Friday, August 31, 2012

DeKalb Chronicle obtains separation agreement between NIU and Head of Convocation Center

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The entire six page agreement with John Gordon is available at:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/104329787/John-Gordon-Separation-Agreement

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Daily Chronicle | Former DeKalb School Board D-428 board member pleads guilty

 

By CAITLIN MULLEN – SYCAMORE – A former DeKalb school board member pleaded guilty Tuesday to attempted obstructing justice.

Authorities said James W. Mitchell, 45, of the 300 block of Manning Drive in DeKalb, forged a local attorney’s signature on a court document and asked her to lie about it. Mitchell is a former member of the DeKalb School District 428 board.

According to court documents, Mitchell made a phony court order in February 2011 that was purported to have been made by a Sycamore attorney.

The incident involved a small-claims civil case in which that attorney was listed as the representation for the plaintiff.

Click  on the following for more detailsDaily Chronicle | Former D-428 board member pleads guilty

Daily Chronicle | NIU hired outside firm to investigate employees

 

By NICOLE WESKERNA

Possibly connected to resignations and coffee fund scandal?

– Northern Illinois University paid a local law firm about $25,000 to investigate NIU employees in June, but university officials aren’t releasing the findings.

A contract between the university and Sycamore law firm Foster & Buick Law Group shows that attorney John Countryman was hired June 4 to investigate “named individuals within the organization.” The contract was obtained

Click on the following for more details:  Daily Chronicle | NIU hired outside firm to investigate employees

Thursday, August 30, 2012

District 100 Website Information on the Sales Tax Referendum

The following is taken from the District’s website at:http://www.district100.com/district/pages/sales-tax-referendum.aspx

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Sales Tax Referendum

This November the Belvidere School District will be asking voters to approve a 1% sales tax increase. Revenue generated from the increase will be used to pay outstanding bonds, or debt, and provide relief to property owners.

​Michael Houselog
​Superintendent
​(815) 544-0131

​Greg Brown
Chief Financial Officer
​(815) 544-8605

Doug Smiley​
VP, Board of Education
​(815) 566-3603

 

Like so many other school districts, Belvidere continues to experience a decrease in local, state, and federal funding while state and federal mandates continue to rise. Decreasing property values, lower enrollment numbers, funding cuts, and delinquent payments from the state affect the district's budget.

In an effort to provide tax relief to property owners, this November the Belvidere School District will ask voters to approve a countywide 1% sales tax increase. Revenue generated from the increased sales tax would be used to pay outstanding bonds, or debt, which is typically paid for by property taxes. Shifting the source of funds means the district would decrease the amount levied against properties.

Graphic by Margo Morgan/
Rockford Register Star/Copyrighted/Used with permission.​

The proposed 1% sales tax increase would apply to items currently being taxed.

According to the Illinois Department of Revenue, the current sales tax rate in Belvidere is 6.75%, and in Rockford it is 8.25%. Approval of the sales tax increase would bring our rate to 7.75%.

Under state law, the district is limited to how it can use the revenue generated from sales tax.

At its meeting on August 20, the Board of Education will vote to adopt a policy that would limit the district's use of sales tax proceeds to the payment of outstanding bonds/debt should the measure be approved in November.

To learn more about the sales tax referendum and its potential impact on property owners and the district please read the information posted in the document library below. You may also attend one of three informational sessions:

Saturday, September 15 at 9 a.m. in the forum room at Belvidere High School
Thursday, September 27 at 6 p.m. in the forum room at Belvidere North High School
Tuesday, October 2 at 9 a.m. in the forum room at Belvidere North High School

*Low Impact and Use of Sales Tax charts courtesy of Stifel Nicolaus.

Sales Tax Information

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Additional webpage information: Click on the following numbered numbered links.

 

1. District Bond and Interest Payments

2. Stifel Nicolaus PowerPoint Presentation

The Stifel Nicolaus presentation may give a thought of what District 100 may have in mind.  See page 10 of the 26 page booklet (shown below). District 100 would have $24.7 million of additional bonding authority based upon a 1% sakes tax.

