Tag Archives: Jeff Schuler

Letter: Help the Kaneland Foundation

The Kaneland Foundation is a nonprofit organization that has contributed for decades to the educational needs of the students of Kaneland District 302. Our mission is to support academic excellence through innovation.

Please consider joining us at the Kaneland Foundation’s Knight Run on Friday, June 22, at 7 p.m. The 5K and 1-mile runs will cover a flat cross country course entirely on the Kaneland High School campus.

A registration form with more information is on the Kaneland website and web store (for electronic registration).

Sponsor donations of $200 or more will be recognized on the event T-Shirt provided to all participants and volunteers who register prior to June 15. In addition, sponsors will be publicized through recognition at the event.

For more information about the Knight Run, to make a donation, become a sponsor or have a registration form mailed or e-mailed to you, contact Beth Sterkel at (630) 365-5111, ext. 109, or email or beth.sterkel@kaneland.org.

Jeff Schuler
Superintendent of Schools
Kaneland School District

School Board states support of original IGA terms

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland School Board members on Monday voted 7-0 to state their support of the terms included in a proposed Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the School District and the village of Elburn.

The IGA would be a 10-year agreement, with land/cash value remaining at its current level. Capital impact fees would continue to follow the Roger Dahlstrom model, with payments prorated at 75 percent. There would be no clause to lower those payments if another municipality reached an agreement containing lower fees.

Superintendent Jeff Schuler said the board’s message was simply meant to inform Elburn that they support the terms of the IGA.

“Since the Elburn Village Board did not approve the IGA last night, their board is going to discuss what they feel they can agree to. The School Board will then have to decide if an IGA makes sense with those terms. Certainly the School District feels strongly about the terms as they are currently written in the proposed IGA,” he said.

Schuler in November 2011 issued a document stating Kaneland’s commitment to the following principles:

• Tables produced through 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

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. Schuler said he views the IGA as an agreement between the village and School Board that clearly identifies the cost of growth that will otherwise be shifted to existing residents.

“The IGA ensures that this cost burden is not compromised through the negotiation of the annexation agreement,” he said. “It is written to protect the needs of the village, School District and all existing taxpayers. We feel strongly that the agreement should be approved.”

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.

Kaneland approves purchase of new curriculum materials

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland School Board trustees on Monday voted 7-0 to approve the purchase of new curriculum materials.

According to a memorandum from Dr. Sarah Mumm, director of educational services K-5, and Erika Schlichter, director of educational services 6-12, the School Board on Feb. 27 heard details about a proposed curriculum purchase, which included the following:

• Math materials to support common core standards in grades K-12

• English Language Arts materials to support the common core standards in grades 9-12

• Material needs at Kaneland High School related to the schedule change (eight-period schedule) for the 2012-13 school year

The memorandum states that the total expenditure for purchase of new curriculum materials is $315,441.

“I am extremely excited about the new curriculum purchases. While this is not an easy time to allocate resources to curriculum materials, we need to ensure that our resources are aligned to the new expectations set through the common ore standards,” Superintendent Jeff Schuler said. “Additionally, we purchased some materials in preparation for the move to an eight-period schedule at Kaneland High School.”

Schuler said the district planned for these expenses and spent money wisely this year so that the School Board can make this expenditure, and is excited about the impact the new instructional materials will have on student learning.

“This purchase supports several objectives identified in our Vision 2014 Strategic Plan and our overall mission to ensure students are college, career and community ready,” he said.

No Child Left Behind

Photo: Teacher Diane Pierson’s kindergarten students concentrate in the Listening Lab at Kaneland Blackberry Creek Elementary School in Elburn. Photo by Patti Wilk

Years after passage of the federal law, how is Kaneland dealing with its implementation?
In part 1 of an ongoing series relating to the 10-year-old No Child Left Behind Act, Assistant Editor Keith Beebe took a closer look at the primary measurement tool, Adequate Yearly Progress. In this, part 2, Beebe looks into possible revisions to the law, as well as how Kaneland assesses its own measure of success.

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said in late January that he wasn’t sure many people thought the No Child Left Behind law, when it was passed in January 2002, would make it all the way to its conclusion in 2014 without some type of revision, due to the law’s increasingly stifling Academic Yearly Progress (AYP) requirement.

That revision might be in the works.

According to Schuler, the state of Illinois is currently seeking a waiver in regards to the No Child Left Behind law.

