Paris District 95 votes to make you pay with NEW TAX –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

Paris District 95 School Board, voted last night to place the question of a 1% sales tax referendum on the ballot this November. They joined what has been reported as Shiloh and Chrisman School Districts’ willingness to make you pay.

Knowing the taxpayers of the District recently passed a bond referendum to build the new high school, greatly increasing their tax burdens, the District decided to try and take even more money from us, even when the promise at the time was “no raising of [real estate] taxes” – which appears to have been a smoke-screen to this new tax.

This 1% tax is a tax on the poor and elderly, touted as something that “everyone” pays, but it is nothing more than an unreasonable tax on the poor and elderly in this community, who typically shop locally.

At its core, the County School Facility Tax (CSFT) is a NEW TAX.  A new sales tax, more precisely.  And Illinois already has roughly 450 sales tax jurisdictions, while our (Edgar County’s) neighbor, Indiana, has only one; the state.  Illinois also has some of the highest combined state and local sales tax rates in the nation.

Once implemented, the CSFT is impossible to eliminate.  And, while it’s currently capped at 1%, a movement is afoot in Springfield to double that rate.  And, it can be implemented at quarter-percent increments with a maximum rate of 1%.  Why are they talking about imposing the maximum rate immediately?

The notion that out-of-towners will bear the brunt of this is a total canard.  How much of your shopping is done out of the county?  100% of local folks will pay this.  A small percentage of the revenue would come from the out-of-towners, meaning Edgar County residents would pay the brunt of this tax, and more-so for the poor and elderly who typically shop locally.

Local politicians want to create a new tax.  

Don’t be fooled into thinking it can be easily eliminated or that they will only spend what comes in. Other school districts who have approved this tax have immediately sold bonds in anticipation of receipt of tax money, which means all of it doesn’t go where intended, but instead goes to paying interest. The banks win, not the taxpayers.

Paris District 95 School Board members are:  Steve Eitel, John Sanchez, William “Beetle” Bailey, Amy Isaf, Kevin Knoepfel, Cindy Mathis, and Tom Tuttle.

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Shiloh School Board Meeting, Budget Hearing – Sales Tax Referendum –

HUME, IL. (ECWd) –

On June 20, 2016, Shiloh CUSD#1 Board of Trustees held a Budget Hearing and Regular School Board Meeting.

During the budget hearing, it was stated:

  • The cafeteria ended in the black this year – previous years it had always lost money
  • Education fund took in more than expected and spent less than expected last year
  • Some personal property tax will have to be paid back and the state aid is still questionable

The regular board meeting was held immediately after the budget hearing:

  • Air conditioning units were installed – all of the outside units and around half of the inside units
  • Dr. Hall said that D-95 in Paris would vote this month on whether to put the 1% sales tax on the November ballot – if 3 of the 5 school districts in Edgar County approve it, it will be placed on the ballot
  • There is a shortage of Jr. High math teachers – Shiloh can’t find one and other district have the same problem

The Board approved destruction of closed session audio recordings prior to December 2014 and approved paying all bills due.
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Edgar Co. Local Governments owe the State over $166,000 in overpaid PPRT –

Edgar County, IL. (ECWd) –

The local governments in Edgar County owed the State of Illinois a total of $166,119.51 in overpayments the state made with the personal property replacement tax back in 2014.

A list of all Edgar County overpayments are below, with the School Districts, City of Paris, and County governments making up the majority of the overpayments.

There is no schedule for repayment to the state at this time.

Edgar                               EDGAR COUNTY 0231010023 20,238.31
Edgar BROCTON VILLAGE 0232400010 262.34
Edgar CHRISMAN CITY 0232400016 1,149.74
Edgar HUME VILLAGE 0232400038 55.67
Edgar KANSAS VILLAGE 0232400040 225.61
Edgar METCALF VILLAGE 0232400051 273.15
Edgar PARIS CITY 0232400063 22,667.65
Edgar REDMON VILLAGE 0232400070 24.87
Edgar VERMILION VILLAGE 0232400089 46.00
Edgar BROUILLETTS CREEK TOWNSHIP 0233020010 144.34
Edgar BUCK TOWNSHIP 0233020012 104.68
Edgar EDGAR TOWNSHIP 0233020025 323.63
Edgar ELBRIDGE TOWNSHIP 0233020027 929.25
Edgar EMBARRASS TOWNSHIP 0233020029 104.68
Edgar GRANDVIEW TOWNSHIP 0233020033 85.74
Edgar HUNTER TOWNSHIP 0233020038 46.00
Edgar KANSAS TOWNSHIP 0233020040 495.43
Edgar PARIS TOWNSHIP 0233020063 2,574.50
Edgar PRAIRIE TOWNSHIP 0233020068 229.76
Edgar ROSS TOWNSHIP 0233020073 714.04
Edgar SHILOH TOWNSHIP 0233020077 206.35
Edgar STRATTON TOWNSHIP 0233020082 159.95
Edgar SYMMES TOWNSHIP 0233020084 303.55
Edgar YOUNG AMERICA TOWNSHIP 0233020095 456.09
Edgar BROCTON FPD 0235100082 129.87
Edgar CHRISMAN FPD 0235100131 400.10
Edgar HUME FPD 0235100322 93.13
Edgar KANSAS FPD 0235100336 311.02
Edgar METCALF FPD 0235100434 133.94
Edgar PARIS FPD 0235100533 1,998.13
Edgar PARIS-UNION UNIT SCH 95 0237250950 35,496.18
Edgar SHILOH CUSD  1 0237260010 25,175.03
Edgar KANSAS CUSD 3 0237260030 7,024.88
Edgar PARIS CUSD 4 0237260040 14,682.31
Edgar EDGAR COUNTY CUSD 6 0237260060 17,032.98
Edgar BROUILLETS CRK TWP RD & BRIDGE 0239020010 205.61
Edgar BUCK TWP ROAD & BRIDGE 0239020012 102.40
Edgar EDGAR TWP ROAD & BRIDGE 0239020025 581.57
Edgar ELBRIDGE TWP ROAD & BRIDGE 0239020027 2,072.33
Edgar EMBARRASS TWP ROAD & BRIDGE 0239020029 394.90
Edgar GRANDVIEW TWP ROAD & BRIDGE 0239020033 158.07
Edgar HUNTER TWP ROAD & BRIDGE 0239020038 154.42
Edgar KANSAS TWP ROAD & BRIDGE 0239020040 634.65
Edgar PARIS TWP ROAD & BRIDGE 0239020063 4,008.44
Edgar PRAIRIE TWP ROAD & BRIDGE 0239020068 264.61
Edgar ROSS TWP ROAD & BRIDGE 0239020073 1,028.73
Edgar SHILOH TWP ROAD & BRIDGE 0239020077 600.11
Edgar STRATTON TWP ROAD & BRIDGE 0239020082 272.42
Edgar SYMMES TWP ROAD & BRIDGE 0239020084 308.01
Edgar YOUNG AMERICA TWP RD & BRIDGE 0239020095 1,034.34

IL-Leaks




Paris School District 95 to get $10k refund from TRS –

Paris, IL. (ECWd) –

In May, we ran an article referencing fines paid to the Teacher’s Retirement System by our local school districts.

