District 200 rushes levy increase, survey

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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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

River Forest

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Reader Comments

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Done from Oak Park  

Posted: November 21st, 2012 2:40 PM

I'm in. But at that point what is done, will be done. The increase won't be rolled back, and whoever is replaced on the board will end up proposing the same damn thing three years from now.

Six figure teacher  

Posted: November 21st, 2012 1:09 PM

Any current board member that voted for the surplus and or supports this levy increase needs to be voted out of office ASAP. Whos with me?

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: November 21st, 2012 12:28 PM

Barbara-- Do you remember Mitt Romney? He once wrote a storied op-ed for the NY Times about his opposition to the auto bailout by the Obama administration. It was often noted in discussing that op-ed that Romney didn't write the headline "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." The newspaper wrote the headline because the newspaper knew where the story was being placed and how much room it had for a headline and because it was their newspaper and they know how to write good headlines. So, yes, we write headlines and we edit copy that goes into our newspaper and our website. The headline you wrote was like 100 words long. We are happy to offer the forum. We do have some ways of doing things and they're not censorship. So stop whining. And have a happy Thanksgiving.

Barb Langer, Ph.D.  

Posted: November 21st, 2012 11:46 AM

The title we submitted for this article, which the WJ changed without informing us, is: "OPRF D200's Apparent Financial Cover-Up and Overly-Rushed Strategic Planning Survey" Dr. Langer's e-mail address is: graceflo@ameritech.net.

Curious from River Forest  

Posted: November 21st, 2012 9:38 AM

Isn't this the lady who was circulating a petition to have DIst 200 spend millions to build an indoor pool so that she did not have to pay for swimming at Gottlieb or FFC? I guess spending tax dollars is bad only when someone else benefits.

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