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School Board QuickStory: Hard Words Over Turf, Taxes

In a board meeting punctuated by verbal barbs, Geneva School District 304 OK's $1.1 million bid for Burgess Field improvements and forms a three-member Finance Committee.

The Geneva School District 304 Board of Education approved a $1.1 million bid to build of a turf field and formed a Finance Committee that will hold meetings open to the public—two long-discussed actions that might have been greeted with celebration or applause at other times in Geneva School Board history.

But drowning out any happy sound Monday night was an ongoing war of words between members of the Geneva TaxFACTS group and the Board of Education.

Sandy Ellis, 209 Peyton St., excoriated School Board member Matt Henry for comments she said he made at the end of a meeting two weeks ago. According to Ellis, Henry said "it is arrogant to move into a house you can't afford" and made reference to "folks who had overextended themselves."

"I am offended," she said. Ellis said it was past decisions by the School Board, not the private sector, that have made it more difficult for people to afford living in Geneva.

"This is what Mr. Henry didn’t say," she added. "Not one of you have publicly acknowledged that you as a board blew it."

Later in the meeting, board member Mary Stith took issue to references made by TaxFACTS leader Bob McQuillan and other speakers during the comments period Monday night. McQuillan cited what he called "a dark cloud" hanging over the process of approving the turf-field construction.

"I’m extremely offended when people suggest that," Stith said. "It’s not honest, and it’s not fact-based. I challenge anyone who thinks we are doing illegal activities to follow it through ... I wouldn’t want a dishonest board, either."

McQuillan noted that District 304 Superintendent Kent Mutchler thanked numerous people for their roles in bringing about the turf-field improvements, including staff members, members of the Friends of Burgess Field group and an anonymous donor who contributed $500,000 toward the project.

"I am not against the turf field," McQuillan said. "I am against the process. Everyone was thanked, except the group that’s going to pay more than 50 percent of the cost. I think we all know who that is—it’s the taxpayers."

Patch will have followup stories on the Burgess Field project and other School Board action later this week.

