Friday, March 30, 2012

Vote “No” to a school sales tax in November

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Editor:
The front page story of last week’s Journal reported that
District 100 and Boone County schools are talking about
putting a referendum on the ballot in November seeking
taxpayer approval of up to a one percent additional sales
tax. Taxpayers should be aware from the beginning that this
sales tax has no sunset clause, will never end, and can be
used for practically anything.
Think about the $23 million “backdoor referendum”
that District 100 tried to sneak by the taxpayers in 2007-08
to build additions to the middle schools. If this sales tax had
existed at that time, District 100 could have borrowed the
money with future sales taxes as a funding source and put
the taxpayers even deeper into debt with no opportunity for
the taxpayers to have a vote.
District 100 wants to use this new sales tax revenue
to pay for the increasing costs of its debt for the new high
school and other buildings. If voters pass this referendum,
the school board has authority to use the sales tax revenue
for any capital expenditure, including building even more
new schools and any additional buildings they wish (including
a new swimming pool) without having to go to referendum
for taxpayer approval.
District 100 is borrowing money to service its debt and
needs to do something, but this sales tax referendum, without
a change in the law to insure that the sale taxes are used
“only as taxpayers intend” and with very specific sunset provisions
to end the tax, is not a solution. It gives District 100
a “blank check” to do whatever they want to do and denies
the taxpayers the right to control and to decide by referendum
substantive issues of how their tax dollars should be
spent.
Without a change in the law, taxpayers should vote “NO”
if this referendum is on the ballot in November.

Bill Pysson
The above is taken from page 2 of this Friday’s Boone County Journal which is available free of cost at merchants across the county and on line at:  http://www.boonecountyjournal.com/news/2012/Boone-County-News-03-30-12.pdf#page=1

Monday, March 26, 2012

Elgin U46, teachers union reach tentative pact - Elgin Courier News

By Emily McFarlan emcfarlan@stmedianetwork.com March 26, 2012 10:32AM

Rockford is a very large school district but Elgin and Chicago are still larger.

agreement would end about 10 months of negotiations — the longest ever between the Elgin school district and its 2,200 teachers.

Late last month, the ETA had requested a federal mediator in those negotiations.

During a School Board meeting earlier this month, more than 115 teachers had staged the union’s first “grade-in” — grading homework, creating lesson plans and more in the hallways of the U46 Educational Services Center in Elgin.

The grade-in was done by teachers “to be more visible in the work they do,”

Click on the following to read the entire story:  U46, teachers union reach tentative pact - Elgin Courier News

Online survey aims to assist Rock County students in career planning - Beloit Daily News: News: survey, rock county, career planning, student, high school students

 

an employee with M&I Bank who serves on the Leadership Development Academy, said the groups want to make sure students coming out of school really know what opportunities are available to them.

According to the data collected from employers both locally and across the nation, the mismatch between employer needs and prospective employees is very real and is a growing issue. Otterstein said reducing the skills gap requires a long-term partnership between business and education communities.

“This is the first time we are doing this type of comprehensive and real time assessment, specifically for grades 9-12,” Otterstein said. “We are not aware of anyone whose doing it to the extent we are doing it

Click on the following to read the entire story:  Online survey aims to assist Rock County students in career planning - Beloit Daily News: News: survey, rock county, career planning, student, high school students