Data provided by TRS showed a fine for several D95 employees, one of which was Mr. Whitacre. District 95 Superintendent, Connie Sutton, insisted that D95 did not have to pay a fine for Whitacre when he retired, even though TRS provided the information we reported.

Sutton asked TRS to double check their calculations to make sure the school district actually owed what they had already paid.

On September 18, 2015, TRS responded to District 95 with a letter explaining that TRS had previously miscalculated Mr. Whitacre’s age and erroneously charged the district $9.896.53.

The letter further states they will be sending a refund check to District 95.

Thanks to Sup. Sutton for questioning data we reported, D95 now has a refund check on the way.

Download (PDF, 218KB)

IL-Leaks




Local Paper only reports part of the story –

Paris, IL. (ECWd) –

In this past Thurday’s edition of the Prairie Press, they ran an article entitled “Kraft Alleges Intimidation By Director“, which on its surface looks like a pretty informative article.

Our article is here, which includes the offensive voice message.

However, in their attempt at describing the relationships between those involved, including me, they failed to come clean on their own relationship to one of the parties involved, Sam Roberts.

Nancy (Roberts) Zeman, part-owner of the Prairie Press, is the sister of Sam Roberts, the school employee who left the offensive phone message.

While I appreciate Prairie Press’s attempt at “full disclosure” in the article, I felt complete full disclosure would have been more appropriate considering Nancy was in attendance at the meeting in question – which means the writer did not obtain his information first-hand.

PP-1




Schools Prohibited from Requiring Student Passwords to Social Media –

Springfield, IL. (ECWd) –

Received this tip in an email blast on a recent change to the “Right to Privacy in the School Setting Act” from the legal firm of Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick & Kohn LLP…

Take note Effingham School District, and all the others that decided to take advantage of students last year… additionally, I would suggest all parents and students change their passwords to make sure the schools do not maintain access they may already have.

Access to Student Social Media Accounts Curtailed

Recent amendments to the Right to Privacy in the School Setting Act restrict access by schools to student social media accounts. Initially the Act gave schools the right to request or require a student to provide social media account passwords or other related account information when the school had reasonable cause to believe the account contained evidence of a disciplinary violation. Schools were required to provide notice to parents of this right. Our article regarding the then-new law can be found here.

The recent amendments to the Act restrict this right. Public Act 99-0460, which became effective on August 25, 2015, prohibits schools from requesting or requiring students to provide passwords or other account information for their social media accounts in any circumstance. Now, schools only may require a student “to cooperate in an investigation” if there is specific information about activity on the student’s social media account that violates a school disciplinary rule or policy. As part of the school’s investigation, a student may be required to “share the content that is reported in order to make a factual determination,” but the school no longer can request or require disclosure of passwords. Continue reading…

HLERK_WP_Dark (WinCE)




Sam Roberts, School District 95, leaves offensive voicemail to mother of three students –

Paris, IL., (ECWd) –

Sam Roberts, Maintenance and Technology Director of Paris School District 95, decided to leave an offensive voicemail to a mother of three students, and a volunteer at the school…because he didn’t like something she posted on her personal Facebook page.

I attended the District 95 school board meeting this evening and voiced my opinion of this voicemail during public comment. It was kind of rough for me to get thru the entire comment, but I needed to have my voice heard.

This message is beyond offensive to the average person. It is pure retaliation for voicing an opinion on Facebook.

This message came after some parents were upset about the “Tiger” being painted over at the old High School football field-house, without any warning to the parents who wanted to have their children’s pictures taken in front of it for their senior year. It was sentimental to them and their children, and a general comment of “those ass-clowns” was made during the conversation – without mentioning any person’s name. For that, Sam thought it prudent to retaliate for the comment and take away public business from the commenter.

————————————–

My comments to the Board:

Good afternoon, I am here to talk about the First Amendment and Criminal Intimidation.

The First Amendment guarantees the right of the people to freedom of speech. That means freedom to speak without government intrusion, without government oversight, without government approval, and without government retaliation. Without this most basic right, we are lost as a nation.

A person commits intimidation when, with intent to cause another to perform or to omit the performance of any act, he or she communicates to another, directly or indirectly by any means, a threat to perform without lawful authority any of the following acts:

Take action as a public official against anyone or anything, or withhold official action, or cause such action or withholding…

Intimidation is a Class 3 felony for which an offender may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 2 years and not more than 10 years.

How can anyone who is the Maintenance Director of this school district think it is OK to use a telephone under the control of Mayo School and leave a threatening, abusive, offensive message? I will get to that message shortly.

From a Mayo School telephone:

“Hey Amy, this is Sam Roberts, the Ass-Clown. – I understand you are beatin up District 95 on facebook, I don’t quite understand all that Amy, um I called this morning and left you a message about picking up some metal at my shop – you can forget that…uhmm the can thing we had going, you can forget that, we’re done with that, uhm I really don’t appreciate you beatin up District 95…”

The audio recording really shows his offensive tone of voice, please listen to it.

With the “can thing”, Amy has been collecting the cans from the various school kitchens, recycling them, and bringing the cash back to the school for the school’s use. If you remember back a couple of years, for those of you that have been here that long, there was a discussion about the cans and the board agreed to have Amy do this “can thing”. How can taking that away be a public good? It is not, and I demand a public apology.

This is unforgivable, and if he does this to someone he has known for more than 30 years, how does he talk to people he doesn’t know, or who might be too scared to voice their opinions?

Audio of my comments to the board below (with parts trimmed where I had to stop):

———————————-

Listen to Sam Roberts’ voicemail here:


If anyone has any other questionable voicemails, emails, etc I would appreciate receiving them.

SamRoberts

Old pic of Sam Roberts…if anyone has a newer picture please forward it to me.




Shiloh School seeking county sales tax –

Edgar Co., IL. (ECWd) –

During the Edgar County Study Session last Monday, August 31st, a county board member stated that Shiloh Schools were inquiring on the ability to establish a sales tax.

I believe the 1% sales tax (if that is what he was referring to) must be by county-wide referendum and all School Districts (51% or higher) and/or the County Board must sign-on to the idea. More information in the Paris Beacon News (here).

Watch the video and learn about other items that were discussed like Health Department air conditioning, etc.:




School Boards in Edgar County violated the law….and you paid for it says Chicago Tribune…

Edgar Co. (ECWd) –

“These abuses won’t stop until voters rise up angry again and again and again”.

About now some are saying here he goes again, complaining about matters of no importance to those in Edgar County.  Oh how you arr mistaken, if that is the case.  The above quote is not mine but that of the Editorial Board of the Chicago Tribune.  I find it comforting to finally see major media organizations standing up and delivering the message to the people.

