Tag Archives: Cheryl Krauspe

School Board approves Schuler resignation

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 4-2 to approve Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler’s resignation.

Schuler last week accepted an offer to become superintendent for schools in the Wheaton Warrenville School District, where he will make a base salary of $225,000. His current salary at Kaneland is $194,000.

Schuler will continue working for Kaneland until he takes his new position on Sept. 2. The new Kaneland school year will begin Aug. 20.

School Board members Veronica Bruhl and Tony Valente voted against approving Schuler’s resignation. School Board President Cheryl Krauspe was absent from the meeting.

Bruhl said she has received many calls from taxpayers regarding Schuler’s move to the Wheaton Warrenville School District.

“Taxpayers are very angry,” Bruhl said.

She added that taxpayers have asked how the School Board “could let this happen.”

“People are very, very unhappy,” Bruhl said.

Schuler’s most recent contract with Kaneland was slated to run through June 2016. However, the contract was not written in a way that would hold Schuler responsible should he leave prior to the conclusion of his deal.

“We made a commitment,” Valente said. “The board made a commitment.”

Bruhl agreed with Valente.

“Where I work, you have a contract,” Bruhl said. “You hold to the contract.”

Valente suggested holding Schuler’s certificate until the Kaneland superintendent position is filled.

“I don’t think that’s anything that would be done in good faith,” Witt said, referring to such a move as “vindictive.”

Witt spoke in a choked-up voice while giving Schuler high praise. She said that she was not surprised that Schuler had been recruited and hired by a “high caliber school district.” She noted District 302’s accomplishments during Schuler’s time as superintendent, including Harter Middle School’s recognition as a “school to watch”; an attempt to further engage the Kaneland community; a balanced budget that at times required “painful cuts” to be made; and AP and Spanish classes at Harter Middle School this year.

She then spoke as a Kaneland parent.

“I am forever grateful,” Witt said. “He leaves us in a much better place.”


Schuler to leave Kaneland

Will become Wheaton-Warrenville superintendent

KANELAND—Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler last week agreed to become the new superintendent of schools for the Wheaton-Warrenville School District.

Schuler, 42, a Plainfield resident, has worked in the Kaneland School District for eight years—the last four as superintendent. He previously served as an assistant superintendent for human resources and an associate superintendent.

Schuler said that Tuesday, Sept. 2, will be his first day at Wheaton-Warrenville. In the meantime, he will continue to serve as Kaneland superintendent.

Schuler recently had been named a finalist for the Wheaton-Warrenville job. He informed the Kaneland School Board that he would accept the invitation to become Wheaton-Warrenville’s superintendent of schools should the position be offered to him.

Schuler did not seek out the Wheaton-Warrenville position. Rather, he said that he received a call and was invited to interview with the district.

“The decision had nothing to do with Kaneland,” Schuler said. “Obviously Kaneland is a phenomenal school district and a great opportunity. Wheaton is bigger—there’s about 13,500 students, 20 schools. Candidly, it just was a really exceptional opportunity for me.”

Schuler’s salary as Kaneland superintendent is $194,000. His base salary at Wheaton-Warrenville School District will be $225,000.

Schuler reflected on what he was proud of while the Kaneland superintendent. His noted accomplishments include working to advance student achievement and expanding student opportunities at Kaneland High School. He also expressed admiration for the administration team, as well as the district’s instructional and support staff.

“Those are all things for which I’m exceptionally proud,” he said.

Kaneland School Board President Cheryl Krauspe recently weighed in on Schuler’s exit.

“I understand that it’s only natural when a young professional, as talented and recognized in the educational field as Dr. Schuler was, would be contacted by others who may wish to attract him as a candidate,” Krauspe said. “I was not surprised when I learned that he had risen to the level of finalist for the Wheaton position, because there is quite a lot that would impress the Wheaton-Warrenville community.”

The Kaneland School Board will now work to find its next district superintendent.

“The Board of Education will take these next important steps in a superintendent selection very carefully, thoroughly and thoughtfully,” Krauspe said.

Schuler expressed his confidence that the Kaneland schools are “ready to operate,” even though he will exit the district soon after its new school year begins on Wednesday, Aug. 20.

“I’m going to have the same feelings about leaving this position, whether it’s two weeks into the school year or the middle of the summer,” Schuler said. “I would feel the same way.”

School Board approves cost limitation waiver submission

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted to submit a waiver for administrative cost limitation to the Illinois State Board of Education.

The vote requests a “one-time, one-year waiver.” The matter is expected to go to the General Assembly in August.

Tony Valente was the only board member to vote against the waiver, though fellow trustee Peter Lopatin had a long pause before voting yes. Board member Pedro Rivas voted yes with “hesitation.”

The issue would have had a hearing and been up for a vote at the Jan. 27 meeting had the gathering not been cancelled due to extremely cold weather conditions. The majority of Monday’s meeting attendees were Kaneland staff, and there were no public comments during the hearing.

According to a report by Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, Kaneland assistant superintendent for business, under ILCS 5/17-1.5, the cost cap’s purpose is to “establish limitations on the growth of administrative expenditures in order to maximize the proportion of school district resources available for the instructional program, building maintenance, and safety services for the students of each district.”

Fuchs noted information of administrative limitation.

“The limitation in administrative expenditures each year is 5 percent over the prior year’s actual expenditures,” Fuchs stated in the report.

Administrative expenditures included in the calculation are executive administration services (superintendent), special area administration services (director of special education), direction of business support services (assistant superintendent for business) and internal services (administrative copy costs).

The report added that an auditor who completed an annual financial report noted that the actual administrative expenditures for fiscal year 2013 was $650,192. Fiscal year 2014 is budgeted at $696,129. The difference accounts for 7 percent or $45,937, with the 5 percent limit at $682,701.

The Kaneland District is $13,428 over the expected limit.

Fuchs pointed out in the report that the main reason for the “overage” is because of salary and benefit increases that the board approved in spring 2013 for Fran Eggleston, director of Special Education, and Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler. Eggleston’s increase was due to the additional work days tagged onto her contract. Schuler’s salary adjustment was discussed by the board last spring.

Board President Cheryl Krauspe said that there had been 1 year of voluntary salary reduction and a two-year salary freeze.

“It seems we’re spending, spending, spending,” Valente said. “(That’s) not responsible to our constituents.”

Rivas questioned what would happen if the board did not approve the waiver submission.

“The state could stop our state funding,” Fuchs said. “They can penalize us.”

The report added that an auditor who completed
an annual financial report noted that the actual
administrative expenditures for fiscal year
2013 was $650,192.

Fiscal year 2014 is budgeted
at $696,129.
The difference accounts for 7 percent or $45,937,
with the 5 percent limit at $682,701.

The Kaneland District is $13,428 over
the expected limit.


Community bowls against bullying

Photo: Leigh Ann Reusche (left to right), director of Kindness Campaign of Elburn, Renee Dee, founder/CEO of Peak for Kids, and Maria Dripps-Paulson goof around at the “Bowling Against Bullying” event on Saturday night. Photo by Lynn Logan

AURORA—C.J. Conley, a Kaneland parent and Elburn resident, learned a lesson while attending the “Bowling Against Bullying” event on Saturday at Parkside Lanes in Aurora.

That lesson came from Jeff Bean, president and founder of Act on Bullying, who spoke about the cyber bullying epidemic. Conley said she learned not to spy on children but to be involved in what is going on with them.

“I personally think that it starts with the parents,” Conley said. “And parents need to take responsibility and accept that their child might be involved in something that they don’t want to admit. And so, it’s awareness.”

The bowling fundraiser was a collaborative endeavor hosted by the Kindness Campaign, Nick Edward Haben Foundation and Peak for Kids.

“(The event) was a success because our community spoke volumes as far as them supporting the effort and understanding what we’re trying to do,” Peak for Kids founder Renee Dee said. “They all showed up during a snowstorm. Because they didn’t have to do that. And they did.”

Dee said about 175 people attended the event.

Kaneland representatives made an appearance as well, including Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler and Kaneland School Board members Peter Lopatin and Tony Valente.

Dee noted that Kaneland School Board President Cheryl Krauspe was at the event in spirit, sponsoring a bowling lane and donating a “Love is Kind” raffle basket.

Event attendees meanwhile played gutter games.