School Sales Tax Option Considered at Dist. #100

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By James Middleton


For months members of the Board of Education at
Belvidere School District #100 have considered presenting
a referendum to the voters that would, if approved, allow
the district to impose a one percent school facility sales
tax. The option came to district administrators late in 2011
when board members were considering if they would pay
off district bonds due for retirement or if they would refund
those bonds.
The school board members chose to refund those bonds
and extend their life without paying them off. However,
along with that step being taken, the school board members
were told of the school facility sales tax as an option to
increase their revenue flow without raising property taxes.
In Monday’s Board of Education meeting, two
representatives of the Chicago bonding company Stifel,
Nicolas & Co., Inc. explained to Board members how this
option could benefit the district and district taxpayers. The
representatives, First Vice President Jim Burgett and Vice
President Tom Crabtree explained how their firm, that would
charge no fees to the district for their services, could help
this measure to reach the ballot and perhaps be approved by
the voters.
The firm of Stifel Nicolas focuses on Illinois school
financing questions. Mr. Burgett said, “This school facility
sales tax is a new method for school districts in Illinois to
raise money.” He said that the law allows school districts to
fund facilities through a voter approved sales tax referendum
that was passed by the Illinois General Assembly in October
of 2007.
The sales tax measure could, if approved, add from a
quarter cent to a full cent of sales tax to be applied to a
wide variety of retail purchases. “The Illinois law,” Mr.
Burgett said, “is similar to a law passed in Iowa.” He said
the original Iowa law was enacted through county board
approval however that element was later removed to deny
any involvement of counties in the operation of the law. The
Illinois version does not require involvement by a county
board.
The sales tax was recently enacted in Jo Daviess County
for one cent however the amount was later reduced to a half
cent.
The tax base for this option excludes cars and trucks and
other “high ticket” items. Boats and RVs, mobile homes,
unprepared food, over-the-counter drugs and prescription
drugs, farm implements and equipment are also excluded.
However, gasoline, clothing, office supplies and many other
items sold at retail would be charged the school facility sales
tax.
Almost any fees for facilities are allowed for payment
under the law. For example, capital projects can be paid for

From Front Page... School Sales Tax


through sales tax collections. Bonds could be sold to fund
capital projects and the bond interest and service could be
paid by the sales tax. Previously issued bonds can also be
retired by using the sales tax collections.
Mr. Burgett told the board members, “This sales tax
measure can be used to reduce the property tax levies and
collection through abatement when the sales tax measure
is approved. The facility sales tax can also benefit the
community by the avoidance of levying for more property
tax collections that would be offset by the sales tax
collections.”
Mr. Burgett indicated that the revenue can be used for
capital projects from the buying of land to the remodeling
of existing buildings. The sales tax cannot be used to buy
books, hire teachers or to pay for most education costs. He
added, “If you want to provide iPads for all of your students,
bolt them to the floor.”
Mr. Crabtree described the estimated financial gain to
the district if a one percent sales tax was approved. The
referendum effort would benefit both District #100 and
North Boone School District #200 because the law is
designed to be countywide in scope.
Mr. Crabtree estimated that the approximate benefit to
District #100 after voter approval could reach over $2.3
million per year. He also estimated that North Boone could
benefit to the extent of over $440,000 per year. With the
current citywide sales tax rate of 6.75 percent, adding the
one percent school facility sales tax would escalate the
total sales tax collected to 7.75 percent on selected retail
purchases.

Board member Doug
Smiley asked when the new
sales tax could take effect if
approved in the November
general election. He was
told that July 2013 was the
earliest date that the tax would
be collected. Mr. Smiley
added, “I would recommend
in our situation to reduce
what we levy for to account
for the sales tax collections
(after voter approval of the
referendum).”
It should be noted that the
law providing for the school
facility sales tax does not
require that the district abate
property taxes to account for
the sales tax collections.
Mr. Smiley also said,

The district won’t net more but we would have another
source of revenue and would abate the other source or
property taxes.” He suggested that, after voter approval and
collections, with the abatements the result would be a netnet
offset for the district with no new funds being added.
No action resulted from the presentation by the men from
Stifel Nicolas, but Mr. Crabtree indicated that a timeline
for movement forward would require that the Board of
Education approve running the referendum by or before the
end of August to get the item on the ballot. From that point
the firm would work with District #100 and District #200 to
conduct seminars to inform the public of how approval of
the funding mechanism would operate.

The above reported article is from the Boone County Journal which is available free of cost at merchants across the county and on the internet at:  http://www.boonecountyjournal.com/news/2012/Boone-County-News-03-23-12.pdf#page=1

Friday, March 23, 2012

Illinois Auditor General’s Report on NIU

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NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY

Financial Audit

For the Year Ended: June 30, 2011

Release Date: March 8, 2012

Summary of Findings:

Total this audit: 1

Total last audit: 0

Repeated from last audit: 0

State of Illinois, Office of the Auditor General

WILLIAM G. HOLLAND, AUDITOR GENERAL

To obtain a copy of the Report contact:

Office of the Auditor General, Iles Park Plaza, 740 E. Ash Street, Springfield, IL 62703

(217) 782-6046 or TTY (888) 261-2887

This Report Digest and Full Report are also available on the worldwide web at www.auditor.illinois.gov

­­­­­­­­­­­____________________________

INTRODUCTION

This digest covers our financial audit of Northern Illinois University for the year ended June 30, 2011. A compliance examination covering the year ended June 30, 2011 will be issued at a later date.