That quote was from their Editorial article today expanding on the $38,000,000.00 ($38 Million) in fines the taxpayers of Illinois had to pay because their school boards violated state law by giving pay raises in excess of statutory limits.  (Click here for Tribune Article)

Edgar County taxpayers are on the hook for $31,045.24 in penalties for violating the 6% pay spike for their administrators and teachers. Once again, we see that our elected officials are failing to follow the law and it is those same officials costing you money.

A break down by school districts In Edgar County:

  • Chrisman CUSD 6 – 1 Educator – Fined $1,102.14
  • Kansas CUSD 3 – 1 Educator – Fined $3,354.01
  • Paris CUSD 4 – 4 Educators – Fined $2,832.36
  • Paris CUSD 95 – 5 Educators – Fined $18,178.76 
  • Shiloh CUSD 1 – 3 Educators – Fined $5,547.9

Considering the financial condition of these schools and their raising of our taxes on a regular basis, let me just say I am once again disgusted with this behavior.  The nerve of these people to continue to place financial burdens on our backs when they, themselves, are costing us money is yet another example of how broke our system is.

At what point will the citizens in this county get angry enough to demand accountability to the law?  I have been asking that question for years and the abuse continues while people sit at the coffee shop complaining that nothing can be done about it.

The College of DuPage was an example of how informed voters stood up and forced change;  Change that many said could never happen.  We exposed just a smidgen of corruption in that College compared to what we have shared in Edgar County, yet the abuses of the law in this county continue, as is pointed out in the Chicago Tribune’s article.  (Click here to search the entire data base for violators)

The school districts of Edgar County owe the people an explanation as to which educators reaped the benefits of illegal pay spikes, and what board members allowed it to happen.  I would appreciate if they simply provide the information without a FOIA request. If I do not hear from them in the next 5 days I will follow up with the official request, as the people have a right to know who is taking advantage of our tax dollars with zero accountability.

 




Paris District 95 School Board Meeting Video – April 7, 2014 –

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

Video from the Paris District 95 School Board meeting held on April 7, 2014 is below.

Thanks to the board for videotaping and uploading their meeting videos for people that cannot make it to their meetings.

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Past videos are on their youtube page (HERE).

D-95




Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

I think everyone is well aware of the financial turmoil our country is in, as well as our state.   It has become so overwhelming most agree that this much debt is next to impossible to fix as long as the very people that put us in that debt continue to run things.  As I have said for years, if you can’t fix it locally you will never fix it at the state or national level.  That leads us to the same basic issue, which is how much debt are we dealing with locally?

$79,348,515.70!

Shared between Four Public Bodies In Edgar County!

“No way”, you say?  Impossible?

Time for some much needed truth as was referenced in yesterday’s Paris Beacon Editorial from Mr. Smith. We see in the papers regularly how local public bodies “pass” their audit when the reality is there is no pass or fail of a standard public audit and in most cases no one even reads the details contained in those so called “passed” audits. 

Dixon, Illinois had audits for years and no one found anything wrong, yet just last year a conviction was established for theft of over $53 Million dollars, even though they “passed” their audits!  It took a “forensic” audit to uncover the truth.

Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department had similar audits for years and board members from both counties insisted, one to this day, nothing was wrong and the audits support such a position.  A “forensic” Audit proved them wrong and exposed the very criminal acts we wrote about for over a year.  Currently, higher authorities are investigating that multi-million dollar theft of taxpayer’s funds and all indications point to future indictments!   

East Central Illinois Mass Transit District “passed” their audits, yet after wrongdoing was exposed a “forensic” audit has now led to the federal authorities taking over and from what we understand a clear pursuit of criminal charges are still forthcoming in that theft of public money as well.   

Edgar County audits for 2010 and 2011 reflected basically the same thing, accounts balanced and all is good, however we know for a fact the audit did not catch the theft of over $20,000.00 in credit card purchases made by Chandra Smith.  It was not until a “forensic” audit was requested that the theft was exposed.  You can see HERE for yourself the amazing purchases being made, all while not a single board member raised a question until very late in the game!  Yes, she was charged and convicted, however, the failure of the standard audit to find such theft simply makes our point, audits tell you little about how your tax money is being spent. 

That old saying “the devil’s in the details” sadly holds so true when it comes to statutory audits of public bodies and it’s high time the public start reading those audits and learning what is really happening with their tax dollars!

Take Paris, Illinois for example.  The Paris Beacon headline on January 29th was “A Job Well Done – Audit shows that Paris’ books are in fine shape”.   In the news story it claims the audit is clean and then put a definition to clean as meaning the accounts balance and records are being kept according to sound accounting principles. They go on to claim independent audits help assure taxpayers their money is being used for the intended purposes.  I think we can safely disagree with that assessment based on the four previous mentioned audits that disprove such a comment.  In fact, you may recall these articles (1, 2) that point to use of public funds in violation of the law yet nothing in the audit about those actions either. 

I appreciate the Editorial Board’s opinion, but what is the rest of the story that the public might have a major interest in knowing?

You may recall that we covered the Audit information for the Clark Edgar Rural Water District that painted a rosy picture of their financial situation. When questioned about the massive “Bond Debt”, they claimed they don’t count interest, even though they are paying it.  The debt load that is paid on the backs of the customers at the time of the article was over $24,000,000.00 ($24 Million Dollars!)

Looking at the so called “clean” Audit for the City of Paris, we can see that the reported long term debt is $17,665,020.00!   In order to see the whole picture you have to “read” the details.  That reported $17,665,020.00 of reported long term debt does not include the interest!

If you add the interest, using the audit numbers, the actual long term debt is reported to be $26,755,943 dollars.  Using the actual Speer Financial Debt Service Schedules that we obtained through a FOIA, the actual number appears to be $34,089,500.20!  (That figure was obtained by adding the remaining payments due as outlined on the payment schedule)

Just the city debt total amounts to $15,738.44 on the backs of an average family of four, or $3,934.61 on the backs of every Man, Woman, and Child in the City of Paris!

With a new school being built we can see additional bond debt for the two school districts as well.  Crestwood, District 4 currently has a Bond debt obligation of $9,076,177.

District 95 numbers in their audit summary they provided claimed a debt of $9,533,016 however when the interest is included in that long term debt the actual Principal with Interest totals reflect a debt of $12,614,467.50

$55,780,144.70 of Debt for a city with a population of 8,664

$6,438.15 on the backs of every Man, Woman and Child! 

Adding the last reported Bond debt of the Clark Edgar Rural Water District, which was $23,568,371.00 we can see a real problem has crept into our local society, just as it has at the state and national level.

 Only four Edgar County Public Bodies, and the total debt of those agencies appears to total $79,348,515.70!

Seventy Nine Million, Three Hundred Forty Eight Thousand, Five Hundred Fifteen dollars and Seventy cents!

Does anyone have any concern that we have over $79 Million dollars of debt in this county? 