Click on the photocopy to enlarge:

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3. Use of Illinois County School Facility Tax Receipts Policy

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dubuque School Board Narrows Superintendent Search (includes Michael Houselog)|

  •   Did anyone know about this?
  •   Does this say something regarding the District 100’s sales tax referendum?
  •   Is he a finalist because of the Ph.D. which District 100 paid for?

DUBUQUE, Iowa - The Dubuque School Board is one step closer to having a new Superintendent of Schools.
The board has narrowed its search to three finalists.
Michael Houselog, currently serving as superintendent for the Belvidere Community Unit School District in Belvidere, Illinois.

Karl Kurt, currently serving as superintendent for the Central City Schools in Central City, Iowa.
Stan Rheingans, currently serving as interim superintendent and executive director of human resources for the Dubuque Community School District.
The board with hold finalist interviews in early September.
Former Superintendent Dr. Larie Godinez resigned her position in June after the board voted to begin the process to terminate her.

Click on following for the source:  Dubuque School Board Narrows Superintendent Search | KCRG-TV9 | Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather | Local News

Here is another source:

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Houselog has been the superintendent for the Belvidere, Illinois Community Unit School District since 2007. Houselog previously served as the superintendent for the North Boone Community Unit School District in Poplar Grove, Illinois, and Carbon Cliff-Barstow Community Unit School District in Barstow, Illinois. He has been an elementary and high school principal, director of special services, special assistant to the superintendent and special education teacher. Houselog is an alumni of Wahlert Catholic High School and Loras College. He holds master's degrees from Clarke College and Drake University, and is currently completing a doctoral program at Aurora University in Wisconsin.

Click on the following for more detailshttp://www.kwwl.com/story/19370366/dubuque-community-schools-name-superintendent-finalists

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Daily Chronicle | NIU working with State’s Attorney’s office

By NICOLE WESKERNA

“To that end, the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office will seek the assistance of any agency, state or federal, to ensure that the investigation into these allegations is fair and complete.”

When reached Monday night, Campbell said he had no further comment.

Two administrators at NIU, Robert Albanese, associate vice president of the Division of Finance, Facilities and Operations, and John Gordon, Convocation Center director, left the university July 31 after reaching severance agreements that included a ban on discussing internal matters and a payout in cash and benefits worth more than $80,000 combined.

The separation agreements also revealed that both Albanese and Gordon were the subject of internal investigations for misconduct at the time they signed the agreements.

The university agreed to stop the administrative process that could have resulted in the officials being terminated for cause, records show.

Click on the following for more details:  Daily Chronicle | NIU working with State’s Attorney’s office

Sunday, August 19, 2012

NIU ‘coffee fund’ fuels worries

 

By NICOLE WESKERNA - newskerna@shawmedia.com

Created: Saturday, August 18, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

 

Northern Illinois University Trustee Marc Strauss said the allegations of misconduct surrounding two administrators who quit last month are cause for concern.

“Misconduct concerns me,” he said. “... I’m very concerned if the allegations, or allegations similar to the ones I’ve heard, turn out to be true.”

John Gordon, former director of the Convocation Center, and Robert Albanese, former associate vice president of the Division of Finance and Facilities, signed separation agreements a day apart in July, and both received salary and benefits worth more than $80,000 combined.

Albanese and Gordon were put on paid leave July 19 and 20, respectively, with their resignations effective July 31.
Separation agreements with the administrators show the university had been investigating misconduct allegations against them when the agreements were signed, although there was no finding that any allegations were true, university officials have said.

Click on the following for complete details of this story: http://www.daily-chronicle.com/2012/08/16/niu-coffee-fund-fuels-worries/a8zfa1c/?page=1

Friday, August 17, 2012

Even if the sales tax passes, RE Taxes for District 100 bonds will increase

The following figures are from this month’s school board packet and is available at:  http://www.boarddocs.com/il/district100/Board.nsf/files/8WZJVP4EE448/$file/Bond%20%20Interest%20Payment%20Summary.pdf
Click on the photocopy to enlarge:
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The last two lines show that taxes for bond and interest will be increasing with or without the sales tax referendum increasing.
Below is a restatement of the last two lines of page 1 above.  *Note the lower rates of FY 2013,FY 2014 and FY 2015 is caused by a 2011 bond refunding.
         Bond and Interest Tax Rate
            Without abatement      With Abatement from sales tax
FY 13*       1.07%               .73%
FY 14*       1.29%               .83%
FY 15*       1.35%               .94%
FY 16         1.38%              1.10%
FY 17         1.80%              1.53%
FY 18         1.73%              1.45%
FY 19         2.09%              1.82%