SYNOPSIS

• The University needs to improve internal controls over financial reporting.

FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS

FINANCIAL REPORTING PROCESS

Northern Illinois University needs to improve internal control over financial reporting.

During our review of the draft financial statements of the University provided to the auditors, several errors and omissions relating to the draft financial statements and note disclosures were identified and corrected. Some of the more significant items were as follows:

• In January 2011, the University issued $67,135,000 of Auxiliary Facilities System Revenue Bonds (Series 2011) to refund the outstanding principal amount of the Series 1999 and the Series 2001 Auxiliary Facilities System Revenue Bonds. In relation to the issuance of the Series 2011 Bonds, the University did not disclose the economic gain resulting from the transaction of $500,000 or the difference in debt service between the new and old debt, a loss of $1,200,000, as required by generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

• Part of the restricted investments and marketable securities balance related to proceeds from bonds that will be used for capital additions, improvements and renovations was not properly classified between the current and noncurrent assets on the Statement of Net Assets, resulting in a reclassification of $42,160,000 in restricted investments and marketable securities from current assets to noncurrent assets.

According to University management, the missing disclosures were due to an oversight by management when the draft financial statements were prepared. (Finding #1, pages 5-6 in the Report Required Under Government Auditing Standards)

We recommended the University improve controls over financial reporting to ensure accurate presentation and disclosure of the University’s annual financial statements.

The University accepted our recommendation.

AUDITORS’ OPINION

Our auditors stated the financial statements of Northern Illinois University as of June 30, 2011, and for the year then ended, are fairly stated in all material respects.

WILLIAM G. HOLLAND

Auditor General

WGH:jaf:rt

SPECIAL ASSISTANT AUDITORS

Our special assistant auditors for this audit were McGladrey & Pullen LLP.

Click on the following for more details:http://www.auditor.illinois.gov/Audit-Reports/Compliance-Agency-List/NIU/FY11-NIU-Fin-Digest.htm

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Audit: Chicago State unable to find $3.8M in equipment - chicagotribune.com

 

Chicago State University has been unable to locate $3.8 million worth of equipment, including 950 computers that could contain confidential information, according to a state audit.

Audit: Chicago State unable to find $3.8M in equipment - chicagotribune.com

Former Crystal Lake South athletic director gets jail time, fine in plea deal — Crystal Lake news, photos and events — TribLocal.com

 

The separation agreement prohibits Stuglis from ever working in the district again. Employers seeking information about his tenure will be given dates of employment, positions held and salaries paid, according to Jeff Puma, spokesman for the district.

Stuglis was paid more than $135,000 in his last year at South.

Click on the following for more details:  Former Crystal Lake South athletic director gets jail time, fine in plea deal — Crystal Lake news, photos and events — TribLocal.com

University of Illinois President Hogan resigns - DailyHerald.com

 

Hogan would stay on until July when longtime administrator Bob Easter will take over as interim president.

from faculty for months over what some considered his dictatorial managerial style a

Click on the following for more details:  University of Illinois President Hogan resigns - DailyHerald.com

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bracelet fund-raiser March 20 for families of Belvidere girls lost in Feb. 24 car accident

 

A bracelet fund-raiser in remembrance of Thalia Arredondo and Brenda Gutierrez, the 16-year-old best friends from Belvidere who died in a car accident Feb. 24, will be from 6 to 10 a.m. and 2 to 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 20, at three Belvidere Road Ranger locations.
Bracelets are $5 each, and 100 percent of the proceeds will be split between the families of Thalia and Brenda. Both girls were cheerleaders at Belvidere North High School, and the tragedy has had a large impact on the community.
Road Ranger’s three Belvidere locations are as follow:
2001 N. State St., Belvidere, (815) 957-4063;
1705 S. State St., Belvidere, (815) 209-9049; and
1052 Belvidere Road, Belvidere, (815) 566-4641.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

State of Texas begins end of course exams for testing purposes

Could Illinois be next?