Now I understand the infrastructure needs maintained and schools need upgraded, however, the question I think is fair: where was the planning for these matters?  Being a community surrounded with agriculture you don’t have to go far to see a farmer in the field with new equipment.  Most that I have spoken with plan for those major purchases. Planning that included setting funding aside to be able to afford it and for those that had to borrow, they make monthly payments that include both principal and interest.  That basic principal I believe most are familiar with. 

The city of Paris has payments structured for its bond payments that reflect NO PRINCIPAL payments ranging from 6 years to 13 years depending on the Bond.

The same practice is found with District 95 and its Bond Payments.

For all those with a credit card, is it safe to assume you know that if you only pay the principal you will never get the card paid off? The longer you avoid principal payments the more interest you pay, thus the more it cost you to use the credit!

Why do people not pay more on the debt they have?  Anyone?

You can’t afford it!

Can anyone explain how a claim that the “Pairs Books are in Fine Shape”, when they fail to reflect all the years the taxpayers are only paying interest on the debt their city leaders created?

In defense of the accountants, they did exactly what the state says they have to do, ensure the math adds up and accounts balance.  My point is not to imply that auditors are not doing their job, or that we don’t need a new water system or new schools.  My point is we must move towards a common sense approach to fiscal management of our tax dollars that includes better planning and better control of our debt load. 

The leaders in so many communities are failing to do their job and protect our tax dollars and when those same officials are running things for so long, it’s clear to see, the problem lies with those we have placed our trust in.  Close business relationships become well established that place the priority on taking care of their own interests instead of remembering it’s “We the People” that should be the priority.

Questions I think we need to all start asking, where is this money going?  Have a select few made a small fortune because of their close political connections and control?  Is this the system of representation our founding fathers envisioned? 

The sad part of this picture, it only represents FOUR public bodies!  I am willing to bet that the rest of the schools, as well as the county, have Bond Debts which would take the real debt number in excess of $80 Million Dollars of debt in a county with less than 20,000 people!

Can we now better appreciate the problem we face at the National or State level?  How many generations are we going to place into bondage with the debt load created by those enriching themselves? 

With only a 31% voter turnout in last week’s election I pray that this message wakes the rest of the community and brings change.




Paris Schools Consolidation Town Hall Meeting

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

Paris District 95 videotaped the “Consolidation Town Hall” meeting that was held on September 12, 2013.

We have linked to their youtube page for the video:

 

 

 Previous Article(s):

http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/2013/01/possible-school-district-consolidation-information/

 




UPDATE: New School Funding – PCHS

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

Chapin Rose has just stated that the Capital Development Board bonds were to be sold this morning,  finalized on the 10th of April and school districts should expect construction payment processing by the end of April.

He also talked about school funding/pension issues and compared the Chicago Public Schools with the downstate schools in relation to total receipts and obligations.

PDF of the comparison located here for download – 4MB.

Audio here for download – 27MB.

 
ChapinRose




Conflict of Interest – Capital Development Board (New High School funds) –

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

While preparing several emails to send off today, I ran across the Illinois Procurement Code. This is the code the Capital Development Board, where the money for the new High School comes from, uses to determine conflicts of interest, among other things.

It is unfortunate that we have to go through so many different levels and state agencies in order to obtain answers to obvious conflicts – then we have to wonder who will take the stand to make sure these issues are dealt with.

The procurement code spells out what is considered a conflict, and in clear language not easily misunderstood.

Definition

Elective status; the holding of elective office of the State of Illinois, the government of the United States, any unit of local government authorized by the Constitution of the State of Illinois or the statutes of the State of Illinois currently or in the previous 3 years.

Just so everyone is clear on this point: Mr. Patrick DOES hold an elective office of a unit of local government authorized by the Constitution of the State of Illinois.

 The Prohibition

(30 ILCS 500/50-13)
    Sec. 50-13. Conflicts of interest.
    (a) Prohibition. It is unlawful for any person holding an elective office in this State, holding a seat in the General Assembly, or appointed to or employed in any of the offices or agencies of State government and who receives compensation for such employment in excess of 60% of the salary of the Governor of the State of Illinois, or who is an officer or employee of the Capital Development Board or the Illinois Toll Highway Authority, or who is the spouse or minor child of any such person to have or acquire any contract, or any direct pecuniary interest in any contract therein, whether for stationery, printing, paper, or any services, materials, or supplies, that will be wholly or partially satisfied by the payment of funds appropriated by the General Assembly of the State of Illinois or in any contract of the Capital Development Board or the Illinois Toll Highway Authority.

In reading this paragraph, it is clear the legislative intent – That no person holding an elective office, anywhere in the State of Illinois, can have any direct pecuniary interest in any contract paid wholly or partially with any contract of the Capital Development Board, which in turn receives its funds through General Assembly appropriations.

To better understand it, you should look at the use of commas, and their use is consistant with a type of punctuation called a “listing comma”. Take away the commas, and you get a listing of 5 different groups of people who cannot contract or sell materials to these projects:

1.   Those people holding an elective office in this State

2.    Those people holding a seat in the General Assembly

 3.   Those people   appointed to or employed in any of the offices or agencies of State government and who receives compensation for such employment in excess of 60% of the salary of the Governor of the State of Illinois

4.       an officer or employee of the Capital Development Board or the Illinois Toll Highway Authority

5.       the spouse or minor child of any such person

I believe the 1st group directly reflects the situation that Chris Patrick is in when it comes to selling materials or supplies to any contractor for use on the new high school construction project.

We’ll have to wait and see how this project and potential conflict plays out…

————————————–

In another note from the Capitol Development Board, they sent the following email to organizations involved in current construction projects. I do not know what impact this will have on the construction time-line, if any:

From: CDB.Grants <CDB.Grants@Illinois.gov>
Date: February 11, 2013, 1:51:09 PM CST
Subject: School Construction Payments

The Capital Development Board (CDB) is in receipt of a School Construction payment request from your school district and at this time the payment cannot be processed until bonds are sold. The CDB has all pending payments ready to be sent to the comptroller as soon as funding is received and understands the hardship this is causing you.  The administration decided to delay the sale of $500 million dollars of general obligation bonds due to the “unsettled” bond market, which occurred after the state’s credit rating was downgraded.  John Sinsheimer, the director of capital markets for Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget office stated, “What they [banks] had indicated was the market had become a bit unsettled as a result of the action of the rating agencies over the last couple of weeks. We felt it was prudent to pull the bonds back.”  School Construction payments are funded through the School Construction Bond Fund.  The February bond sale was going to pay the pending School Construction payments, therefore, grant recipients will have to wait for payments until the next bond sale.  The next bond sale is expected to occur in late March or early April based on the information CDB has received. 

 

NewHSandCDB




Conflicts-Intergovernmental Agreements-New High School

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

As most of us are already aware, there is a new high school being built just north of Paris. With this school construction comes alot of contractors, contracts, and more specifically – concrete.

While most of the discussions on conflicts of interest have dealt with the county highway department, municipalities, townships, and state and federal grants, there is a conflict that hasn’t been discussed yet.

