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QuickStory: FACTS Member Questions Pre-Referendum Enrollment Projections

TaxFACTS leader Bob McQuillan suggests the School District 304 enrollment numbers used to promote the 2007 referendum were inflated.

A member of a taxpayer watchdog group suggested publicly Monday night that Geneva voters were given inflated enrollment projection numbers prior to an April 17, 2007, referendum seeking funds to build two new elementary schools.

TaxFACTS citizens group leader Bob McQuillan challenged the Geneva School District 304 Board at its Monday night meeting to explain why enrollment projection numbers offered to the general public prior to the 2007 referendum were higher than the highest projections made by a School District 304 consultant in 2006.

McQuillan said he found the consultant's enrollment projection numbers for the years 2007 to 2012 on the School District's website while he was reviewing the minutes of the School Board's March 17, 2012, "retreat" session held at the district's Central Office, 227 N. Fourth St., Geneva.

The projections were made in 2006 by John D. Kasarda, Ph.D.

McQuillan said after Monday night's meeting that Kasarda offered "low," "expected" and "absolute maximum" ranges of projected enrollment for the years from 2007 to 2012. McQuillan said numbers provided to the public prior to the referendum were significantly higher than the "absolute maximum" numbers.

School Board President Mark Grosso thanked McQuillan but said he could not answer McQuillan's question without some time to review the documents. When McQuillan asked when the district would provide an answer, Grosso answered, "Soon."

In a later public comment portion of the meeting, McQuillan said his question about the apparent discrepancy was not a Freedom of Information Act request. He asked that the board publish a response on its website under "Frequently Asked Questions" prior to the next board meeting.

The next regularly scheduled School Board meeting is 7 p.m. April 23, at the , 1113 Peyton St.

 

2007 REFERENDUM QUESTION

Shall the Board of Education of Geneva Community Unit School District Number 304, Kane County, Illinois, build and equip two new elementary school buildings and a maintenance building, alter, repair, equip and make site improvements to existing school buildings and issue the bonds of said School District to the amount of $79,990,000 for the purpose of paying for the costs thereof?