Bob McQuillan February 14, 2012 at 12:32 PM
I stand by every word I said. I am extremely offended ...when 7 people ignore the fact that the turf bid approval was posted on a company's website before they were awarded the contract and prior to the board approval vote. Mr. Wilson, that is not normal business practice ...when a board member takes personal credit for creating a finance committee and posting the board packet on their website when many taxpayers have been requesting the same thing for months. ...when the board reorganizes at a public meeting after they already discussed who would be the President & Vice President days prior to the meeting. ...when the District's own point man for the turf field could not answer two questions from board members yet the board approved the contract 7-0. ...when a group of citizens raised less than 10% of their goal of $500,000 but are praised numerous times during one meeting but the taxpayers, who will pay more than $550,000, aren't thanked once. ...when the minutes of a board meeting are approved but don't accurately reflect the public comments of Matt Henry during the meeting. His comments were edited to take out the words that should be offensive to all Geneva residents about being over-extended and buying houses that we couldn't afford. Check the video tape of the 1/23 meeting. If you can find it. ...when this board & administration ignores the Geneva taxpayers ...the vast majority of Geneva does nothing to spot outrageous school spending
Political PR Machine February 14, 2012 at 12:54 PM
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Jeff Ward February 14, 2012 at 02:51 PM
And when a "citizen activist" bent on self-aggrandizement doesn't know when to back off, nothing will change. How many people have signed up for the FACTS website, 15? No one wants to be aligned with a group that makes the Tea Party look rational.
Bob McQuillan February 14, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Yep you keep thinking it is 15, but you don't need to worry because we all know you control the school from your easy chair.
John Doe February 14, 2012 at 09:56 PM
The great school system in Geneva is the reason that our houses are still worth something. Look around Mr. Factman! We have a lot to be thankful for. How can you use an inappropriate tone and be offended by other's? Your offended becuase someone was thanked for their efforts? Thats mature.
Lou B. February 15, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Wow Jeff, good put down. No basis in fact of course. Were you at the board meeting... didn't see you there. Well... have never seen you at ANY board meetings, Seems that mouthing off on the Patch is your idea of Public Service. Hope you endear yourself to the proper teacher (the one's who grade your kids) with your pro union, pro-high tax tirades.
Political PR Machine February 15, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Check it out... the free website is up and runnng... www.democronomics.com I believe it will become the direction for getting Democracy (equal vote, equal ownership, equal say, Bill of rights for the pursuit of Happiness among other things) and Economics (managing resources and the use/distribution of resources) to work together in a way that can restore something lacking in politics and in our socio-capitalistic economy - integrity. When the book comes out, it will be available in paperback for under $10 and on e-readers for under $5. What a deal - stay tuned - aren't you glad you read this?
Lou B. February 15, 2012 at 03:35 AM
"The great school system in Geneva is the reason that our houses are still worth something." More accurately, the great Demographics in Geneva which foster quality outcomes. I dare you to send the entire Geneva teaching and admin staff to the inner city and watch as the results take a nosedive. There is nothing special about Geneva educators, there IS something unique about the Camelot demographics. Any honest teacher or admin will agree. Aside from that, our cost per student is outrageous, and if you thing we really need to pay a hundred K for a drivers Ed teacher... well you must be Greek.
Bob McQuillan February 15, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Mr. Doe According to the latest real estate info, Illinois is number 3 in the country in forecloses. 3. Illinois 2011 foreclosure rate: 5.4% December, 2011 unemployment: 9.8% (7th highest) Home price change (2006Q3-2011Q3): -29% (7th largest decline) Processing period: 300 days Home prices in Illinois have dropped 29% from the third quarter of 2006 — one of the largest declines in the country. It also takes 300 days to process foreclosures in the state. The state’s 90+ day delinquency rate for mortgage payments is 9.2%, the fourth highest in the country. First, Geneva does not have a great school system,it is very good but not great. Second, you certainly haven't tried to sell your house. Batavia & Geneva values have dropped more than St. Charles because of the high taxes. St. Charles didn't buy into the growth projections. batavis built a performing arts center. You can have the greatest school system in the country but if no one can afford the taxes, it means nothing. Realtors have to tell their buyers that taxes are going to increase for the next 15 years because it is public knowledge. Any good Realtor will disclose future tax increases to protect themselves from lawsuits. I wasn't offended because others were thanked, I was offended because the taxpayers were taken for granted and not thanked. This project will cost US at least $550,000. Mr. Doeman or woman, those are the FACTS. www.genevataxfacts.org, you need to get involved for your own good
Paul Rogers February 15, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Mr. Drendel: I am of Greek descent and find the closing remark in your last post to be needlessly snarky, if not blatantly offensive. You do not help your argument by including such uncivil comments. As for your earlier post, where you accuse Jeff Ward of being pro-union, etc., I suggest you review your grammar, especially re: agreement in number between noun and pronouns ("teacher" and one's), and also re: the proper use of the appostrophe..."one's" is the singular possessive, not the plural, which, as I indicated earlier, should not be used as a pronoun for the singular "teacher." Again, such gross mistakes just detract from your argument.
Thomas February 15, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Mr. Drendel, How nice of you to absolve the Geneva teachers of all responsibilty for their students' outcomes. Based on your logic if academic success is based purely on demographics then the oposite must be true that academic failure must be poor demographics as well? My guess is if test scores in the district were to fall your finger would quickly point to the teachers and not the parents or students as the cause.
Lou B. February 15, 2012 at 05:11 AM
"Based on your logic if academic success is based purely on demographics then the oposite must be true that academic failure must be poor demographics as well? " In general, your statement is pretty much correct. I would restate as follows: "Academic success exhibits a strong correlation to community demographics."
Lou B. February 15, 2012 at 05:25 AM
Mr. Rogers, First, to fan the flames, let me state that I never met a Greek named "Mr.Rogers", but anyhow, it is factual and can't be denied that the bloated, corrupt public sector, and accommodating private sector in Greece is a textbook example of failed sovereign fiscal management. If Greece isn't kicked out of the EU in 2012 it will come as a surprise to many. Therein lies a valid parallel to the management of Geneva taxpayer assets by the current members of the Geneva School Board and their cronies in the (NEA-IEA-GEA) union based school system in general. And if you disagree sir, I would like to offer you some Greek General Obligation Bonds... currently paying 35%!
Political PR Machine February 15, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Comparing Greece's woes to Geneva's decision to invest in a turf field is like comparing World Champions to the Cubs...they have nothing in common... the Greeks never had turf, and now look what happened to them...if we don't want to resemble the Greeks, lets start where they blew it...Hercules would've done better on Turf. Without turf, they became socialistic philosophers that proved they existed. Whoopdy doo.
Paul Rogers February 16, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Mr. Drendel: I prefer to douse flames, not fan them, but maybe that's just me. You should, however, be careful when you play with fire. I am hardly surprised you've never met a Greek named "Rogers," but you fail to consider some obvious explanations: (1) I'm not 100% Greek; (2) I was adopted; (3) my father -- before I was born and for his own reasons -- changed his name; (4) my paternal grandfather's Greek name was "Regas," but when he came through Ellis Island, it was misrecorded as "Rogers." One of those explanations is true. I took offense mainly because you used "Greek" as a generic epithet and continue to do so in your response. You cannot judge all Greeks based on mistakes made by some Greeks who hold political and economic power. Do you really think that is fair? Would it be fair to judge you as an "Illinoisan" simply because, by your own admission, our politicians leave much to be desired? Do you really think that using ad hominem arguments and stereotypes about unions/teachers help persuade those who don't already agree with you? By the way, I am not a teacher, have no relatives who are teachers, do not belong to a union, and have no kids in the Geneva public schools. I am a Geneva homeowner who cares about the quality/efficiency of our school system, both for civic and economic reasons, and who values civil discourse. The least we owe our kids is to set a good example by avoiding name-calling, inflammatory rhetoric, etc.

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