“While all the details regarding the waiver process are not clear, I support (the) need to have something that better measures the progress school districts are making toward our goals of college and career readiness,” Schuler said.

The Kaneland School District, as of 2012, is currently falling short of the bar when it comes to the current AYP meets-and-exceeds requirement (minimum of 92.5 percent meets-and-exceeds). However, Kaneland isn’t the only Illinois school district struggling to keep its head above water when it comes to AYP requirements.

AYP, implemented in 2003, is a measurement tool meant to ensure that every state school improve its standardized test scores in reading and mathematics each year through 2014. It is based on Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) for grades 3-8 and the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) for grade 11. The requirement mandates that a specific percentage of students at those grade levels in every state school meet or exceed the reading and mathematics requirement in place for the year.

In terms of the ISAT test, District 302 has tallied a 90 percent meets-and-exceeds average every year since 2008 (the state’s meets-and-exceeds average is currently 82 percent, up 19 percent from when No Child Left Behind went into effect 10 years ago).

Kaneland High School’s PSAE meets-and-exceeds average is considerably lower than the district’s ISAT scores, but has been at 57 percent the last two years, and is currently six percentage points ahead of the state average. KHS hasn’t met the AYP requirement since 2006 but the state PSAE average has never exceeded 56 percent since the implementation of No Child Left Behind. KHS’ highest PSAE meets-and-exceeds average was 65 percent in 2009.

As a result of scoring below the AYP requirement four consecutive years, Kaneland High School is on Academic Watch Status and eligible for state sanctions.

Erika Schlichter, director of educational services 6-12, said she hopes the NCLB waiver happens, and believes that it is more important to look at multiple indicators of growth, rather than performance on one test each year to determine if a school is making progress.

“For states that do get a waiver, there will still be accountability, and that is good. However, the accountability should be tied to student growth,” Schlichter said. “Also, the government is finding that the punitive nature of the current No Child Left Behind consequences is not promoting improvement in all cases, so we do hope that a waiver is granted.”

So, what would be a fair and realistic AYP requirement at this point?

“I believe a growth measure would be most fair,” Schlichter said. “In other words, individual students and groups of students should show growth in learning within that group over time, rather than comparing the same grade level, year over year, with different students. I also believe that a fair measure would be to look at multiple assessments and indicators.”

Schlichter also cited Kaneland’s Vision 2014 Performance Targets as data containing many different points of measurement to paint an accurate picture of student achievement.

“We do already internally measure multiple points. We would like to see the state do the same,” she said.

There is no guarantee that Illinois will obtain a waiver for No Child Left Behind, but Schuler said he knows the state of Illinois is working hard to position the waiver in a positive manner.

“I am hopeful that the change will more accurately reflect the progress all school districts are making to improve education in our area and state,” he said.

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.

Valente challenges board, administration

Discussion turns to conflict during board meeting
By Keith Beebe
KANELAND—School Board member Tony Valente on Tuesday called the district’s hiring practices into question during discussion regarding a resignation and employment of staff agenda item, stating his belief that the district is opening itself up to the potential for lawsuits, and action from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Office of Civil Rights (OCR).

The “hiring” move on the agenda was actually an internal reassignment of an existing employee.

“When we go through a process (that) does not involve our community, our students (and) our teachers—but we’re appointing anybody to a principalship, assistant principalship, superintendent, assistant superintendent, whatever—we don’t consult those people, and I think that we open ourselves up in many ways,” Valente said. “The main way, I think, is that we open ourselves up to unfair labor practices. That’s my opinion.”

“I think the board needs to seriously look at the policy and procedures of how we hire a candidate, because once this (resignation and employment of staff agenda item) is approved tonight, I can go tomorrow and file an EEOC claim as an administrator … and say that I wasn’t considered … for this position,” Valente said.

School Board member Joe Oberweis responded to Valente’s comments, disagreeing with the belief that there is a significant risk due to the district’s current hiring practices.

“I am embarrassed on behalf of the board to try and subject Jeff (Schuler) to that sort of rant,” Obwerweis said. “(Tony), I don’t mean to pick on you, but you’re picking on Jeff … you’re throwing out a bunch of big words, trying to make it sound much more important and official, and it’s all a bunch of hooey. There is no EEOC risk; there is nothing like that. People can go file an EEOC claim because you looked at them funny. It doesn’t mean it has any validity to it whatsoever. What the (Kaneland) district has done is what every other district has done—they had a good internal candidate, and they made the decision that they wanted to do it. There’s no risk about any of the other stuff, because a monkey can go file a claim about anything they want.”