SOURCE: School District 304 website pdf

Stan April 11, 2012 at 01:16 AM
You have got to be kidding me.
Martin April 11, 2012 at 12:26 PM
If the school board made up it's own numbers, claimed they were numbers from the consultant 's report and used that to promote an 80 million dollar referendum - I don't care if it happened 10 years ago - we need to get to the bottom of it. And if that's not the case, and the board had a reasonable justification to put forth those numbers, we need to hear that, too. "I see no benefit in debating it's contents at this time" ? Sorry Mr. Grosso, this isn't water under the bridge.
Nate April 11, 2012 at 04:59 PM
It really doesn't matter if Mr. Grosso "sees no benefit". The people who voted for and taxpayers who continue to fund the 2007 referendum question deserve an answer. I second Stan's reply...
Martina Natoma April 11, 2012 at 07:23 PM
I did not know that there was a "five year statute of limitations" on possible falsehoods spread by School Boards, and District 304 Administrators, if used to to sell referendums to the public.
Kelly April 12, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Okay, I don't know if the school board inflated the growth projections or not. They all seem like decent, honorable people. But I do know that if the board of directors of a company inflated the growth projections of a consultant in order to lure investors - that's the type of thing the State's Attorney's Office would find very interesting..
G.Ryan April 12, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Decent and honorable? When they DISREGARD our inquiries? I call it ARROGANCE. Is it not under the Code of Conduct to represent all school districts constituents HONESTLY & EQUALLY & REFUSE to SURRENDER responsibility to SPECIAL INTEREST or PARTISAN POLITICAL groups? And aren't they suppose to LISTEN to those who communicate with the Board seeking to UNDERSTAND their views while recognizing their responsibility to REPRESENT the INTERESTS of the ENTIRE COMMUNITY...now ask yourselves if these are really decent honorable people? I think they have alot to learn especially on the level of ethics. The honorable would resign........
Kelly April 12, 2012 at 12:12 PM
I try to assume the best about people. Maybe a mistake, I don't know. But let's take people and personalities out of the equation for a moment. IF the board made up it's own growth projections, higher than the highest numbers the consultant provided, then went on to claim those were the consultants 'mid-range' numbers in order to sell the referendum - that's a very serious issue. I'm not saying that actually occurred - I just wish a decent and honorable member of the board would make some sort of statement either refuting or explaining.
Steven Sheehan April 12, 2012 at 02:40 PM
“One observation worth noting is that total elementary school enrollment stopped growing in 2003-04, despite continuing strong new housing construction, net positive student in-migration, and overall District population growth. This highlights the fact that one cannot simply apply formulas like that done in the report titled “Population Growth in Geneva School District 304” to generate future enrollment.” (Page 10, Kasarda Nov. 2006) Total Elementary (k-5) enrollment decreased from 2552 to 2539 from 03/04 to 06/07. (Page 38, Kasarda) Clearly, disclosing Kasarda’s decomposition of the enrollment history would not have played well with the CUSD 304 Referendum growth story in 2007. “Sure the k-5 population has declined by 12 students over the past 4 years, but if we don’t build 2 new elementary school buildings for $46 Million (plus interest and operating costs) in a hurry, who knows what impact that may have on future ACTs.” By the way, how did that referendum growth story play out? CUSD 304 Referendum Enrollment Projection 2011/12 — 7276 Actual Enrollment (Kasarda Nov 2011) 2011/2012 — 5877 Unlike emailgate, expensegate, and the redlightgate stories, enrollmentgate has legs.
Sandra Ellis April 13, 2012 at 01:46 AM
(Part 1 of 2) A taxing body pushed for an $80 million referendum based on mysteriously inflated enrollment projections! Taxpayers are only asking if this was deliberate to “sell” the referendum or is it simply an $80 million mistake. There are still four people on the board since 2007 that should explain – Dr. Kent Mutchler, Mary Stith, George Moran, and Bill Wilson. Take 3 steps and 10 minutes to check the facts. 1. Watch the video of the March 17, 2012 Board Retreat (link below) and hear the Kasarda reports being discussed by Superintendent Kent Mutchler and board members. Hear them state that they have ALWAYS followed the middle (B Series) Kasarda projections and that they DID NOT use the fastest growth plan (C Series). http://genevataxfacts.org/School-Board-Meetings/03-17-2012.html (Scroll using the dropdown above the video to 4.3 Kasarda report recalculations, trending towards B series . Turn up your speakers as the videographer was not allowed to get closer to pick up better sound.) Listen to Mr. Grosso and the board discuss ways to “inform” the community about the enrollment projections they are using? Ms. Stith indicates the public seems to be misinformed; that the board didn’t use “the fast approach”? After this meeting, both the 2006 and 2011 Kasarda reports were finally made public! See PART 2
Sandra Ellis April 13, 2012 at 01:48 AM
PART 2 of 2 2. Look at the Kasarda report posted on the School District Website, pages 28 and 29 - Table B and Table C enrollment projections for years 2007 and forward. (Disregard 2006 as 5854 students was actual enrollment. ) https://www.geneva304.org/district_information/documents/Kasarda_CUSD_304_2006.pdf 3. Look at the 2007 school board referendum Q&A, Question #9, pages 3 and 4. The numbers posted EXCEED the consultant’s fastest growth plan (C) and the verbage states it was verified by Mr. Kasarda? Where? https://www.geneva304.org/News_and_info/PDF/Public%20Forums%20Spring%202007.pdf So, how serious is the matter of inflating but not explaining projections? The fastest Kasarda growth projection (C) for 2012 was 6742 students vs the “advertised” referendum projection of 7472 vs actual current 2012 enrollment of 5877. That means we have 23 more students this year than we did in 2006! Yet, two schools were built after the referendum passed (by 100 votes) and we now have a $305 million taxpayer debt that extends to 2027. Do you think this deserves explanation?