“None of us were great bowlers,” Conley said of her bowling group. “The big challenge was to break 100 in a game. And some of us did. And some of us did not.”

It paid to be “bowling covered.”

“You could purchase gutter insurance,” Conley said. “Because for however many gutterballs you had, you had to pay a dollar at the end of the game. We decided as a group to buy gutter insurance. Thank heavens we did, or we might have had to pay out quite a bit more.”

People didn’t just try their luck at bowling during the event.

“There was some dancing,” Dee said.

Cheese, pepperoni and sausage pizza slices were available for event participants. Music flowed throughout the evening. Trivia centered around bullying, community and kindness topics.

More Peak for Kids events are in the planning process for this year. Some events to expect include a leadership forum, theatre arts performances and a dedicated kickoff to Kindness in Kaneland.

Feb. 7, 2015, will mark the second annual “Bowling Against Bullying” event, where the special guest speaker will be Jarrett Payton, son of the late Chicago Bears legend Walter Payton.

Conley and her husband Ben plan on being there.

“We’ll be there to support,” she said. “I think it’s a great program for the community. I think it brings everybody together. And we’re excited about staying involved.”

Kaneland considers middle school Spanish course

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday listened to the possibility of incorporating Spanish in Harter Middle School next year.

School Board member Peter Lopatin expressed his enthusiasm for the idea of having foreign language at the middle school and beyond, and also noted interest in “working for immersion in the elementary school.”

Students had the opportunity to take an exploratory Spanish course before 2009 on the old Meredith Road middle school site. However, it ended as a result of budget cuts.

According to a report by Erika Schlichter, director of Educational Services 6-12 for Kaneland, an administrative team identified the need to explore having a middle school world language curriculum.

“This need was identified based on student interest, increased rigor in the KHS course sequence, best practice in language acquisition, and collaboration with our comparative districts,” Schlichter stated in the report.

Thirty districts had been surveyed. The report noted that 21 district offered AP Spanish and had offered the language in middle school or earlier.

“This data indicates that a middle school program in language is a fairly standard component of a course sequence that culminates in AP language,” Schlichter stated in report.

A proposed model entails that students could take Spanish 1 during seventh and eighth grade. If they complete the course, they can then move on to Spanish 2. Students could take fifth-year AP Spanish by their senior year.

The courses would mean a need for funds to pay up to two full-time Spanish teachers. According to the report, one full-time teacher is estimated to cost $50,000.

In addition, the seventh-grade books and workbooks are estimated to cost $15,000. The next year, those seventh-graders going to eighth grade would need materials that could cost another $15,000.

School Board member Tony Valente said that he is “behind it,” noting that students get higher ACT scores when they take the language.

Board member Pedro Rivas advocated having an immersion Spanish class. Rivas pointed out that his high school son, who takes Spanish class, is frustrated because he cannot fluently converse in the language.

Michelle Jurcenko, department chair of World Languages and a Spanish teacher, pointed out that a big component of colleges is the grammar.

“They have to read it and write it,” said School Board President Cheryl Krauspe. “Along with speak it.”

No action was taken after the discussion. However, the Spanish concept could come back to the board later this month via “budget process,” with final approval in March.

Story updated 1:38 p.m. CST Feb. 14, 2014

SB mulls hot lunch program

KANELAND—Hot meals will be whipped up and delivered via vans to Kaneland elementary schools if the Kaneland School Board gives the green light.

The possibility of having a hot lunch program at the elementary school level was a topic of discussion at the Kaneland School Board meeting on Oct. 16.

Gigi Gochee-Statler, director of Food Service, said that the lunches are nutritional and could be cold one day a week.

The hot lunch issue has been in the works for about two years. Currently, elementary students dine on sack lunches during lunchtime.

According to a report by Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for Business, and Gochee-Statler, the Citizens’ Advisory Committee had asked the Kaneland administration to investigate this matter.

Fuchs and Gochee-Statler had researched the effect nutrition has on children and adolescents.

“Undernourished children are more likely to have low energy and difficulty concentrating,” the report said. “Basic nutrition needs must be met for children to successfully learn at school. The lack of proper nutrition can be considered a barrier to optimal learning, which helps to justify nutrition services for school-aged children.”

Information obtained on interest of hot lunches is based on Kaneland families of elementary students, who filled out a parent survey through the Kaneland Konnect conducted August and September.

The results are based on the 587 responses out of 1,653 Kaneland families, the report noted.

The survey showed that 75 percent expressed interest in a daily hot lunch option that would cost “approximately” $2.15 each day. The report stated that the hot lunch would cost $2.25 for the first year. As discussed in the meeting, the cost can increase.

Board member Tony Valente questioned if the program would be “cost neutral.”

Gochee-Statler responded by saying the program would “wash itself.”

The report explained that recurring expenses to maintain the lunch program would annually be about $150,000. This cost, it said, would be offset by the revenue generated from students buying lunches, and some reimbursed money through the National School Lunch Program.

The report estimated that the “initial one-time start-up costs” is approximately $110,000, noting that the cost includes equipment, vehicles and technology for the preparation and receiving facility.

The food would be prepared at the old Kaneland Middle School on Meredith Road. Two vans would deliver to the four Kaneland elementary school buildings.

Board President Cheryl Krauspe expressed her concern.

“It feels like a convenience for elementary-aged parents,” Krauspe said. “(I’m) not sure I can support it.”

Gochee-Statler spoke about the positives for students.

“If they’re offered a nutritious meal, that becomes the standard in their life,” she said.

Gochee-Statler added that students have tried hummus and fish tacos and said, “That wasn’t so bad.”

School Board Vice President Teresa Witt weighed in on the matter.

“To me, it’s luxury,” Witt said. “If they really want it, I say put it to a referendum.”

The survey asked if one hot lunch option was available, would the parent still participate in the program? The result was that 350, or 60 percent of the parents, said yes, and 144, or 25 percent, said maybe.

“If your kids don’t like the hot dog, they’re not going to buy the hot dog,” Witt said.

Witt said that it is not known if students will buy lunches everyday.

Board member Veronica Bruhl spoke about some students packing Lunchables for lunch because it is “easy and convenient.” She said that Lunchables are high in sodium.

“It’s just a great option,” Bruhl said of the hot lunch program.

Krauspe brought the matter home in terms of the $110,000 start-up cost.

“It’s three teachers for a year,” Krauspe said.

“This is a one-time cost,” said Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler.

Meanwhile, Fuchs will continue to research this lunch program. This matter can be back on the table in February, and the decision whether to approve it could happen in the spring.

If approved, students could order lunches by next school year.

Lunch items would include chicken nuggets, whole grain roll, salad, carrots, mandarin oranges and 1 percent milk.

Valente ended with a pressing question.

“Chocolate milk an option?” Valente asked.

“Fat free chocolate milk,” Gochee-Statler said.

School Board discusses ACT scores

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday received news regarding the Kaneland High School class of 2013’s ACT scores.

This is the first year that the results showed comprehensive student data that incorporated students that received extra time to finish the test.

According to Erika Schlichter, Kaneland director of Educational Services for grades 6-12, the average composite score was 21.1, and there were increases in almost all sub-test areas.

“I think it’s a positive news story,” Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said.

An ACT College Readiness Letter reported five-year trends. The 2013 graduates had 350 Kaneland students who took the ACT. The average English score was 20.4 compared to the 2012 graduates having 20.6; math was 21.2 compared to 20.9; reading stayed the same at 21.0; science increased to 21.1 compared to 20.7. The composite score for the 2013 graduates was 21.1, compared to the 2012 graduates’ score of 21.0.

The report showed gains in the percentage of last year’s graduates who were ready for college-level coursework.

The data compares Kaneland School District to Illinois, including categories like College English Composition, with 66 percent compared to 63 percent of the state; College Algebra is 46 percent compared to 42 percent; College Biology was both 35 percent for the district and state.

Kaneland students who took Algebra 1 and Algebra 2, along with Geometry, Trigonometry and Calculus, received average ACT math scores of 25.4, compared to the state average 24.1.

“It seems like we’re trending up,” School Board member Tony Valente said. “We’re still not where we need to be. It looks like we’re making some movement.”

Kaneland Board President Cheryl Krauspe spoke positively of student progress.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” she said.

