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THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS of Elmhurst. School District 205 Issues  Expanded Observer Coverage. October 22, 2009. Transparency in Government. Transparency in Government.

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The league of women voters of elmhurst

THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS of Elmhurst

School District 205 Issues 

Expanded Observer Coverage

October 22, 2009


Transparency in government

Transparency in Government


Transparency in government1
Transparency in Government

  • Citizens must be able to know exactly what goes on when public officials transact public business; allows public oversight of decision making

  • Open meeting Law: mandates that government business, with some exceptions, be conducted in open meetings to which the public has access

  • FOIA: public access to government documents and records

    *Nadler J and Schulman M. Open meetings, open records, and transparency in government. Markula Center for Applied Ethics; Santa Clara University, CA. 2008 www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/government_ethics/introduction/open-meetings


Transparency in government school districts
Transparency in Government School Districts

  • Government school districts are public bodies whose inner workings should be visible to all residents, taxpayers, & education consumers

  • FOIA and Open Meetings Act are a start

  • Making government information available in proactive fashion on an easy-access, searchable, & intuitive website for citizen to view without having to make a request for records

    *Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009. www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html.


FOIA

  • Downloadable form for requesting documents

  • Directions on how to file the FOIA request

  • Documents supplied in response to FOIA requests within 2 business days

  • Procedure for appeals to FOIA request denials

  • Summary reports to Board of Education of recent FOIA requests & their status & on website for citizens

  • Searchable archives of submitted FOIA requests & associated response documents

    *Guides from IL Attorney General’s Office regarding citizens’ rights under FOIA & the Open Meetings Act, The District 300 Freedom of Information Act Online Program. 2009. http://old.d300.org/web/freedomofinfomationactrequests.html , LWV of Elmhurst recommendation


Transparency website for taxpayers
Transparency Website for Taxpayers

  • Opening of the books online in easily searchable database with all government expenditures & details of every tax dollar

  • The amount, date, authorizer, payer, and payee of all expenditures

  • Details and purpose of payments, including check numbers

  • All contract agreements and grants

  • All vendors used and the contracts pertaining to those vendors

  • A listing of expenditures by:

    • Object of expense with links to the warrant or check register level

    • In a reportable format, class, and item levels

  • At a minimum, the site must allow users to:

  • Search and aggregate funding by any element of the information

  • Ascertain through a single search the total amount of funding awarded to a person, group, or organization

  • Download information yielded by a search of the database

    *Illinois Policy Institute. How to achieve government transparency. 2009 www.illinoispolicyinstitute.org


School district website checklist of public information
School District WebsiteChecklist of Public Information

  • Operations

  • Board Policies: The collected “board policies” of the school district, including administrative procedures, should be readily available in print and searchable online. (in plain English)1

  • Ethics

  • Statement on prohibition on district business with contributors to election or referendum campaigns (pay-for-play)1

  • Searchable/downloadable campaign finance reports2

  • Report of lobbying activities2

    *1Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009.www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html.

    *2Campbell, Joel: A Web Site Review: Ratings on Transparency Best Practices. Preliminary Report on Salt Lake City’s Greater Transparency for Collaborative Government Initiative. May 26, 2009 [email protected]


Checklist of public information budget spending
Checklist of Public InformationBudget & Spending

  • Detailed budget (not merely the very brief outline required by the state)

  • The district check register, showing all payments

  • Narrative detailing how the budget was created*

  • Item by item comparisons with projected & actual revenue & spending figures from the previous year & the percentage of change wherever it occurs.*

  • Succinct explanations for every change from the previous year.*

  • Full explanations for the substantial administration staffing increases budgeted for the coming year, including the exact nature of each position to be added, salaries, & specific reasons for doing so.*

    Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009. www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html.

    *League of Women Voter of Elmhurst request 2009


Checklist of public information staffing
Checklist of Public InformationStaffing

  • Complete CV for key administrators (superintendent, assistant superintendents, curriculum directors, & school principals)

  • Contracts with key administrators & their salaries and bonuses

  • Negotiated union contracts

  • Teacher salary schedule

  • District’s Master Schedule

  • Breakout of degrees earned by teachers, categorized by degree subject and awarding departments

  • Degrees awarded by Ed. Schools should be reported separately from degrees awarded by other college departments

    • Ed. School Ed.D. degrees should be reported separately from Ph.D.s

  • Identification of hired/retained educational consultants, facilitators, workshop presenters & contractors, including names, website addresses, salaries & expenses

    *Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009. www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html.


