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July 24, 2024

Lincoln-Way School District 210 – The drip no one noticed

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On December 23, 2015

Will C0. (ECWd) –
Most people pay attention to their monthly bills and are able to identify unusual charges.  It’s called being responsible.  Sadly, the Administration of District 210 School District known as Lincoln-Way has not only failed in the performance of their duties, many could make the argument their actions were so reckless it borders on Official Misconduct.
Administrators are tasked with the day to day management of the school.  The elected School Board is tasked with holding the Administration accountable in the performance of those duties.  In this case we have a compounding failure of both entities to a level they should resign immediately.
How hard is it to take care of a monthly water bill?  Most of us do this on a routine basis and we know when the bill spikes there more than likely is either a leak or a faulty meter.
Before diving into the details, understand that Official Misconduct is is the criminal statute created to hold a public officer or employee accountable.

Sec. 33-3. Official misconduct.
(a) A public officer or employee or special government agent commits misconduct when, in his official capacity or capacity as a special government agent, he or she commits any of the following acts:
(1) Intentionally or recklessly fails to perform any mandatory duty as required by law;

Ronald Sawin, Lincoln-Way’s assistant superintendent of business, said he noticed a “spike” in water bills in June 2014, though the water usage started climbing in 2011 and went unnoticed according to reports from Lincoln-Way Area Taxpayers Unite, a local watchdog group exposing malfeasance at the school.
Water bills for Lincoln-Way East were $43,154, Lincoln-Way North were $24,997, and Lincoln-Way West totaled $42,095 from July 2014 to June 2015.
Superintendent Tingly and Assistant Superintendent Sawin did not  address the problem and repair a leak causing the water usage until one year later resulting in $227,519.00 in water bills for Central alone during that same time frame.
It doesn’t take a 5th grade math student to look at the numbers and understand there is a problem.  (Water bill comparison). 

After looking at the graph below simply ask yourself, is not identifying a problem that lead to this kind of financial loss of taxpayer money a reckless failure to perform their duty?

The sad part of this, Assistant Superintendent Sawin stated; “I wish we caught it earlier”,  during a public hearing on the budget September 9th after a community member in the audience questioned him on the large water bills and lack of action to resolve them, despite acknowledging the problem for a full year.
Considering a member of the community was able to see the problem,  we can only wonder why hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries, tasked with the over site of these matters,  failed to act.
We were told an internal maintenance staff eventually repaired the leak with a $73 part, however, Assistant Superintendent Sawin has stated at a recent public hearing there was an underground leak causing the problem.  Unfortunately, there do not appear to be any permits, work orders, or invoices available to document that Lincoln-Way repaired an underground leak.   Additional FOIA’s are being issued to get to the truth of this matter.  It will be quite telling if the claim was nothing more than a way to minimize embarrassment for failing the taxpayers.
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cracked pipe

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  • Janey
    Posted at 15:24h, 23 December Reply

    How does this man still have a job? Seems like he has no clue what he is doing.

  • Dave
    Posted at 16:20h, 23 December Reply

    An educated idiot! Its easy to spend money when it doesn’t come out of your pocket….

  • Outraged Parent
    Posted at 16:24h, 23 December Reply

    Not a plumber, but is this crack responsible for a water bill of this magnitude!? Is that what they are trying to say!? Let’s calculate how many gallons of water Central was billed. How many olympic size swimming pools can the much water fill… More then a few! Yet no ground was turned or water pooled anywhere. Seems more then fishy to me.
    There are so many wrong doings that this administration and BOE has done but NOT one has been held accountable. How are these people untouchable and still allowed to drive our district to the ground!? Why are we closing a school that is state of the art when we have one that will remain open and is leaking water.

    • Kirk Allen
      Posted at 17:55h, 23 December Reply

      We have been told yes, that was the crack causing about 26 gallons a minute to leak which is over a million gallons a month.

