff, a little.

Yes, Central does need repairs. The question is, how did it get so bad? Putting aside the referendums (both of them), the district has a budget of $200 million a year. Since we haven't been operating at a deficit, that means we have an income over the last six years of $1.2 billion! This is the kind of tax windfall that only happens once a generation, if that often. The District is using the patchwork of improvements over the years to support an extensive rebuild at Central, but what I see is a program of regular maintenance that, if I remember right, stopped in the 80's, or possible 1993. What if we had continued regular, substantial investments in Central over the last 13 years? Where would it be today?

As another example, the Illinois Swimming Pool law requiring a deeper pool at North was passed in about 2000. I realize hindsight is 20/20, but was there no time in the last six years that we couldn't find $3-4 million to fix the pool? Out of $1.2 billion?

I also agree that there aren't any villains on the School Board or in the Administration. I think there is a culture that fosters emotional decision making. Whether it is the need to be nice ("It's all about the kids"), the need to keep parents happy ("no redistricting", "let's have a survey") or the biggie, fear of the union, these are all emotional bases for making decisions. The trouble with this is, sooner or later you run out of money. What we need is some hard-headed practicality that balances all needs and makes the difficult decisions so that we live within our means.


Note from Ted, host:

For those who care, I'm not against all school referendums or all tax increases. As a reporter I covered the Troy School District in Will County that had worked closely with state Rep. Tom Cross to get legislation passed to help get additional state funds for school districts in fast-growth areas. Troy had to cut all of its athletics, all of its extracurriculars, music, art, cut back to a 300-minute school day. I wrote impassioned pleas in support of that district's numerous referendum attempts because I believe that district was fiscally responsible. Over the years as a reporter I have sat through hundreds of hours of board meetings for various districts. I know a little about state funding and I have seen school districts in dire need of facilities. I praise D203 officials for putting these facilities options to the voters for approval and giving Naperville residents the chance to decide.

C'mon y'all:

So, ummmm....farm kids are not as good as suburban kids living in a successful suburban community?

Do you know how much operating capital it takes to farm 1000 plus acres just a bit west of here, and how successful and private-university educated a family that does that can be? (If your idea of success is wealth.) My nieces and nephews may take issue with that.

I bet these farm kids have had more cool toys, vacation homes, boats, skiis vast land to play in than 90% of Naperville kids. Work ethic, also...an amazing work ethic.

Really, really narrow statement, IMO.

Ted - your honesty is appreciated

Ted,

Did you ever actually tour Central and see it and the other buildings with your own eyes to draw our conclusions? Just curious? NCHS was built for 400 kids -yes Dan - kids! in a rural farming community not a successful suburb it is today. Even the addition in the 60's was built for a farming community. Grow up boys and get over yourselves. Support this community in a positive manner rather than continuously tearing it down.

Response:

Nope, didn't tour it, but I accept it needs millions of dollars in repairs or rebuilding. I accept the need is there. All I'm saying is that in my opinion I believe the district has the means to accomplish that without a tax increase.

From this morning's paper:

Our editors have toured Naperville Central High School, the biggest and most contentious project involved, and find its condition to be such that it needs renovation, modernization and plain old-fashioned repairs. We believe the plans to do so to be reasonable.

Many thanks to the members of the Sun Editorial board who did their homework and took the tours and agreed with the board and the community that this referendum is the right thing to do.

Vote YES on Tuesday!!!

Thom & Peter,

As I recall, Peter, you actually made the first suggestion of supporting the current referendum with the offer to work together toward the bigger picture. You were sitting in the ist seat nearest the door at our table, and had to yell over Dan & Thom who were in the midst of one of their mutual riffs.

I really do NOT know why Thom is having fits on this. He has me completely stumped. As I mentioned a longwhile back, he feels a need to react and provide cover against any and for all! (unless, of course, it is me!)

Thom,

You may want to consider backing off a bit on this one, as you were not there!

Peter and I talked for what I guess was about another 30 minutes or so (sound right, Peter?), and I will categorically say that I was asked outright if we would support thsi referndum and then QE203 would work w/ the District and us to move forward on the bigger project.

I cannot explain your lack of memory or understanding of the conversation that took place.

Ted,

I take you point regarding Joliet Central, but then again Ellsworth and Naper are 75 years old, and are in great shape too. All three were built in the golden age of school construction when schools were built to the highest architectural and quality standards. If I am remembering correctly Joliet Central is a quite large Gothic style school and is quite lovely. Built in the teens or 20's I'd bet unless I'm thinking of the wrong school. It's just south of the tracks and the downtown area?

So how is Naperville Central different? For starters the first section built in 1948, was this tiny two story HS in the country, with small classrooms to serve the small population, while the big city the the south had built Joliet Central 25 years before with a initial capacity of what? 2,000+ students, and was probably full.

Times change, Joliet declines, Naperville booms, and we put on additions in 1954, 1962, 1968, 1985, 1992. 15 additions in all. That alone creates issues, and the district will be the first to tell you the some of the construction was built to very inexpensive standards and they have been struggling ever since with the ramifications.