Sandra Ellis April 13, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Better do your fact checking quickly. The historic links to historic information on the 2007 referendum are no longer accessible on the school district website? Is anyone getting upset yet? https://www.geneva304.org/district_information/historic_ref_info.asp
Ken April 13, 2012 at 09:36 PM
The information is no longer available. The Board President says it's not worth the district's time to respond... Do they really think this will just go away if they ignore it?
Rick Nagel (Editor) April 13, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Kelley Munch says nothing's been taken down from the website. I checked, and I'm finding the links to the PDF for "April 17, 2007 Referendum & Board Election Results" It appears to be functioning OK. You go to this page: https://www.geneva304.org/News_and_info/historic_ref_info.asp Then you get this PDF: https://www.geneva304.org/News_and_info/PDF/April%2017,%202007%20Election%20Results.pdf
Nate April 14, 2012 at 12:21 AM
I tried the links earlier today as well and they all failed to load.
Ken April 14, 2012 at 04:16 AM
Thanks Rick - the links on the other site are broken. I guess it's more of a technical issue than a coverup. I still think the board owes the community some sort of an explanation.
Bob McQuillan April 14, 2012 at 04:30 AM
stamp collecting doesn't cost $80,000,000 plus interest. When the entire story comes out, which it will, the vast majority of Geneva School District residents will demand the truth. Of course there will always be those that think it is "all about the kids."
Ben April 14, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Just a little PR advice to the board: When a potential bombshell surfaces, take ownership.
Bob McQuillan April 14, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Stu Here's the real joke, people like you don't have a clue what is happening right in front of your eyes. You probably think it's funny that in the next four years people will be taxed out of the houses because their taxes will increase $1,000 per year. All because of the free-spending over the last ten years of the Geneva School Administrators & board members. Here's a joke for you ..... who is going to pay the $10,000,000 per year difference from the $14,000,000 in debt repayment paid last year vs. the $25,000,000 per year due within four years? I can be the funniest guy in the room but not when elected officials don't tell the truth. At least two board members read comments on the Patch because they always respond to fluff stories...but no response on the simple question "How did you come up with the enrollment numbers for the 2007 referendum that you gave to the public?" Take off the rose color glasses and deal in reality.
Rod Nelson April 15, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Having watched a good chunk of my own self funded pension go to money heaven twice in the past 10-12 years, I can sympathize with angst over the never ending property tax increments. I am so grateful that the 66% increase in state income tax is temporary. The problem with democracy is it seems to foster the formation of circular firing squads where the people who actually care about what is happening and usually share many the same core values take pot shots at each other while the "silent majority" too often includes the uninformed and apathetic. I will not attempt to trivialize Bob M's position that past mistakes matter. And I cannot support Mr. Grasso's apparent position that a possible past breach of trust is irrelevant because of the elapsed time. Trust cannot be built in a day, but it can be lost like a flash. No statute of limitations exists for trust. And the institution we call District 304 is too important to our community to risk a break in the bond of trust that sustains it. So let us continue to examine the mistake of that last referendum. Mistakes are easy to spot in the retrospectoscope (trust me, I know, I am a doctor with an enormous malpraractice premium).
Rod Nelson April 15, 2012 at 10:15 PM
The reality of current situation is that we have a problem. Our cost per pupil is likely to escalate quickly as a consequence of our enrollment stalling and possibly falling (deja vu the late 70's early 80's). When grow stops the faculty ages in place. No new hires can occur at the lower end of the scale. The pay of teachers rightly increases with experience and more education (what kind of culture do we want for our schools...one that values more education or accepts the proposition good enough is close enough?). Teacher pensions are a problem but they are what they signed up for and we (read taxpayers) agreed to the deal. The irony is that the only macro variable left is class size if we want to limit cost per pupil growth. This of course, if implemented, will actually increase "surplus" space. I'd say this is the fulcrum of the debate. Can we maintain of time honored and proven "tradition of excellence" trough the challenges of the next decade?
G.Ryan April 16, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Dear Mr. Nelson, I agree we have a HUGE problem..this School District is approximately 325 million in DEBT yet they FAIL to acknowledge this as they are in DENIAL of their spending addiction. Furthermore, when you have a District who just HELPS themselves to our money paying themselves LAVISH salaries and raises...we have a problem...When this School District pays a librarian a SIX-FIGURE salary we have a problem. When your monthly property tax bill amount EXCEEDS your monthly mortgage payment we have a problem. When you attempt to speak "COMMON SENSE" with this School Board they call you names or label you "OFFENSIVE" we have a problem. When they REFUSE to answer your direct questions, we have a problem. When this Board votes "I" to every whim of the School District we have a problem..When this Board lacks the necessary problem solving abilities we have problem. So with all that said the District plans to stick this DEBT of their establishment onto us taxpayers without filing bankruptcy, closing one or more of the schools or cutting staff and the administration's LAVISH salaries but they EXPECT us taxpayers to cut our expenses for them and maintain a budget for them however, they just continue to spend, spend, spend our money!
