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September 24, 2023

Lincoln Way District 210 – Home rental like none other.

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On February 25, 2016

Will Co. (ECWd) –

Lincoln Way School District 210 owns a home located at 21717 Gougar Rd, New Lenox Twp, IL 60433.  Below is the picture of the home.Rental homeOverheadshot

The person who rents this home is Dave Ernst.  He is currently the Head Football Coach for Lincoln Way West.  The point of this article is not necessarily about “who” is renting this home, but more about the process involved and how the Board of Education is placing taxpayers at risk.

To date, Mr. Ernst has paid $500 a month for 4 months and possibly one other rent payment that is claimed to have been part of an accounting error in the school kids activity fund.  A copy of the rent payments is below.   We still don’t know how long he has been living there, so not sure what the real monthly rent number is.

Things that the citizens should be concerned about are as follows.

  1. The Board of Education has never approved the rental of this property to Dave Ernst
  2. The school does not have any rental agreement with the renter.
  3. The school has not required the individual to provide proof of insurance nor does the school have a rider requirement for the renter living in D210 property.
  4. All indications from the Assessor information, $3695.12 in real estate tax is being paid by the district, when the renter is responsible and should have been sent the tax bill. Let me repeat: the District is under NO obligation to pay the real estate taxes in this property – the renter is.
  5. It appears the utility bills are being paid by the district although we have filed a FOIA to determine if those payments have been reimbursed by the renter.

All these matters point to a Board of Education that is failing the citizens, costing taxpayers money, and putting them at risk.

Failing the citizens – Public property that is used for private purposes brings numerous issues to the table. Who do you rent to?  How do you determine if such rent is the going rate.  Who pays the property tax.  What insurance concerns are there?   When the BOE failed to put this property up for bid they did the residents a disservice.  What if there were others willing to rent for more than the current rent payment?  How did Mr. Earnst find out about the availability of the property?  Was this an insider deal?   As if that is not enough, the BOE has no rental agreement nor any board minutes approving this rental.

Why is Mr Sawin listed as the VENDOR in the spread sheet for these rent payments?

Costing Taxpayers Money- District property is tax exempt up to the point where you rent/lease it out for private purpose.  At that point, Illinois law is very clear.  The lease holder is obligated to pay the property tax.   Yes, when you rent public property the person renting it is obligated to pay the property tax.  The Assessor is obligated to send the tax bill to the renter – not the school district. Since the tax bill was sent to D 210, we assume the school district paid the tax, which is using public funds in violation of law.   The same holds true for farm ground, which we will expose in another article.

Putting them at Risk –  Anyone with a lick of sense knows you don’t rent property to people without a rental agreement written to protect the owner, in this case D210, which is the taxpayers.  In the event the renter or any of his guests get hurt on the property, D210 could be on the hook for such injuries and damages.

Why has the Board of Education not established a rental agreement for this property  and why are the taxpayers paying the utility bills?  Since there is no rental agreement, is this not a taxable benefit that should show up on a W2 for Mr. Ernst?  Better yet, since it clearly is a benefit being provided by the District, was that part of the collective bargaining contract negotiations?  I doubt that very much.

When you look at the risks this BOE has placed on the citizens with the Day Care Center being under insured, renting property with no rental agreement, spending tax dollars to train dogs instead of kids,  it is clear these people MUST be voted out of office.

Lastly, look closely at all the rent payments for other operations utilizing school property found in the spread sheet below. It will be telling to see what those rent agreements look like, if they even have any.

Citizens of Lincoln Way School District 210, You had better wake up and take back your local government from those who have no clue what it means to represent the people.

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  • Parent
    Posted at 09:17h, 25 February

    Why are these administrators still employed? This and all the other exposed wrong doings needs to end. What recourse do we have?

  • Mike
    Posted at 09:26h, 25 February

    Maybe Assistant Superintendent of Business Mr. Ronald Sawin is making $500 monthly rent payments to Lincoln Way CHSD 210 on behalf of Social Studies Teacher / Head Football Coach David Ernst?

    What is the method of payment?


    Cash in an envelope?

  • parent
    Posted at 09:37h, 25 February In 2012 he earned $114000/YEAR. With taxes etc. that is at least $6000/month in take home pay…. and in a few years he will retire with an awesome pension.