Transition to End of Course Exams

With Senate Bill 1031 in spring 2007, Texas legislators repealed TAKS in favor of End of Course exams in high school; however, this change will happen gradually. Students who enter ninth grade in the 2011-2012 school year will have to take end-of-course exams in core subjects. Students who entered ninth grade before 2011 will still have to pass the exit-level TAKS to graduate. A calendar which shows the field test and implementation schedule has been developed.[25]

According to the Texas Federation of Teachers, the EOC will require students taking either the Recommended or Advanced curriculum to take three end-of-course exams in each of four core subjects: English I, English II, English III; Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry; Biology, Chemistry, Physics; World Geography, World History, U.S. History [26]

In 2010, Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott announced a retooled version of the proposed EOC exams, called the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR)[27]. STAAR will be used for the 12 end-of-course assessments mandated by SB 1031 in 2007 and the new grade 3-8 assessments mandated by HB 3 in the 2009 legislative session.

The new tests will be used beginning in the 2011-2012 school year. Students in the graduating Class of 2015 will be the first students who must meet the end-of-course testing requirements, as well as pass their classes, in order to earn a diploma.

The new tests will be significantly more rigorous than previous tests and will measure a child’s performance, as well as academic growth.

The grade 3-8 STAAR tests in reading and mathematics, by law, must be linked from grade to grade to performance expectations for the English III and Algebra II end-of-course assessments.

During a speech at the Texas Association of School Administrators’ Midwinter Conference in Austin, Scott also said the last TAKS-based school accountability ratings will be issued in 2011. Ratings will be suspended in 2012 while a new accountability system is developed. The new state rating system will debut in 2013.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

'Pink Slime' Will Be a Choice for Schools - Yahoo! News

 

tomorrow the U.S. Department of Agriculture will announce that starting this fall, schools will be able to choose whether or not they buy hamburger that contains lean finely textured beef known as " pink slime."

Click on the following for more details:  'Pink Slime' Will Be a Choice for Schools - Yahoo! News

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Norovirus blamed as almost 500 Dist. 300 (Carpentersville) children absent - Elgin Courier News

 

Nearly one-third of the student population — about 500 students — was absent Friday from Westfield Community School, and Community Unit School District 300 alerted parents to numerous reports of the norovirus.

some parents may have chosen to keep their children home as a precaution. But, she said, “The majority of them were reporting the symptoms associated with the norovirus,”

Click on the following for more details: Norovirus blamed as almost 500 Dist. 300 children absent - Elgin Courier News

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pink Slime For School Lunch: Government Buying 7 Million Pounds Of Ammonia-Treated Meat For Meals

Is your child eating pink slime?

Pink slime -- that ammonia-treated meat in a bright Pepto-bismol shade -- may have been rejected by fast food joints like McDonald's, Taco Bell and Burger King, but is being brought in by the tons for the nation's school lunch program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is purchasing 7 million pounds of the "slime" for school lunches, The Daily reports. Officially termed "Lean Beef Trimmings," the product is a ground-up combination of beef scraps, cow connective tissues and other beef trimmings that are treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill pathogens like salmonella and E. coli. It's then blended into traditional meat products like ground beef and hamburger patties.

Click on the following for more details:  Pink Slime For School Lunch: Government Buying 7 Million Pounds Of Ammonia-Treated Meat For Meals

Pink Slime is in 70% of the Ground Beef sold in the U.S. according to tonight’s ABC Nightly News.  Click on the following to view the video: http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/pink-slime-15873068

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Northwest Herald | McHenry County pertussis cases now number more than 300

 

Certain areas have seen significant amounts. Woodstock pertussis patients nearly doubled from late November through Feb. 17, from 31 to 61; Crystal Lake nearly doubled from 18 to 39 cases; and Cary has the highest number of reported cases, jumping from 51 to 84.

The county’s first confirmed pertussis cases this season came out of Cary-Grove High School in Cary and quickly spread among the school-age population in the county.

Read more of the story by clicking on the followingNorthwest Herald | County pertussis cases now number more than 300

Monday, March 5, 2012

Letter: We should mourn everyone who's lost too soon - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

 

Does anyone remember John Leopold? He was a student at Belvidere High School; in his junior year of 2011 he died in his sleep from a seizure. He died Friday, May 4, and was found Saturday, May 5, the morning before prom.

Please read on by clicking on the following:  Letter: We should mourn everyone who's lost too soon - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star