      • Watchdogwatcher
        Posted at 21:50h, 23 December Reply

        26 Gallons a Min? Where did all that water go? Seems kinda far fetched to me…but then again…it is ECWD.

        • District Citizen
          Posted at 14:02h, 26 December Reply

          Watchdogwatcher, you missed the point. The district told the taxpayers that this crack was the cause of the leak at Central HS. No pool of water was ever found, no sound of rushing water was ever heard, no depression in the ground, or damage of any kind was found. The district insists that this crack was the reason they had these outrageous water bills. Just like you, no one believes it.

  • Stacy
    Posted at 16:31h, 23 December Reply

    Mr Sawin might have let the water slip, which yes I’d a lot. But have any of you dealt with Mr Sawin?
    We had some family issues and Mr Sawin was amazing with helping us.
    My son was going through a devastating time and thanks to Mr Sawin, it really helped ease his stress.
    Our family is one of thousands in the school. As wonderful as he was to us, I am sure a lot of his time was spent helping other students.

    • Kirk Allen
      Posted at 17:56h, 23 December Reply

      Then make him a counselor not an Administrator!

    • Alan
      Posted at 06:51h, 24 December Reply

      That’s wonderful….if he did his job first. You are correct. There are thousands of students in the Lincoln-Way schools, and his incompetence is contributing to the pain and stress that many of them are feeling now. I am happy that your son is now stress free. That’s ONE…Only about 3,000 more to go.

    • Resident
      Posted at 18:37h, 24 December Reply

      nice that he helped your son but he apparently can’t do his job. He should be terminated!

  • Chris M. Gaines
    Posted at 18:38h, 23 December Reply

    Wow…that’s quite a water leak to say the least. Now Illinois Leaks is reporting on it, how ironic. Where did all the water go…millions of gallons leaked out supposedly? Was there evidence of that? Why wasn’t it noticed sooner? Just curious.

    • Alan
      Posted at 07:46h, 24 December Reply

      The only thing that leaked were the $$$. Where did that money go? Interesting that the only utility that is billed by a municipality is water. Mmmm…New Lenox….and your 60 year old school stays open at the expense of an 8 year old state of the art facility. Just sayin’.

  • Jim
    Posted at 18:52h, 23 December Reply

    Sounds like a nice guy…we are talking about $200,000 more for a water bill then north in a year’s time …that’s over $16,000 more a month …glad to hear he helped you out but at no point he went wait a minute something’s wrong …unreal …

  • Mike
    Posted at 20:25h, 24 December Reply

    First of all, I am a mechanical commercial contractor, and find this amazing. There is no way that pipe leaked that much water. That is an 1 1/4 ” line with a flow rate 23 gpm wide open. 23 x60= 1380 gallons per hour hour. 33,120 gallons per day. 993,600per month. That is almost the equivalent of a water tower a month, with no damage, or sink hole. Impossible. The average water is 1 million, to 1.5 million gallons of water. So this leaked an no one noticed for 5 years. I know plenty of people who have gotten rich off Lincoln way schools, while stealing tax payer money.

    • Kirk Allen
      Posted at 07:21h, 25 December Reply

      Mike, as a nationally recognized tactical fire ground hydraulics instructor it appears you have forgotten one of the most basic issues with water flow, which is pressure. What pressure are you using to determine the numbers you represent? An 1 1/4″ orifice flows 325gpm at 50 psi pressure. You claim 23, thus you must be at next to no pressure.
      The reason there was no sink hole is because the water was leaking down a drain from what we were told

      • Heard the lies
        Posted at 23:24h, 26 December Reply

        Actually at the Budget hearing (September 9th I think), sawin was asked specifically where did all the water go, did it go into a sewer or the ground? He responded, the ground. It went into the ground.

      • Wil
        Posted at 19:21h, 27 December Reply

        One question
        How could this plastic elbow even be buried in the ground. I’m not a plumber but I do know that underground water lines by code have to be sealed and you can clearly see marks from a house clamp on the right side of the connection. This looks like something someone pulled off their sump pump.

    • Kirk Allen
      Posted at 07:24h, 25 December Reply

      If you know of crimes committed please provide us the information so we can expose it. You should also file a police report if you know people are stealing from the school. Action by those who know is the only way to fix the mess this state is in.

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