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Hidden Costs Could Plague District 230

As officials examine the 2012 property tax levy, worry grows over shortfalls that might hit the district.

An Orland Park mall's property tax dispute with Cook County and declining funds from the state could cause multimillion-dollar shortfalls for District 230, officials said Thursday.

The dire forecast comes as the Consolidated High School District 230 School Board adopted resolution on an estimated property tax levy that includes a $1.4 million increase over what district taxpayers were billed last year. Even with some major shifting of funds, the district needs a 1.5 percent hike for the 2012 levy to help cover costs.

The estimated levy, totaling about $100 million, was approved in a 4-1 board vote Thursday night inside Victor J. Andrew High School in Tinley Park. A final levy will need board approval in December before it can be submitted to the Cook County by deadline on Christmas Day. Last year, Cook County property tax extension for District 230 totaled $98.9 million.

Board member Michael Hastings cast the lone "no" vote. He raised concerns over hidden costs that could cause shortfalls for the district.

Illinois has steadily decreased the amount of money it sends to District 230 to the tune of about $2 million a year, according to district numbers. Because of this, the district is turning more to property tax for revenue.

“Our tax levy is so important to us because we’re getting hit so hard on state aid," said Steve Langert, assistant superintendent of business services.

Orland Square Mall's ongoing dispute over how much it should pay in property taxes could play a major factor in a shortfall. Upwards of $5 million in lost property taxes would fall on the district to cover if a ruling lands in the mall's favor, Langert said.

Cook County likely will charge district taxpayers even more than what District 230 is considering in the levy.

The district expects the county to set the full increase in the property tax levy at 3.2 percent. The reason, official said is to cover costs from anticipated property tax errors, payment defaults, objections and appeals.

The board is expected to address the levy again at the Dec. 20 meeting. It must be filed with the County Clerk by Dec. 25.

The levy relies on some shifting of funds to maintain priorities. The district proposes pulling about $2.3 million from the working cash and another $2.8 million from operations and maintenance budget to cover increases in other operating expenses, including IMRF, social security, special education and a large increase in education.

