Saturday, January 31, 2009

McHenry County Promises Two Years of Free College to all of its local High School Graduates—Why Can’t We?

Please click on the articles below about McHenry County College’s Promise Program.  Beginning Fall 2009 the college will grant nearly free college for the exchange of 16 volunteer hours per semester.



Why can’t Rock Valley College have such a program?  In the case of McHenry Country College three large donors contributed most of the initial $3.5 million scholarship fund.  Why can’t the large developers (such as Sunil Puri), bankers (such as Robert Funderberg), industrialists (such as John Anderson) get together and get such a program started.  I am not asking these three specific gentlemen,  but rather all those with substantial means. Invest in our young adults, invest in our future.  Perhaps not a program as large and generous as McHenry’s but something to help.

This free college for local high school graduates is not a new idea; not one just for isolated areas.  Oakton Community College as well as some community college in Michigan have such programs.  Twenty or thirty years back, California’s Community Colleges were so low as to be considered nearly free.  When I attended junior college in the Quad Cities in the late 1960’s tuition was $5.50 per credit hour with few if any additional fees.  Today Rock Valley College is $66.00 per hour with quite a few add-on fees to keep it that low.  In 1966 when I started college the minimium wage was $1.15 per hour.  If today’s minimium wages had kept pace with the tuition rates, the minimium wage would have to be $13.80 per hour. Oh yes, I believe Rock Valley is considering an increase in tuition.

To share information, email us at District100Watchdog.

Friday, January 30, 2009

District 100 wants $38.4 million in stimulus money

Well here is the District’s wish list:District 100 shovel ready

It is interesting to note that there is no swimming pool and that the size of the additions to the middle schools has grown from $23 million in 2008’s backdoor referendum to $33 million in the stimulus program.

To share information, email us at District100Watchdog.

National Recession Spurs Job Losses in Local Areas—Belvidere City 17.9%

Click on the pictures below for official jobless rates for December from the Illinois Department of Employment Security.  The chart on page  2 shows Belvidere City is the highest in the area with 17.9%,  this was in part due to the Chrysler holiday shut-down.   Don’t expect Belvidere’s number to improve until February when the returning Chrysler workers and suppliers are working again.

Dec Unemployment page 1 Dec Unemployment page 2

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

NewYork Times: Stimulus Plan Would Provide Flood of Aid to Education

See this article by Sam Dillion in the New York Times as to the scale of the Stimulus Plan to education. 

WASHINGTON — The economic stimulus plan that Congress has scheduled for a vote on Wednesday would shower the nation’s school districts, child care centers and university campuses with $150 billion in new federal spending, a vast two-year investment that would more than double the Department of Education’s current budget.

Click here for the rest of the article:

Board of Education Briefs of 1-20-2008 reprinted below

The Board of Education for Belvidere School District #100 held its monthly meeting on
Tuesday, January 20, 2009. The following are highlights of some of the agenda items
discussed at that meeting. Textbooks for Middle and High School Students Approved
The purchase of social studies textbooks for middle school students (grades 7 and 8), as well as mathematics textbooks for high school students (pre-calculus, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Discovering Geometry), were approved. The purchase of these textbooks will be paid for by the Illinois Textbook Loan Program. Public Hearing Regarding the Sale of Health/Life/Safety Bonds As required by the Bond Issue Notification Act (BINA) of the State of Illinois, a hearing took place regarding the District’s intent to sell $3,210,000 in school fire prevention and safety bonds. Funds received from the sale of these bonds will be used for the following updates/repairs: Windows at Kishwaukee and Washington elementary schools, HVAC at Washington elementary and the District office, carpeting at Meehan, and roof repairs at Belvidere High School. The Board will take formal action on this matter at its meeting on February 17. If passed, the impact of the bond sale on the
taxpayer will be $11.62 per year on a $100,000 home.
Note: The District has submitted $38 million of “shovel ready” projects for consideration under the Obama stimulus package, including the health/life/safety work above. If approved, the District will immediately pay off the bonds and use stimulus funds to pay for the upgrades/repairs.
Parent Handbook for 2009-2010 School Year Presented Board members were presented with, and unanimously approved, the parent handbook for the 2009- 2010 school year. Each family will receive one copy of the handbook as part of a registration packet,
and will be required to sign and return documentation acknowledging receipt of the handbook. Lacrosse to be Offered Beginning Spring, 2009 The sport of lacrosse will be offered to all students in grades 9 through 12 beginning this spring. Students from both high schools will join to form a single team and will play a 6-game schedule. A
second clinic for interested students will be held Sunday, January 25 at North High School from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. This new offering is possible because of the generosity of Mr. Rob Funderburg. Mr. Funderburg is donating the funds necessary to start up a lacrosse program, including uniforms and equipment.Resolution to Report Flex Plan Monies as EarningsAs part of its benefit package, the Board of Education approved the adoption of a resolution allowing the District to report compensation paid to eligible employees under its flex plan as earnings to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. The purpose of the resolution was to bring the District’s reporting policy into compliance with state requirements.Approval of Bid for Windows at Washington ElementaryIn anticipation of the sale of school fire prevention and safety bonds, the Board approved the bids for windows at Washington Elementary School and awarded the contract to the lowest responsible bidder. A contract with Rock Valley Glass in the amount of $479,700, and alternate bid S for $65,630 was approved.Acknowledgement of DonationsPresident Van Evera acknowledged, with gratitude, the following donations:$100 from Belvidere United Methodist Women’s Group to Kishwaukee Elementary School for warm clothing;$100 from the Belvidere Area Board of Realtors to the Belvidere North High School Music Department;$150 from the Poplar Grove Lions Club to the Belvidere North High School Music Department;$161 from National City Bank to the Belvidere North High School Music Department; $350 from Dr. Mark Grove to the Belvidere North Boys & Girls Cross Country Teams; andFrench Horn (valued at $1,700) from Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Dewan to the Belvidere North High School Music Department.District Policy RevisionsAs part of its on-going review of the District policy book, last evening the Board approved recommended changes to policies contained in section 2 as well as policy 6:160. Policies from section 3 were presented for first reading, and will appear on the February 17 agenda for second reading and approval.For a list of specific section titles, please refer to the agenda for the January 20 meeting posted on the District’s website, following the “About Us” and “Board of Education” links.
Board of Education: Richard Van Evera, President Doug Smiley, Vice President Julia Norem, Secretary John Powell, Member Mike Rathbun, Member Ron Ramos, Member Ted Stenerson, Member
Board of Education: Richard Van Evera, President Doug Smiley, Vice President Julia Norem, Secretary John Powell, Member Mike Rathbun, Member Ron Ramos, Member Ted Stenerson, MemberCurrent Financial Information ReportedFund balances as of December 31, 2008, as well as a quarterly investment report, were provided as informational items. Copies of these documents can be viewed by following the “About Us” and “Board of Education” links on the District website.District Names New Director of Business ServicesThe Board of Education unanimously approved the appointment of Greg Brown as its Director of Business Services effective February 1. Mr. Brown, a CPA by trade, has worked with Coopers & Lybrand, was the Director of Financial Services at Stein & Company, and is currently the President and Chief Financial Officer of DareCloud Development in Belvidere. Greg will serve as the Director of Business Services until July 1, at which time he will assume the position currently held by James Metz. Mr. Metz will retire from the District June 30.For additional information regarding Mr. Brown, please visit the District’s website.

I have requested a copy of the $38 million stimulus projects from District 100 Central Office (see the bold printing which I did above)and should be posting them shortly.  BILL

Teachers’ Salaries

Someone just asked me for the site that gives salaries of teachers  and administrators for various districts in Illinois  That site is

Remember that the most recent numbers are for the 2006-2007 school year.  It does not include benefits, which in the case of top administrators could be very sizeable.  Because of the benefit difference it is sometimes questionable to compare two different school districts.

To share information, email us at District100Watchdog.

Not as Good as I Hoped—only four newcomers against the six incumbents—but it is a start.

The following is Kevin Haas’ article on the candidates for District 100 School Board.  It is obvious that there will not be a major leadership change as at least  two of District 100’s big three—Mrs. Norem, Mr. Van Evera and Mr. Smiley—will maintain their seats. They along with Mr. Stenerson gives the old pack a minimum of three of the seven seats.  But there is hope--new faces may ask questions and regain some of the people’s faith and trust.