Intergovernmental Agreements

The reasoning behind township and outlieing municipality conflicts is because there are intergovernmental agreements in place, or there is the potential for them, between the county and those entities.

The less talked about agreements, and a potential for future agreements, exist between Edgar County and District 4, District 95, and the Paris Cooperative High School. With the current and future abilities to commit to these agreements, the same conflict with Chris Patrick exists.

State Grants

The Illinois Capitol Development Board committed a $24,227,956 state grant to assist in building the new school. With a more than 130,000 square feet of building being erected, one can see this will take an enormous amount of concrete and other materials that could potentially be supplied by Chris Patrick and Zimmerly Ready Mix.

Bidding On Conrete Work

A concrete bidding question, from the New High School website:

Q: January 18, 2012.  When is the actual bid date for the concrete portion of the building with the reinforcing in it? Where will the bid openings be and what time?
A: The concrete bid package, including all reinforcing, was put out-to-bid on January 17, 2013.  Bids will be received, publicly opened and read at 2:00 PM on February 7, 2013 at the Paris Union School District 95 offices located at 300 South Eads Avenue, Paris, Illinois  61944.

I haven’t read a copy of the bid paperwork, but I do hope that the potential conflict in buying concrete from Zimmerly was revealed to those bidding on the project. It would be unfair to do otherwise, since the potential for different prices exists with out of town concrete providers.

Intergovernmental Agreements and Contractual Relationships

Conflicts arise when an official may be called upon to act or vote…

 The Intergovernmental Cooperation clause of the 1970 Constitution (Art VII, para 10) and the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act (5 ICLS  220), specifically grant to counties and others, broad powers to contract or otherwise associate among themselves to obtain or share services, powers or functions.

The potential does exist, for a county board to enter into agreements/contracts with school districts. Potential exists for certain agreements to obtain a favorable vote from a person selling materials and supplies to the school districts. This is no different than agreements between the county, and  township and municipalities, for road and drainage work. This is a conflict of interest if Chris Patrick is invloved in any way, which he already has been, with discussions and votes on upgrading the road in front of the new high school or with sellling materials and supplies to contractors working on the new high school.

PatrickPCHS




D-95 and the Proposed Property Tax –

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

After several concerned citizens asked about our local school districts and  their notices of hearing on tax levy, we decided to check into the situation. We referenced this issue in this article.

Here is what the Truth In Taxation says about publication of Hearing Notices:

Time and form of notice. The notice shall appear not more than 14 days nor less than 7 days prior to the date of the public hearing. The notice shall be no less than 1/8 page in size, and the smallest type used shall be 12 point and shall be enclosed in a black border no less than 1/4 inch wide. The notice shall not be placed in that portion of the newspaper where legal notices and classified advertisements appear.

Any notice which includes any information not specified and required by this Article shall be an invalid notice.

This is what to look at when a notice is improper:

(35 ILCS 200/18-100)
    Sec. 18-100. Defective publication. A levy of a taxing district shall not be invalidated for failure to comply with the provisions of this Article if the failure is attributable to the newspaper's failure to reproduce the information in the notice accurately or to publish the notice as directed by the taxing district.

So if the District submitted the correct information the the paper, and the paper made a mistake in publication, the District is not penalized. However; if the District does not submit the required information to the paper, the District is penalized by declaring the notice and levy (above the 105%) invalid.

We discussed the following with Connie Sutton, District 95 Superintendent, and explained what the issues were, and she checked into the request for publication the District sent to the Paris Beacon News.

You can see by the publication (District 95 Publication Failure) it had errors on the following:

  • There is no border.
  • It is listed with the other classified advertisements.
  • The telephone number is wrong.
  • It doesn’t appear to be 12 point font.
  • Paragraph 1 doesn’t contain the required information.

To determine whether the publication errors invalidated the levy, we must look at the publication instructions given to the paper (District 95 provided instructions to the paper). These instructions reveal that the paper did not error, but rather the District errored in their instructions.

As a result of the above, Connie Sutton sent a message to the Edgar County Clerk explaining the situation and informing him that the District cannot receive more than a 5% increase from last year. Considering they were seeking a 9% tax increase, this is a potential savings to the District taxpayers of 4%.

What more can one ask for? The District acknowledged the problem, and took immediate corrective actions – thank you for that!

But the sad state of thought in the majority of the other local government bodies in Edgar County is that they will bury their heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away – and it never does, which is one reason we do what we do, in the manner we do it. Ignoring the problem, denying it –  even when shown their own paperwork, refusal to discuss the issue, even accusations of nit-picking, and you get what we have now – everybody thinks the law applies to everyone esxcept themselves.

truthintaxation




Possible School District Consolidation Information

EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –

Possible School District Consolidation

Following several inquiries into possible school consolidations, I had a meeting with the District 4 and District 95 Superintendents along with some email exchanges that included the PCHS Director, to discuss their planning of possible consolidation of the school districts.

For the record, I am,  and always have been, in favor of consolidation of these two school districts.

I asked several questions and received basically the same answer from both districts. These will be presented in a Q&A format.

Q: What is the proposed time-frame for this consolidation?

A: If planning continues at its current pace, the referendum will be on the March 18, 2014 Ballot. It requires a ballot vote, with both districts approving it by a majority in each district.

Q: What happens to the School Boards?

A: Should the referendum pass, a new board will have to be elected out of the new consolidated district.

Q: Will the new board be elected “at large” or from 7 board districts?

A: The Committee of Ten would be responsible for that decision and it will be part of the ballot question.

Q: What will be the name of the new district?

A: The State will determine the district number and the new school board will have some input on the new name.

Q: What will happen to the teachers?

A: The new school board will determine how many teachers they will need, then selections bases on School Code (Seniority and/or Performance Evaluation law). Teachers Aides will be based on seniority.

Q: What will happen to all of the support staff, supervisors, and cleaning contracts?

A: This will all be determined by the new board. All current contracts will stay in force until their expiration/buy-out

Q: What about the bussing situation?

A: New board will determine the best course of action.

Q: Which Teachers Union will be the contracting union?

A: Both current unions will dissolve and a new union formed. They will then negotiate a contract with the new board.

Q: Will there be a search for a new superintendent?

A: New board will decide.

Q: How will this affect the new high school?

A: The cooperative high school and the new high school building will be part of the proposed new district.

Q: What will consolidation do to property tax rates compared to what each districts property owners are paying now?

A: The tax rate will be determined by the “Committee of Ten” and will be part of the referendum question on the ballot.

Q: Will outstanding bonds still be the responsibility of the current district taxpayers?

A: Yes, unless other agreements are put into place before consolidation.

Q: Have the surrounding school districts been approached and ask recently about possible consolidation with the Paris districts?

A: Yes, informally, but no interest was shown.

Q: What is the status of the road in front of the new high school?

A: ParisTownship and the City of Paris are the current owners of different parts of that road and both are seeking grants to improve it.