“And you’re an attorney, or you just play one on TV?” Valente asked.

“I am the CEO of a 1,000-employee company, I talk to people about this all the time and I have a very good understanding of it,” Oberweis replied.

Oberweis then moved to shut down the discussion, but the board allowed Valente the opportunity to offer a comment. Valente reiterated that the district needs to go through the hiring process and look for the best possible candidate.

“Joe, you can’t sit there and criticize everything that we’re trying to do to save the district money,” Valente said. “With respect to lawsuits and personnel matters, we should open up (the) process, and the mere fact that you don’t want to open up the process and have a fair process for everybody tells me that we’re not interested in doing that … and that’s the ‘hooey.’”

After further back and forth between the two board members, Oberweis made a motion to end the discussion. Over the verbal objections of Valente, the board seconded the motion and passed the motion 6-1, with Valente the lone “no” vote. Valente told School Board President Cheryl Krauspe that she was out of order for allowing the vote to end discussion and “breaking the rules that (the board) agreed upon.”

Valente then repeatedly said “Point of order” while the rest of the board voted 6-0 to approve the original agenda item for resignation and employment of staff.

Valente took one more opportunity to speak about the conflict near the conclusion of the meeting, and stated that it is up to elected officials to question the administration. He called the School Board a “one-and-six board,” and said he was discouraged by the fact that the board had circumvented Robert’s Rules of Order and “rudely, jokingly threw him aside.”

“There’s a difference between questioning and grandstanding and giving out erroneous information—erroneous suggestions—where the work that this administration and this board does would be brought into question,” Krauspe said in response to Valente’s comments.

“Our administrative team would never employ a practice we know would create additional liability for our School District. I don’t share the concerns raised at the meeting, nor does the School Board’s attorney,” Schuler said.

Board approves FY2013 budget reduction plan

Plan includes release of more than 15 full-time equivalent positions
by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland School Board members on Tuesday voted 7-0 to approve a fiscal year 2013 budget reduction plan, which will eliminate $1,101,776 in expenditures.

The reduction plan, first presented at the School Board meeting on Feb. 13, used a cost-center approach to target expenditures at the elementary school, middle school, high school and district levels. This was the third consecutive year that Kaneland has used the cost-center approach to reduce expenditures. In that time, the district has trimmed more than $6.3 million in projected costs.

A document from Superintendent Jeff Schuler states that the budget reduction plan was also shared with the School Board advisory committees, and discussed at a community forum on Feb.16. The School Board further discussed the budget reduction plan at the its meeting on Feb. 27.

In addition to reducing district expenditures, the board also voted 7-0 to approve the release of “identified part-time and full-time non-tenured teachers.” Schuler’s memorandum states that the district is releasing more teachers than the actual number of positions reduced (14.92 full-time equivalent certified positions; 1.5 FTE non-certified positions), but they “need to do that to provide the appropriate flexibility to complete (the) staffing plan as (Kaneland) shifts existing staff into available positions.”

These staffing cuts will increase class size in grades three through five, from 19-26 students to 22-28. Class size at the middle school and high school levels will increase from 24-29 students to 28-33.

“It is with a heavy heart that the district recommends the non-renewal notices. Clearly these are honorable dismissals. We have invested significant time and training in our first-year teachers and would love to keep them,” Schuler said. “Financially, it is what needs to be done to keep our expenditures aligned with our revenues. I certainly hope that, as we move into the spring, some of the employees released will be called back as positions become available.”

The document states that Schuler anticipates recalling some released staff members by the end of March. Others will be recalled as positions become available.

School Board discusses fiscal year 2013 budget cuts

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland School Board members on Monday continued a discussion the fiscal year 2013 cost reduction plan, which will seek to eliminate $1.1 million in expenditures.

The reduction plan, first presented at the School Board meeting on Feb. 13, uses a cost-center approach to target expenditures at the elementary school, middle school, high school and district levels. This will be the third consecutive year that Kaneland has used the cost-center approach to reduce expenditures. In that time, the district has trimmed over $6.3 million in projected costs.

Superintendent Jeff Schuler’s presentation at the Feb. 13 meeting outlined cost centers as a line-item approach that engages all administrators in the process to determine how to address Kaneland’s fiscal reality, yet preserve (the district’s) educational mission. The cost-center approach also “analyzes all costs associated with educating a student at each respective level, (and) allows for the analysis of overall impact of cuts at each respective level.”