National award winners in attendance at KSB meeting

by Stefanie Frazier
KANELAND—Kaneland High School alums Nicholas Messina, Marshall Farthing and Stephen McCracken represented the Fox Valley Career Center during Monday’s Kaneland School Board meeting and presented information about the computer science program they did at Harter Middle School and in the town of Eminence, Mo.

The alums, with Jack Grimes, an alternate, had worked on this program as seniors, participated in a community service team and won a gold medal at the National SkillsUSA competition. They also received an award from Google through Google Rise—Roots in Science and Engineering. This team represents one of 11 to receive the Google Rise award out of more than 800 applicants.

The alums had helped students and teachers get more comfortable with technology, including web development and the creation of an app.

McCracken recalled a middle school student saying “I can’t do this” in regard to creating a web page on a Notepad program. After McCracken “helped him through,” the student said, “I can do this.”

School Board President Cheryl Krauspe, expressed her appreciation for having national champions in the midst at the board meeting.

“We’re awfully proud,” she said.

Districts give school board members heartfelt thanks

KANELAND—Nov. 15, 2012, has been designated as School Board Members Day in Illinois, and Kaneland School District 302 is joining other districts across the state to thank these community volunteers for their commitment and contributions to our public schools.

“School board members serve their communities without monetary compensation to make public education the best it can be for every child,” said Dr. Jeff Schuler, District 302 superintendent. “Their policies and oversight guide the district as tough decisions are made on complex educational and social issues that affect the entire community and the lives of individual students.”

As community trustees for the schools, school board members have oversight in District 302 for an annual budget of $59 million; 4,800 students in grades PK-12; more than 600 employees; and six campuses (buildings).

“Each year, the demands become greater for school board members to help lead our community’s schools as they prepare students to be productive citizens and the leaders in a new 21st century global economy,” Schuler said. “Without the efforts of school board members, local citizens would have less input into the way schools operate today. This is an excellent example of grassroots governance. The least that our community can do is to say thank you to these volunteers.”

The men and women serving the Kaneland School District are Cheryl Krauspe, Elmer Gramley, Ken Carter, Teresa Witt, Joe Oberweis, Gale Pavlak and Tony Valente.

“(School board members’) service ensures that decisions about local public schools are made locally by those most familiar with the needs of our community,” Schuler said.

School Board, Elburn approve Intergovernmental Agreement

KANELAND—Kaneland School Board members on Monday voted 7-0 to approve an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the village of Elburn.

The board on May 14 held a discussion that included collection of land/cash and capital impact fees, and passed a resolution stating their support of the terms included in the agreement. The Elburn Village Board on June 4 approved the IGA with two revisions: removal of language limiting the agreement to the municipality, which will allow other municipalities to enter the IGA; and the addition of language that permits modification of the IGA should another municipality enter the agreement with “lower payment tables.”

A document from Superintendent Jeff Schuler states that the second revision does not mean payments are lowered if another municipality decides on their own to lower the capital impact payments or land/cash payments. Rather, this is only applicable if the School District “agrees to lower payments through the approval of an IGA.”

I think the hardest part of (the IGA) is predicting what’s best for the community and the school years into the future, long after the individuals making these decisions are no longer serving,” School Board President Cheryl Krauspe said. “We don’t want to encumber future boards by decisions we’ve made now, and we don’t wish to be shortsighted in trying to anticipate what revenue needs and expenditures will require.

“That’s why we paid for the study and rely on its validity. We depend on our communities to represent the School District fairly in their negotiations with developers.”

Board approves Kindergarten extension program

KANELAND—School Board members on April 30 voted 7-0 to approve a Kindergarten extension program.

According to a memo from Superintendent Jeff Schuler, Kaneland wants to implement the extension program because of the “lower enrollments across the district at the Kindergarten level for the 2012-13 school year.”

School Board President Cheryl Krauspe said the program is tuition based, so it will be cost neutral to district taxpayers.

Schuler’s document states that the program will be piloted through one section at each of the district’s elementary schools. As a result, Kaneland can “accommodate about 90 (roughly 33 percent) of the Kindergarten students currently registered for the 2012-13 school year.”

The extension program will not replace the core curriculum currently in place at the Kindergarten level, but rather will “continue to be offered as a half-day program” and provide extensions to core concepts, including “academic areas, play-based sessions and social skills sessions.” According to the document, transportation will be provided through the district’s morning and afternoon transportation schedule.

“It feels like we have been taking so much away in cuts recently-we have been forced to-that it is certainly nice to have the hope that we will be able to serve all those that are interested in the kindergarten extension program, and that it will become a value-added service for the residents of the School District in the years to come,” Krauspe said.

Cooking at Kaneland

The Cooking For Kids event was held Saturday at Kaneland High School in Maple Park. Food from professional and amateur chefs was provided, and the public voted on the best appetizer, entree and dessert. All money raised will benefit the students of the Kaneland School District. Dr. Harry F. Krauspe, DDS and wife Cheryl show off some of their desserts.

Photo by Patti Wilk

Kaneland approves teacher contract

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland School Board members on Monday voted 7-0 to approve a 2012-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Kaneland Education Association (KEA).

The KEA and School Board on Feb. 24 finished an interest-based bargaining process that led to a tentative agreement, which was then ratified by the KEA on March 11. The three-year deal will go into effect on July 1 and remain in place until June 30, 2015.

According to a District 302 press release, the KEA has agreed to a salary freeze in the first year of the contract as a means to assist the School District in addressing current revenue challenges. Year two of the deal will yield an overall increase of 2.7 percent for Kaneland teachers. Salary in year three will be determined when the contract is reopened at that time.

“Settling a new collective bargaining agreement was identified in our strategic plan as (a) key target for the district,” Superintendent Jeff Schuler said. “The willingness of the Kaneland Education Association to recognize the financial picture of the School District and align compensation accordingly was critical to the health of our School District.”

The deal will also include an increase in health insurance deductibles for single and family coverage ($500 and $900, respectively), effective Jan. 1, 2015. According to the press release, the District Insurance Committee will work collaboratively to investigate possible alternate cost savings options for health insurance

“The district and the KEA agreed to train in and use an interest-based negotiations approach, and I was impressed at what an improvement this alternative was over the type of positional labor relations/ negotiations utilized in the past,” School Board President Cheryl Krauspe said.

Kaneland works on more budget cuts

By Keith Beebe
Kaneland—Kaneland School Board members on Monday discussed the development of a budget for the 2013 fiscal year, which is intended to reduce expenditures as a means to compensate for a reduction in revenue.

According to a document from Superintendent Jeff Schuler, the School District’s cost-reduction process reduced projected expenditures by $6.3 million over the last three years. Due to state revenue cuts, the financial projections for Kaneland’s 2013 fiscal year suggest a $1 million deficit.

Schuler’s memorandum presented and outlined three budget options for the board to consider: a balanced budget with reductions in the ballpark of $900,000; a more conservative approach that would seek to reduce expenditures more than the projected $900,000 deficit; and a less conservative approach that would seek to reduce expenditures less than the projected deficit.

The board chose the balanced budget scenario, but insisted on reducing expenditures by approximately $1.1 million. With that change in place, the board voted 7-0 to approve the development of the 2013 fiscal year budget.

“I believe the board had made a decision to adhere to the finance goal in our strategic plan. It indicates that we will balance our budget each year and provide the best quality education that we can, given our financial reality,” Schuler said. “That means we will continue to make some difficult decisions as we plan for next school year and will identify options for reducing expenditures by $1.1 million.”

As was the case the previous two years, the district will use a cost-center approach to identify and target categories of expense in the budget that are necessary to cut in order to ease the deficit. Cost centers include district, elementary, middle and high school services, as well as categories for transportation, maintenance and technology. According to Schuler’s memorandum, the district will attempt to minimize cuts to student programs and staff workload.

This will be the third year the district has used the cost-center approach.

Schuler’s memorandum states that school districts provide three basic services:

• The bricks, mortar, operational resources and instructional resources needed to safely house and educate children
• The teachers necessary to educate children
• The staff and administration necessary to guide and maintain the system and support teachers and students

“Our primary goal is to graduate students college, career and community ready. As we identify potential cuts, we will do so with that mission in mind and continue to provide the highest quality education we can,” Schuler said.