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Illinois pension reform possible in Friday's special session - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

By Doug Finke

By the end of the day Friday, the General Assembly will either have taken steps to change employees’ benefits or will remain deadlocked over how to rein in the spiraling costs of providing pensions for downstate teachers, state employees, university workers and lawmakers themselves

Click on the following for more details:  Illinois pension reform possible in Friday's special session - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

Penn State receives accreditation warning - Yahoo! News

By RON TODT

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which accredits universities in the Mid-Atlantic region

Aug. 8 notice, the commission said that Penn State remains accredited while "on warning" but it wants a monitoring report submitted by the end of next month detailing steps taken to ensure full compliance with governmental requirements, that the university's mission is being carried out, that the commission will be fully informed and that Penn State is complying with standards on leadership and governance as well as integrity.

The commission also wants the report to address the university's ability to bear financial obligations stemming from "the investigation and related settlements, etc." It said "a small team visit" will be made, a standard practice "to verify institutional status and progress."

Read the entire story by clicking on he followingPenn State receives accreditation warning - Yahoo! News

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Daily Chronicle | Our View: NIU should close ‘coffee fund’ account

 

They might have called it the “coffee fund” at the Northern Illinois University physical plant, but the old term “slush fund” seems more appropriate.

It’s time NIU officials find out how much is there, disclose the information to the public, and close the account and any others like it.

The coffee fund, maintained by some employees at NIU, at least has been a repository for cash proceeds from tons of scrapped metal and wire from NIU buildings, such as the Founders Memorial Library, for years. There was more than $1,800 deposited into the fund during the first six months of this year.

Click on the following to read all of the editorial:  Daily Chronicle | Our View: NIU should close ‘coffee fund’ account

Daily Chronicle | NIU has had ‘coffee fund’ for 25 years

By NICOLE WESKERNA

The director of materials management at Northern Illinois University said the “coffee fund” where the proceeds from scrap metal salvaged from NIU-owned property has been around for 25 years, but he doesn’t know who uses the account…..

The university complies with property use guidelines set forth by the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, which allows certain items to be sold locally as long as specific protocol is followed….

Electronic records show that DIMCO has paid the fund more than $13,000 since 2005, but Kunkel said the fund has been in place for about 25 years.

Click on the following for more details: Daily Chronicle | NIU has had ‘coffee fund’ for 25 years

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bands prepare for second ‘friendly competition’ at county fair | Belvidere Daily Republican

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Marching bands from Belvidere, Belvidere North and North Boone high schools are getting ready for the second “friendly competition” at the Boone County Fair.

Each will put on a static, 30-minute musical show for spectators in the grandstand at 7 p.m. Wednesday (Aug. 8). Cost is $10 per person with all proceeds being divided among the music programs at the high schools.

Read the entire story by clicking on the following:  Bands prepare for second ‘friendly competition’ at county fair | Belvidere Daily Republican

NIU spokesman: police investigating secret fund | WNIBy WNIJ Credit NIU

Might there be any connection with this story and an earlier Daily Chronicle story and the public comments on that story?  SEE:  http://district100watchdog.blogspot.com/2012/08/two-niu-administrators-leave-recently.html

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NIU spokesman Paul Palian Northern Illinois University officials are investigating reports of an alleged secret bank account channeling thousands of dollars to several university workers. NIU spokesman Paul Palian confirms to WNIJ the university's police department is looking into the matter: "There is currently an investigation underway. It was launched Friday afternoon. It is an NIU police investigation." - Paul Palian, NIU spokesman NIU employees working at a campus physical plant allegedly sold scrap metal to a local company, which would write checks to an account known as the ``coffee fund.'' Electronic records show checks from the DeKalb Iron and Metal Company to the fund have totaled more than $13,000 since 2005. School officials say they have no record of such a fund.J & WNIU

Click on the following for the source of the above story:  NIU spokesman: police investigating secret fund | WNIJ & WNIU

Today’s Daily Chronicle has much more detail.  GO TO:  http://www.daily-chronicle.com/2012/08/03/niu-probes-existence-of-coffee-fund/awdfbmu/

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Kunkel said several employees, mainly from NIU’s Physical Plant, have sold scrap metal from the university to DIMCO on and off for at least the past 25 years. The company’s electronic records date back to February 2005, and checks from DIMCO since that time have totaled more than $13,000.