Six seats up for grabs on Belvidere School Board


By Kevin Haas


Posted Jan 26, 2009 @ 09:30 PM

Last update Jan 26, 2009 @ 11:48 PM


Six of the seven Belvidere School Board seats are up for grabs in April with challengers at every post, and the potential for four new members.
All six incumbent board members up for re-election filed petitions by Monday’s deadline. Ted Stenerson, the board's seventh member, is serving a term that won't expire until 2011.
Board President Dick Van Evera, Vice President Doug Smiley and board secretary Julia Norem will be challenged by Cristina Gloria for a four-year term. Voters will choose three of the four, Pam Wallace, the district’s executive secretary, said.
Gloria is a child-welfare specialist for the Department of Children and Family Services. She is the former vice president of ALERTA, Boone County’s Hispanic advocacy group. She has four children, including two graduates of Belvidere High School and two current students there.
Voters also will choose between Darrell Fox and incumbent Ron Ramos for another four-year term. Fox, who lives in unincorporated Caledonia, is a corporate accounting manager for Bally Total Fitness. He has one son, a sixth-grader at Belvidere Central Middle School.
Ramos was appointed to the board in November after Larry Cunningham resigned. He is a global data controller for HRG Worldwide, an international corporate travel-services company. He also co-owns, a Web site that dedicates coverage to local athletes, including those from District 100. He has two children in the district.
Incumbent Mike Rathbun and Lisa Hathaway will vie for a two-year term. Rathbun of Poplar Grove was appointed in February to replace Greg Wilhelm. Rathbun is associate director of the Discovery Center, and helps run the center’s after-school programs. Hathaway, a middle-school teacher in Rockford for 23 years, has two children in the district, ages 14 and 6.
In a separate race for a two-year term, voters will choose between incumbent John Powell  and Bill Pysson. Powell is a social studies teacher at Lake Park High School in Roselle. He has two children, ages 5 and 3.
Pysson, a substitute teacher in Woodstock, is the father of two Belvidere High School graduates.

Staff writer Kevin Haas can be reached at or 815-544-3452.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Well it is official—I am a candidate for District 100 School Board

Tomorrow (January  27, 2009) Rockford Register Star will announce that every position for School Board is being challenged.  I feel so very happy.  For the first time in many years voters are being given choices.  I thank all the challengers.  And ask that you considered myself and the other new faces for this important position.  Do remember that there is no monetary payment for these position so everyone who is running is offering to donate a whole bunch of time.

Here is a pamphlet regarding my candidacy.  You can enlarge it by clicking on it.  Click on the small envelope at the bottom of this posting to email this to your friends.  Check again in a few days and a color version of this ad and a small poster will be available.


Bill Black and white

Will District 100 be asking for a hike in the Education Fund soon? Can the district survive without an increase in the education fund?

The economy is terrible.  There is another wrinkle to that economic issue.  District 100 is under tax caps and can only receive tax revenue on property currently on the books at the rate of inflation. New property placed on the rolls during the year are not subject to the cap calculation and thus in past years education fund taxes have increased beyond that inflation rate.   Well it time now to look at the new reality, the budget for school year 2009-2010 is currently being made.

The inflation cap for 2009 taxes (those collected in June/August 2010) has not been officially announced by the Illinois Revenue Department. However the Consumer Price Index which is used for the state’s calculation is only 0.1%. (As compared to the 4.1% for 2008 taxes) In addition, there is very little new construction. So the District 100 should be thinking about a nearly zero increase in tax revenues from the education fund tax.  Can District 100 operate without large operating deficits?  Can the District count on the State to increase state aid to help hold down deficits?  And what about the Teachers’ Contract?  The contract ends this school year. The Teachers’ Union and Board of Education are negotiating currently.  Salaries are over 80% of the operating budget. Can salary increases be limited to match projected  revenues?

To share information, email us at District100Watchdog.

Friday, January 23, 2009

U.S. House of Representatives Stimulus Package Proposal gives $8.8 billion of $198 billion to Illinois.

Illinois received approximately 3.9% of the total.  Take a look at the various programs that are being proposed for Illinois’ share.

If you wish other details or more recent events regarding the stimulus see:


The December 2008 Consumer Price Index is out.  If there are no changes to the law, Illinois Department of Revenue should be announcing 0.1% as the tax cap for 2009 taxes (those paid in 2010).  If local government and schools are having a difficult time meeting rising costs, just wait to they need to budget for FY 2010, when real estate taxes are capped at nearly zero and property assessments maybe falling.

I thank Cal Skinner and his blog: for the graphics.



Thursday, January 22, 2009

Register Star Article on the new Business Manager at District 100—Is there something new there?

Below is the article appearing in today’s Register Star regarding Mr. Brown’s appointment as the eventual business manager for the District.  It also reveals that Mr. Metz will continue to work for the District for 600 hours next school year. I added bold type regarding that item. I will try to find out how much that is going to cost us.


