TaxFACTS members are calling it "Enrollmentgate."
School Board members are calling it a "gotcha moment" that distracts from the real challenges facing the district at this time.
What's at issue is whether Geneva School District 304 officials knowingly released hyped-up enrollment projection numbers prior to the 2007 referendum that approved construction of two new Geneva schools.
That $79 million referendum passed by 100 votes—2,495 "yes" votes to 2,395 "no" votes.
School Board President Mark Grosso said Wednesday evening that he would make some sort of statement at Monday night's School Board meeting regarding accusations made by TaxFACT leader Bob McQuillan at the April 9 board meeting.
During the public comment part of that meeting, McQuillan had asked why enrollment projections made by consulting demographer John Kasarda were lower than the numbers presented on the School District website and on pro-referendum leaflets distributed to the public prior to the April 17, 2007, referendum.
"I’m going to look into it," Grosso said by phone Wednesday. "I will have some type of statement or response at the board meeting Monday night."
Grosso had previously declined to comment, in an e-mail sent to McQuillan on April 10.
"I have determined that any response to your question at last night’s board meeting would not be a productive use of the district’s time," Grosso's e-mail said. "The 2006 Kasarda report you referenced is 5 years old, and I see no benefit to debating its contents at this time."
TaxFACTS members have argued that it does, primarily as a matter of public trust in the information the School District provides the public.
Using the projected 2011 school year as an example, the projected enrollment numbers presented on the School District's website were about 17 percent higher than the "Series B" projections in the Kasarda report, according to School District documents.
Kasarda's projections for the 2011-12 "B" range were 6,199. The numbers presented to the public were 7,276.
The enrollment projection numbers were discussed at the School Board's annual "retreat" meeting on March 17 held here in Geneva at the district offices. The context of the discussion was a November 2011 enrollment-projection report by Kasarda, who had also completed the 2006 enrollment report.
When contacted by phone, School Board member Matt Henry said the TaxFACTS scrutiny was "another gotcha moment" that takes focus from the more-important, immediate and practical issue of what to do about paying down the existing debt.
Henry was not a board member when the referendum was held in April 2007.
"I didn’t vote for the referendum, but it went through," he said. "(The enrollment projection numbers) plus or minus probably wouldn’t have made a difference. What we’re trying to do as a School Board is pay down the debt that we are saddled with right now as quickly as possible."