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Bob December 01, 2012 at 03:52 PM
It seems that we could make some adjustments to staffing to cover up to $10 million in 230 tax revenues if we need to , but there is no political will to do that int he district. A couple of years ago I was allowed to participate in the 230 Building and Grounds committee as an ad hoc member in exchange for not running for the school board. I was told I could stay as long as I wished, but after six months they reneged on that deal and changed the way community members were allowed o particpate. As I had many years experience in managing school construction renovation projects with a previous employer, I could tell true need from "pork" in school projects. My questions to validate project need was not well received. I also brought up the issue of reducing student fees when we had surplus revenues, and finding the ways most advantageous to the students to use the "dropping enrollment dividend" we were experiencing. That was the final straw for the unions, adminstrators, and booster club community members on the committee. I was told, unofficially of course, that the unions and several booster club members would refuse to participate if I was allowed to continue participating and scrutinizing wasteful spending practices. I was not "invited" to continue on the committee. I've applied for committee appointments for this year, but the district is likely to refuse seating anyone with school construction experience who understands school operations and budgeting.
Bob December 01, 2012 at 04:00 PM
One other thing for taxpayers and parents to look out for. The district bonds for the $145 million construction fiasco for space we don't need anymore will be paid off in a few years. The ending of this obligation should result in substantial real estate tax reductions. The thought of this is repugnant to the unions and administration, so what they're planning to do is selling bonds "backdoor" to keep tax revenues at the same levels so you won't notice it, but instead pf paying off bonds they'll spend the money, on, well, THEMSELVES! This should be an issue in the April Board elections, if there is any competition in the race.
Bob December 01, 2012 at 04:11 PM
FYI, I looked into this a few years ago when the district wanted to increase studnet fees for Drivers Ed. The cost to the district was about $500 per student during the summer, about $200 more than the cost to privatize would be. The district charged $100 of that in extra fees for taking it over the summer, even thought the cost was less then than in the school year ($800 per class then). Just another case of a greedy, unfair administration and Board caring more about bloating revenues for themselves rather than being fair to students and familes!
bob busch December 01, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Dear Bob I actually voted for you not because you are correct,but because you are real. you might be right about the drivers ed reimbursement. In Chicago it is fully funded,230 might be different. Both my kids went to private drivers ed,and had to take the classroom phase at Sandburg.It has been years but I think Dist 230 charged some ,to me, an obscene amount for the behind the wheel phase, and had a waiting list to boot.In Chicago drivers ed teachers are regular, usually gym, teachers who teach the behind wheel phase after school and on week ends. They get paid a hourly wage with no overtime.
Bob December 01, 2012 at 04:58 PM
We had our chance to elect candidates to the the legislature who would oppose this last November in the general elections. 33% of the voters in Oak Lawn, Evergreen Park, Palos Hills, Worth, Chciago Ridge, Orland Park and Palos Heights didn't even bother to vote. The rest either supported the 19th Ward Chicago Dem candidates who will vote to shift the costs to local suburban taxpayers, while leaving Chicago taxpayers off the hook. We get the government and governance we deserve, Robert.
Bob December 01, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Bob, the talk right now is that the past underfunded obligations ($94 billion currently for TRS, plus another $15 billion borrowed to make contributions to the pension funds) would stay with the state. Only the state's obligation for matching contributions (currently about 9% of the teacher's salaries) would be added to the districts' current paltry 0.58% contributions. Fort a district like 230, that SHOULD mean an additional $6 million per year in expenses that should be shared by staff and taxpayers under the current tax revenues. As I show below, this can be done without tax increases if the district is willing to cut fat and unnecessary capital and operational expense
laura December 01, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Bob, I don't know your last name but I'd definitely vote for you if I did!!!
River Smith December 02, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Who are you? Get a life for crying out loud. Do you just sit around and read the patch and make comments. I would love to know your profession, income, or even your real name you poor excuse for a human. I'm guessing you hate yourself, so you just sling mud and everyone and everything.
River Smith December 02, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Driver's ed is mandated by the state to be taught in high schools, which is why the state reimburses. They also mandate that you teach behind the wheel and the amount that the state reimburses does not cover the costs of the district, trust me...it's a loss for the districts. Let the kids go take it private b/c it is NOT cheaper, but it WILL save the districts money. It does not pay for itself.
Bob December 02, 2012 at 08:24 AM
River, stop acting like slime. If you have a cogent point to make, MAKE IT! If you're only here to make personal attacks, you must indeed be a human being devoid of reason or civility. What you post in your pseudo "psychoanalysis" of others perhaps reflects your situation more than those you attempt to demean. When you post as you do, you only build support for those you victimize. Please consider that the next time you post, if ever.
bob busch December 02, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Dear Bob The final form of any pension solution is yet to be decided. At last count I believe there are at least six reform bills in various stages of passage in Springfield. I will not dispute your figures,however remember that most us will have three school districts to support.High school grammar school and community college. so can we use your figures times three?
Bob December 02, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Bob, for years when my kids were in 118 I did benchmarking of spending with other districts that had less resources but whose students had superior academic outcomes. Palos 118 is, and has been, one of the most inefficient and patronage driven districts out there. I could give the same kind of assessment for 118 as I did for 230, but, to be prefectly honest, the people paying the bills don't care. Those who do don't bother to vote. Once the shift is done in Springfield, that'll be the time to propose the options that are in the best interests of children and taxpayers, but will be igniored by the Boards in favor of shifting the hardship to the taxpayers instead of their political cronies and the upper income staff. MVCC is really a patronage cesspool that wastes a fortune on capital and maintenance work. Did you hear they're building a new, unnecessary, $35 million building while increasing tuition several times the rate of inflation?
Bob December 02, 2012 at 04:52 PM