Cost-center targets for reduction in fiscal year 2013 are:
• Elementary: $194,589. Includes reduction of number of sections, which will cut 2.0 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions and increase class size in grades 3-5, from 19-26 students to 22-28
• Middle school: $121,374. Includes reduction of core staff members—4.0 FTE certified—and reduction of exploratory sections, or 1.0 FTE certified. Class size will increase from 24-29 students to 28-33
• High school: $163,712. Includes reduction in number of sections—6.0 FTE—and one library assistant, or 1.0 FTE classified. Class size will increase from 24-29 students to 28-33
• District: $620,325. Includes reduction of English Language Learner (1.42 FTE) and early childhood sections (.5 FTE, .5 FTE classified)

In total, the reduction plan will cut 14.92 FTE certified positions and 1.5 FTE non-certified positions.

“The overall impact on staffing is that we expect to lose about 15 certified positions and 1.5 non-certified positions,” Schuler said. “Clearly the cuts are needed to prepare a balanced budget for next year. Our commitment to our community is that we will provide the highest quality educational program with the resources that are available. We have certainly attempted to minimize the impact of the budget cuts on our educational program, and I thank all our administrators for their continued efforts to do so.”

Schuler’s presentation outlined a “triangle of savings” model, which breaks down district expenditures into three categories: student programs, staff workload and operational services. The presentation indicated a reduction of $341,076 in operational services (non-industrial supplies, early retirement options, review of third-party services, refinement of budget process, etc.), $740,700 in staff workload (alternative deliveries of selected supplies, reduction of instructional supplies, employee workload, reduction of administrative services), and $20,000 in student programs.

Schuler said the district will not have any retirements this year, so the amount of job loss will be fairly consistent with the number of reduced FTE.

A community forum regarding the budget cuts was held Feb. 23, with the intent to garner feedback and answer questions about the proposed reductions. According to Schuler, among the topics discussed at the forum were student fees, both book/material and discretionary fees, the number of retirees that might offset job loss, further state cuts that might impact fiscal year 2013 budget, the impact of adding a transportation fee to activities, bid specifications and how they are developed, union negotiations and the hourly wage for teacher supervision, and how thin all employees are currently spread within the district.

The School Board is expected to finalize budget reductions at the KSB meeting on Monday, March 12.

All about AYP

In part 1 of an ongoing series relating to the 10-year-old No Child Left Behind Act, reporter Keith Beebe
takes a closer look at the primary measurement tool, Adequate Yearly Progress

Photo: Students concentrate on their computer work in the Learning Resource Center at Blackberry Creek Elementary School in Elburn. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), instituted in 2003 as part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, is a measurement tool meant to ensure that every state school improve its standardized test scores in reading and mathematics each year through 2014.

Currently, only two of the six schools in the Kaneland District—Blackberry Creek and John Shields Elementary—meet AYP standards, and it could be just a matter of time before those schools also fall below an AYP requirement that will boast a meets-and-exceeds requirement of 100 percent two years from now.

AYP, based on Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) for grades 3-8 and the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) for grade 11, mandates that a specific percentage of students at those grade levels in every state school meet or exceed the reading and mathematics requirement in place for the year. According to the Illinois Interactive Report Card website, the AYP target was set at 40 percent for 2003 and 2004, 47.5 percent for 2005 and 2006, 55 percent for 2007, 62.5 percent for 2008, 70 percent for 2009, 77.5 percent for 2010 and 88.5 percent for 2011. The AYP target number for 2012 and 2013 is 92.5 percent.

Every school must have a student participation rate of 95 percent to validate its meets-and-exceeds percentage for the year. If a school does not meet the minimum participation rate, its numbers can still be considered valid if the school’s participation rate the current year and previous year (or two previous years) averages out to at least 95 percent.

Attendance and graduation rate requirements, which are also part of AYP, have gradually increased since 2003. Attendance and graduation requirements in 2012 are set at 91 percent and 84 percent, respectively.

AYP requires 77.5 percent of every subgroup to meet and exceed reading and mathematics requirements. Subgroups are defined by racial demographics, limited English proficiency (LEP), special needs students involved in individualized educational program (IEP), and low income.

“The reality is that the requirements have risen to a point that there are very few school districts that are able to meet them, especially when you look at all buildings and all the subgroups that are required for reporting,” Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said. “As with any assessment that you use, if the target for performance is not realistic, then the data that you get is probably not going to be very informative.”

