Grosso Will Comment Monday on School District Enrollment Projection Numbers

School District 304 Board President Mark Grosso will have an on-camera comment regarding the "Enrollmentgate" questions raised by TaxFACTS member Bob McQuillan.

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."




Fred Cregier April 20, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Mr. Grosso has always appeared to me as an honest and concerned member of the School Board. If he honestly and directly explains what happened in apparently puffing the enrollment figures back in 2007 (before he was even on the board) it would go a long way toward restoring trust in our Board's actions. Trying to sweep this under the table will only increase the deep concerns many of us have about the dependability of Board forecasts and actions in the future. Please be simple and firmly honest about your explanation, Mr. Grosso, and then do some sincere revelations to the public on HOW the Board will manage to minimize the current costs in order to offset the great increases in taxation that will otherwise follow. We, taxpayers of Geneva, deserve to know these members are finally and truly working down our costs, in order to dig us out from a huge overbulding program. For one thing, reconfigure the non-teaching staffs to reduce overhead costs by eliminating unneeded staffing. It seems this has been an untouchable area! What are you all afraid of? Profitable companies are forced to reduce costs in order to stay in business. Why can't our Board operate with similar authority in this regard? Fred Cregier
Nate April 20, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Geneva SD304: Number of Full Time Teachers/Admin: 431 Number Exceeding 100K Salary: 60 Avg. Salary: $74,082.06 Avg. Additional Benefits: $ 8,515.26 St. Charles SD303: Number of Full Time Teachers/Admin: 1006, Number Exceeding 100K: 30, Avg. Salary: $64,126.65 Avg. Additional Benefits: $6,689.62 Information from ISBE website Administrator and Teacher Salary and Benefits Lookup (Analysis includes only full time employees)
Bob McQuillan April 20, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Ken, you make great points and here is another one about the 2007 referendum that most people don't know. Because the district would have surpassed the maximum debt allowable by law (13.8% of the district's EAV) if they issued the approved $79,900,000 in bonds, they had to issue premium bonds. Basically they had to refinance current debt in order to take on new debt. The problem is that current debt of @ $38 million was refinanced with non-callable bonds at a 9% rate. That means that the district can not refinance that debt and will be force to keep those premium bonds until 2027. What does this all mean .... the $79 million in new bonds that the community thought they were approving actually turned out to be over $112 million. Check it out on page 11 of the following link http://www.genevataxfacts.org/attachments/article/9/2007%20Bond%20Issue.pdf The district can put any spin on it that they want but bond issues don't lie. Would you have voted for the 2007 referendum if you knew it was for $112,000,000 instead of $79,000,000?
Rick Anderson April 21, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Only 100 votes passed the referendum (2% variance). Canidates would have called for a recount and battled it out in court. Perhaps the focus should be on a law mandating that all referendums should be acted on when there is a prevailing majority...like 60/40. Tthe vote tally as it was merited more public debate. Lets not repeat this again.
G.Ryan April 22, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Dear Mr. Anderson, Great point. I also heard the referendum was entered in the primary voting agenda not the general is this true? Thanks


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