When MVCC was campaigning for their $90 million addition and renovation , they heavily relied on local contractors for their six figure campaign. Afterwards, the contractors were losing out on competitive bids, so they went to the Board and crooked local pols like Senator Ed Maloney to pass legislation that would allow JCs to ignore the lowest qualifeid bidders and give contracts at 5% higher than the lowest bids to "local" contractors. Remember how they claimed they needed to expand because they were trurning away over 350 qualified helath care program students per year? It turned out that the problem was a union deal that limited healthcare classes to 16 students. They also did a lousy job of selecting students. Classes of 16 were typically down to 9 students by the end of the semester. With that kind of attrition, the administration ws clearly doing a poor job of accepting the students with the best chance of success. I could go on and on about how employess at MVCC were coerced and intimidated into doing political work, but I think the point is made. In 230, 118 and MVCC the district can absorb the cost shift if they cut patronage staffing and waste. No doubt the Boards will try to protect their political "goodies" and try to shift the burden to the taxpayers. The battle for Springfield in this matter is lost. The battle for our local districts is not. Have you decided where the districts should draw the line on where they should put the burden yet, Bob?
bob busch December 02, 2012 at 06:15 PM
In 1977 I ran for Palos Township Trustee we lost the election in such a way that it has turned me off to politics.We were called the PIP party.We ran against the combined Democratic and Republican parties.We got 10% of the 22% who voted. Palos voters are so apathetic they deserve that they get. Once in a while people have asked me to run for various local school boards but 41 years teaching in Chicago High Schools has given me a unique perspective on education that would make me very unpopular with local educators, add in voter apathy and you can see why have always said Hell No.
laura December 05, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Hmmmm, River (fill-in-the-blank). Did we hIt too close to home, huh? Maybe you are acquainted with/related to these overpaid teachers/retirees or perhaps otherwise benefit from their largesse? Can't seem to explain your harsh diatribe any other way. "...methinks thou dost protest too much...." (Apols to William S.)
bob busch December 05, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Dear Laura Go forth and teach.If you do it will be Henry V your quote from not Hamlet.
laura December 06, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Dear Bob Busch, Darn! And I was hoping for the Merchant of Venice!! LOL ;-) No, I don't dispute the difficulties of teaching, just that a suburban school system such as in OP poses few challenges similar to the battlefield-like conditions such as in the CPS. Ergo, what is the rationale for the inflated compensation packages here in suburbiaville (where our ACT and other scores actually are lagging! Go figure.) vs. in the trenches downtown? And even there.... the egos always get in the way, IMHO!!
Robert December 06, 2012 at 01:20 AM
http://www.familytaxpayers.org/ftf/ftf_salaries.php All Illinois Teachers Salaries. We're Cons HSD 230
Robert December 06, 2012 at 01:22 AM
http://www.familytaxpayers.org/ftf/ftf_salaries.php State wide teachers salaries website. Cons HSD 230
Robert December 06, 2012 at 01:32 AM
The United States has fallen to "average" in international education rankings released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, according to the AFP. America has received scores around 500 on a scale that goes up to 1,000: 487 in math, 500 in reading and 502 in science. The AFP reports, The three-yearly OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which compares the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in 70 countries around the world, ranked the United States 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics. Citing concerns over the country's education performance compared to other nations, and the long-term impact of the shortcomings on the future economic viability of the country, the Obama Administration has pushed for comprehensive reforms during the president's time in office
Robert December 06, 2012 at 01:40 AM
http://www.edweek.org/ew/qc/2012/16src.h31.html Illinois ranks 30th in education among states.
Robert December 06, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Educationally, not only is the U.S ranked 17th and lower, Illinois ranked 30th, anyone reading this article doesn't have a school in the top 50 state wide. I'm just unclear as to what our educators are trying to defend? http://www.psk12.com/rating/USthreeRsphp/STATE_IL_level_High_CountyID_0_start_1.html
laura December 06, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Yep, a travesty for mediocre/inferior outcomes/results, in too many cases. Thanks for posting that link....
River Smith December 07, 2012 at 03:24 AM
You all make me laugh. Fox news is looking for some new slanderous drama now that the election is over. Maybe you all, Mary, Laura, Bob should sign on. Wait the unemployment office probably can't get you a job there. LOL...keep it coming you basement bloggers. Have another snack and live your lonely lives preaching to each other. Adios losers.
laura December 08, 2012 at 01:57 AM
River, you talk out of both sides of your mouth. Your own posts concede that teachers' salaries comprise the bulk of expenses in school district budgets, including the Lincolnway district. Recall this one? Adios, hypocrite! River Smith 9:06 am on Friday, January 13, 2012 I"m an educator and I don't want to see any teachers get cut, but financial hardships are just that. Is all day kindergarten necessary. I guarantee that everyone who is posting here had half day kindergarten growing up and look at us, we are all literate adults making our way through society the best we can. If it is between closing a school and making kindergarten half day, I would choose the kindergarten thing. Yes it cuts teachers in half, but salaries are the greatest expense and it would half that. I know this is not going to be a popular post, but how many other districts in the area have full day kindergarten?
Robert December 08, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Laura, Used to be teachers made low salary in return for good benefits and after the unions got involved it became low performance in return excessive salaries along with excessive benefits (i.e. retirement state's banruptcy). Responding to River's insults is only responding to cry's for attention by a weak mind and a desperate person which is why I choose not to. Notice that River hasn't made any suggestions for improvement only cry's for money. Assuming there is an insult from river forthcoming you won't see a response.
Robert December 08, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Laura, Just wanted to say that you are awesome. My after thought is....; Does anyone else get the irony of the fact that the person (River) who is supposed to be "one of our educators" , payed by us (the taxpayers) to look out for our children, is insulting, bullying and spitting in our faces? Go figure on the return on investment. Everyone who reads this, please send it to a friends as this is what we are paying our educators for.
Robert December 08, 2012 at 04:33 AM
I'll take it a step further; What district does River work for. I'd like to move forward with a formal complaint.
Robert December 08, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Bye Bye River
MagtheHag December 09, 2012 at 08:32 PM
I sent my kids to a private drivers ed facility. I paid $375.00 each for 2 kids to take drivers education. So, I save the school some $$$$$. I was actually quite shocked to see what the teachers were making.

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