Belvidere School Board hires new finance chief
By Kevin Haas
Posted Jan 21, 2009 @ 08:41 PM

Belvidere school officials hired a new director of business services Tuesday. Greg Brown will take over as the district’s chief financial consultant this summer.

On Tuesday, the Board of Education unanimously approved hiring Brown, a certified public accountant, at its regular board meeting. He’ll begin as the district’s director of business services Feb. 2, and serve in that role until July 1, when he’ll take over for Jim Metz, the district’s current chief financial consultant.

Metz supervises the management of all of the district’s financial affairs. He is set to retire from full-time work June 30, but will remain with the district part time after Brown takes over, working about 600 hours a year, Superintendent Michael Houselog said.

The district’s previous director of business services, John Larkin, retired about two years ago, Houselog said.

The director of business services assists with budget recommendations, maintains records, assists with internal auditing of school accounts, prepares financial reports and contacts vendors for equipment and supplies, among other duties.

Brown is the president and chief financial officer of DareCloud Development in Belvidere. He worked as a CPA with Coopers & Lybrand, and was director of financial services at Stein & Co.

He graduated with honors in accounting from Illinois State University, district officials said.

Brown also is a board member for the Boone County Community Foundation and BioVantage Fuels LLC. He is the president of the School District’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, and chairman of the Alpine Bank and Trust loan committee, according to the district.

Brown also has served as vice president and chairman of the Boone County Council on Aging’s Finance Committee, was chairman of Growth Dimensions Ag Tech Initiative, vice president of fundraising for the Rock River Valley Food Pantry, and chairman of Alpine Bank’s Audit Committee.

He has spent countless hours volunteering to the district and is co-chairman of the technology portion of the district’s strategic plan, officials said in a news release.

“Having a long history with the district, and with Jim’s retirement, it seemed like an opportunity to get in there and be really hands on with a day-to-day role, rather than as a volunteer,” Brown said.

Brown and his wife, Joyce, have two children who attend Belvidere North High School.

Staff writer Kevin Haas can be reached at 815-544-3452 or

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Should Local Government Follow the White House?


See this breaking news:



If President Obama froze the salaries of all White House employees making over $100,000, do you think our local governments and school districts should follow the lead of the President?

What is the Economic Stimulus Package

The fight is on—everyone has an idea how to get things going again in this country.  How can we possibly keep up. One source that is keeping track of the raw proposals is:

When you get a chance take a look.  For history buffs we may be doing an reenactment/update of FDR’s First Hundred Days.  It will be difficult to hear, see or know what is being proposed, passed and really implemented.  Good Luck.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Darecloud Executive and Alpine Bank Director becomes new business manager for District 100

At this evening’s board meeting Greg Brown was hired as the new Director of Business Services. Employment to begin February 2, 2009 See the full announcement at:

Friday, January 16, 2009

District 100 Pay Scale


I  think everyone should know what Belvidere School District 100 pays its teachers.  I leave it up to you to evaluate whether it is too low, too high or whatever.  My own personal approach is that a good teacher is seldom paid too much but there are some teachers (and administrators) who are not good.  Click to enlarge and see full pay scale.

image Remember in your evaluation, that there also is an approximately  10% Teachers’ Retirement Deduction which the school district is paying for the teachers above and beyond this salary scale  This is not true at some other school districts.  If you work for a private employer, it would be as if your employer paid all of your social security deductions..

To share information, email address us at District100Watchdog.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

2005: Belvidere District 100 Keeps a Little Secret from Us—it could not really borrow the entire $62.5 million for the high schools.

When taxpayers approved the new high school and old high school remodeling, the District could not really borrow the $62.5 million  like a traditional borrower.  The administration and the board of education never made this known to the public during the referendum.  I guess we all should have read District 100 financials and figure it out.

If you were that smart, you would have seen that the District’s total legal debt limit was $89,088,989 as of June 30, 2004 and its outstanding debt was $47,961,282?  By that calculation District 100 could borrow only $41,127,707 (Sources of debt information:  District 100, June 30, 2004 CPA audit, p.43.)

A district can go over the debt limit if two conditions are met.  1. In a referendum, a majority of the voters grant the authority to exceed the debt limit.  2. And the district petitions the state and is granted permission.   But that is not what the District 100 did.

For there also is a trick, a secret which you don’t have to tell taxpayers about.  The debt limit pertains only to the amount of “principal” you borrow.  If you borrow at above market interest rates and receive “premiums” for high interest rates, that is not counted in the debt limit.

