.

TaxFACTS Town Hall Meeting Draws More Than 100 People

The Kane County Chronicle reports that more than 100 people came out on Monday night to find out more about Geneva School District 304

Geneva TaxFACTS has enough of a following to draw more than 100 people to a community forum on school spending, the Kane County Chronicle reports.

The , hosted by the citizens group, was held Monday night at the , 2300 South St., Geneva.

According to the Chronicle story, the discussion touched on the recent dispute over enrollment projections the School District distributed prior to the 2007 building bond referendum. TaxFACTS co-founder Bob McQuillan and other member of the group have of School Board members and administrators who were responsible for the release of the projections, which were .

The article said McQuillan called on the School District to reduce spending by 5 percent in each of the next three years and to hold teachers union contract negotiations in an open forum.

“There is no question that every resident supports a quality education, but at some point the community has to question, at what cost," McQuillan said on the TaxFACTS website.

Geneva Non-parent June 08, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Information from the Illinois Interactive Report Card: http://iirc.niu.edu/CompareDistricts.aspx?districtID=31045304026 http://iirc.niu.edu/CompareDistricts.aspx?source=Test_Results&source2=Scatter_Plots&level=d&districtID=31045304026
Bob McQuillan June 08, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Year Total 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 11th Grades 2011 5,910 452 439 453 468 502 474 466 I love the Illinois Interactive Report Card but you need to retype the information you are comparing. You can't just copy the website address because the report times out after a time period and you get blank info. Above is the enrollment by grade (starts at 3rd and only records 11th in high school). You'll notice that we have a bump in 7th grade (either next year's 8th or 9th grade and then all other grades are below that number). The kindergarten enrollment for September is lower than this year as publicly stated at the last school board meeting. We will not have a capacity issue at any level for many years. The problem is that we are over capacity at the elementary & middle school levels. See attached from December 2010. http://www.genevataxfacts.org/attachments/article/55/Building%20utilization%20In-Depth%20Analysis.pdf There is a great discussion started on this thread. Now lets talk about about solving the tax problem by offering solutions to either find new streams of revenue or reduce expenses. Check out the 5-5-5 plan on the last page of this document and all comments are welcome. Maybe it should be the 3-2-2 plan or 4-3-1? We do need some type of plan. http://www.genevataxfacts.org/images/pdfs/Final%20Presentation%206-4-2012.pdf
Thomas June 08, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Pete, Did some research. Oak Park River Forest School District's Instructional expenditure per student is $10,660 compared to Geneva's $6,248. Thats 70.6% more than what Geneva spends. Hinsdale Township Instructional expense per student $10,910 (74.6% more than Geneva). Your statistic of % of property value to the district is more a reflection of the fact that we are much more of a "bedroom community" with a less diverse tax base than the districts you listed. Imagine how much more you would have to pay to spend the kind of money OPRF and Hinsdale is spending on staff salaries and benefits.
Peter Urdemales June 08, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Things I agree with here: 1. The word "mediocre" needs to stop being thrown about. I take it as insulting to both the students and teachers. I'm sure they would too. And, no one who's used the word has actually said what they expect so schools aren't "mediocre." They just expect "more for less." Which brings us to... 2. Thomas' numbers are important, Pete. Unless Geneva suddenly develops an industrial base, it won't match the amount Hinsdale and Oak Park-River Forest can put out per student. So, property taxes are the place Geneva schools will get funding. No one wants to over-pay for taxes. But the majority of people arguing against district spending seem, I think the word is "curmudgeonly", like they just don't want to pay anything. And attacking schools, students, and teachers isn't going to solve the problem.
Noel G. Rooks June 08, 2012 at 02:51 PM
@ Pete - LOL. interestingly,one of the towns you mention is my home town. I'm interested in River Forest in particular because there are quite a few people who came from that area who moved here, in my experience. There is *enough similarity to compare. OPRF (the high school)'s ACT scores were 24.1. Median income (family) 176k. Median sale price, $480,000. Median property tax in River Forest, $12,662, 15th highest in market. 73% of property tax in RF goes to schools. Now, pulling same data for Geneva - ACT 24.1, median sale price $264,260. Median property tax, $7,086. I stated Geneva's median family income above. So. In River Forest, while yes, their *rate is lower, that's a red herring. They pay more in property taxes, their cost of living is higher (Cook County), their homes cost more, and they get almost identical results.
Noel G. Rooks June 08, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Oh, and, as Thomas pointed out, they pay more per student than we do. Where's the value again?
Noel G. Rooks June 08, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Exactly.