Kaneland High School hasn’t met the AYP requirement since 2006 (KHS achieved a rate of 62 percent that year), but the state PSAE average hasn’t exceeded 56 percent since the implementation of AYP nine years ago.

As a result of scoring below the AYP requirement four consecutive years, Kaneland High School is on Academic Watch Status and eligible for state sanctions.

Kaneland Harter Middle School, despite notching a meets-and-exceeds rate of 91 percent in 2011, is also currently below AYP requirements.

Erika Schlichter, Kaneland director of educational services 6-12, said her concern with AYP isn’t that it has set the academic bar extremely high, but that the requirement is based on only one score or data point and does not paint a true picture.

“The other concern I have with AYP is that it does not allow us to measure growth of student cohorts or the progress made by specific groups of students, but instead judges based on comparisons of this year’s class to last year’s class, so student growth is not factored in,” she said. “In addition, the way the current AYP standards are applied, they are very punitive to schools, which have made it difficult for many schools to have the flexibility to utilize different improvement measures.”

In 2011, Blackberry Creek and John Shields elementary schools achieved a meets-and-exceeds testing rate of 91 percent and 89 percent, respectively. In fact, both schools have scored at least 89 percent every year since 2006. Those consistent high scores, however, won’t be good enough to satisfy an increased AYP requirement of 92.5 percent in 2012. Nevertheless, the scores of Blackberry Creek and John Shields are far superior to the state average, which resided at 82 percent last year.

John Stewart and McDole elementary schools in 2011 had a meets-and-exceeds rate of 87 percent and 86 percent, respectively. Both schools tallied a rate of 90 percent in 2010.

“I am never against raising the bar and expectations in education; I am opposed to reporting and looking at only one score to check progress,” said Dr. Sarah Mumm, director of educational services K-5. “We have over 20 data points that tell the whole story, not just this one piece of data.”

Schuler said he was proud of the results at each of the district’s elementary schools.

“Each of (our) principals have carefully looked at the results with their school improvement teams to look for areas where we can improve,” he said. “As schools identify individual skill areas that can be improved, they reflect on those areas in our curriculum and make adjustments to help our students. The results this year are not inconsistent with the results of previous years.”

According to Schuler, some relief from AYP requirements could be in store for the state of Illinois.

“I am not sure that when the (No Child Left Behind) law was passed that many people believed it would make it to 2014 without some type of revision. It now appears that is more likely as we get closer to that date and the number of school districts not making yearly progress is increasing,” he said. “There is some discussion now at the national level about a waiver process that will allow states to get some relief from the requirements, but I am not sure what that will look like for Illinois.”

School Board discusses Fiscal Year 2013 budget reductions

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Commence year three of Kaneland’s cost-center budget reduction process.

Two weeks after the Kaneland School Board was first presented with the topic of budget development for the 2013 fiscal year, the board on Monday discussed potential budget reductions that will seek to eliminate $1.1 million in expenditures.

Over the last three years, the cost-center approach has allowed the district to trim $6.3 million in projected expenditures.

According to a document from Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler, potential reductions are identified through a cost-center approach that breaks down expenditures into four categories: elementary school, middle school, high school and district services. Initial targeted reduction amounts for each cost center are:

• Elementary school—$194,589
• Middle school—$121,374
• High school—$163,712
• District—$620,325

“Initial cost-center targets are just that—initial cost centers. And while those numbers might shift a bit during the budget reduction process, the end target—the $1.1 million—will remain the same,” Schuler said. “The thing about the cost-center approach is that it forces everyone to come to the table with ideas.”

Schuler’s document states that district administration will utilize a “triangle of savings” framework to analyze the impact of all potential cost savings and minimize the direct impact of budget cuts on students by focusing first on operational and staff expenses. Schuler said he anticipates some higher cuts on the staff side this year.

The initial cost-reduction plan will be presented to the board at its meeting on Feb. 13.

The 88 keys


The 1988 Boys Cross Country Team was inducted into the Kaneland Hall of Fame at halftime during the boys varsity basketball game against Ottawa last Friday. Pictured L to R: Kaneland High School Athletic Director Leigh Jaffke, Kaneland School District Superintendant Dr. Jeff Schuler, Kevin McQuade, Jim Probst, Tim Wolf, Jake and Luke Fahrenbacher (Coach Eddington’s grandsons), Chad Clarey and Casey Wright. Shown is Dr. Schuler shaking the hand of Coach Eddington’s grandson Luke. Photo by Patti Wilk

Kaneland approves more than $10,000 in donations

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 7-0 to approve donations of $10,000 through the generosity of the Dunham Fund, $1,000 from Nicholas & Associates, Inc., and $500 from ARCON Associates, Inc.—all in support of fine arts in the Kaneland School District.