“It’s not going back to Northern,” said Kunkel.

Kathryn Buettner, vice president of university relations, said NIU Police plan to open an investigation immediately. She said Friday was the first time she or other administrators had heard about the coffee fund and said NIU takes the allegations very seriously…..

Kunkel said employees often used university-owned vehicles to drop off the scrap, usually coming in on Saturdays; sometimes they sent family members. Kunkel said when he asked what the coffee fund was for, he was told the money was split between several workers at the Physical Plant, who sometimes used the money for cookouts, or purchased coffee and food for the office.

Kunkel said the company keeps separate accounts for different NIU funds, including the Physical Plant and telecommunications department. He said he grew suspicious years ago, when NIU employees began asking him to pay a small percentage to the university and a larger percentage to the employee who dropped off the scrap, which prompted him to contact the university.

It appears that Associated Press has picked up the story.  See the Northwest Herald’s short AP Piece:  http://www.nwherald.com/2012/08/06/niu-probes-existence-of-a-secret-coffee-fund/av9uru6/

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Friday, August 3, 2012

D303 Offers Internships for Educators - St. Charles, IL Patch

St. Charles seeks free labor from new grads.

Internship candidates must be certificated teachers to be considered, the district's release states. The unpaid internship requires a commitment for at least one semester – unless the intern secures a paid teaching position.

The interns will work with experienced educators at a specific school to strengthen instructional skills and gain additional classroom experience and knowledge.

Click on the following for more details: D303 Offers Internships for Educators - St. Charles, IL Patch

Belvidere School Board member resigns - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

By Jennifer Wheeler

Belvidere School Board member John Powell has resigned because his family moved out of the area.

Individuals interested in the position must send a resume and a letter of intent to Van Evera at 1201 Fifth Ave., Bevidere, IL 61008.

Other qualifications include:

  • United States citizen for at least one year
  • Registered voter
  • District #100 resident for at least one year
  • Bonus Township resident

Click on the following for more details:  Belvidere School Board member resigns - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

Two NIU administrators leave recently for personal reasons

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By NICOLE WESKERNA

NIU spokesman Paul Palian said John Gordon, who directed the Convocation Center for all 10 years it has been in operation, resigned last week for personal reasons. Palian did not elaborate.

Gordon was one of two NIU administrators who left the university last week. Robert Albanese, associate vice president of operations in the Division of Finance and Facilities, retired. Palian said Albanese’s decision to retire also was for personal reasons. Palian said that to his knowledge, there was no connection between the two administrators leaving.

Click on the following for more details:  Daily Chronicle | Two NIU administrators leave recently for personal reasons

Take a look at the comments at the Daily Chronicle—some people think there is much more to this story.

Here is what the college newspaper has said:

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NIU announces administrative changes in Finance & Facilities

  • Kelly Bauer

According to a press release, Eddie Williams, NIU executive vice president for business and finance and chief of operations, has announced administrative changes within the department.

Jeffrey Daurer will now oversee the NIU Physical Plant, including the Grounds Department and Campus Heating Plant. Steven Cunningham, associate vice president for administration and human resources services, will oversee the Office of the Controller and the Accounting Office in addition to operation of the Holmes Student Center.

The changes within the department follow news of that Norm Jenkins has filled John Gordon's vacant spot as Convocation Center director. Gordon resigned and Bob Albanese, former associate vice president of operations, retired this week.

"Due to recent administrative retirements and resignations, I have had opportunity to review and reorganize the administrative leadership in the operations area of our division," Williams wrote in an Aug. 2 memo to the Finance and Facilities staff.