John R June 08, 2012 at 05:30 PM
@Bob and all, Bob, I was going to send you an email today to give you a heads up that I've asked the School Board to comment on the 5 5 5 suggestion at the upcoming board meeting. Or as you suggested above maybe we could look at a 3 2 2, 4 3 1 or some other combination to settle the budget down. At any rate I wanted to give you a heads up so that you don't feel blind sided. Also, a suggestion I agree with you on, as far as cost cutting possibilities, is bidding the transportation side of our operation and then taking a hard look at it to see if it would make sense. I'll be pushing the board and administration to take steps in that direction. And if it saves money, is safe and works operationally then we should contract it out. @ everyone..... can anyone pull up a comparison between school districts in the chicago suburban area, which have high schools, to district 304. Leaving the Chicago public schools out of it. My understanding is that d304 is at the or near the bottom in teacher and administrative cost when we compare ourselves to similar communities. John
Angela Kane June 08, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Fascinating back and forth on the forum that Bob arranged. Just a few observations: when anyone mentions getting value for the dollars spent the reaction (by school board supporters) is usually that somehow that's attacking the fine teachers we have. Nope, don't see it that way. Of course some are excellent-awesome-fantastic....and some are not. It's that way in all professions. But everyone should be expecting the most for EVERY dollar spent. I don't care where it's spent or on what--we should expect the best. Yes, some things concerning kids are out of the control of teachers. Everyone knows that--but that is true of EVERY community. Spending more per student does NOT guarantee better scores. Please you union supporters, please admit that. Next, asking the school board to comment on the 5-5-5 proposal is about as worthless as spit in a bucket. They will say something like "we take all ideas seriously" and move on. Kinda like a politician telling you he "feels your pain" and then he goes about his business. It's becoming increasingly obvious that DEBT is our enemy--and no matter how we got here (and no, there's still not clarity on that issue) we need to figure out how to dig ourselves out. We need school board members IN PARTNERSHIP WITH ADMINISTRATORS to have the backbone to make the tough decisions they will HAVE to make. If it takes new people on the board that support cost cutting--so be it. Tax-magedon is coming at us and we better recognize it!
Angela Kane June 08, 2012 at 06:19 PM
And "curmudgeonly" ????? Seriously? As someone beating on the door of 60 I'm gonna tell you that the coming DEBT crisis is painful to ANYONE who owns property here---but particularly anyone retired. Ok--do you want to drive out ANYONE over 60 out of Geneva? Keep it up and it'll happen and then see how long it is until we have complete collapse of our local economy & tax base. I appreciate the wonderful services we get here in our town. I love Geneva and I don't mind paying my "fair share" (wow, that's an overused word by liberal politicians) but I'm not going to sit back and be abused by those people who expect me to pay THEIR fair share also--and that of everyone else that expects they should be living the champagne life on a generic beer budget. Taxes and debt are killing Illinois. Failing to recognize that is downright dumb. Why do you think businesses and citizens are fleeing this state?
Noel G. Rooks June 08, 2012 at 06:40 PM
@Angela - would you categorize 304 as "mediocre"? That is the point of the back and forth here. Also, I'm not aware that anyone has asked you in particular to pay more. We all are property tax paying citizens involved in the discusion, as far as I can tell. Of course, people want results for their dollar, thus the discussion that *for dollars spent, 304 does a decent job. And obviously again, no one on this discussion has suggested that debt is not the problem. As I've said before, though, our concerns about the debt need to be balanced by our need to continue to offer quality education, otherwise we all are going to end up paying a lot *more in taxes, because no one will want to move here if the quality drops. The point that seems to get lost here is that we must get our arms around the debt AND concern ourselves with quality. This is not accomplished by bashing, name calling and labeling people as champagne dreamers or liberals. This is accomplished by brainstorming solutions, not rhetoric.
Angela Kane June 08, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Well by promoting the status quo (keep all the administrators and 'stay the course') you are asking me (and everyone else) to pay more. Like most school districts we are top heavy with administration. And are we mediocre? Ya, kinda. Ask any person who graduated from GHS in the last 10 years if they were really challenged, really pushed academically and I'm gonna guess you're going to get a mixed response. We are not New Trier. We are good, we do very well, but not exceptional. Are we happy with that? Yes, pretty happy, but let's not pretend we are doing the very best. And moving here? Shoot, no one is moving anywhere because the economy is stinky and houses aren't selling. Young families can't afford houses in swanky communities like Geneva. Where will they move (if they move)? Well maybe somewhere where the taxes are less and the houses cost less. Ok is ok, but it's not firecrackers and holy cow. Let's agree that the amount of taxes we are going to have to pay in the next 5-10 years is higher because we have a HUGE debt figure staring at us. So anyone with a house is going to pay more. So you are asking me to pay more. A friend emailed me a "foreclosure" map this morning. 1 in 46 houses in America is in foreclosure. If we don't REALLY get a grasp on our tax situation that figure is going to go higher.