The board also approved a donation of $1,940 from Mike Dienst of Maple Park. According to a memorandum from Superintendent Jeff Schuler, the donation was made on behalf of Kaneland’s Future Farmers of America Organization representing planting, cultivating, plowing and harvesting crops in 2011.

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.

Village Board holds TIF district public hearing

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday held a public hearing regarding the village’s proposal of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district designation for Sugar Grove Industrial Redevelopment Project Area No. 1.

The village’s current proposed TIF district is slated to cover 324 acres, which is considerably smaller than the 1,800-acre TIF district that was proposed last summer and then canceled in early September.

Mike Hoffman of Teska Associates, the company that designed the new TIF district redevelopment plan for the village, gave a short presentation prior to the public hearing and said that 81 percent of the new TIF district area is in Sugar Grove, with the other 19 percent in Big Rock Township.

“One of the comments that we heard last time was the area was too big. This (new TIF district) is only 18 percent of the original TIF area,” Hoffman said. “Most of this area was included in the original proposal.”

Hoffman said that there were new parcels added to the current TIF, between Route 30 and the Burlington Northern Railroad.

“The reason for that is these properties are zoned industrial, would be suitable for development, and certainly could benefit from location within the TIF district and having an added benefit of potential rail access on the Burlington Northern Railroad,” he said.

Hoffman also highlighted a group of included parcels that meet conservation requirements for establishment of a TIF district. He said these areas were excluded from the previous TIF district boundary.

A TIF district is an economic tool intended to stimulate economic development by taking the incremental tax the village receives for improving a projected area. Those dollars are then used to fund the development costs. Simply put, businesses within the boundaries of the TIF district are provided with added municipal support and infrastructure.

If approved, the TIF district would be in effect for 23 years.

Once the public comment portion of the hearing began, Big Rock Township Supervisor Sandy Carr, Sugar Grove Fire Protection Chief Marty Kunkel and Ray Warchol, representing the Big Rock Park District, all stepped to the podium to state that they didn’t support the newly proposed TIF District.

“TIFs are a good thing in strong economic times, but we’re in a very weak economic time,” Kunkel said. “All of us taxing bodies are struggling for every dollar of income that we can stretch out and find, and 96 percent of our revenue is from real estate tax revenue.”

Hinckley-Big Rock School Superintendent Dr. James Hammack and Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler also spoke during the hearing, asking the board to look into a revenue-sharing agreement with Sugar Grove taxing bodies.

“If TIF is to truly work as an economic incentive, it needs to be an incentive that actually works for all taxing entities,” Schuler said.

After the hearing concluded, Village President Sean Michels said the board will consider the public’s comments during the hearing.

“(Revenue sharing) has been strongly considered by staff and by the board … it’s something that’s on top of our list,” he said.

Concerns continue with MP TIF District

Public bodies air concerns during final public hearing
by David Maas
MAPLE PARK—At the final public hearing regarding the proposed Maple Park TIF District, the Board of Trustees heard more comments and concerns from the residents, as well as representatives from the various taxing bodies affected.

While the proposed TIF District doesn’t increase taxes itself, some are wary about how it may affect the village’s residents.

“I’d really like to make sure the village understands, while the TIF doesn’t impact taxes, if we need to pass a referendum for more money, people outside of the TIF would see that increase in taxes as well,” Fire Chief Kevin Peterson said.

A TIF District is an economic tool intended to spur development in a defined area. Tax revenue is frozen for property within a TIF District’s boundaries, and any increase in tax revenue generated from inside the district is earmarked to help further development within the district. With the TIF District’s lifespan up to 23 years, various representatives from other taxing bodies expressed concern with the idea.

Peterson urged the board to think about the future of the Fire Department.
“You’ll be looking at us to service new developments,” Peterson said, “The cost of the new equipment our department might need in the future would be very expensive.”

Peterson stated that the cost of a Ladder Truck alone could be over $1 million, with the possibility of multiple other vehicles and department upgrades.

While the board knows the taxing bodies are afraid of the possibility of providing services to more locations while working with the same level of funding, they believe they can help ease the fear.