Checklist of public information school board meetings
Checklist of Public InformationSchool Board & Meetings

  • Board member information & contacts

  • Calendar of meetings

  • Notice and agenda of upcoming board meetings

  • Complete copies of board packets (documents provided to board members at each meeting)

  • Minutes, taken in sufficient detail to understand each issue in question, the nature of various positions, & resolution

  • Searchable archives of minutes by date & subject

  • Posting of minutes of closed sessions as soon as available*

  • Video/audio records & searchable transcripts of meetings*

  • Searchable archives of resolutions and votes

  • Disabled accessibility (e.g., easy way to increase size of text)

  • Multiple languages

  • Remote access to participate in meetings or other means to submit public comment

  • Opportunity for public comments & questions with respectful reciprocity and exchange of ideas & concerns and with on-point, meaningful answers supplied to citizens questions and concerns*

    Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009. www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html.

    Campbell, Joel: A Web Site Review: Ratings on Transparency Best Practices. Preliminary Report on Salt Lake City’s Greater Transparency for Collaborative Government Initiative. May 26, 2009 [email protected]

    *LWV of Elmhurst recommendation


Checklist of public information committees
Checklist of Public InformationCommittees:

  • committees or task forces created by and responsible to a primarily public body, e.g., a school district, is also considered a public body & subject to the Open Meetings Act

  • Notice and agenda of upcoming committee meetings

  • Names and email addresses of participants, including board members, district employees, & local citizens

  • Identification of leader or facilitator(s)

  • Detailed minutes of meetings

  • All documents distributed at meetings

    Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009. www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html


Checklist of public information communications
Checklist of Public InformationCommunications

  • Email addresses for all board members

  • Public surveys: If any public surveys are conducted or commissioned by the district, the complete results, rather than carefully excerpted tidbits, should be available in print & online

    Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009. www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html


Checklist of public information teacher workshops and in service programs
Checklist of Public InformationTeacher workshops and in-service programs

  • Full descriptions of content, facilitators, speakers

  • Dates and time allotted

  • All materials distributed

  • Budget information on related expenditures, outside speakers, & suppliers

  • Video or audio tape should be available for viewing by board members, parents & citizens

    Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009. www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html


Checklist of public information curriculum
Checklist of Public InformationCurriculum

  • Detailed curriculum

  • Syllabus for each course

  • Identification of specific textbooks & other major curriculum and instructional materials, by grade and subject

  • A list of textbooks & instructional materials used in the district, revised annually by administrators under the Superintendent’s direction

  • A list of additional study aids available for textbooks or instructional materials, e.g., online study guides, quizzes, etc.

  • Anyone may inspect any textbook or instructional material in person, with reasonable rules established for dates and times of access

  • Statement of commitment to intellectual diversity in hiring

  • Statement of commitment to balance in treatment of controversial issues

    Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009. www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html


Checklist of public information assessment
Checklist of Public InformationAssessment

  • Results on state tests

  • All group and summary tabulations of any standardized tests taken that go beyond the required state tests, e, g., ISAT, PSAE

  • Percent distribution of teacher-assigned letter grades

    Illinois Loop.org. Checklist of Public Information. 2009. www.illinoisloop.org/candorchart.html


Checklist of public information student specific information for parents password protected
Checklist of Public InformationStudent-Specific Information for Parents (password protected)

  • A general description of what is happening in each class: current unit or topic

  • Current long-term assignments, plus goal & description of any major project

  • Student status: grades, homework completion


The illinois open meetings act
The Illinois Open Meetings Act

  • The Illinois Open Meetings Act was designed to ensure that the actions of public bodies be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.

  • The Act promotes public participation in local government. It requires:

    • Meetings be open to the public

    • Meeting times adequately publicized

    • Keeping records of public meetings 


The illinois open meetings act1
The Illinois Open Meetings Act

The Illinois Open Meetings Act requires the Elmhurst School Board to provide an opportunity for Public Comment at each of its open meetings. A meeting is defined as any gathering for 3 or more school board members for the purpose of discussing public business. This Public Comment has full protection of the First Amendment’s right to speech.


What you can t say
What You Can’t Say…

Some speech is not protected

1. Obscene language

2. Fighting words

3. Defamatory statements

4. Causing panic

5. Incitement to crime

6. Sedition

Regulations

The school district can impose time, place, and manner regulations. This can be done by limiting the amount of time given to all speakers, limiting the location public comments can be made, and the way in which public comments can be expressed.