  • parent2
    Posted at 09:44h, 25 February
  • Tom
    Posted at 10:00h, 25 February

    I’m all for exposing the board & LW district for unethical dealings, but some of what is claimed in this article is misleading. Being that I own numerous rentals; I speak from experience, the renter would normally NOT be responsible for property taxes (unless that was written into the lease). That being said, the fact that there is NO lease/rental agreement smacks of impropriety.

    In addition, the renter would not be responsible for purchasing homeowners insurance on the physical structure, nor could he being that he doesn’t OWN or have unsuitable interest in the home. There could be a requirement of the lease that he provide & maintain renters insurance primarily to provide additional liability coverage but a renters policy would only provide coverage for his personal effects he brought into the rental dwelling.

    I appreciate all the digging that is being done though so please don’t take this as a negative dig. It’s sad that it seems corruption & cronyism is rampant in Illinois politics – it’s simply more of the same. Thank God for the FOIA to shed light on all the shady activities for the tax paying people.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 14:39h, 25 February

      Tom: we will write a new article to explain your concerns. Look for it in the next few days.

    • Michelle Nelson
      Posted at 15:00h, 25 February

      But wouldn’t the cost if the taxes be figured into the rent…typically? Just curious…

  • G. Barraclough
    Posted at 10:52h, 25 February

    I propose a national FEEDING AT THE PUBLIC TROUGH DAY (September 8) or at the very least, the same designation for an Illinois holiday (August7).

    Hint: Those dates are the birthdays of and would honor two of the most prolific feeders, one national and one in Illinois.

    In his spare time, Bob Breuder could head up the committee to organize these holidays, much as he did a while back trying to snag $20 million of state tax money for one of his boondoggles at the College of DuPage.

  • G. Barraclough
    Posted at 10:57h, 25 February

    I propose a national FEEDING AT THE PUBLIC TROUGH DAY (September 8) or at the very least, the same designation for an Illinois holiday (August7).

    Hint: Those dates are the birthdays of and would honor two of the most prolific feeders, one national and one in Illinois.

    In his spare time, Bob Breuder could head up the committee to organize these holidays, much as he did a while back trying to snag $20 million of state tax money for one of his boondoggles at the College of DuPage.

  • CR
    Posted at 11:33h, 25 February

    Can you show where the district pays the utility bills for that house, please? I do not see that in the documents provided.

    The property was purchased in July of 2013, so any tax for 2013 would have been prorated.

    The tax amount that you show is for 2014 prior to a temporary rental, per the Will County Treasury site.

    According to the Will County Treasury site, the tax for 2015 (which is due in 2016) is ZERO.

    Currently it seems that a month to month temporary situation actually creates a profit for the district and having someone in the dilapidated house deters squatters from attempting to gain access.

    I’m confused on your statement on spending tax dollars to train dogs? There was a Tribune article that clearly stated that the FF Park District was reimbursing the district for the build out cost of the barn where the dog school is located and there is now a revenue sharing agreement between Frankfort PD and District 210. Can you elaborate on your statement, please?

    Thank you

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 14:41h, 25 February

      CR: We will address these comments In an upcoming article.

  • H.H.
    Posted at 13:11h, 25 February

    Before you go arguing about the school or the employee renting the house, you should do a little more research. The house and property (which West was built on) were donated to West with the only stipulation that the house which had been there for generations not to be destroyed. The school can do with it what it pleases, as long as the house stands. So if the board chooses to go about and allow a member of the faculty to stay there, then so be it, whatever the price may be.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 14:36h, 25 February

      H.H.: The school district paid well over $100,000.00 for that house. Where did you get your “donated house” from? The school does not have authority to lease it’s real estate for less than market value…whomever they may lease it to.

    • Parent
      Posted at 16:17h, 25 February

      If you go read the school board minutes, this home was bought, with taxpayer money, not donated.

  • LWVoice
    Posted at 14:00h, 25 February

    Condition of rental (Zillow can’t determine) should be considered when determining rent amount, and interesting how the article starts with it “not being about the person that lives there” – but reporter lists name and now comments are delving on tenants income not knowing what could be affecting take home pay. Let’s just focus on “some” of the facts though.