School Board President Cheryl Krauspe said tough decisions lie ahead for the School Board.

“We have had to make some tough decisions in the last couple of years, and we will need to continue to do just that. Based on financial projections and the current economic uncertainties, the board has committed to meeting its fiscal responsibilities,” she said.

Sugar Grove won’t renew IGA with Kaneland

By Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The Kaneland School District in December 2010 reached an 11th-hour deal with the village of Sugar Grove to enter into a one-year Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) requiring village developers to pay 60 percent of the capital-impact and transition fees issued by the School District.

Less than a year later and in another stalemate with Kaneland, Sugar Grove has chosen not to renew its IGA with the School District.

The Kaneland School Board on Monday discussed the proposed IGA, as well as Sugar Grove’s decision not to participate in the agreement. Without an IGA in place, municipalities working toward an annexation agreement must determine the amount of land-cash and capital-impact payments collected on behalf of the School District.

“This is why we started the Intergovernmental Agreement … to create a level playing field (amongst municipalities),” Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said.

Schuler issued a document during the meeting, stating Kaneland’s commitment to the following principles:

• Tables produced through Roger Dahlstrom’s updated study reflect actual costs associated with new growth.
• The cost of growth should not be absorbed only by existing residents, and should be paid for by new growth through appropriate impact fees.
• Deviation from the current model or reduction in impact fees increases the burden on existing residents.
• A quality Kaneland education—one delivered in adequate facilities—is essential to the growth of all eight municipalities served through the current IGA.
• A Kaneland education costs the same for all students, regardless of where they reside. Deviation from Dahlstrom’s tables by any municipality impacts the School District’s ability to provide an appropriate education to all its students

Sugar Grove Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said that the village continues to support school impact fees in general and on behalf of the Kaneland School District.

“The fact that the village isn’t in support of the IGA, as presented, in no way means that the village doesn’t support impact fees or won’t charge impact fees on major development that comes forward in the future. The board, as a whole, wasn’t accepting of the fees listed (in the proposed IGA), given the state of the current economy or foreseeable economy, and part of what rolls into that is the IGA fee structure does not give any credit toward non-residential property as part of a development that also includes residential,” he said.

According to Eichelberger, the village didn’t believe it was appropriate to lock in a fee for just one governmental body at this time. Rather, the village wants the flexibility to negotiate an agreement that makes sense for everyone involved.

“(The board) just didn’t feel that you could take one unit of government and say, ‘OK, their fees are set, they’re locked in and there’s no negotiation.’ Well, if there needs to be some negotiation, it would fall on everybody else to get it done,” Eichelberger said.

School Board President Cheryl Krauspe said that the board feels the better course of action would have been to keep a common agreement in place that all municipalities could live and grow by. Without the participation of all municipalities in the IGA, the agreement will expire and cease to exist.

“There will likely be financial and political impact of this choice, which we would have rather avoided. After investing in the fees for consultation, updated study, the revision of the IGA tables and a year’s worth of agreement and discussion with all the village representatives, I regret that we couldn’t get this agreement signed and sealed,” she said. “The district has provided everything that it could in order to keep all of our communities on the same page, and many people have worked hard to maintain the agreement, so I am disappointed that the job did not get done.”

Kaneland’s current IGA will expire on Jan. 1, 2012.

WWII vet to speak, sign books at T&C Library

by Keith Beebe
ELBURN—Wayne White left his hometown of Tennessee, Ill., in 1943, to go overseas and fly bombing missions as a B24 photographer for the 454th Bombardment Group, U.S. 15th Air Force during World War II. Sixty-eight years later, the distinguished veteran wrote a book about his memories as an airman who participated in 37 missions in Europe over an 18-month stretch.

White’s book, “It Wasn’t My Time: An Airman’s Story,” was released last July, and is a recollection of World War II memories meant to be passed on so that today’s youth can understand the sacrifices, fear, trauma and emotions American soldiers experienced every day while fighting for their country. The book also chronicles White’s travels to Denver, Texas, Charleston, S.C., New York City, Brazil and Africa in preparation for the U.S. 15th Air Force (based in Italy), and the experiences that led to him being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and Purple Heart.

“I was an aerial photographer … took pictures of all the bomb spots. When the bombs were falling on the target, that’s when I was busy,” White said in an August interview for a DVD presentation. “I then brought (pictures) back for interrogation.”

White mentions in his book that he learned the terror and fear of war firsthand. During a mission in Ploiesti, Romania, the 15th Air Force lost 350 B24 planes over a single oil field target. The Air Force often bombed oil fields in an attempt to cut off the German’s fuel supply.

White will speak at the Elburn Town and Country Public Library from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 11, which is prior to the American Legion’s Veteran’s Day ceremony at the memorial across the street from the library. White will also sign copies of “It Wasn’t My Time: An Airman’s Story,” which can be purchased for $10 during the event.

White’s daughter is Cheryl Krauspe, an Elburn resident, who said her father wants to reach out to surviving veterans of World War II and encourage them to also participate in a celebration of their service.

“He hoped to inspire others to tell their stories, and to also strongly encourage them to take part in the great program, the Honor Freedom Flight,” she said. “This program transports World War II vets to Washington, D.C. to visit the World War II memorial dedicated to their cause for freedom and remembering those who served beside them that didn’t survive.”

White, now 89 years old, is a resident of Macomb, Ill. He was the superintendent of Argyle Lake State Park in Colchester, Ill., from 1966 to 1991. He had three children with his wife, Bette, who passed away in 1995. For some time now, his partner has been Nancy Aydelotte, the widow of 454th Bombardment Group Gunner Don Aydelotte.

White plays golf almost every day, bowls in a senior league twice a week and loves to play cards. He also published “It Wasn’t My Time: An Airman’s Story,” with his own money.

The book was recently accepted by National Archives/Library of Congress Project, which seeks out stories like White’s. The State of Illinois History Project included the book in its collection, as well.

“’It Wasn’t My Time’ is a sincere series of stories that has been enjoyed by all who have read it,” Krauspe said. “What he has written teaches a firsthand account of the legacy and conditions of freedom, the value of sacrifice and the love of country.”

Wayne White speaking engagement/book signing
Friday, Nov. 11 • 9:30 to 11 a.m.
Elburn Town and Country Public Library
Copies of, “It Wasn’t My Time,” can be purchased for $10.

KHS implements standard concussion policy

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland High School will implement a student athlete injury policy for concussions.

The School Board on Monday voted 7-0 to approve a concussion policy, including protocol for dealing with head injuries, while Kaneland High School waits for a formal policy to be provided by Policy Research Educational Subscription Service (PRESS).

According to a document from Superintendent Jeff Schuler, Public Act 97-0204 added language to the Illinois School Code regarding student athletes and concussions that will require students who have potentially sustained a concussion during athletic play to be checked out by a licensed physician or certified athletic trainer before they are permitted to return to the game.

According to the document provided by Schuler, athletic trainers are trained in the assessments of concussions and are able to determine whether or not a student is suffering from a concussion. The document also outlines the concept of baseline cognitive testing known as ImPACT Testing, which is done at the beginning of the season for all high-impact sports. ImPACT Testing is done for all student athletes, and gauges their attention span, problem solving, response variability, memory and reaction time. In the event a student athlete suffers a potential concussion, the ImPACT Test will be re-taken to measure cognitive capability. Participation in the high-impact sport is then prohibited until the student athlete’s ImPACT Test score returns to its original value.

Schuler’s document states that athletic trainers can also look for signs of a concussion through the Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC), Balance Error Scoring System (BESS), Romberg’s, and neurological tests to identify if the head or neck has sustained an injury.

Students who re-enter athletic events too early after suffering a potential concussion will run the risk of suffering Second Impact Syndrome, which can cause permanent damage to the brain and even death in some instances.

“Keeping our children safe is the highest priority,” School Board President Cheryl Krauspe said. “An athletic trainer can’t be everywhere to make the judgment calls, so it’s important to have a standard policy in place.”

A concussion occurs when forceful contact to the head jars the brain. A person who suffers a concussion typically experiences headaches, disorientation, confusion, and in some instances, nausea, ringing in the ears, memory loss and loss of consciousness.
Concussions are prevalent in sports such as football, basketball, baseball, soccer and cheerleading, and are broken down into three grades. Grade 1 concussions involve some form of disorientation and symptoms that do not persist more than 15 minutes. Grade 2 concussions involve similar disorientation and symptoms that do persist longer than 15 minutes. Grade 3 concussions involve a loss of consciousness, regardless of the duration.