“As development occurs, there will be different impacts on the different taxing bodies. We can look at those impacts when they happen, so we can best handle the taxing bodies,” Village President Kathy Curtis said.

Kaneland School District Superintendent Jeff Schuler was also in attendance, and said that depending on how the TIF District progresses, the district could either benefit or be hurt.

“While we may benefit from the economical development spurred by the TIF, if it is implemented for the full 23 years, we will not,” Schuler said. “We will see a huge impact on our district, not just our children.”

Judy Yagen, representative of Virgil Township, also fears the length of the proposed TIF.

“We will become victims,” Yagen said. “We will feel victimized by the plan, because Maple Park will take our revenues that we need to provide our services for the next 23 years. It’s too long.”

“We are aware of these fears,” Curtis said. “But the proposed TIF would potentially give us the ability (to) complete the repairs and upgrades the village needs.”

With this final public hearing, the board has now fulfilled all of its requirements prior to voting on the actual creation of the TIF District. That vote could occur at the Dec. 6 Village Board meeting.

School Board approves 1st reading of fund balance policy

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 6-0 to approve a fund balance policy on first reading.

Board Trustee Ken Carter was absent from the meeting.

The board recommended small adjustments to some wording in the policy. Any changes will reflect in the policy’s second reading, which will take place at the next School Board meeting.

“The wording changes that were made in the policy just gave the board a little more latitude in determining what it will do if our fund balance dips below 45 days cash on hand at the low point in the year,” Superintendent Jeff Schuler said.

According to Schuler, the Kaneland School District’s current fund balance is in line with the policy requirement of 45 cash days on hand; however, circumstances, such as the possibility of the state not sending payments to the district, do exist.

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.

Proposed MP TIF District passes Joint Review vote

by David Maas
MAPLE PARK—A Joint Review Board met on Oct. 28 and voted in favor of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District proposed by the village of Maple Park.

A TIF District is a tool that can be used by municipalities to spur economic development by defining a specific area and dedicating any tax revenue increase from inside the district to further development within its boundaries.

The Joint Reveiw Board on Oct. 28 was made up of representatives from various taxing bodies the TIF would affect, including Beth Miller of the Maple Park Public Library, Kevin Peterson of the Maple Park Countryside Fire District, and Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler of the Kaneland School District.

“The board participants were not voting on whether they agreed or disagreed with TIF conceptually,” Maple Park President Kathy Curtis said. “They were voting on whether the village followed the legal process for establishing a TIF district.”

Since the vote was dealing with the legality of the proposed TIF, Curtis said she was not concerned.

“The whole time we have been working on this TIF, the village has followed the prescribed process for establishing a district,” Curtis said.

While the Joint Review Bboard made the decision that the proposed TIF followed the correct legal processes, Curtis said she still anticipates that there may be some concerned citizens.

“If the TIF is established, I think residents will want to know that the money is being used appropriately,” Curtis said, “I’d like to assure them that this Board of Trustees has good intentions for the revenue stream we hope to see.”

The final public hearing regarding the proposed TIF District will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 22, with the Village Board vote set for Tuesday, Dec. 6.

Next up
• Final public hearing on the proposed TIF District is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 22

• Village Board vote is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 6

Kaneland doesn’t plan to change land-cash fees in IGA

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland’s Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with villages in the district will expire Jan. 1, 2012, and that means the district is currently working to secure a new IGA in time for next year.

Kaneland’s current IGA addresses land-cash and capital-impact fees with nine municipalities in the district, and sets a fee table based on home type, number of bedrooms and home value. The IGA, by extending to all nine municipalities, also seeks to eliminate impact and transition fees from being a negotiation tool between individual municipalities and developers.

Superintendent Jeff Schuler said Kaneland is currently in the process of re-establishing what the IGA will be as it moves forward.

“We’ve been working on it for quite a while. I don’t anticipate any changes in terms of the current land-cash numbers. We use the land-cash numbers that are put forth by Kane County,” he said.

Land-cash contributions are involved when the School District specifies the acreage per school site and the number of students housed in those respective schools, and also sets the value per improved acre of land within Kane County. The numbers in the agreement are as follows:

• Elementary: 600 students per school, 15 acres per site
• Middle school: 900 students per school, 35 acres per site
• High school: 1,500 students per school, 80 acres per site

“The value per approved acre is $80,000, and these numbers are used to determine a land-cash contribution based on the potential student yield from the proposed development,” Schuler said. “There’s still a considerable interest in trying to keep a common agreement in place, but as of right now, there hasn’t been significant discussion about shifting land-cash contributions.”