North Boone District 200 told voters in its 2006 referendum about its debt limit and that normal amortizing bonds would not be used. In 2005 District 100 hid these facts as best as it could. Few people knew that the legal limit was at issue. District 100 borrowed only $47,210,297 in principal (just within its 2005 legal limits) from the bond market. The bond broker gave the district an additional “premium” of $15,943,882 because $17,210,297 of that debt was considerably above market rate, namely 9.0%.   Neither the voters’ nor the state’s approval was requested and no one was the wiser.  Oh yes, it is all legal. 

Remember now, you cannot complain about this because: 1.  You did not catch it in time to make it an issue in the referendum 2. It is “legal” just like a back door referendum 3. Real estates values have skyrocketed so the District’s limit is way above this number. As of June 30, 2006 the district had an “available” debt limit (legal debt limit minus outstanding debt) of  $21 million dollars.  As of June 30. 2007 it was $39 million and as of June 30, 2008 it $56 million.  We should remember our lesson. When growth returns question debt limits on any building referendum.

To share information, email us at District100Watchdog.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lacrosse, Any One?

Here is an update from the Rockford Register Star, 1-21-2009 regarding Belvidere’s Lacross Program. See which is copied below:

By Kevin Haas

RRSTAR.COM Posted Jan 21, 2009 @ 08:30 PM Last update Jan 21, 2009 @ 09:26 PM


Belvidere public schools are the first in the area to make lacrosse a high school sport.
On Tuesday, the Belvidere School District Board of Education approved adding the sport this spring.“I think it will be interesting to be the first high school out for lacrosse,” said Mike Jacobi, 18, a senior at Belvidere High School. “It seems like there are a lot of kids that are ready to go.”
One coed team made up of ninth- through 12th-graders from Belvidere North and Belvidere high schools will play the inaugural six-game season this spring.
School officials have not decided where the sport will head from there, but ultimately hope to offer lacrosse at each high school for both boys and girls, Superintendent Michael Houselog said.
The cost of adding the sport was defrayed by a donation to the district from businessman Rob Funderburg. He’ll supply jerseys and equipment, saving the district around $16,000, Houselog said. The district will pay one head coach $3,593 and an assistant coach $2,515 for the inaugural season.
There are more than 60 schools statewide that offer lacrosse, 60 boys teams and 43 girls teams, according to the IHSA list of registered programs. Lacrosse is considered an emerging sport by the IHSA, which means it does not have an end-of-year state series.
Belvidere will likely face opponents from the Chicago suburban area this year, said Byron Houy, athletic director for Belvidere High School.
The district had more than 60 students participate in a lacrosse clinic Nov. 22. A second clinic is planned for Sunday. Officials expect the new sport to get a lot of interest, Houy said. Jacobi said he was excited to be reunited with classmates from Belvidere North for the one team between the two schools. “We used to be one school, so why not put them together one last time,” Jacobi said. “We’re both new at (it), so it should be fun. Especially for the seniors because we get to see all our friends from over there one last time.”
Staff writer Kevin Haas can be reached at 815-544-3452 or

Comments (2)

How much for busing, how much for the field, how much for all the hidden cost? We are broke from building new schools with all the ball diamonds and play ground equipment included. Why cant we do light dist. 200, they do not get diamonds or play ground equipment as cost to taxpayers, they use pta and other fund raising to aquire them.


2 days ago Report Abuse

Regardless of the donation received to start this, I find it interesting that a new sport is being added when not too long ago, the school board was threatening to take away all sports if they did not get their way.

 This is from the District 100, School Board, packet for the meeting on Tuesday, January 20, 2009. I believe that the board’s action will provide for two part-time positions for the sport starting this Spring.  Click the document below to see more details.


LaCross 2

If you have some more interest about Lacrosse here in Illinois take a look at this article from the McHenry County Sports.Com:

SUNDAY SPECIAL: Lacrosse popularity spreading across the Midwest

When Phil Ryan was growing up on Long Island, it was either baseball or lacrosse when it came to spring sports.
"We didn't know growing up that lacrosse wasn't played everywhere," said Ryan, vice president of the Chicago Shamrox professional indoor lacrosse team. "It wasn't until I started getting recruited for college that I noticed that."
Lacrosse traditionally is known as an East Coast sport, but its popularity is exploding across the Midwest, much like soccer did more than 20 years ago.
When Ryan came to Illinois after playing lacrosse in college in Maryland 16 years ago, there were only eight high schools that had lacrosse as a club sport.
Now, 49 schools offer boys lacrosse and 37 offer girls lacrosse as an emerging IHSA sport, with dozens of others on that same path, including some in and around McHenry County.
"All of a sudden five years ago we started seeing a rapid increase," said Ryan, who also is part-owner of Lacrosse America, an organization that hosts youth clinics and leagues. "We've doubled the amount of kids that are out. It's steamrolled into tons of schools jumping on and offering youth programs."
It's already here
Among Fox Valley Conference schools, only Grayslake Central's boys team has filed for emerging sport status. But a Crystal Lake team consisting of players from Central and South, and teams from Cary-Grove and Prairie Ridge, have formed in the past two years, operating as club sports.
At C-G, a group of 17 boys approached New York state transplant Brendan Gorman about starting a program. By the end of the summer, Gorman was coaching 42 players. Now, there are 89 in the program.
"The kids are so enthusiastic about it," Gorman said. "There is a strong group of athletes around here, which is nice. They're great athletes and they want to pick up the sport. I've never seen anything like it. It's amazing how far they have come in less than a year."
The three teams operate in the eight-team Northwest Suburban Lacrosse League, filled with other teams that have yet to apply for emerging sport status, so there is a competitive league in place if that eventually takes place.
"This will satisfy us for this year," Crystal Lake coach Jim Sisto said. "Next year, I would like the players to get recognized by the school and get varsity letters like the hockey [club] team does. We're going to push really hard and work on getting that."
Crystal Lake Central principal Steve Olson is keeping track of interest at the four District 155 schools. Because the clubs were started so recently and interest is increasing quickly, lacrosse might become an option in the near future at all of the district schools.
"Never say never," Olson said. "It's just one of those things as we grow and interest increases, that's something I could see taking place. We look at how to best meet the needs of kids. There have been some conversations."
Lacrosse and the IHSA
The programs that are recognized by the IHSA as an emerging sport are members of the Illinois High School Lacrosse Association. According to the IHSA, that means the IHSA "tracks participation in interscholastic sports that are sponsored by IHSA member schools, but in which the IHSA does not conduct a state series."
In addition to lacrosse, sports such as ice hockey, rowing, rugby, competitive dance, competitive drill team, competitive pompons and field hockey also have been granted emerging sport status. Schools that sign off on the measure are not required to provide funds, just to make sure IHSA guidelines are followed.
The IHSLA runs its league to IHSA standards with the hope that eventually it will be able to make an easy transition to becoming an IHSA-sanctioned sport, complete with a state playoff series. That is why it only allows teams that apply for emerging sport status to participate in its league.
"The state needs to see a certain level of participation before they'll take over the administration of the sport," said Josh Cole of the Chicago Machine outdoor lacrosse team. Cole also is an experienced high school coach. "It gives the IHSA an idea of how many teams are participating. It's a certificate of authenticity, so to speak."
New Trier has been at the forefront of the IHSA movement. On Jan. 10, New Trier athletic director Jim Bloch and others from the IHSLA gave a presentation to the IHSA board, citing 49 schools fielding boys lacrosse teams and 37 fielding girls lacrosse programs. That is not including schools that currently operate as club teams.
"It's a matter of numbers and wanting to get the numbers up across the board," New Trier assistant athletic director Paul Moretta said. "The IHSA is looking for between 70 and 80 schools that offer either boys or girls lacrosse, about 10 percent of their membership. That's kind of their general demarcation."
Other obstacles to overcome if it becomes an IHSA-sanctioned sport are increased money needed for coaches and extra field space needed for practice and games. Schools do have the option of forcing kids who want to play the sport to pay their own way.
"It's about economics," Moretta said. "It's hard to find the resources and the green space. But it is a hugely growing sport. The odds are very good that it will be an IHSA sport in the next few years."
Another potential pitfall pointed out by Moretta is the fact Champaign Centennial is the only team in the IHSLA south of the Chicago area. The IHSA has been sensitive to the issue of state-wide participation in the past.
Obvious appeal
Lacrosse would seem to be a perfect sport in America, which loves fierce action and high scoring. Lacrosse offers both of those dynamics and even some of the contact of football and hockey, to boot.
"It's seen as a trendy sport," Cole said. "There's definitely an appeal to high-school level kids. It's more up-tempo than baseball. The fast-paced nature is appealing. It seems like once you get people into lacrosse, they're hooked. There's no wading in. People dive feet-first once they get a hold of the sport."
Lacrosse's popularity in the Chicago area has increased to the point there are outdoor and indoor professional teams operating in the market.
The Chicago Machine outdoor team played last year at Benedictine University in Lisle, but this spring it will share Toyota Park with the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer.
The Shamrox indoor team just wrapped up its first season at the new Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, averaging more than 6,000 fans a game. In 2006, the National Lacrosse League topped 1 million fans for the first time in its 20-year history.
"Even if you did this five years ago, it still wasn't ready," Ryan said of the Chicago market. "I think the timing is right now. It's really on the upswing. You don't have to explain what lacrosse is quite as often."
Starting young
Ryan and co-owner Rich Martin started Lacrosse America 16 years ago with an indoor youth program in Highland Park. Once a reputation was attained, programs began to sprout at park districts across the Chicago area.
"Lacrosse America has been all about spreading the game around the area," Ryan said. "You need to build it with the youth. That's where your fan base is."
Cole is seeing those youth programs build. That is only going to make the high school programs stronger and increase lacrosse's foothold in the area.
"Every year we add more high school teams," said Cole, who also coaches at Lake Zurich. "Right now there are more youth-level kids in grades three through eight that are playing in Illinois than high-school participants. It will get even bigger."
Both the Shamrox and Machine hold regular clinics across the area to bolster awareness of the sport. The Machine conducted a clinic at Lippold Park in Crystal Lake last Sunday and the Shamrox let the Cary-Grove and Prairie Ridge boys team play each other at the Sears Centre before the Shamrox's season finale last Saturday.
The common comparison between the current lacrosse boom is with the soccer boom of the early 1980s.
"It's just like girls soccer 20 years ago," Moretta said. "People wondered how many people would play it, how it would succeed. Could you imagine not having that sport now? This sport is not going anywhere."
--Paul Johnson is a sportswriter for the Northwest News Group. Write to him at