The proposed decision making time-line is below: 

Download (PDF, 43KB)


 

Illinois State Board of Education information pamphlet provided by Dave Meister:

Download (PDF, 235KB)


 

coinsolidationpic




UPDATE – District 95: Video of 5-7-2012 Board Meeting

PARIS, IL –  Here it is, and once again the local paper prints only what the board wants them to print. This has become their standard reporting practice . So if you want to see what ACTUALLY occured at the meeting watch the video. You can also read the Watchdog report from a couple days ago.

There were plenty of things that happened after the meeting, but that will have to be in another posting.

 Thanks to District 95 for the video.

Chuck’s comments are below:

I think I probably blew my chance at having President Tom appoint me to fill the school board position that was created by the resignation of board member Sue Furnish (watch the video). Oh well, I am used to rejection, so I will recover quickly.

It was interesting to hear Tom read his prepared statement attempting to justify the rehiring of Connie Sutton as superintendent. I don’t know if that was a statement from him or from the whole board. I do know that the matter of continuing to explore consolidation was never discussed in any open meeting I attended. I cannot see why it would have been done in executive session. Since Unit 4 would also be involved, did District 95 have any discussion with them? These are just a few of the questions that probably can be answered. I, now, on 5/16/2012, think I have the answers.

However, another question was answered. We now know that the district can be run by someone employed for 100 days a year. Yet the tax payers have been paying big dollars for a 12 month contract. Maybe that job is not as time consuming as we have been led to believe. After talking with several people, other questions arose. Who keeps the records of the days worked by the retired administrators who have been rehired? Are their schedules fixed and posted, so everyone will know when they are to be on the job? What constitutes a work day? Can they go in at 5:00 AM, work a couple of hours, go home, and call it a day? Do weekend days count? Can “working from home” be considered a work day? Are they allowed to work in the summer or during vacations when no students are present? Since they are being paid from $360-$500 a day, is there any accountability? I believe custodians, secretaries, teachers, aides, and cooks have set days and times they are to be on the job.

Mel Ogle will be retiring as principal of Mayo Middle School sometime this summer. Will the board find a job for her also? As I have said MANY times in the past, those at the top certainly know how to take care of themselves – with the board’s assistance.

I listened to the presentation by the representative of the Illinois School Board Association concerning the search for a new superintendent. I believe he said that their fee would be $5,000.00. They would screen the candidates and present the board with a list of their top candidates to interview. I remember past District 95 school boards going through the same process and hiring some superintendents who didn’t work out well. The ISBA representative said there would probably be only 12-22 candidates. I can’t see why the district would need the ISBA to screen so few candidates. I think in some districts there is a committee comprised of board members, administrators, teachers, support staff representatives, and community members. They would screen the applicants and make non-binding recommendations to the board. I believe that the more people who are involved in decision making, the better the decisions might be. And NO, I would NOT want to be on the committee!   

As I have read through the past District 95 board meeting minutes, I noticed that questions or comments during the audience to visitors section are noted.  However, there is never any mention of answers from the board. For accuracy’s sake, maybe this could be remedied in the future. Of course, the Beacon ignores this completely at most public meetings! I do understand that Sam is extremely busy and that the Beacon tries to stay away from anything controversial.

Chuck




District 95 Resignation

It has come to our attention that  school board member Sue Furnish has resigned her position as board member.

A phone call to the Superintendent verified this.

The board will publish the opening on the newspaper with instructions on how to apply.




Report: District 95 School Board Meeting 5-7-2012

PARIS,IL– District 95 School Board Meeting May 7, 2012 at 5:00 p.m.

During the District 95 school board meeting, Tom Davis read a prepared statement, referencing the August 15, 2011 meeting, in which he clarified the decisions surrounding the hiring of a Superintendent.

During audience to visitors, Chuck Hand commented on several items and referenced his opinion that the whole truth on different subjects is not being reported to the public (I will have more on this when the video gets posted).

I asked once again about the TORT fund expenditures in 2010 and was given the same answer as last month – wait until the auditor comes to town this summer for the annual audit. I pointed out the expenditures were from 2010 and had nothing to do with the audit this fiscal year.

In other items, the board approved renewal of the following contracts:

Superintendent – 1 year, same terms as this year
Mayo Assistant Principal – 1 year, same terms as this year
Curriculum Coordinator – 1 year, same terms as this year
Wenz Principal -1 year, same terms as this year

The board approved policies 3:60, 5:90, 5:200, 5:300, and 5:330 for their second reading and adoption.

The board approved the resignations of Abbey Houser, Veronica Simpson, and Danielle Slater at the end of the school year.

The board employed Hannah Church as the Chorus Teacher for Mayo and PCHS for next school year.

The board approved the Title I Summer School, Special Education Summer School, and the employees for those programs.

Tom Tuttle was approved as the 7th grade basketball coach for Mayo next year, with no pay.

Mayo 8th grade recognition is May 16, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the gymnasium. The Wall of Fame recipient this year is Steve Jennison.

PCHS graduation ceremony is May 18, 2012 at 7:30 in Eveland Gymnasium.

A representative from the IASB, Illinois Association of School Boards, gave a presentation on the process for hiring a superintendent, costs associated with the hiring process, and the time-frame for a superintendent search. If memory serves my well today, the representative from the IASB stated the ideal time-frame for a superintendent search was the June-July time-frame, with the announcement of the new superintendent ideally coming towards the end of December. (If I misstated anything in this portion I will correct it after the video is posted)

During the Right to Revert section, Chuck Hand and his wife offered to donate $500.00 for a reception to recognize all of the outstanding people that provide volunteer services to the school district.

 

 




Is District 95 searching for a new Superintendent yet?

PARIS, IL – I had almost forgot about this issue until it was recently brought to my attention again. At the August 15, 2011 District 95 School Board Meeting, Chuck Hand asked whether the part time contract with Connie Sutton would be limited to 1 year. Tom Davis, the board chairman, assured him and the rest of us that if the consolidation plans fell though, the District would be searching for a new full time Superintendent.

Consolidation plans have failed, from what we are told. Is the District currently searching for a full time superintendent? I don’t think they are, and time is running out as the current school year ends in less than a month. Unless that’s part of the plan to renew the part time contract by failing to search for a full time replacement?

I do know District 95 is not listed on the IASB website as searching for a superintendent.

Rest assured this issue will be brought up at the next school board meeting.

The video from the August 15, 2011 meeting is below, and the conversation referenced above starts at the 14:20 mark.

 

 




TORT Fund or SLUSH Fund

EDGAR CO –

TORT Fund or Slush Fund

For those of you that pay property tax, have you ever wondered why we pay so much compared to other parts of the country? One reason is explained in detail below.

 The General Assembly established an extraordinary tax for funding liability actions against schools in 1980, including insurance and risk management programs.  It is important to note that this tax (on your property tax bill) is excluded from various limitations otherwise applicable to tax levies.  More details are available at: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=074500100HArt%2E+IX&ActID=2062&ChapterID=58&SeqStart=9200000&SeqEnd=10000000 (See 9-107, Policy; tax levy). 