Angela Kane June 08, 2012 at 07:03 PM
And please don't tell me that way too many school districts/cities/states haven't been living the champagne life on a beer budget. (US Debt Clock here: http://www.usdebtclock.org/) Have you see our state debt lately? Did you read the results of the Wisconsin recall election or the elections in San Diego about pensions? Do you know the debt of California? Somebody's been smoking the "crazy spending" pipe. Unfortunately that high doesn't last and we're coming down off the "let's build another school" buzz.
Bob McQuillan June 08, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Love to keep this thread going but eventually the article will fall off the Patch front page and will be forgotten. Two options: 1. Continue the discussion on www.genevataxfacts.org under the public forum tab. You don't need to sign up for our e-mails or use you "real name" - though I would hope we at least use our first name. You do need to provide an e-mail address. Also, people need to be respectful of all opinions 2. The town hall has generated a lot of interest. The next step might be a round table discussion which focuses on possible solutions to solving the problem other than just raising the taxes. We are all in this together and should be mature enough to be able to sit in one room and have a meaningful discussion. Anyone is welcome to "sit at the table" and discuss solutions. Others are welcome to sit in the "audience" and provide comments and suggestions. This should not be run by the board of education or administration but they are welcome to have a voice at the table. We could use any the fine facilities that the school district has to hold the round table. It would cost us nothing to run. Most have now received the message, now it is time to do as Noels suggests; combine a quality education at an affordable price. We can do this if the community is willing to start with a clean page and openly discuss the problem taking all ideas and concerns into account. Every district is facing what we are facing. We could be the role model for Illinois.
G.Ryan June 08, 2012 at 07:11 PM
But is Hinsdale,Oak Park and River Forest 300 million in DEBT? We have no money folks in the Kitty Till....We can all talk turkey statistics but it does not solve our BOND REPAYMENT. The reality of the situation is we are in DEBT and its solution should be priority as it will not go away. No school is superior when you cannot get your financial house in order. That is the award I am awaiting. Folks, this is reality. Foreclosures are on the rise and what good is an educational school system when the majority of the community will have to exit due to property tax increasing liability? We need solutions to our finances and the continual spending addiction of this District not my school is better than other schools. Please attend Monday's School Board meeting and get involved. We need solutions ASAP.
G.Ryan June 08, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Thanks John for your proactive attitude on the budget here. This is the kind of feedback we need as we are facing a crisis here in our upcoming future. Please let's look into sensibility and what is reasonable and necessary as our foundation. I hope we can all come together and not attack each other. Realize that sometimes we agree to disagree and leave the emotion out of it. Thank you for all who attended the meeting. Bob is planning future forums so we can be educated on the facts so we together can tackle the issues and make this community the best it can be without going broke. We are all intelligent beings and we all can contribute together as neighbors not enemies. Please attend the School Board meetings then we can better rebuttal the issues. The next meeting is Monday. I hope all can attend. Thanks again John for your professionalism concerning this issue along with your suggestions I think we are finally on track.
Noel G. Rooks June 08, 2012 at 08:01 PM
@Angela - I welcome you to find where I have said "keep the status quo" in any of my comments. Because I haven't. We do need to discuss how we make the situation workable going forward. We are all aware of the debt structure, the state debt, the national debt. No one has said, suggested, intimated or spoken otherwise in this discussion. We are certainly not the only school district in debt by a long shot, either. We can keep haranguing everyone that we're in debt, or we can solve the problem. What's your plan?
G.Ryan June 08, 2012 at 10:06 PM
It is also time to get a group together and call it "taxpayer's advocates" or something to that nature and go solicit Springfield and the Mafiagan(Madigan). I had the opportunity to speak with the Alderman at the TownHall meeting.(see what you guys missed!) He informed me there is no advocate representative for the taxpayers. We need to start one. If the employees can have a union why can't taxpayers? We certaintly need a voice more than ever with the way they abuse our funds this includes all governing bodies. Before they bankrupt us all. I just don't think they care anymore. They want their budgets balanced but what about ours?