Sandra Ellis April 16, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Mr. Nagel, thanks for much for pursing what happened on the links. The links you posted did indeed contain the historical information that did not work with the link that I was using. In fact, now I see the entire link that I mentioned does not work so apparently they have totally removed the page with the links that didn't work. Glad to see it was not deliberate and the information remains available. As for whoever "Stu" is, please take the time to do the 3 steps I mentioned in my two part note above where you will see the actual consultant projections and then what the "advertised" enrollment projections were. Then listen to Dr. Mutchler and board members discuss in the video done just a month ago how they need to "inform" the public better that they have ALWAYS used the B projections. Stu, please do that, and then draw your conclusion. At the most 10 minutes. Is it explainable? Maybe? But you have to wonder why they only released the 2007 consultant report about 8 weeks ago and now say they don't want to discuss. C'mon, Stu, put your feet in the water or go back to licking your stamps. We need people who have curiosity and concern about a major taxing body. Hope to meet you at the next School Board meeting!
Ken S April 16, 2012 at 06:30 PM
If my memory serves me correctly, isn't the teacher contract up at the end of the school year?
Sandra Ellis April 17, 2012 at 04:14 AM
The School Board has indicated they are involved in negotiations now.
Ken S April 17, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Did anyone else read the Tribune editorial page yesterday about the Chicago teachers contract and their opinion of changes that need to be made? I am not comparing our teachers to CPS terachers but maybe our board should look at many of the same ideas. No more banking of sick time to retire a year early, a stop to lane changes... Maybe they could reward teachers like the private sector rewards employees, based on merit, not lenght of service.
Dave Erickson April 17, 2012 at 01:26 PM
I once had a boss that said don't continue to bring me complaints and problems, rather bring me solutions or don't bother me. Therefore it seems that there is a simple solution to this issue. Since there appears to be an abundance of people posting here that are obviously convinced that the current and past board members are either lying or corrupt, then step up and provide the solution. Run for the open seats and correct this. Also, why is everyone afraid to use their full name? Just curious.
Hal April 17, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I'm with Dr. Nelson - if the board won't come forward and explain the issues that Mr. McQuillan brought to light, they've fractured the trust between the community and the school district.
Bob McQuillan April 17, 2012 at 03:07 PM
First, no one has said anyone is corrupt. Second, I asked the question at a public meeting because the statements made by Dr. Mutchler, Donna Oberg and Mary Stith about always following Dr. Kassard's Series B (most expected) projections and what was provided by the administration/board for the 2007 building referendum DO NOT match. Please view the video of March 17th at http://www.genevataxfacts.org/School-Board-Meetings/03-17-2012.html Use the drop down menu to go to section 4.3 Kasarda recaluations- trending toward Series B. Both the original 2006 & revised 2011 reports were passed out to the board members at this meeting. Mary Stith sates that they did not use the "fast & aggressive approach" for the 2007 referendum. Her comment about a 3rd elementary school, I believe, is Settlement of LaFox not Fox Mill (that development is in St. Charles). A possible elementary school in Settlement of LaFox WAS NOT included in the Phase I 2007 referendum question. That possibility was not ever discussed in terms of the 2007 projections. Projections used for the FAQ section on the district's website in 2007 were actually higher than Dr. Kasarda's "absolute maximum" projections. The question remains, where did the projections used for the 2007 referendum approval campaign come from? What is the basis for projections that were higher their their expert's absolute maximum? The community has a right to know the truth about how the 2007 referendum was presented to them. Watch the video
Alberto Principe April 17, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Integrity is hard to find these days it seems. I say possible solutions could be to close one of the schools, board members involved in the doctoring of the numbers to resign, and quite possibly the best solution would be to get the community involved. If Geneva wants to know why we are paying so much, then stop complaining about it and actively engage in the decision making process. I am very interested in the reasons for the exagerated numbers, once we know the reasons we can decide how to resolve that problem.
G.Ryan April 19, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Alberto, we have tried to apply solutions to this Board and they are completely arrogant and rude to us who attend the School Board meetings monthly....they will not answer your questions and will not make the DEBT issue a priority.....I invite every member of this community to attend and get involved. As it is time to start petitioning for closure of either one or two of the school PALACES.......

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