School Board extends Schuler’s contract

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 6-0 to approve an extension of Superintendent Jeff Schuler’s contract through 2016.

Board member Tony Valente was absent from the meeting.

There are no new financial terms to the contract extension, which Schuler said is simply an extension of time to ensure that the leadership in the district will be stable though the duration of its current strategic plan.

“I look forward to continuing my service to Kaneland School District and will certainly devote my full attention toward meeting the performance targets outlined in the contract and in our Vision 2014 Strategic Plan,” Schuler said in a memo that was included with the contract. “Kaneland School District is a great school district, and I am honored to continue serving as Superintendent of Schools.”

Board President Cheryl Krauspe said that the board is confident in the leadership of Dr. Schuler and believes that the Kaneland School District will benefit from continuing that relationship.

“The Board of Education has approved an ambitious set of performance targets that will provide direction for the district, and that will gauge our progress in meeting and exceeding our rigorous strategic plan,” she said.

Another step forward

Review Board rules proposed TIF district satisfies requirements
by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The second Joint Review Board meeting to discuss the village’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district proposal was held Monday at Village Hall. It allowed local taxing bodies an opportunity to ask questions that lingered after the initial TIF district proposal meeting on July 11.

Representatives of taxing bodies, including Sugar Grove Fire Chief Marty Kunkel and Sugar Grove Township official Dan Nagle, expressed their concerns with the TIF district, which is an economic device Sugar Grove wants to implement in an effort to stimulate economic development by using the incremental tax the village receives for improving a specific area, and then putting those funds toward development costs.

According to a village document, the proposed TIF district is meant to spur non-residential development in order to generate local jobs and expand the tax base, and would be in effect for 23 years.

Despite the objections of a few taxing bodies, the Joint Review Board voted 5-3 to confirm that the proposed TIF district indeed satisfies the requirements, objectives and eligibility criteria of the TIF Act.

“These Joint Review Board meetings are meant to ensure that municipalities do talk to the other taxing districts so that they’re at least aware of what is going on,” Village President Sean Michels said. “It was a good forum, and I truly heard what other taxing bodies were saying, with concerns about the size of the (TIF) district. It’s probably their paramount concern.”

A village document outlines the boundaries of the TIF district, which is projected to cover the industrial area that stretches from Route 47 (north) to an area near the Burlington Northern Railroad (south), and Aurora Municipal Airport (east) to village limits (west).

The size of the TIF district is certainly an issue for Kunkel, who expressed concern during the meeting that the Sugar Grove Fire Protection District would be unable to get the taxes it needs to expand its facilities while the TIF district is in effect.

“We’ve assured him that if we get some heavy users that would require an addition to the Fire Protection District, because they need specialized equipment, then we could incorporate those as part of the TIF,” Michels said. “We’re trying to be open and work with the different taxing bodies to show them that they won’t be necessarily shut out.”

Kaneland School Board President Cheryl Krauspe said the proposed TIF district meets the letter of the law and the criteria identified in the statute, if even by the slightest of margins.

“According to the voting parameters, I felt compelled to vote ‘yes,’” she said. “That being said, I’m not sure that, although the letter of the law as required was met, if the spirit of the TIF statute—centered around redevelopment rather than new development—was met.”

Michels said the proposed TIF district will next be brought up for public hearing during the regular Village Board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 16.

“I don’t know if we’ll close the public hearing that night, (as) we’ll listen to what the public has to say, as well,” he said. “I think we might have to keep it open for two meetings.”

Krauspe said Kaneland’s voice will be heard at the meeting next month.

“Kaneland will be vocal (at) the Aug. 16 public hearing, as it represents a significant loss in revenue over 23 years, when our revenues, along with those of all our taxpayers, are quite limited,” she said.

D-302 balks at proposed tax district

Sugar Grove holds first meeting to discuss proposed economic development plan
By Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove’s Joint Review Committee, created in conjunction with the village’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district proposal, held its first meeting at Village Hall on Monday.

Attendance at the meeting was high, as several taxing bodies in attendance posed questions regarding the TIF District—an economic tool Sugar Grove wants to use to stimulate economic development by taking the incremental tax the village receives for improving a projected area, and then using that money to fund the development costs. Therefore, the TIF District provides businesses in the projected area with needed municipal support and infrastructure.

A village document defines the village’s redevelopment plan as an effort to spur non-residential development that will generate local jobs and expand the tax base. The TIF District regarding the projected industrial area would be in effect for 23 years.

“The meeting was well attended, and this is probably one of the first times a TIF District has been proposed in our area,” Village President Sean Michels said. “Other taxing bodies had some genuine questions and interests (during the meeting), and I would say everybody was cautious. A couple of questions came up, and Mike Hoffman (of Teska Associates—the company that designed the Redevelopment Plan for the village) and (Community Development Director) Rich Young were going to get back to them on those questions.”

The Redevelopment Plan document states that a TIF District can attract redevelopment to the projected area by eliminating conditions that inhibit private investment, weaken the village’s tax base and hinder the village’s ability to promote a cohesive development of compatible land uses. According to the document, the TIF District is projected to cover the industrial area that stretches from Route 47 (north) to an area near the Burlington Northern Railroad (south), and Aurora Municipal Airport (east) to village limits (west).

“There’s some concern about the size of the TIF District, and one of the reasons we’re making it large is because the property has to be continuous (and with) certain conditions—an area that is in decline, and it has to be industrial property,” Michels said. “We’re trying to put (the TIF) into property where we think there will be some kind of building going on with commercial and industrial activity.”

Some of the individuals in attendance have voiced other concerns regarding the proposed TIF District.

“Our board has a concern with the length (of time) of the TIF,” Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said. “Given the size of the area being included in the TIF, 23 years is a very long time. Industrial growth could certainly benefit both the village and other taxing entities, but when the TIF runs the full 23 years, that impact for the other taxing districts is pushed out too far.”

Schuler said that the Kaneland Board of Education is certainly willing to work collaboratively with the village in exploring options that would encourage industrial and commercial growth, but it needs to be done in a way that allows taxpayers to realize the impact of that growth without waiting 23 years.

School Board President Cheryl Krauspe had prepared a statement for the Joint Review Board meeting but was unable to read it, as statements were not heard during the hearing.

“The Kaneland School District does not feel that its best interests are served with the formation of the TIF District proposed by Sugar Grove,” she said. “The downside for Kaneland is that when funds are diverted for improvements to this large piece of property, it is revenue which cannot benefit the School District to help fund operations, construction or improvements for the life of the TIF, as long as 23 years. Twenty-three years is a long time to promote development in one area, as the TIF proposes.”

Krauspe said the long-lasting result will deny new tax dollars to other taxing entities, and if the TIF is successful and industrial growth happens, additional revenues would not find their way to the tax base for 23 years. In that scenario, there would be no resulting tax relief to the homeowners in the nine municipalities that Kaneland serves until the year 2034.

“Kaneland District 302 is open to exploring the option of an Intergovernmental Agreement, which could work to put part of the potential new revenues back into the servicing entities,” she said. “We would also be open to a change in the definition of this TIF district, such as a smaller area of property to be identified in the TIF, or a periodic release of those captured tax dollars to the overlapping units during a scheduled review basis.”

The village’s redevelopment plan document states that Sugar Grove is uniquely situated to take advantage of access to multiple transportation options that benefit current and potential business in the area, including major regional thoroughfares, highways, rail and airport access. However, industrial development in the outlined section of the village has been very limited because of the limited availability of infrastructure.

“It’s expensive to bring in water and sewer and bring in roads, and businesses will likely go to areas where there are already roads and water and sewer unless (those businesses) can somehow get some assistance in paying for those improvements, and that’s what the TIF District does,” Michels said.

The next Joint Review Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 25.

Estimated project costs:

$15.3 million
Administration, studies, surveys, legal,
marketing, etc.