And before anyone criticizes that, look today at Oswego East, huge new beautiful school. Only one problem. They chinzed on the materials and used plastic rather than glass for that spectacular atrium roof and it's leaking. And to "save" money they undersized the HVAC system and it doesn't cool the school properly. The architect's reward for that ws to be dropped from consideration for the contract to design the third HS.

I don't know but I will wager that Joliet Central has an enrollment today that is lower than it's capacity. I just assume that as Joliet has struggled economically. Perhaps I'm wrong. But Central is bursting at the seams, due to the strong population growth. And as I keep saying it's not only updating the infrastructure, it's adding classrooms, it's fixing the sins of the past, it's updating the technological infrastructure, adding a kitchen large enough for the hot lunch program.

I mention all this to say, as I always do, making quick, simple comparisons is fraught with danger.


Response from Ted:

Yeah, apples and oranges I'm afraid Thom. JCHS has had many additions, too, over the years. It's getting another one right now, in fact. Enrollment is booming because Joliet Central's vast attendance area stretches all the way down to Elwood (yes, it's an actual town, not just the name of Joliet Jake's brother), and there's a lot of new home construction still going on in the boonies. Joliet has surpassed Naperville in population, though the working class folk here will never compare to Naperville's per-capita income or median home values.

Nice try with the hardluck tale about NCHS's humble beginnings, but I don't buy the bit about the shoddy work, either, I'm afraid. It's been good enough, since the school is recognized as top 3 percent in nation, so conditions aren't so bad that they're affecting academic performance. I'm sure all the work meets state life-safety codes, and if not I understand the governor has just made available a large sum that districts can apply for to address facilities needs.

Thank you, Ted. Let's think about living within our means and not using the "we spend less per ACT score point than other comparable districts". Our ACT scores will still be excellent, if we continue to foster our children's education the way we have been, with good families and good teachers and GREAT kids already in place. We spend less? Kudos to us, let's keep it up!

We have a rather large budget in reserve that can creatively handle the problems at hand without adding to our tax bills once again for many years to come.

Don't we all need to keep a reserve, savings for a rainy day or really tough times? Perhaps this is what 203 should keep in reserve—passing a referendum when other viable / cash on hand options are not available. Those rainy days are always unexpected, but always a possibility.

Ted,

You are ABSOULUTELY correct. Look at Benet, they maintain a building twice as old as Central and it originally was an orphanage.

Also, there is a $30 million solution that will address all of the deferred maintenance and the science labs. But that is not what the staff and principal WANT. So more money from the taxpayers.

WORST YET, the District vows not do do the $30 million plan. They either get what they WANT or they let the building fall down.

Is that RESPONSIBLE behavior?

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-tax_revolt_bdfeb03,0,2478984.story

It would be nice if the Sun had the guts to run an article like the one above. The Chicago Tribune ran this piece today. People are getting sick and tired of their property taxes increasing out of control. It is only a matter of time before it hits here. The Daily Herald is a far more impressive paper and does a much better job of reporting on these issues than the Sun. Wake up Sun, you are on the wrong side of this stuff.


Response from host:

I read the Tribune report. It's not a question of guts, anonymous (boy is that an ironic sentence), it's a question of resources. Bigger papers have larger staffs and can afford to devote reporters to longer-term investigations, while there are plenty of other reporters around to handle the daily items that need coverage. I think sometimes the Daily Herald does some of that, but the trade-off is they offer much less depth about Naperville. We do what we can, like our front-page story this week about water rates going up in DuPage County, which I haven't seen reported yet in the Daily Herald.

Ted,

I'll defer to Director for Buildings and Grounds, but my understanding is the district has spent, and continues to spend, large sums of money maintaining Central. However a decision has been made in the recent past to not proceed with any repairs that are not absolutely necessary, pending the results of the referendum.

As this is a important issue to you, may I ask you question Mr. Weaver on Monday and post his response?


Note from Ted:

No response needed, Thom. I'm simply voicing my opinion, that a 50-year-old building ought to be in better shape, when there are facilites more than twice as old still serving students in other school districts in the area.

Bob,

Peter and I categorically disagree with this statement,

At the time, the QE203 guys had some interest, However, there was a single, great obstacle: They wanted us to support THIS Feb 5th referendum 1st, THEN they would work with us and the District to move forward on the bigger plan.

There was never a quid pro quo. We asked to meet with you and Mr. Denys to discuss various issues, with the hope that we could find some common ground together. If you disagree with this characterization then I guess we should post our response to your 7 items and let the readers he decide.

Gee, Ted another thread, Thanks!

I appreciate your positive comments regarding the 2002 referendum and the board. It's time that this town accepts that the district has not done anything wrong, and move on to deal with current and future concerns.

My only comment regarding your position is that while the district could choose to not go to referendum for Centrals repairs and instead possibly fund it, or get pretty close, out of cash flow, the result would be that the smaller projects, effecting many other schools, would have to be de-funded. Now, the district could alway go to referendum for them later, but my understanding is your position is that we need to scale back and spend less due to the country's uncertain financial future, and cancel those smaller projects.