What you can say
What you Can Say

  • Most speech is protected under the First Amendment. This is one of the basic constitutional rights guaranteed to Americans in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. The Founding Fathers believed that a free society must allow its citizens to freely express themselves without government interference.

  • The values associated with free speech include:

    ~The Discovery of Truth~Facilitating Participation by Citizens in Political DecisionMaking~Creating a More Adaptable and Stable Community~Checking Abuse of Governmental Power~Creating a More Robust and Interesting Community

  • The school district (or any governmental agency) cannot prohibit a speaker because of the viewpoint that person wishes to expresses or because they do not want that particular person to speak.


205 s policy
205’s Policy

The District’s policy impeded people’s freedom of speech. The policy stated that Public Comment, “should not include discussion of personnel matters,” This Policy was posted on the District’s website, on an audio visual screen during board meetings, printed in pamphlets and orally recited at meetings.


District policy regarding public comments prior to august 11 2009
District Policy Regarding Public Comments Prior to August 11, 2009

“The Board will receive public comments for up to three minutes concerning items on this agenda, as well as communication, petitions, reports from citizens or representatives of other public agencies. Such comments should not include discussion of personnel matters, which should be directed to the Administration.”


District s defense of its policy
District’s Defense of Its Policy 11, 2009

When called upon to explain their rational for attempting to limit discussion involving the superintendent’s performance on recent community events the school board president defended its restrictive stance by citing:


Citizen advocacy center concerns july 8 2009
Citizen Advocacy Center 11, 2009CONCERNSJuly 8, 2009

A letter from the Citizen Advocacy Center stated, “Both the Illinois and United States Constitutions provide for broad protections for the freedom of speech within open forums. Any content-based prohibition is impermissible unless it is necessary to serve a compelling state interest and is narrowly drawn.”


Citizen advocacy center findings july 8 2009

“In analyzing the circumstances under which the District’s policy is being implemented, the Citizen Advocacy Center found no compelling state interest which would permit the District to direct what issues members of the public may comment on. According to the Citizen Advocacy Center, the fact that the Board has a general policy that mandates that personnel issues be communicated to the Superintendent rather than the Board, is irrelevant to the public’s capacity and legal right to comment on personnel issues directly to the Board. Such comments are political in nature and lie at the heart of protected speech. Accordingly, the District’s policy is a content based restriction that violates the free speech protections afforded by the Illinois and United States Constitutions.”

Citizen Advocacy CenterFINDINGSJuly 8, 2009


Citizen advocacy center request july 8 2009
Citizen Advocacy Center District’s policy is being implemented, the Citizen Advocacy Center found no compelling state interest which would permit the District to direct what issues members of the public may comment on. According to the Citizen Advocacy Center, the fact that the Board has a general policy that mandates that personnel issues be communicated to the Superintendent rather than the Board, is irrelevant to the public’s capacity and legal right to comment on personnel issues directly to the Board. Such comments are political in nature and lie at the heart of protected speech. Accordingly, the District’s policy is a content based restriction that violates the free speech protections afforded by the Illinois and United States Constitutions.”RequestJuly 8, 2009

The Citizen Advocacy Center requested that the District immediately remove the public comment policy that asks members of the public to refrain from commenting on personnel matters, cease reading the policy prior to public comment opportunities, and no longer post the

policy before or during public comment.


District policy regarding public comments after to august 11 2009
District Policy Regarding Public Comments After to August 11, 2009

“The Board will receive public comments for up to three minutes concerning items on this agenda, as well as communication, petitions, reports from citizens or representatives of other public agencies.”


Communicating concerns written on the 205 website october 20 2009
Communicating Concerns 11, 2009written on the 205 websiteOctober 20, 2009

“At every open meeting or hearing, the Board allows any member of the public to provide comments. Citizens who wish to speak must sign the speaker’s roster prior to the start of the public comments portion of the agenda. Speakers are allowed three minutes to address the Board and must begin by stating their name and local address. Comments shall be respectful. Many issues are often best served by addressing a teacher or principal directly. If an issue pertains to a specific student and/or class, it is advised that the citizen contact the teacher directly. If the issue pertains to a specific school, it is advised that the citizen contact the principal of that school directly. If the issue pertains to the district as a whole, or is global in nature, the citizen may wish to contact the Superintendent or the Board of Education.”


Administration 11, 2009


Administration
Administration 11, 2009

  • Within the last 5 years, the administration has grown from 5 (2006-2007) central office administrators to 12 (2009-2010)

  • Movement of positions has occurred

  • Support staff to administrator

  • Additional Staff


Curriculum coordinators
Curriculum coordinators 11, 2009

  • For several years previous to the 2007-2008 school year there had been several curriculum coordinator positions that were filled by “Teachers on Special Assignment,” (TOSA) which were paid from the teachers salary line item.