District 95

It has come to our attention that Paris Union School District 95 has been spending these funds on a variety of expenses which are not remotely related to allowable expenditures.  Our FOIA request for District 95’s year end fiscal reports shows that school administration is treating this as their slush fund, using it in FY10 to pay salaries in the amount of $104,796, only some of which are authorized.  The tort fund also paid for carpet replacement for Room 154 (building not specified on Expenditure Report), sprinklers, fence, materials testing, and playground equipment at Mayo totaling $62,377.42.

SprinklersHouse Bill HB 3824 is designed to authorize the use of TORT tax revenue for the purchase, installation, and maintenance of sprinkler and other fire suppression systems. As of March 9, 2012, it had not been approved – meaning the use of TORT funds for these purchases in the past (and currently) is not an appropriate use of TORT funds. 

Carpet – Has never been an authorized expenditure from TORT tax funds. TORT can’t be used for asbestos abatement, what makes anyone think carpet is an authorized expenditure?

Fence – Has never been an authorized expenditure from TORT tax funds.

Playground – Doesn’t even come close…

Materials Testing – I assume this was for the playground at Mayo – not even close.

Salaries – There are some allowable salary payments from TORT. The general rule being that if the particular task would routinely be completed in their normal duties, TORT cannot be used

Excuses

When questioned on these expenditures, we get answers like “It was a safety issue”, or “the board approved it”, and the classic “our lawyer and accountant said it was OK.” It is not OK, and I believe the board is fully aware of that fact.

Risk Management Plan

In order to use TORT funds for salary expenses, you must first have a risk management plan, in advance of the levy, that spells out the specific risks and measures taken to minimize or eliminate those risks. Job descriptions must clearly detail the actions taken by the employee following the risk management plan. Cleaning the building, routine light switch and outlet replacement, snow and ice removal, supervise custodians, etc are considered ROUTINE tasks and should not be paid using TORT funds. There is case precedence for this from lawsuit brought against other school districts in Illinois.

Evading Tax Cap

Illinois law makes it illegal to use levied funds for any purpose other than its original purpose. General fund tax increases (over .5%) require voter approval, while TORT tax increases fall outside the cap on property tax increases and can be raised as any time. The law is specific on allowable expenditures from this fund.

Tightrope

District 95 is walking a tightrope on this one – Other Illinois school districts have already been taken to court by protesting taxpayers, and lost their cases resulting in a court order to refund the TORT tax money back to the taxpayers. A Google search of “Illinois Use of Tort Levy” yields a bevy of examples, including:

http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2005/10/01/court-sides-illinois-taxpayers-over-tort-tax

http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2000/12/01/illinois-supreme-court-rules-tort-tax-levied-illegally

Not the only culprits

District 95 is not alone in this and more articles are forthcoming. We do know the Edgar County Board is essentially doing the same things out of other levied special funds and we are looking into other local school districts also.

I suggest District 95, at a minimum, place the $62,377.42 back into the TORT fund or reduce next year’s tax by an equal amount.




“Per Diem” explanation.

“Per Diem” explanation.

After a short phone call from a conference attendee that stated they were authorized a per diem rate for every day they were in Chicago, I decided to look into this issue a little further. It was not my intention to berate anyone for acting within the laws or regulations that apply to a particular situation, but since I was questioned on those articles I will explain the costs associated with travel as part of public business. I have also requested a copy of the district’s policy on reimbursement for travel related expenses and will update this article after receipt of their policy.

This link lists the per diem rates I am referring to: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1542.pdf (Table 2, Page 5).

IRS per diem rates are inclusive of lodging (hotels) unless other wise indicated by M&IE (Meals and Incidental Expenses). The M&IE rate is used when lodging is not required (in this case the school district already paid for lodging).

We will use the rates listed on the Internal Revenue Service webpage that were effective during the time-frame of the conference. Go to Table 2 on page 5 of the above link and you will see that the Chicago area authorizes $242/day per diem (inclusive of lodging) or $65/day for M&IE. The M&IE are what the conference attendees were authorized payment for, since the school district paid for the lodging with its credit card. Keep in mind that M&IE rate listed is a FULL day at the work location.

For the first day (Nov 17) and last day (Nov 20), we will assume they were away from home for a half-day which computes to $32.50 for each of those two days. We could even go a step further and calculate based on which meal was reimbursed, but the $32.50 should average close enough for this purpose.

As you will see below Tom Davis and Sam exceeded the total allowance. Not shown is Tom Tuttle, who apparently was on a diet, because he came nowhere near the allowable M&IE reembursements. Thanks Tom T!                                  

Date

M&IE Allowed

Tom Davis

Connie

Sam

Nov 17 $32.50 $83.56 $69.00 $101.90
Nov 18 $65.00 $90.36 $68.85 $61.50
Nov 19 $65.00 $112.09 $35.07 $72.89
Nov 20 $32.50 $26.46 $13.56 $0
TOTAL Allowed: $195.00 $312.47 $186.48 (awaiting receipts) $236.29

 

 

 

 

 

Amount

OVER:

$117.47

 

$41.29

 

Mileage .555/mile $116.55 District Vehicle $101.01
Mileage .555/mile $116.55 District Vehicle $101.01
TOTAL   $233.10   $202.02

 I will publish another article on legal and illegal use of public credit (credit cards) when I finish calculating the totals.




WOW: $87 for one meal? A big shout-out to Sam and Dist 95 – Glad we could pay for that.

$87 for one meal? Thanks to Sam and Dist 95. Glad we could pay for that.

Wow! First off, I will extend an apology to Tom for insinuating that he wasn’t setting a good example. It turns out he was, because an employee of the district thought it prudent that the taxpayer foot the bill for an $87.00 meal, which includes a $13.50 tip. Maybe you taught him too good – at least you beat him on the claim for mileage reembursement (by about $30.00).

As you can see from the claim form below, Sam Roberts submitted a claim to the taxpayers for this meal, that I’m sure was just part of attending the conference (sarcasm intended). This is just another example of public officials, thinking it’s OK to spend other people’s money in this fashion. Would the school district even consider approving payments of this type for other employees that are out of town during meal time? I think we know the answer to that question. So what makes these people think they are “special”?

It is clear, by this claim form that other meals could be purchased for a fraction of the cost of this one. Why was it so important to “party down” on our money?

For the record, I have submitted a freedom of information request to the school district for the actual receipts of the items on these expense statements. I will update this post when they are received.

As taxpayers we should expect our employees to use our money wisely. A meal costing $87.00 is grossly inappropriate by any standard for a school district employee. If this is any indication of how our money is being spent we will have to keep a microscope on the expenses involve in construction of the new high school.

More to lavish meals to follow…




$80 for one meal? Thanks, Tom. Glad we could pay for that.

$80 for one meal? Thanks, Tom. Glad we could pay for that.

Below is just another example of people thinking the taxpayers owe them, and they are going to collect every damned penny. Thanks for sh**ting on every taxpayer in the district.