I guess where I come down in this is I believe in the future of the country. While we may have a economic downturn, the Sun will ultimately come up tomorrow, and while I may be criticized for saying this, we are blessed in this town to be who we are economically, and the slight additional cost to not only do these major projects, but also a myriad of smaller ones, is not a unreasonable burden.

To me the ECC and the renovation of Central are large funding requests, and it is proper for the community to weigh in on the issue. While, in the aggregate, the smaller projects at a number of schools may total the amount of the referendum request, to me it's not of the same stature, for lack of a better word. I know in the past 203 has typically funded out of cash flow building additions and improvements such as these.

My only quibble with your post is regarding this,

" If Central is a dump, why did we let it get that way?

The "Why" of renovating Central is a complex issue. If I may ask you to click on this link for a piece I wrote regarding this, I think you will see this is more than just deferred maintenance.

http://www.qe203.org/20080205referendum/thecaseforcentral.shtml

Now, the critics go on and on about the broken water fountains and the roof leaks. If you ask Jim Caudill he will tell you, as will the Healy Bender report on Central, much of the plumbing in the older sections is galvanized pipe and it corrodes as it gets old. That corrosion breaks off and clogs the fountain mechanism's, So you turn them off rather than make expensive repairs. Same for the roof. The roof needs to be fixed, do you spend money to patch it up, knowing it's hopefully going to be replaced? It don't understand why the district, who is trying not to throw good money after bad, so to speak, is then accused of not doing it's job, maintaining the facility.


Response from Ted:

Tom, as a taxpayer in Joliet Township High School District 204, I'm well aware of the need to replace aging plumbing systems. And electrical. And HVAC. And roofs. All of which are properly maintained in the 100+-year-old Joliet Central High School building.

If (when) the referendum passes (because I think it will), then the debate is settled--voters will have had their say on the big-ticket projects.

I will still be bothered by the decision to let the plumbing rot based on the presumption that voters were going to approve major renovations to the entire school. It's like saying, "My old car has a leaky radiator, better buy a whole new car."


yawn.

DISTRICT 203 TAXES ARE SECOND HIGHEST IN COUNTY

Before this vote, only District 204 is higher. Taxes in Hinsdale and Downers Grove where real estate has higher values are 30% LOWER.

Why? RESPONSIBLE SCHOOL DISTRICTS

SUMMARY REASONS TO VOTE NO

1. District has the money.

2. Enrollment declines will allow district to do whatever they want.

3. Go back and CREATE Facilities Master Plan (just like they promised and now appears to have wasted taxpayers money).

….Ted’s comments are best. Prepare one with no tax increases, factor in enrollment declines (allows district to take worst buildings temporarily out of service or use for other purposes such as the ECC), and begin to maintain them.

WE DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO REFILL THE ATM!!!!!!

MAKE 203 ACCOUNTABLE.

Ted,

Way to step up and be noticed. Talk abut out of the box!

You are correct in that voting yes now would just be rewarding aberrant behavior by District 203. Your analogy with the old car was appropo.

Unfortunatley, your fellow editors not only disagree with you (given the editorial in the Sun this morning), they felt it necessary to make their editorial a hack piece about those of us who oppose the referendum.

I find it remarkable that the Sun's editors can somehow identify & ascribing the motivation of others they have never met (me, as an example). Perhaps they are gifted, telepathic aliens from another planet, put here on earth to advance our civilization? Or, perhaps they are just lazy.

I also find it remarkable that the Sun, per the editorial's use of punctuation, somehow doesn't believe there even was an over-collection on the 2002 referendum (note the " " used when describing it). Even the Board itself finally admitted to a $45.6 Million overcollection as of the end of the 2006 school year (a figure which grows about $3 Million every year, forever).So, why can't the Sun accept it?

The real sadness of the Sun's tone in the editorial is twofold:

1) Why no ops-ed? That is pretty standard, yes?

2) The editor's nasty tone about resentment and revenge are juvenile and misinformed. If they had done ANY investigation or practiced ANY good journalism techniqes, they would have known that the VOTE "NO" 203! group had previously met with QE203 (a loud Vote Yes group).

I started off that meeting by letting QE203 know that the issue was NOT did Central need fixes, it was NOT the 2002 referendum.

In fact, I laid out a feasible plan to support a complete facilties renovation project for 203, for all 21 buildings. I pointed out that it would probably cost at least $250 Million over what I thought would be around a 10 to 15 year period. I was quite clear in saying IF this was done correctly, with standards set at least within the District and inclusive of ALL buildings, with a detailed timeline for both improvements AND the phasing in of bonding upfront, that OUR group would work with QE203 and the District to get the entire project approved via referendum.

At the time, the QE203 guys had some interest, However, there was a single, great obstacle: They wanted us to support THIS Feb 5th referendum 1st, THEN they would work with us and the District to move forward on the bigger plan.

I could not support that as I do NOT have the same degree of trust in the Board they have and I did NOT want to reward the aberrant behavior that had been exhibited by the District over the past few years (ignoring maintenence being one of those behaviors).

Of course, the Sun would only have known this if they exercised some journalistic effort and not just sat back on their butts issuing dogmatic utterances.

To the editors: You should be ashamed!

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