  • “Curriculum coordinators in the content areas consistently work with administration, teams of teachers and committees to review and improve learning experiences for students and assessment. District 205 provides services not only in the content areas but in additional programs for student support: English Language Learners (ELL), Instructional Support (Reading Recovery and Plus), Reach (Gifted Talented)”

    ---District 205 website.


Teachers on special assignment
Teachers on Special Assignment, 11, 2009

  • 2007- 2008 some of the TOSA coordinators were moved from the teacher’s salary line item to administration

  • Some TOSA coordinators went from part time to full time positions

  • 2008 -2009 remainder of TOSA positions became administrators


Actual new positions added
Actual new positions added 11, 2009

  • Director of Technology (2007-2008)

  • Instructional Technology Coordinator (2007–2008)

  • Director of Research, Assessment and Quality Assurance (2009 -2010 and as yet unfilled)


Specific job titles and individual salaries for each
Specific job titles and individual salaries for each? 11, 2009

  • The actual counts that were supplied in an answer to a question from the LWV of Elmhurst to D205 Administration is different than amount of positions listed.

  • We asked for specific job titles and individual salaries for each.

  • The District’s response was that “ We will need to do some significant additional work to give the financial trends over the past 5 years in this area”


Comparison of positions for the years 2006 2007 2009 2010
Comparison of positions for the Years 2006-2007 /2009-2010 11, 2009

D205 Count = 5 D205 Count = 12

2006-2007 2009-2010

~Superintendent ~ Superintendent

~ Asst. Supt.. For Personnel ~ Asst. Supt. For Personnel

~ Asst. Supt. For Curr. and Instr. ~ Asst. Supt. For Curr. and Instr.

~ Asst. Supt. For Finance ~ Asst. Supt. For Finance

~ Asst. Supt. For Student Services ~ Asst. Supt For Student Services

~ Dir. For Comm. Relations

~ Dir. Of Technology

Coded as Support staff ~ 1.0 Literacy/Reach Coordinator

~ Dir. For Comm. Relations ~ 1.0 Math/Science Coordinator

~ Instructional Tech. Coordinator

Paid out of Teacher’s Salaries- TOSA ~ ELL/Social Studies Coordinator

~.5 Literacy/Reach; .5 Math ~ Dir. of Research, Assess Quality Assurance

~.5 Social Studies; .5 ELL

~ 1.0 Tech and Science


Total salaries
Total Salaries 11, 2009

  • 2006 –2007 Central Office administrators and directors - $667,800

  • 2009-2010 Central Office administrators and directors - $981,992

  • This is less than a 50% increase and yet actual positions have increased from 5 to 12

  • and coordinators are no longer being paid from the teacher’s salary line item.


Timeline

TIMELINE 11, 2009

PURCHASE OF 162 S. YORK



Spending and projects approved in one day
Spending and Projects Approved 11, 2009In One Day

  • Classroom additions at Emerson $4,331,532

  • York Stadium project $2,330,000

  • York fencing for track and baseball field $ 661,802

  • Bryan parking lot repaving $ 664,388

  • Purchase of 162 N. York Rd. $4,500,000

  • Total Dollars spent on the evening of December 15th

    $12,437,722


Available resources for emerson
Available resources for Emerson 11, 2009

Dr. Krizic identified existing sources of potential funding were identified and include:

  • Earned interest from the 2006 referendum ($3.7 million)

  • Capital Project funds from the working cash bond sale in 2007 ($1.4 million)

  • Life Safety Funds ($900,000)

  • Total resources currently available ($6,000,000)

    The board approved costs not to exceed $4,331,532, from the funding source listed above.



Subsequent meeting
Subsequent Meeting 11, 2009

  • The “remodeling” of Madison will be done in-house, with costs estimated to be a total of $111,800 which includes:

    Floor Tile Abatement ($47,000)

    New PA System (entire building) (26,800)

    In-House Building Materials ($25,000)

    Fire Alarms/Low Voltage ($10,000)

    Whiteboards/Corkboards ($3,000).

    It appears that 6 classrooms would be reclaimed and the office would be relocated.

  • Both Mrs. Ostojic and Mrs. Conroy asked about phase 2 of the Early Childhood remodel and were answered that it would be dependent on funding that was as yet undetermined. Mrs. Ostojic stated that she would have preferred to remodel Madison for early childhood student learning rather than do the York Stadium if she had known this.