I know we just received a few million dollars from the state, but you don’t need to start chipping away at it by expecting to get reimbursed for lavish meals. You are the chairman of the school board and are supposed to be the one setting the example for others to follow. Is this what all of the employees of District 95 should expect, $80.00 meals?

As taxpayers we should expect you, of all people, to be mindful of the fact that during these worsening economic times and parents in District 95 that sometime don’t have $80 to spend on food for a whole week, you should not expect reimbursement for an $80.00 meal.

Oh, glad we could pay for the Tip also, I’m sure it warms the heart of all of us to know we could help.

 

 




District 95 @ Chicago Convention

 I believe it was the year 2000 that I began looking at District 95’s financial records. In addition to discovering that the district was financially in trouble, I also noticed that taxpayer money was illegally being spent on the Illinois School Board Convention held annually in Chicago during the month of November. While the administration was crying poverty, they were spending (by my standards) large sums of money to attend this conference. That would have been within their rights. HOWEVER, the taxpayers were also paying all of the expenses for their spouses and sometimes for their children to accompany them. It appeared to me to be a three day holiday in Chicago paid for by the taxpayers. After pointing this out to the administration for several years I contacted the State Board of Education. The practice of the district paying for family members stopped. I have reviewed the Convention expenses every year and have found them to be mostly in order.

 I thought that this year I could give examples of the proper way for elected officials to keep expense records. For the Convention held on November 17, 18, and 19, 2011, the cost to the district was $360.00 per person for registration. I believe there were 3 board members (Bailey, Davis, and Tuttle) and 5 school personnel who attended. The hotel costs, with taxes, were approximately $550.00 per room for all three nights. While I don’t believe any of the spouses of the school personnel went, with the exception of Sam Robert’s wife, all of the board members took their spouses and, in some cases, family members. The good part is that all of the expenses were itemized and the taxpayers paid absolutely NOTHING for the meals of family members. Since each board member traveled independently, family members could accompany them at no additional charge. The hotel rooms were paid for by the district, so the spouses could stay for nothing. I think that Mrs. Sutton, Mrs. Ogle, Mrs. Jones, and Mr. Meister all traveled together in the district’s van. Good job.

 I did notice that one room and several meals were charged to the district’s credit card for people who were not on the board or were district employees. The costs were later reimbursed to the district, but I question that practice.  Also, Tom Davis continues to turn in cab receipts with only the date and amount on them. I am thinking that the receipts should also include who went where. How do we know that his family didn’t take a cab to go shopping?

 Here are their expense sheets and receipts. I hope other government bodies do as well as District 95.

 Chuck




District 95 BoE meeting Dec 5, 2011

 The Distric 95 Board of Education meeting was held on Dec 5, 2011.

Video (thanks to the school district) is below Chuck’s comments.

 “At the December 5, 2011, meeting of the Paris District School Board I learned that nothing further had been done concerning consolidation. Tom Davis, speaking for the board, told me that consolidation would not be a cost saving move. That was something I could have told him months ago. It would, in fact, cost District 95 additional funds.

 In other business, several Mayo students gave a nice presentation about their trip to Rose Hulman. From their report, it seems as if they had a very good time and that the people at Rose were most welcoming. It is never too early to introduce students to opportunities they may have after high school. Good job, Mayo.”

Chuck

 

 




Joe Paterno: “I wish I had done more”

 

Let’s talk about mandatory reporting……and a recently famous case of keeping it “in-house”.

Here are some key points that people may not be aware of:

 

  1. Report shall be made immediately to the Department (DCFS).
  2. Reporter may also notify the person in charge of the institution or school. 1-800-25-ABUSE
  3. Under NO circumstance shall any person in charge exercise any control, restraint, modification or other change to the report or the forwarding of the report.
  4. All reports of suspected abuse or neglect shall be made immediately by telephone to the toll free number. 1-800-25-ABUSE
  5. A written confirmation of the telephonic report must be sent to the DCFS field office within 48 hours.
  6. School Board members are mandatory reporters: “If an allegation is raised to a board member during the course of an open or closed board meeting” [325 ILCS 5/4].
  7. Simply reporting suspicions to a superior does not satisfy the legal reporting requirements(See numbers 1 and 4 above). 

A useful FAQ on reporting is here:

http://www.state.il.us/dcfs/faq/faq_faq_can.shtml

“Mandated reporters who make good faith reports have the same immunity from liability under the law as non-mandated reporters. However, a mandated reporter’s failure to report suspected instances of child abuse or neglect to DCFS constitutes a Class A misdemeanor; simply reporting suspicions to a superior does not satisfy legal requirements.

Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1460&ChapterID=32

 

This should be a deterrent to those that would simply prefer to keep things “in-house”:

 How could they cover up the rape of children?

http://markamerica.com/2011/11/10/how-could-they-cover-up-the-rape-of-children/

More information onPennState:

“…I wish I had done more” (Joe Paterno)

http://www.galesburg.com/features/x363493262/Paterno-to-retire-at-end-of-season

 At least there is one person at Penn State with some common sense:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/penn-st-student-stands-up-to-angry-classmates-its-not-about-joe-paterno/

  




Dist 95 BoE Meeting 11-7-2011

 

At the November meeting of the District 95 School Board a summary of the audit was presented. The District received a clean report, and it has one of the highest financial ratings a school district can have.

 In other business, Mrs. Sutton reported that the money for the new high school still had not been released. Hopefully, it might be received sometime this month.

 Nothing was mentioned about consolidation. 

 Chuck

 

Keep checking their youtube channel – I’m sure they will post the meeting video there.

 

 

Dist 95 Audit Report 11-7-2011



Oct ’11 – School Board Meetings

During the month of October I attended several District 95 School Board meetings. So far, the district still has not received the money for the new high school from the State of Illinois. They were told it will arrive sometime this fall. As promised, the district has not spent any money on the new high school yet.

In other business, reports were given by the principals on how their schools did on the mandated tests. Apparently, Mayo Middle School and Paris Co-operative High School did not make the required scores.

It was interesting to hear the math and English department heads tell the PCHS board that it would be beneficial if they (the department heads) could meet with the math and English teachers at Mayo and Crestwood. I would think that this would have been one of the very first things a curriculum coordinator would have done years ago. We have paid someone $36,000 a year for several years to be curriculum coordinator. Since both Mayo and Crestwood send their students to the high school it would seem natural that all three schools should work closely together to produce the best product and perhaps pass some tests!

 After seeing how poorly some governing bodies provide information, I would again like to commend Connie Sutton, Evelyn Julian, and Anna Collier for their prompt and thorough handling of any requests for information. It is also great that they post a video of the District 95 School Board meetings on their web site.  Good work.

 Chuck

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The District 95 BoE videos are posted here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/parisil95

Again, thanks to District 95 for recording and posting videos of  BoE meetings.

Hopefully the PCHS and Dist 4 Boards of Education will follow suit…

John