On Nov. 6, District 200 gave hidden notice of a 2012 property tax increase of 2.5% above its 2011 levy. See: www.intranet.oprfhs.org/board-of-education/board_meetings/Finance_Committee/Packets/2012-13/November%206%202012/3.%20Presentation%20of%202012%20Preliminary%20Levy.pdf.

Any increase is outrageous, given that D200 had $11,406,711 in cash and investments as of June 30, 2011 (see www.oprfhs.org/business-office/documents/OPRF_CAFR_FY11_BM_secure.pdf, p. 30), which it has accumulated since its 2.95% property tax increase in 2002.

D200 almost certainly has more cash and investments now. Taxpayers don’t know how much more because D200 has failed to post its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012. See: www.oprfhs.org/business-office/Comprhensive-Annual-Financial-Report.cfm.

In 2011, D200 had the fifth highest number of days worth of cash on hand of the 868 school districts in Illinois. With an average district salary of $100,478 for teachers and administrators, D200 ranks 11th of all Illinois school districts in professional compensation. See: www.files.sj-r.com/media/news/TRS.pdf.

D200 compensation seems profligate given that OPRF High School ranked only 39th among Illinois high schools on state achievement tests. See: www.suntimes.com/news/education/16033455-418/the-top-50-high-schools-in-illinois.html.

Twenty-seven downstate Illinois high school districts scored higher than D200 on state achievement tests. For those 27 higher-scoring districts, 1) the median average district salary was $80,092, i.e. about $20,000 less than the average D200 salary (range: $56,693-$110,669) and 2) the median days of cash on hand was 224 days, i.e. about 482 fewer days (3.2 times fewer days or about 1.32 fewer years worth of) cash on hand than for D200 (range: 73 days-643 days). All of the higher-performing school districts had significantly fewer days cash on hand than D200. See: www.files.sj-r.com/media/news/TRS.pdf.

Thus, the $20,000 premium that D200 overpays its teachers and administrators translated into poorer student performance than at the 21 school districts that paid their teachers and administrators less. D200’s 705 days of cash on hand hasn’t improved the performance of OPRF students. In fact, hoarding cash may have harmed the performance of OPRF students. That money should have been refunded to property taxpayers or been spent on performance-enhancing services, such as tutors and smaller class size, rather than on overpaying relatively poorly-performing teachers and administrators.

Are D200 Supt. Steven Isoye and Asst. Supt. for Finance and Operations Cheryl Witham respectively worth $257,114.29 and $232,386.11 in total compensation? Mayor Emmanuel’s salary is reportedly only $216,210 %u2015 for running the third largest city in the country. Similarly, are D200 Asst. Supt. Philip Prale, Principal Nathaniel Rouse, Chief Information Officer Michael Carioscio, HR Director Lauren Smith, Special Ed Director Tina Halliman, and PR Director Karin Sullivan respectively really worth $209,953; $189,710; $181,470; $170,160; and $161,580?

Could D200 pay a lot less and get a lot more, just like at the 21 better-performing school districts that did just that?

D200’s school board will reportedly adopt the 2.5% levy increase on Dec. 20. If you want D200 to pay for any budget increase by exhausting its existing cash and investments before it needlessly hikes your property taxes, then protest now.

Barb Langer
River Forest

This Letter to the Editor has been expanded online to include links to sources.

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