Whether you're a School Board member or a TaxFACTS "disciple," you have to appreciate the work Brenda Schory put into today's (June 13, 2012) Kane County Chronicle story on the "Enrollmentgate" issue.
Schory outlined the background, interviewed probably a dozen of the people involved in the pre-2007 enrollment-projection process and went through stacks of Freedom of Information Act-gathered materials to create a fuller picture and understanding of the issue, as well as what's at stake.
The issue, of course, is that the enrollment projections distributed to the public prior to the 2007 referendum were much higher than those of a professional consultant hired by the district.
The referendum passed by 100 votes out of the 4,910 ballots cast, OK'd the building of two new schools and other improvements and is the cause of millions of dollars in lingering debt.
Schory's story presents many more details, but the Reader's Digest Condensed version is that the "most aggressive" (Series C) report by consultant John Kasarda projected the district enrollment at 6,670 by 2012—while the numbers given to the public projected 7,472.
Not surprisingly, each person Schory interviewed said they had no idea who pulled the trigger to release the higher enrollment projections to the public, except to say "it wasn't me."
Much of that is understandable. I have trouble remembering my name on some days, let alone the details of a referendum campaign that took place five or more years ago.
And this does appear to be one of those cases where there were so many people involved—from volunteer referendum committees to school liaisons to board members to school officials—that no one person pressed the "send" button.
That said, everyone agrees the numbers were inflated—put out for consumption and derived, not by a professional consultant, but by some unexplained amalgamation. And someone had to pick those numbers, whether they were logically calculated or pulled from a hat.
The projections themselves seem to indicate the latter.
The first three years of the projections presented to the public show enrollment increases of 291, 344 and 395—which were much higher than the trend of actual enrollment growth from the previous three years: 131, 103 and 131. So someone, somehow, simply decided the trend was moot and growth would quickly double, then triple.
After that point, that same person or persons decided that enrollment simply would go up by exactly 196 students in each of the final three years of these projections: 2009-10, through 2011-12. That seems to indicate—fairly convincingly—that the projection numbers presented to the public were chosen arbitrarily.
Someone selected those numbers. And whomever it was should step up and say so—and apologize—so that the "Enrollmentgate" issue can be put to rest.