Where was everyone? There were nearly 150 people in attendance at the first Community Consolidated School District 15 Navigate15 meeting held last November. Back then more than a third of the twenty-three groups claimed they wanted to know more about facility planning in the district.
Monday’s session Facilities: Our Schools was planned to address their concerns. The informative presentation reviewed the past and projected building needs for the district and discussed possible options for the future.
Something different was incorporated into this session. A panel of experts took questions from the audience–and actually provided some immediate answers.
Unfortunately hardly anyone showed up to participate in this engaging two-way community session. Many of the approximately 55 in the room have been regular Navigate15 attendees – principals, district staff, committee members and a few board members.
It’s really too bad more residents were not there – especially when questions were raised regarding the recent failed bond referendum and how the district spends money on capital projects.
One presentation slide compared District 15 to neighboring Schaumburg District 54. Over the past five years they outspent District 15 in capital projects by almost $20 million.
It revealed how in school years 2006-07 and 2007-08 District 15 allocated nothing for capital projects. This occurred despite issuing $6 million in working cash bonds in the spring of 2006. As promised then, those funds were specifically targeted to complete urgent projects outlined in an architectural life safety study completed in October 2005.
Monies were finally spent on capital projects the following two years – more than $4 million for items posing an immediate hazard to the safety of children.
But as stated during the presentation, those funds were primarily obtained from excess tax increment financing (TIF) revenue received from the Village of Palatine. A clear answer was not given as to how the working cash bond money was ultimately spent.
Perhaps District 15 put the cart before the horse. Long-term debt first, long-term facilities plan later.
Now according to the life safety study District 15 is six months behind in completing $16 million worth of required building projects necessary for a safe environment – and still without a long-term plan.
District 15 Superintendent Scott Thompson clearly stated at Monday’s session that “we can’t go back, so let’s move forward”. The administration wants to create a district-wide capital improvements plan. Projects will be planned and scheduled, needs will be prioritized in order to determine cost and then budgeted.
The next Navigate15 session May 31 will focus on Finances: School Finances 101 and Planning for the Future. That’s when the community will learn how money flows within the district today and provide their input as to where it will be distributed in the future.
Facilities is just one piece competing for a slice of the district's financial pie.
We can’t stop the money from trickling out, but we can control how it flows.
And we can start by being aware of where the money goes.
– SchoolHouse Rock, Where the Money Goes
Educate yourself on past Navigate15 meetings and take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about our school district.