At the Nov. 15 District 200 school board meeting, President Terry Finnegan endorsed D200's two new, and heretofore clandestine, property tax levies, a 2.5% increase. Finnegan is reportedly the only board incumbent running for re-election.
Board members Finnegan, Phelan, Fisher, Millard, McCormack and Lee voted to "adopt" both levies, i.e., to publicly propose them now and then hold a perfunctory public hearing on Dec. 20, immediately before approving them. These levies are in addition to the mounting surplus revenue D200 has accumulated since its 2002 referendum passed. Excess revenue from the 2002 referendum, a 2.95% property tax increase, dwarfs D200's operating expenses.
Lee declared he would never refund the surplus from the 2002 referendum. He seems oblivious to the irony that his predecessors lost their seats on the board for authorizing the full rate allowed under the 2002 referendum.
Referendum revenue remains the source of D200's power and hoarded wealth today.
The board dismissed our request to exhaust most of this secret trove of cash and investments before raising our taxes again. Valued at $111 million 18 months ago, it is certainly worth far more now.
The board ignored our allegation that it is deliberately withholding its FY 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, now 4.5 months late, to cover-up the increasing value of its stash.
Continuing to stonewall mandatory disclosure creates as much embarrassment for D200 as coming clean. The board will hold out if it can until after it passes both tax increases on Dec. 20 unless the community takes immediate action.
Compelling D200 to publish its FY 2012 Financial Report well before Dec. 20 may require an injunction. Who has standing to file one in a timely fashion? Please come forward if you know.
Every property taxpayer who wants D200 to use its hidden stash before raising our taxes needs to attend the Dec. 20 board meeting. Come with data, friends and neighbors. Meanwhile, consider our options. Are we prepared to ask the board to resign or to replace OPRF with a higher-performing, lower-cost charter school when they refuse to table their unnecessary new levies? Will you run for the board on a platform of repealing the 2002 referendum or refunding the excess funds it generates?
Regarding D200's Strategic Planning Survey, Wednesday Journal first announced it on Nov. 6, when many residents had not yet received a postcard notifying them of it. (See: www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/11-6-2012/OPRF-seeks-participants-for-strategic-plan)
The deadline for completing the survey was just six days later, on Nov. 12. Six days is not enough time for most residents to respond.
We requested that D200 extend the deadline until Dec. 31. But the board only extended it a week, until Monday, Nov. 19. That's a joke, considering that no one will know about it until after it passes.
Barb Langer, Virginia Thomas