$16.4 million
Property assembly including acquisition, site preparation
and demolition, environmental remediation

$4.1 million
Rehabilitation, reconstruction, repair or remodeling

$91.0 million
Public Works or improvements and capital costs
of taxing districts

Job training and retraining

$1.0 million
Relocation costs

$128.2 million
Total Redevelopment costs

School Board sets schedule, seats new members

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 7-0 to approve the 2011-12 School Board meeting schedule. Board reorganization also took place during the meeting and addressed election of officers and appointment of committee liaisons.

Cheryl Krauspe and Elmer Gramley will remain president and vice president, respectively. Teresa Witt will take over the board secretary position.

Board meeting dates will take place on the second and fourth Monday of each month except June (second and third Monday), July (second Monday only), August (second and fifth Monday), October (first Tuesday and fourth Monday), December (second Monday only), January (second and fifth Monday), March (second Monday only) and April (second and fifth Monday).

New board members Jim Oberweis, Tony Valente and Gale Pavlak were also seated during the meeting.

“From all indications, everyone is ready to get to work,” Krauspe said. “We are feeling our way through this next two weeks with board liaison assignments. I have asked them to work with me to finalize it.”

According to a document provided by Krauspe, tentative board liaison assignments include Krauspe and Gramley representing the Kaneland Foundation, Pavlak and Witt representing the Citizens’ Advisory Committee, Valente and Gramley representing the Facilities Planning Commission, Oberweis and board member Ken Carter representing the Finance Advisory Committee, Gramley representing the Kaneland Hall of Fame, Valente serving as IASA delegate, Pavlak representing the Insurance Committee, Krauspe, Witt and Gramly serving as municipal officers, and Krauspe serving as Kishwaukee regional governing board representative.

“Appointments to liaison committees are (still) tentative,” Krauspe said.

Kaneland finalizes budget reduction

Editor’s note:
In the “Kaneland finalizes budget reduction” story on page 1A of the Thursday, March 17 edition, a paraphrased statement by Kaneland School Board President Cheryl Krauspe was published as, “The budget reduction work was challenging, but cooperative and simple.” The statement should have read, “The budget reduction work was challenging, but cooperative and sensible.”
The Elburn Herald wants its news reports to be fair and accurate. If you know of an error, please contact:
Ryan Wells, Editor
123 N. Main St., Elburn, IL 60119
e-mail: info@elburnherald.com

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—After nearly three months of financial projections, targeted cost centers and budget analysis, the Kaneland School District on Monday presented the School Board with its finalized cost reduction plan for the 2012 fiscal school year.

The reduction plan, which the School Board approved with a unanimous vote of 7-0, will cut $1,005,477 in district expenditures at the elementary, middle school, high school and district level. Despite the financial belt tightening, Superintendent Jeff Schuler said no school employees were lost as a result of the budget cuts, because all eliminated positions were offset by district retirements.

Schuler had repeatedly stated at School Board meetings since early January that the district’s main goal was to cut expenditures while trying to minimize the impact of reductions on student programs.

“I think that, for the most part, we were successful in that goal, although any reduction in staff, supply or purchased service is going to have some impact on our education services for students,” he said. “If it did not (have an impact), then we should not have been spending that money to begin with. I believe that Kaneland has been responsible and strategic in the use of our resources, so any cost reductions are going to be challenging.”

One of the cost reduction plan’s more difficult cuts is the elimination of two LRC director positions at the elementary level, which will leave the two remaining LRC director positions to each oversee two of the district’s four elementary buildings. These particular cuts were discussed by the School Board at its meeting on Feb. 28.

Board President Cheryl Krauspe said the budget reduction work was challenging, but cooperative and sensible.

“(It’s) hard to think positive when you think budget cuts, but we’ve got a vision that recognizes some harsh realities,” she said. “We are not in the practice of hand wringing and feeling sorry for ourselves; there is not enough time for that. We need to invest all of the resources that we have in the best possible way, and that’s moving forward.”

According to a memorandum presented by Schuler, the cost reduction plan will reduce $200,845 at the elementary level, $128,149 at the middle school level, $181,842 at the high school level, and $494,641 at the district level.

There is, however, one positive aspect that Schuler was able to take from the grueling cost reduction process.

“If there is a silver lining in the cost reductions, it is the fact that the district staff and administration have been very creative in our ability to accomplish more with less,” he said. “We have sought new ways to allocate resources-especially in operational areas-that have allowed us to maintain our focus on teaching and learning. We have not just maintained during this financial crisis, we have continued to innovate and improve.”

Minimized cuts

Despite the financial belt tightening, Superintendent Jeff Schuler said no school employees were lost as a result of the budget cuts, because all eliminated positions were offset by district retirements.

Board member, public uneasy with LRC position cuts

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland School Board discussions regarding the district’s budget reduction plan for the 2012 fiscal year have typically been about financial projections and cost centers since the plan went into motion last December.

The board’s focus, however, was solely on the human side of the budget reduction implications during the School Board meeting on Monday evening.

Budget cuts that will eliminate two of the four LRC director positions at the elementary level were a sore point for both School Board member Teresa Witt and the public in attendance during the meeting. The budget reduction plan calls for the remaining LRC director positions to each split time between two of the district’s four elementary school buildings.

Superintendent Jeff Schuler said the LRC directors that lose their current position could be assigned to a classroom or literary position.

“Several of the LRC directors also have a classroom teaching certificate and are certainly qualified to teach several different positions,” he said.

Witt said she was a little disturbed by the LRC director position cuts.

“If administrators got together and actually chose (LRC Directors) as a cut, it seems to me that we must be under-utilizing valuable professionals because there’s so much potential (there),” she said. “And then to be saying, ‘Well, you know, we might take up some of the slack with technology instructors and things like that,’ seems backwards to me because librarians are actually qualified-they have experience in technology, whereas technologists don’t have experience in library.”

The LRC director position cuts will render $60,000 of the $1 million in expenditures targeted for reduction by the district.

Board President Cheryl Krauspe was sympathetic with Witt’s position on the cuts, but also noted that the LRCs will continue to function in spite of the reductions.

“(The) services of the LRC directors will be consolidated and delivered in a different way because of this reduction, (but) we are not eliminating the service. We value the library service and the instructional support provided,” she said. “It’s not a popular reduction, but this amount of loss in a district is going be felt on some level by all. And these current directors aren’t going to lost their jobs.”

Krauspe emphasized the intent to cut expenditures while attempting to keep student programs unscathed.

“We did the best that we could carefully do to maintain class size and program opportunities in the district, minimizing negative impact in the quality of direct service to students,” she said.

“I think (the staff cuts) might be hard to recover from at some point,” Witt said. “And just with the attention we’re placing on rigor, it seems like maybe our priorities aren’t there.”

The district’s budget reduction plan will be finalized at the school board meeting on Monday, March 14.

Kaneland presents initial budget reduction plan

Summary of staffing cuts
Position Full Time Equivalent (FTE)
Certified Positions 5.9
Non-Certified Positions 0.5
Administrative Positions (District Office) 0.5
Stipend Positions (Student Activities) 31

By Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The Kaneland School District on Monday presented the School Board with an initial cost reduction plan that will seek to cut $1 million in expenditures for the 2012 fiscal year.

Superintendent Jeff Schuler, in his slide-show presentation to the board, explained the entire budget research process leading up to the initial reduction plan, outlining the cost-center approach used to identify necessary financial reductions at the elementary, middle school, high school and district levels.

Schuler said the process began in December 2010 with financial projections for the 2012 fiscal year.

“We began to review the targeted amounts for reduction through the financial projections,” he said. “In January, we began the process of re-identifying our cost centers, (analyzing) the budget, (reviewing) each cost center and then set the targets that we reviewed or set at our last meeting.”

A cost center breaks down the finances of each school level and identifies areas that can be reduced. The district, Citizens Advisory Committee and Finance Advisory Committee then reviewed targeted reductions before those numbers were finalized in the budget reduction plan. For example, the elementary cost center was set at $240,815 in January, but the initial cost reduction plan presented on Monday intends to reduce a 10-month secretary position to nine months, eliminate local professional development allocations, reduce kindergarten by half of a full time equivalent (FTE) position, and reduce Learning Resource Center staff by two FTE positions in order to meet a reduction total of $200,845—nearly $40,000 less than the original targeted amount.