Angela Kane June 08, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Unfortunately unless everyone is constantly reminded what a HUGE debt problem our school district, our state and our country has we will find that the old "it's for the children" or "if you cut that you will starve people" arguments will creep back into the justifications provided for ongoing failure to cut the budgets and deal with the reality we find ourself in. So yes, I will continue to use the word DEBT in just about every posting until we see real results from our legislators/representatives. Failing to implement cuts IS the status quo. I think I would support a 5% cut in the budget across the board, eliminate the "new every 2" bus plan, privatize whatever services we could, and probably eliminate a few administrators and/or mothball classrooms or an entire building. You want a plan--there's at least some ideas to chew on. And I'm gonna bet that someone will call me heartless for suggesting them. We need people of courage to deal with our DEBT problem. Bob McQuillan and others in his group have stood up. Who's next?
G.Ryan June 08, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Angela, you go girl!! I agree. This is 300 MILLION and they want to spend more. We are not talking $300 or $3,000. They have an addiction and they are in great denial of it. We tax folks need a copy of their budget to view and then we can start some common sense utilization to whether these services are even viable. In that process, we can determine where the FISCAL PORK lies. Then we can view its appropriateness and necessity. These are pretty simple techniques for progress. But at the last meeting, (I kid you not) the District spoke about adding a middle camera to their buses and replace them to all digital cameras. Presently, they have a camera in the front and to the back of the bus. Don't know the real purpose of this WASTE but their bus ride is not that far. This is just one of many examples of what they do. Please attend these meetings because you will my friend get a non-quantifiable education of this illness.
Pete June 09, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Look at it this way, Noel. Geneva HS is ranked 29th according to the Sun-Times. If I place 29th in something, I call it a mediocre performance, you may call it a real accomplishment, whatever. But more to the point, between the fast-talking purveyors of half-truths on the board and our own laziness and apathy, we've gone 300 million dollars in debt to achieve this 29th place showing. It's a little like taking out a 100 thousand dollar car loan to buy a Ford Focus.
Noel G. Rooks June 09, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Just curious. Did your children attend 304?
John R June 09, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Bob, I was wondering if I was the only one bothered by how the articles eventually drop off a cliff. Wonder if there is a different format the patch could use to keep threads visible to new eyes. Cause once it drops off the only ones engaged are those that posted and opted for email notification. Getting a round table/workshop type meeting is a good idea. The post back and forth are fun but the real proposals and ideals are developed face to face. Grinding this stuff out in groups with folks of differing opinions, backgrounds, areas of expertise etc.... Is when real solutions can be developed. Dist 304 is very important to our community for a variety of reasons. We Ned to keep it strong and lean. John
M Marx June 09, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Pete, Full disclosure is best. 29th out of 759 high schools in the state of Illinois
M Marx June 09, 2012 at 02:55 AM
I think that equates to a little under top 4% in the state....
Noel G. Rooks June 09, 2012 at 03:05 AM
@Pete - well, I guess everyone sees thing differently. There are 759 public high schools in Illinois according to Education Bug. 29th means that GHS is in the top 4 percent by that ranking, using that number.
John R June 10, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Gayle, The middle camera eliminates a blind spot. I believe the camera's are in place for a number of reasons. Probably the primary reason is to reduce our exposure to litigation in the event of school bus violence or bullying situations or whatever.... They are there as a result of the times. jr
Bob McQuillan June 10, 2012 at 05:18 AM
before this expense is approved, the board needs to ask questions about the true need for 3 cameras per bus. How often are they really used, are we replacing cameras not because they are broken but because the district wants digital cameras and how many cameras do neighboring districts have in their buses. The board needs to start questioning every expense in front of the public. Administrators need to prove the expense is needed not just wanted. Review the budget line by line not by fund summaries.
G.Ryan June 10, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Thanks John and Bob for your input. I have discussed this issue with many of the residents of Geneva and they asked the same question, What do they NEED that for? If there is bullying on the bus. The bus driver should not transport that child and he should be removed immediately. There are other methods out there to solve these issues without monetary increased expense.
G.Ryan June 10, 2012 at 04:35 PM
It the camera is placed for a blind spot wouldn't that already be installed in the buses prior to their purchase as one of their safety features?

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