  • Kevin Chambers
    Posted at 16:02h, 25 February

    I’m interested in renting that home if it’s still available email me at [email protected] thanks.

  • Concerned Taxpayer
    Posted at 16:11h, 25 February

    The bottom line is–THIS IS A COMPLETE JOKE!! Why in the world would the district buy this property?? This “new” administration loves to play the dumb routine and claim they were “unaware” of things that were done under former superintendent Wyllie–BUT THEY CONTINUE TO DO THE SAME THING! This property was purchased in July 2013. Our current Superintendent of “Business” even said in a Mokena Patch article the district was approached by the family of the deceased owner to to buy the property. He also went on to say that they had not decided the fate of the building. What???!!! Why would you spend our tax dollars on this at a time when they ALL knew the district had financial problems–and they did not even know what they were going to use it for!!!
    There must be some connection to someone here….. Will they buy my house if I approach them?? These incompetent, unethical, lying, scums have to go. This means the entire school board, and all of the current administration. We are watching you and you cannot hide the shenanigans anymore.

  • Mick
    Posted at 16:49h, 25 February

    Bottom line–THIS IS A COMPLETE JOKE! This “new” administration loves to play the dumb routine, and claim that were “unaware” of the many things that were done under former Superintendent Wyllie, BUT THEY CONTINUE TO DO THE SAME QUESTIONABLE THINGS!!

    This property was purchased in 2013– with our tax dollars, at a time when they ALL knew the district was in financial trouble. Our current “Superintendent of Business” (that’s laughable), stated in a Mokena Patch article, that the district was approached by the deceased owners’ family to buy the property. He continued to say that they had not decided the fate of the building though. What??? Why would they spend $110,000 on a house that they did not even know what they were going to use it for?? Not a very smart “business” decision. So one would have to ask…..who made the decision?? I’m sure this was not just Sawin’s decision–Tingley had to know as well. Is there a connection to someone in admin, school board, foundation, etc.? If I approach the school district to buy my home–will they? Why does this football coach get a sweet rental deal?

    This entire school board and administration need to go! They have had the opportunity to clean up mistakes from the past, but they continue to play the same shenanigans. These people are incompetent, corrupt, and unethical!! How do you sleep at night? You are screwing things up for our kids, and the hardworking families in this district.

    We are watching you know……you will not continue to get away with it!

  • Tracy Ballin
    Posted at 18:03h, 26 February

    Wow I wish I could find a house to rent for $500.00 a month. But of course they make it hard for people who are on low income to find anything affordable!

  • LW Concerns
    Posted at 12:24h, 27 February

    Fact: the house was bought by LW for roughly $100k (it was not donated, and there is no formal agreement saying they can’t remove it)

    Fact: Mr. Ernst has been paying $500 a month to live there (as evidence by reimbursement checks)

    Fact: There is no lease, contract, or formal agreement (as evidence in Mr. Sawin’s FOIA response)

    Assumption: No utility bills are being reimbursed (no reimbursement checks paper trail)

    Assumption: Property tax is not being properly paid (no reimbursement checks paper trail). Law requires public property being used privately to pay property taxes.

    Conclusion: another higher oversight and liability by the LW administration.

    Interesting questions:
    1) is there alcohol in this house? A school employee under the influence of alcohol on school property? Sounds like a nice lawsuit.

    2) who determined a $500 rent? I couldn’t find a $500 rent in the LW boundaries if I tried.

    3) of Mr. Ernst is fired for any reason, would he still live in the house?

    4) where are the board minutes authorizing this rental?

    5) is Mr. Ernst using the schools wifi, Internet, phone, or cable? If so, the school could be in violation of eRate rules, and would forfeit their rebates, worth millions of dollars (read up on eRate, good stuff, a million rules, and providing the service privately is a big violation)

    6) if by chance property tax and utilities are factored into his monthly payment, then how low is the real rental price? Utilities have to be at least $100 a month.

  • Mick
    Posted at 13:37h, 27 February

    The entire Administration and BOE are in over their heads. It is obvious they do not know what they are doing, but continue to pretend that they do.

    When are their contracts are up? It is time to clean house!!