The budget reduction plan has a middle school cost-center total of $128,148 (initial target was $127,911), a high school cost-center total of $181,882 (initial target was $169,884) and a district cost-center total of $494,641 (initial target was $461,390). The middle school and high school cost centers each call for elimination of 1.0 FTE positions.

“Over the last two years, we’ve already reduced projected expenditures by more than $5 million, and we did that with our mission statement in mind, and we did that making sure that we made every effort to preserve our core educational program and services for students,” Schuler said. “Although, again, let me say clearly that as we talked about cuts and we talked about the way that we approached cuts, we don’t take them lightly.

“We understand the cuts that we’ve made certainly have been and will continue to be painful,” he said.

Schuler’s presentation also touched upon the “triangle of savings” concept, which breaks down district expenditures into three categories: student programs, staff workload and operational services. The presentation listed a reduction of $186,397 in operational services (non-instructional supplies, early retirement options, etc.), a reduction of $805,921 in staff workload (instructional supplies, administrative services, etc.) and a reduction of just $13,159 in student programs.

“It’s difficult to continue to cut operational services; it’s difficult to continue to make programs adjustments to cut supplies and to cut things that ultimately make the staff workload more difficult,” Schuler said. “The reality is, what we ultimately are trying to avoid are cuts that directly impact our programs and services for students.”

Board President Cheryl Krauspe said she was pleased with the district’s cost reduction plan.

“I feel the administration used a very fine scalpel instead of a chainsaw when approaching these cuts,” she said. “(The cuts) were well defined and did not result in the district hemorrhaging as much as feared.”

According to the presentation, the board will be asked to approve finalized budget cuts at its meeting on March 14. Any personnel action stemming from the approved reductions will go into effect that evening.

“We have to make the most high-quality educational program as we can within the limitations and confines of a limited budget,” Krauspe said. “Those decisions on what gets funded and what does not aren’t easy, but this process has been lengthy, thorough, all-inclusive, collaborative and fair.”

District 302 seeks committed candidates

by David Maas
KANELAND—Prospective candidates for the Kaneland School Board should know that if elected, they face a significant responsibility, Board President Cheryl Krauspe said.

On Tuesday, April 4, 2010, four School Board seats will be up for election.

The four-year terms set to expire April 4 currently are held by Teresa Witt, Lisa Wiet, Deborah Grant, and Diane Piazza. The members have not announced whether they will seek election.

A School Board election takes place every two years, but not for all seven board positions.

“Terms are staggered so that there are three or four seats contested at each election, and not a total turnover at once,” Krauspe said. “That’s a good thing.”

Krauspe said board members must spend an average of 10 to 20 hours a month working on board matters.

“There is a significant amount of reading and studying, and overseeing the dashboard gauges of the district progress,” Krauspe said.

“It is a big responsibility that all the members of the current Kaneland Board of Education take most seriously.”

In addition to attending regular meetings, board members act as liaisons to other committee meetings each month. That work load can be challenging, Krauspe said.

“I find it satisfying, but also stressful,” Krauspe said, “Providing the best education possible for our community’s children within the budget constraints that we are experiencing in this economic climate involves a strong commitment.”

Board members do not receive pay for their service.

Krauspe suggested that people who have served the School District in some capacity, such as volunteering or committee work, would be the best people to run for the board.

“Although it is not a requirement, I would value the prior experience and service of Kaneland candidates to the district,” Krauspe said.

According to the Illinois School Board Association, an effective school board member should be able to work on a team, become informed to take part in an effective meeting, have a desire to serve students and the community, respect the needs and feelings of others, and recognize that the school district is one of the largest businesses in the town.

To run for School Board
Those interested in running for the board must be at least 18 years old, have lived in the Kaneland School District for at least one year and be a registered voter.

Start by obtaining a nominating petition from Beth Sterkel at the district office on any business day between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Prospective candidates must file nominating petitions at the district office, 427W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park, between Monday, Dec. 13, and Monday, Dec. 20. For more information, contact Beth Sterkel at the district office at (630) 365-5111.

District names new-schedule impact areas

by David Maas
KANELAND—Kaneland School District’s director of educational services Erika Schlichter presented the School Board a report Tuesday naming specific areas that the planned high-school schedule change from four-block to eight-period days next year will impact.

“We are going to stay focused on the things that are the most important,” Schlichter said.

Those areas of impact are School Board policy, the high school handbook, operational schedule details, curriculum, collective negotiations, and finances.

The board will learn more from district staff in the future about the impact of the scheduling change. On Monday, Oct. 25, staff will discuss the impact on one of the impact areas, the operational schedule. They will see a draft of the schedule that Kaneland administrators produced.

Board members on Tuesday expressed some concern with the new scheduling, including athletes leaving early for sporting events and the increased number passing periods possibly leading to more behavioral issues.

Schlichter reassured the board that these issues have been the topic of staff discussion, and the district will implement the best actions to ensure students’ well-being.

“The board appreciates all the work being put into this,” Board President Cheryl Krauspe said. “We know it’s a lot of work.”

School Board names Kaneland mom, volunteer as newest member

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Tuesday announced the appointment of Teresa Witt to the board.

Witt was one of 10 candidates whom the board interviewed since longtime board member Robert Myers stepped down Sept. 3 because he is moving out of the School District.

Board President Cheryl Krauspe said the level of experience of all of the candidates was impressive. During more than four hours of interviews, the board had an opportunity to explore the applicants’ reasons for wanting to be a board member, the strengths they would bring to the role and the process each candidate would use to make decisions, Krauspe said in a press release on Tuesday.

Witt has been involved in a wide variety of Kaneland community volunteer activities. She currently serves as a member of the Kaneland Finance Advisory Committee and is the communications director for the Sugar Grove Food Pantry. Previously, she served on Citizens for Kaneland, the John Shields PTO and the Gifted Advisory Committee, and was a classroom and library volunteer.

Witt is a parent of three Kaneland students.

In her letter of application she stated, “As a mother of three children in the Kaneland School District, I have experienced all levels of the Kaneland educational system …Throughout all levels of their education, I have been an active participant and have worked hard to stay informed regarding all matters affecting Kaneland students and the community as a whole.”

Witt will be seated and sworn in on Tuesday, Oct. 12, and will fill the unexpired board term until April 5, 2011.

Krauspe elected as school board president

She replaces 8-year president Wiet
by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday unanimously elected Board Secretary Cheryl Krauspe as the new board president.

Krauspe will replace Lisa Wiet, who had served as president since November 2002. Wiet nominated Krauspe for the president’s position before board members cast their votes in the annual election of board officers Monday.

“I think it was very obvious that Cheryl had the unanimous support of the board,” Wiet said Tuesday. “It was time.”

Krauspe, who had been board secretary, said she is eager to take on her new role as president and felt comforted by Wiet’s support. She also praised Wiet’s work as the board’s leader.

“I’d like to thank Lisa for her leadership, her subordination of self-interest as president (and) her forward vision to make sure the board moved in a positive direction,” she said. “Not only did (she) give each board member an opportunity to participate fully in the boardroom, (she) did a great deal outside of the boardroom, which to most of us went grossly underappreciated.”

Krauspe said she expects to learn and to make mistakes as board president, but feels fortunate that she can draw from Wiet’s experience and wisdom.

Wiet said Tuesday that she is glad for Krauspe.

“I didn’t think I’d end up serving seven or eight terms when I first became board president in 2002,” Wiet said. “I am delighted to turn it over to Cheryl, though. I believe she’ll do a wonderful job, and I hope she’ll do things her own way instead of trying to emulate me.”

Wiet was elected Monday to replace Krauspe as board secretary, a role with which she is very familiar.

“Board secretary is a function I did many years ago,” Wiet said. “The really nice part (about the position) is I can work really closely with Cheryl.”

Martha Quetsch contributed to this article.

District also has new superintendent
KANELAND—Outgoing Kaneland School Board President Lisa Wiet said she believes Jeff Schuler, currently the assistant district superintendent, will make a smooth transition into the role of superintendent.

Schuler will replace Charlie McCormick, who has served as District 302 superintendent for 12 years and is retiring at the end of the school year.

“We interviewed Jeff three or four years ago as a potential candidate, but we never made any promises that he’d one day become superintendent,” she said. “He’s turned out to be exactly what we were hoping for.”

Monday’s School Board meeting was the final one for McCormick, who commented on his time with the district.

