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Schory's Story on 'Enrollmentgate' Worth Reading

Kane County Chronicle report reveals a lot of details and background about the inflated 2007 referendum enrollment numbers, as well as who did what. So do the projection numbers themselves.

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 "" 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.

 

  Year   Kasarda
  Series C  

  Projected
  to voters 

  2006     5854   5,854     2007   6,071   6,145   2008    6,254   6,489   2009   6,396   6,884   2010   6,548   7,080   2011   6,670   7,276   2012   6,742   7,472

 


John R June 17, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Thanks Colin nice To see your post's. You come across as very reasoned and sensible. Your experience from out east gives a bit of insight. Thank you for sharing. To me it's all such a non issue. Coultrap needed to be replaced its a mess and was probably way over due. Without Fabyan our elementary schools would be bursting at the seams. Some of the neighborhoods out west are not yet fully developed. Shodeen is starting up development on one of his unfinished projects. I don't know how it will impact enrollment but my guess is that in a few years we're going to be very happy that the referendum passed and we built and upgraded our schools. All of this is about nothing more than finding sticks to beat this board. It's about grinding an ax with a democratically elected board. The core of taxFacts group Isn't even on speaking terms with most of the current board. It appears from the forum that taxFacts is getting counsel and guidance from the heartland institute. The heartland institute have school districts squarely in there sights. Dist 304 hire some professional help so that you can address these issues. Rice
Bob McQuillan June 18, 2012 at 12:16 AM
John wants the board and administration to hire professional help. Is that in addition to PMA & William Blair Company that already are hired? Those two "consultants" are part of the reason we have non-callable 9% bonds. Isn't the board supposed to represent the taxpayers? Shouldn't we be able to answer questions? The solution is that someone on the current board needs to stand up and say no to the administration when they propose more increases in next year's budget. As to who advises GenevaTaxFACTS, Heartland institute has never contacted us nor have we contacted them. I didn't met the guest speaker at our town hall meeting until that night. I knew that he works with "For the Good of Illinois" and I support that group's efforts. I didn't know what he was going to say other than it was going to be about what is happening across the state. As to my relationship with current board members, how do you know who I do and do not speak to? Did you know that I sent an e-mail to the board president the day after the town hall thanking him for attending and offering to sit down and discuss anything that was discussed? Communication goes two ways, they have my contact information. John, it might be best if you listen to both sides of a situation before you make assumptions and then share that as truth. No individual or group is under siege. Also, the majority of GenevaTaxFACTS people are not retired. We couldn't if we wanted to, we have high property taxes to pay.
Thomas June 18, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Actually the idea of the having all of the current school board resign because of false information being given several years ago to get something approved at great taxpayer expense is intriguing. Could we also apply this same concept to Congress for approving the multi-trillion dollar Iraq War under the premise that Iraq had "weapons of mass destruction"? The possibilities are endless.
Colin C. June 18, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Thomas, I love that idea. We might even take it a step further and ask any government representative or official who makes a mistake, or belongs to a body that once made a mistake, to resign. What a great way to encourage dedicated people to volunteer to serve our community! Of cf course we might also simply eliminate the body that we disagree with. Hey, no more school board, no more problem, except who represents the community in deciding how our schools are run? Well, that's easy. Eliminate the public school system completely! Let everyone home school! That ends all of the tax burdens once and for all and gives every family complete control over the education of their children. And no more having to second guess the school board. After all, that worked pretty well a couple of hundred years ago, why not today? As you said, the possibilities are endless. Or, on the other hand we might just accept the fact that our population has not grown as rapidly as it might have done and we are facing a problem that will require thoughtful consideration, creative thinking, compromise, and some shared, mutual sacrifice to resolve. Looking back and demanding all of the facts on exactly how this happened so that we can blame someone might make some people feel better but will not help us get to where we need to be. In fact, I think, at this point that effort may just impede the progress that we need to be making.
G.Ryan June 18, 2012 at 03:20 PM
It will also identify the system is broken. If the Board gets away with not being held accountable for their behavior why should they implement any policies or voting for that matter? Why have them? Is it not their purpose to be the utilization and checks and balances for us taxpayers so this type of incidence does not occur? Furthermore, is it not their responsiblity to disclose all evidence to the public specifically when opting for a referendum? Perhaps you are missing the point here. They wanted to pass this referendum no matter what or how the transaction came about. They had the PACs behind them to benefit from it.

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