To share information, email us at District100Watchdog.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Involvement with District 100

As some of you know, I am running for school board this April 7, 2009.

I would like to supply some examples of my long term involvement and concerns with the district.  I have been a participant and all community based advisory committee which District 100 has opened to the general public for the last ten years.  The following letters of concerns were sent to the board when I discovered situations which I believed would have an adverse affect upon our school district.  I freely and openly sent these letters.

December 17 2004

Board of Education

Belvidere Community Unit Schools

1201 Fifth Avenue

Belvidere, Il 61008

Dear Board Members:

I request that as part of your referendum implementation you state exactly what the Board intends to do with the $10,780,000 of state grants and impact fees currently held in savings.

In recommending a second high school Vision 100 provided ten points of consideration for the Board of Education to review in implementing the high school referendum. I believe at least two of these statements request that you provide the public information regarding your planned use of this $10.8 million. Vision 100’s Statement #1 states: “The District needs to implement an honest, open and comprehensive plan to inform all aspects of the community about the proposal.” And Statement #8 states: “The District needs to inform the community of its long-range plan.”

During your discussion in the December 13 special meeting, one board member mentioned that the Board “could” use part of the $10.8 million to build a swimming pool. The swimming pool is a highly charged, often divisive issue. It appears that such a swimming pool will not be included in the referendum. The public has a right to know if any of the district savings will be used for a pool. To be open and honest, the Board should clearly state if in the foreseeable future a pool will be built using non-referendum funds.

Also in the discussion of December 13, the need for a new grade school and additional middle school space was discussed. The grant and impact fees were thought to be adequate to cover these anticipated needs. Board discussion indicated that these school additions needed to open before or simultaneous with the opening of the second high school. Before the March 2005 election, I believe voters have a right to know some details regarding all your buildings plans. How does expenditures of the $10.8 millions savings fits into the District’s long run plan? Are the non-referendum funds adequate for grade and middle school needs? Might some of the $10.8 million savings be used in the high school building instead of the referendum funds?

As a voter who is carefully considering the referendum, I believe you should disclose what the Board intends to do with the state grant and impact fees before our vote on the referendum.

I thank you for your prompt consideration of my request.

Sincerely yours,


9592 Denver Drive

Belvidere, Il 61008

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Anniversity Date: One year ago District 100 attempted to increase your taxes without referendum

I was cleaning out some old papers and found this article from the Boone county Journal regarding the “backdoor referendum”.  If you have a chance take a look at it. 

