I am glad that the finance committee of District 200 [Oak Park and River Forest High School] is now considering offering tax abatement. I am writing to clarify what I believe is ongoing misrepresentation on Wednesday Journal’s part in its reporting of the D200 school board meeting on Dec. 20.

I was at that board meeting when, after lengthy public discussion, the board passed the increased tax levy. The Journal continually reports “most speakers spoke against the tax levy” or words to that effect. I feel this gives the impression that some people (during public comments) spoke for the tax levy, which no one did. Everyone who spoke about the proposed increase in the tax levy spoke against it or ceded their time to someone who spoke against it.

In addition, Ali ElSaffar, the Oak Park Township tax assessor spoke about tax assessments in general for a few minutes and a retired engineer spoke about how the “eyeball-popping” pensions teachers and administrators receive from D200 are akin to “winning the lottery,” another matter that should be addressed by the board sooner rather than later.

For those who had to leave, it was also interesting when the consultants who manage all the investing of D200 cash spoke about that. At the end of November they reported there was $131 million in the investments accounts, which in my mind, shot a hole in Terry Finnegan’s letter to the editor in Wednesday Journal (the week before the board meeting) about the district needing a lot of cash over the summer and in the beginning of the school year, if five months later you have $8 million more than you had at the end of the last fiscal year.

I’ll take the currently proposed tax abatement as a start, but I still feel that the district has way more cash than it needs and could do more. And I find it interesting that they are now only referring to the “Operating Cash Fund ” balance of $9 million and not the entire cash balance of somewhere between $125 and $135 million (my estimate).

Joanne O’Hara

River Forest

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