Williams will also now oversee Materials Management, Employee Services and Human Resources Development, Treasury Operations and Bond Revenue Financial Operations, according to the press release.

The changes are already in effect, according to Williams' memo.

Taken from: http://northernstar.info/campus/news/article_352aaec2-dcd8-11e1-8d4d-001a4bcf6878.html

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NIU announces more administrative changes

Clockwise from top left: Eddie Williams, Steve Cunningham, Bill Nicklas and Jeff Daurer.

Clockwise from top left: Eddie Williams, Steve Cunningham, Bill Nicklas and Jeff Daurer.

Eddie R. Williams, NIU executive vice president for business and finance and chief of operations, today announced administrative changes as part of a reorganization designed to take advantage of the leadership strengths and knowledge base of members of the administration in order to maintain and improve the quality of service delivered to the NIU community at the highest level.

Effective immediately, assistant vice president Jeffrey Daurer will oversee NIU’s Physical Plant, including the Grounds Department and the Campus Heating Plant.

Steven Cunningham, associate vice president for administration and human resource services, will oversee the Office of the Controller and the Accounting Office in addition to operation of the Holmes Student Center.

Bill Nicklas, associate vice president for university planning and sustainability, has been named acting supervisor of Building Services. In this role, he will serve as part of the Finance and Facilities leadership team while continuing his current responsibilities overseeing university planning and sustainability.

Additionally, Williams now will directly oversee Materials Management, Employee Services and Human Resources Development, Treasury Operations and Bond Revenue Financial Operations.

“Due to recent administrative retirements and resignations, I have had opportunity to review and reorganize the administrative leadership in the operational area of our division,” Williams wrote in an Aug. 2 memorandum to all Finance and Facilities administrators and staff. “This review has included several changes that I have deemed necessary to improve the efficiency and the effective delivery and continuation of our quality services to the NIU community.”

The university previously announced that Norm Jenkins is assuming the role of acting director of the Convocation Center following the resignation of John Gordon, and he reports directly to the executive vice president. Bob Albanese, former associate vice president of operations, retired this past week.

According to Williams’ memorandum, the changes are already in effect and will be extended through the coming year.

The leadership changes are among several made over the summer because of administrative departures.

Kelly Wesener Michael was appointed acting vice president of the Division of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management, effective July 1, following Brian O. Hemphill’s departure for the West Virginia State University presidency. Sherrill Morris recently was named acting associate vice provost for academic outcomes assessment, and Jeanne Meyer was selected as the new director of the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct after longtime director Larry Bolles retired.

 

Jenkins to assume Convocation Center reins

Acting director has athletics, event management, facility experience

Norm Jenkins

Norm Jenkins

Northern Illinois University announced that Holmes Student Center Associate Director Norm Jenkins will direct the day-to-day operations of the NIU Convocation Center as acting director.

“It is an honor to have been chosen acting director of the Convocation Center. This month marks the 10-year anniversary since the center opened its doors to the NIU community, the City of DeKalb and the region we serve,” Jenkins said.

“The team I join is worthy of high praise for the job it has done in establishing the Convocation Center as a first-class operation, one of which NIU can be proud.”

Jenkins will begin serving in his new role Wednesday, Aug. 1. John Gordon, the Convocation Center’s previous director, recently resigned.

Jenkins, a 1985 NIU graduate, returned to NIU in 1991 after serving as director of ticket sales and merchandising and later director of stadium operations for the Peoria Chiefs, the Class A minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.

He served as NIU’s athletics ticket manager for three years before serving seven years as assistant athletic director for facilities and events. In 2001, Jenkins joined the HSC staff as assistant director before being promoted to associate director in 2003.

“The parallels that exist between the Holmes Student Center operation and the Convocation Center operation are significant,” Jenkins said. “Already, integration exists between the two, and moving forward we hope to further that cooperative effort in a manner that enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of both operations.”

As a former NIU student and a 20-year employee, Jenkins brings a unique perspective to the position as well as a strong vision for the center’s role on campus as relates to the student experience.

“First and foremost, the Convocation Center must serve the NIU community in the highest possible manner,” he said, “lending full support to the general mission and learning environment of the university.”