Boone County Journal, February 22, 2008  (available at:

Dist. #100 Tables
Working Cash
Bond Effort

By James Middleton
In an unexpected move, the Board of Education of
Belvidere School District #100 at their meeting Tuesday,
February 19, tabled to an unspecified date their previously
approved move to create and to sell up to $23-Million in
bonds to fund building construction projects. The move
to create the bonds was discussed during a November
meeting of the district business services committee, further
consideration occurred in the December school board
meeting and the move was approved in the January Board
However, after the move was announced, members of the
community and the Boone County Taxpayers Association
set forth to acquire enough signatures on petitions to force
the matter to a public vote that could have occurred in the
November election. However the Board of Education
responded to public pressure and Board member Larry
Cunningham moved the question be tabled. He did not
specify a date certain when the question would be removed
from the table for reconsideration before a unanimous vote
approved the move.
The agenda called for a public hearing to have occurred
when comments from the public would have, presumably,
been heard by the Board of Education. However, the topic
was introduced early when President Pro-Tem Douglas
Smiley turned the floor to District #100 Superintendent
Michael Houselog.
Mr. Houselog said, “From October last year through
December Board members have discussed the overcrowded
conditions in both South and Central Middle Schools.” He
indicated administrators and Board members had considered
a wide variety of options, including the construction of a
new middle school, using portions of both the new North
High School and the older high school for middle school
classes or to create additions on the two existing middle
school buildings.
“However,” Mr. Houselog continued, “expanding both
middle schools seemed to be our best option to add space
for many more students.” The stated enrollment goal for
both middle schools after construction would be to have
schools holding up to 1,500 students.
The Superintendent further explained, due to a time
constraint in the law, the matter had to come for Board
approval in January. “We were under a deadline to secure
bonds for construction to occur in the fall,” said Mr.
“We have decided that we should spend time with the
community to discuss our needs with members of the
community,” Mr. Houselog added.
With that, Mr. Cunningham moved the question
regarding the cash bond question be tabled. He did not
specify when the question would be removed from the table
for reconsideration. Some wondered if the motion voted on
was appropriate under Robert’s Rules of Order governing
parliamentary procedure.
The question was posed to District legal counsel Curt
Tobin who said he was out of the room when the discussion
and motion to table the bonding move was considered. He
further indicated, most often under Robert’s Rules of Order
a date certain and often the next month is specified as a
date to remove the question from the table. However this
question did not formally reappear before the Board.
Board member Julia Norem said. “I support all options
but we need more input and we need more communication
with the public.”
Board member Mr. Smiley replied, “I echo Ms. Norem’s
comments. We need to do a better job to explain our needs
to the community.”
When the vote was taken, all members of the Board
approved the move.
Late in the meeting when a final opportunity was offered
for public comment, Pat Mattison of Belvidere spoke to the
Board. He told Board members, “The working cash bond

questions is an issue of public trust.” Mr. Mattison went on
to say, “there are many in the district that doesn’t understand
the need and they feel uninformed on the issue.”
He also said, “The public feels like their being left out
of the process.”
Director of the Boone County Taxpayers Association
Diann Helnore asked for clarification, “Is this question off
the table.”
Board member Mr. Smiley responded, “This is off the
table for this tax cycle.”
Mr. Houselog added, “We needed this matter to be in
place by March to secure the funding for the fall when
construction could have begun.”
Ms. Helnore then read a letter into the record from the
or public comment followed
Ms. Norem’s remark.
Boone County Taxpayers
Association. The letter
opened, “The Boone County
Taxpayers Association
strongly objects to any
action specifically designed
to deny the public the right
to vote on how he wants his
tax dollars to be spent.”
The letter also explained
why the Association
objected to the use of this
form of bonding by the
school district. The letter
closed asking the Board
of Education to reconsider
their decision which had
earlier occurred when the
Board approved tabling the
Ms. Helnore closed
by asking if the petition
drive should continue. The
Association had circulated
petitions seeking 2,552
signatures from registered
voters living within the
confines of Belvidere
School District #100. State
law specifies, if 10% of
the registered voters living
within the district, or 2,552,
sign the petitions that would
require the district to put the
matter to the voters in the
form of a referendum.
Board member Ms.
Norem commented as Ms.
Helnore took her seat, “We
could run a referendum
in the fall and maybe we
could work together to pass
that.” No further response

As a member of the Boone County Taxpayers Association, this issue introduced me to many nice people.  However, hopefully the community will never go through this again.

Additional mobile classrooms were erected last summer at the middle schools.  Since then there has been little talk of any kind of a building referendum.