“(My time here) has been a very active period in the Kaneland history. We built a lot of schools, got a lot of changes and a lot of growth,” McCormick said. “I am really honored to have been a part of it.”

School Board votes against a school fee increase

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 5-2 to keep school fees at their current rate.

Based on feedback from several community members that there might be support for such a move, school administrators brought a plan before the board to increase certain fees by 20 percent. According to Assistant Superintendent for Business Julie-Ann Fuchs, this adjustment would increase school revenue by approximately $38,000, depending on the number of participants in next year’s programs.

“I’m against asking parents to pay more.” board member Deborah Grant said. “Our fees are high enough; we’re already at the top for athletics.”

Grant said that with the parking fee increase and the increase in athletic fees, as well as the elimination of after-school buses, this would hit some students even harder.

Board member Cheryl Krauspe was in favor of the increase, saying that individuals within the community have said they would support such a move. She added that the Sports Boosters group has been very generous in supporting students who cannot afford the sports fees.

However, other than Ken Carter, the other board members did not support the increase.

“I agree with Diane,” board member Elmer Gramley said. “This is not the time to do this.”

Putting names to the numbers

Kaneland sends dismissal notices to cut staff members
by Susan O’Neill
[quote]Kaneland—For the first time, individual teacher’s names are part of the record, with the reality hitting home for everyone involved. The Kaneland School Board on Monday approved resolutions authorizing the administration to provide notice of their dismissal of 118 teachers and professional staff.

“I don’t take much comfort in knowing that it’s happening everywhere,” board member Cheryl Krauspe said. “We signed the releases with the people’s names on it, and I feel bad for each and every one of them.”

Krauspe, a teacher of 35 years in another district, said what breaks her heart is that some of the talented teachers and other professionals the district has invested in and mentored will end up leaving the profession.

“They went into the profession because they were passionate about students, and we will lose that,” she said. “That’s the tragedy.”

An official letter was given to the teachers and other professional staff this week of the non-renewal of their contracts and their dismissal, hitting a note of finality for them, as well.

McDole computer and technology teacher Jeremy Berger, a fourth-year teacher who was informed that he would be part of the reduction in force, came to speak to the board at Monday’s meeting about the importance of the technology program at the elementary school level.

Berger is also the father of a Kaneland student. He may not know if he has a job at Kaneland next year until mid-summer.

He is just one of the teachers, social workers, counselors, psychologists and speech therapists whose lives have been put in limbo this week.

Of the 15 part-time, 24 first-, 37-second and 33-third year teachers, as well as nine of the 42 fourth-year teachers and professional staff who received the letter, approximately 40 to 50 will not come back to Kaneland next year. According to Associate Superintendent Jeff Schuler, notifying this number of staff 45 days prior to the end of the school year was necessary to give the district the flexibility it needs to reorganize and restructure the district in response to a potential $2.2 million financial shortfall from the state.

Members of the School Board and administration went into an executive closed session to discuss the cuts and their impacts on programs, classes and class sizes, Board President Lisa Wiet said. Although there have been cuts in activities, clubs and competitive sports, the remaining reductions will necessarily come from letting people go, she said.

“Education is people; 80 percent of the cost of running a school district is in salaries and benefits,” she said.

The task for school administrators in the coming weeks will be to come up with recommendations that they will present to the board for discussion at its April 12 meeting. Wiet said they will take into consideration the input and feedback from the public, parents and members of the various advisory committees as they make these choices.

“We want to do what is absolutely the best for the education of the children,” Wiet said.

The impact on the children of the up to $5 million in cuts is not yet known. Class sizes will likely be larger; programs will likely be cut or reduced.

What is known is that the first round of cuts limits the opportunities for some students to participate in after-school activities and clubs.

Of the 11 clubs that will be eliminated at the high school level, members of the Chess Club have been the most vocal on the impact of its elimination. According to data the administration gathered, Chess Club members are the students least likely to participate in other activities.

“I’m not strong. I’m not fast,” chess player Zach Brown said. “The Chess Club is the only way I can represent Kaneland.”

Another member, Alex Siebert, said that the club links him with others at school in a social way, as well as helping him with the skills necessary to learn.

“Without chess, school would be boring,” he said. “It (also) gives me an opportunity to use my mind and to improve my critical thinking skills.”

While the competitive sports programs at the middle school level will be cut, Principal Rick Burchell has plans for an intramural sports program that he said will offer more activities to more students for about 25 percent of the cost.

Parents and other community members have already started to come forward to offer help and assistance with sports and some of the other affected programs.

The board will vote on the second round of cuts at its May 24 meeting.

Kaneland receives IEPA grant

by Susan O’Neill
Kaneland—The Kaneland School District received a grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) for $190,427. The grant, the Illinois Clean Diesel Grant Program, is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The grant will allow Kaneland to purchase and have installed direct-fired heaters on 34 school buses, and direct-fired heaters, diesel multi-stage filters and closed crankcase ventilation units on five buses. The installation of this equipment means that the buses will not need to be plugged in during the winter, saving energy and money.

The updated technology included in the heaters also meets more stringent emission standards than those currently utilized in the buses, reducing the diesel emissions and fuel consumption of the existing vehicles, as well as improving operational efficiencies.

Transportation Director Jim Ogle, who applied for the grant, was at Monday’s meeting to answer questions from board members.

The heaters will be installed by June 30.

“I think that’s terrific,” School Board member Cheryl Krauspe said during the Feb. 22 board meeting.

Survey finds high percent of A’s and B’s at high school

Report says data suggests 7-point scale does not put students at disadvantage
by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—In a recent study, school administrators found that nearly 50 percent of the students at Kaneland High School have an A grade-point average. Add the B grades in, and nearly 75 percent of the students are above average.

The study was conducted as an initial step in response to feedback from a number of parents in the community who asked the administration to change the school’s grading scale to make it more in line with other schools in Kane County.

Some parents said that Kaneland’s 7-point grading scale put the Kaneland students at a disadvantage when they were compared with other students from schools with 10-point scales. This could hurt them when being considered for college admissions, scholarship awards and auto insurance discounts, parents said.

In a 10-point scale, students with a score of 92 receive an A; with Kaneland’s 7-point scale, students need a score of 93 to receive an A.

Administrators conducted an informal survey of other high schools in the Western Sun Conference and the soon-to-be Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference; five of the seven schools that responded used a 10-point scale. One school left it up to each department to use either a 7-point or a 10-point scale, and another used an 8-point scale.

The survey, which looked at grade-point averages during the 2008-09 school year, found that a greater percentage of Kaneland students had an A average than the overall average of 37 percent, even though a majority of the other schools used 10-point scales.

In addition, the survey also found that the schools with the higher average of A students did not necessarily correlate with the higher ACT scores.

Although Kaneland fell third on the list in terms of A averages, its average ACT score of 20.9 falls below the average of 22 when all seven schools are included.

“The data shows there is a disconnect between grades earned and results when compared to performance,” board member Dianne Piazza said.

Administrators told the board on Monday that the initial data do not seem to support the suggestion that Kaneland’s grading scale puts the students at an unfair disadvantage.

Kaneland Superintendent Charlie McCormick said that since the administration has not reviewed at the grading scale since it was changed 15 years ago, their recommendation was to take another look at it.He said that the study should take place in the context of the curriculum department’s original plan to study grading criteria, purposes and philosophy.

The School Board voted 5-2 in favor of this recommendation.

McCormick also recommended that it follow Kaneland’s current policy that establishing a grading system is the responsibility of the administration and professional staff, and not a board decision.

“That’s why we have our curriculum directors and professional teaching personnel,” he said.

While some board members agreed that decisions about the grading system were better left to the professionals, others felt that decisions made internally would leave members of the community nowhere to go if they were still unhappy about the grading scale.

“We had a petition that came to the board,” board member Deborah Grant said.

Parents brought a petition to the board in October 2009 with 703 signatures from parents that asked the board to evaluate the current grading system this school year. The petition asked the board to consider changing the grading scale to a 10-point system rather than the current 7-point scale.

“I want our students to have the same opportunities that every other student in Kane County has, and that is a 10-point scale,” Grant said.

Board member Cheryl Krauspe said that she did not feel it was the right time to change the scale.

Board members agreed to table the administration’s recommendation for a later time.