Discussion in open meetings
Discussion in Open Meetings 11, 2009

  • York Stadium discussions continued for 1 years time

  • Emerson Projected discussed openly and with many community participants

  • Early Childhood project convened a task force prior to remodeling

  • 162 York building purchase showed little discussion in open meetings



Debt certificates1
Debt Certificates 11, 2009

In Illinois, debt certificates may be issued by a governmental unit to evidence the payment obligations of the governmental unit under a lease or installment contract.

- Chapman and Cutler, LLP website


Debt certificates2

Debt Certificates 11, 2009

Debt Certificates, according to District 205, cannot increase tax rate and must be from alternate revenue sources.  


Alternate revenue sources were identified as
Alternate Revenue Sources Were Identified As: 11, 2009

  • TIF II release of funds 

  • Interest earned from other funds and 

  • Private Donations.  (The private pledges/donations amount of $800,000 is to be paid over a three-year time period.)


The resolution the d205 school board approved was
The Resolution the D205 School Board Approved Was … 11, 2009

That the Board of Education approve the Parameters Resolution as presented for the purpose of issuing both 20 year and 5 year debt certificates in an aggregate amount not to exceed $6,750,000.  The motion was amended to “not to exceed $7,000,000” due to issuance costs.  

- According to Board Docs from the 12/15/2008 School Board meeting


This is for
This Is For: 11, 2009

  •  $2.25 million for the stadium project, which will be paid back in 5 years

  • $4.5 million for the 162 property acquisition and renovation of this property which will be paid back in 20 years. 


At the 8 11 09 school board meeting
At the 8/11/09 School Board meeting: 11, 2009

  • $350,000 was removed from the “revenue” part of the budget because D205 was told by the City of Elmhurst there would probably not be any TIF II revenue received by D205 this year  

  • Interest rates have fallen significantly

  • The $800,000 in donations is over a three-year period


Payback
Payback 11, 2009

Payback of these debt certificates will be coming from cuts to the Operations and Maintenance fund, at least for this budget year ('09-'10).


Elmhurst school district 205

Elmhurst School District 205 11, 2009

The Budget


When does it need to be posted
When Does It Need To Be Posted? 11, 2009

A school budget needs to be posted for community input in its official form for 30 days prior to approval of the budget by the local school board.


When does it need to be approved
When Does It Need To Be Approved? 11, 2009

The budget must be approved by September 30th of the year of the budget.


Timeline perspective
Timeline Perspective 11, 2009

  • For in excess of ten years, the District 205 administration has presented the D205 school board with a comparison budget document in June that was used for discussion over the summer before the budget was to be approved.

  • For the 2009-2010 budget, the administration first posted the legal budget document for the July 14, 2009 school board meeting.  

  • For the August 11, 2009 school board meeting, some additional budget information was available, but not the comparison to the previous year.


On august 20 2009 lwv elmhurst president laura kratz sent a letter to d205 superintendent
On August 20, 2009, LWV Elmhurst President, Laura Kratz, sent a letter to D205 Superintendent

THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS of Elmhurst


The league of women voters of elmhurst1
THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS of Elmhurst… sent a letter to D205 Superintendent

strongly urges School District 205 to produce an annotated version of its 2009 2010 tentative budget for immediate public review.  It is imperative that the public has complete budget information with sufficient time to thoroughly analyze and understand the details before the Board of Education final budget vote on September 22, 2009.Specifically, we urge the District to supply:

  • An introductory narrative detailing how the budget was created including all the priorities that were set, assumptions that were made.  The District needs to explain where revenue shortfalls and spending increases are anticipated, and what, if any, other factors were considered.  

  • Item by item comparisons with projected and actual revenue and spending figures from the previous year and the percentage of change wherever it occurs.   

  • Succinct explanations for every change from the previous year.

  • Full explanations for the substantial administration staffing increases budgeted for the coming year, including the exact nature of each position to be added, salaries, and the specific reasons for doing so.


District s response to lwv
District’s Response to LWV sent a letter to D205 Superintendent

  • Some of this requested information became available on the D205 website (Finance Department section) around September 4, 2009

  • Over 20 questions were directed at the administration from the LWV Elmhurst and all were "answered."


Approval
APPROVAL sent a letter to D205 Superintendent

The D205 School Board voted to approve the budget as it was posted on September 22, 2009.


Www lwvelmhurst org

www.lwvelmhurst.org sent a letter to D205 Superintendent


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