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.”

Concussion
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.

Kaneland administration explains lockdown procedure

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland High School on Oct. 6 went into lockdown for 35 minutes after school officials discovered what they believed were shell casings. Kane County Sheriff deputies and school staff further investigated and discovered that the objects in question were used starter pistol casings, typically fired during school track events. A Kane County Sheriff press release stated that the casings looked “old and weathered.”

The incident may have been a simple mix-up (the Kane County Sheriff Department is still investigating), but was nonetheless an example of the lockdown procedure used in the Kaneland School District whenever an element of danger materializes in any of its schools.

“We have a common set of crisis procedures in all of our schools, and when you’re dealing with a situation that is potentially a crisis, one of two things is going to happen: you’re either going to call a lockdown and get the kids into a secured room until the potentially unsafe situation has been cleared, or you’re going to evacuate the school building in a fire-drill-type procedure,” Superintendent Jeff Schuler said. “It’s basically a judgment call of the administrator in charge of the building.”

Schuler said instances such as a bomb threat or an unidentified person in the school will often result in a lockdown. There are also nonemergency lockdown procedures used any time administrators simply do not want students in the hallway (typically because of a spill or mess).

According to Erika Schlichter, director of educational services 6-12 in the Kaneland School District, a specified announcement is read as soon as the school principal calls for a lockdown. At that time, teachers are responsible for gathering students from the hall and placing them in the nearest classroom.

“(Staff) would lock the door, turn out lights, shut windows and blinds, move students out of sight of windows if possible, and have those students remain quiet,” she said.

Staff is also told to take attendance and inform administrators if any students are missing, or if an additional student joins the room. No one is permitted to leave the secured area or open the classroom door unless district administrators direct them to do so.

“Administratively, we fill several different roles,” Schlichter said. “We have one person working with communication—sending out releases and notifying other schools. We have someone spearheading—typically, the principal. We have a note taker—someone who is documenting what we’re doing as we’re doing it. We have another person in charge of communications with teachers and students. We try to be very efficient in how we fill those roles.”

For safety reasons, parents are not notified when a lockdown goes into effect.

“The last thing you want is a message out there that encourages a lot of people to come running to a building when you’ve got a potential crisis situation happening inside the building,” Schuler said. “The first concern is ensuring that the situation itself is safe. If there’s a need to communicate out, that usually happens after the fact.”

Schlichter called the lockdown process “a very simple procedure,” and said it typically runs smoothly during a drill or an actual situation.

“I think we have a real good procedure, and we use every situation to re-evaluate, take feedback and make sure we’re constantly getting better,” she said. “I do think the situation (on Oct. 6) went smoothly and was handled well on all accounts by our staff, principal and so forth.”

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.

School Board approves 2011-12 budget

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 6-0 to approve the final 2011-12 budget for the Kaneland School District and Fox Valley Career Center.

Board member Tony Valente was absent from the meeting.

According to Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler, the budget is balanced and actually shows a small surplus of $50,000, which he said is helpful in this time of continued financial uncertainty from the state of Illinois.

“Our goal and commitment to the Board of Education was that we would balance our budget and live within our financial means,” he said. “I am pleased that we met this key financial target. The entire school community has come together to make some difficult financial choices over the last three years.”

The district has cut more than $5 million in projected expenditures during those three years-a process that Schuler said was necessary to protect the financial future of the School District.

“While this work was not easy and involved some difficult choices, clearly it was necessary as evidenced by the passing of a balanced 2011-12 budget,” he said.

School Board reviews enrollment update

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday reviewed an enrollment update for the 2011-12 school year.

According to a document from Superintendent Jeff Schuler, the overall first-day enrollment this year is 1 percent (66 students) higher than the start of the 2010-11 school year. This is because the incoming freshmen class is larger than the graduated class of 2011.

The document also states that first-day middle school enrollment in the district is down four students from the previous school year, while K-5 enrollment is up 41 students. However, these numbers are likely to adjust by the time sixth-day enrollment is reported.

“Those numbers are going to shift slightly. We don’t additionally report out our first enrollment until sixth-day enrollment, so we almost always have a few more kids on our rolls first day than we do sixth day,” Schuler said. “There are almost always a few students that moved over the summer and do not let us know that until the start of school. So these numbers, if they move any direction, will likely come down just slightly. The trend on that is not significant-we’re talking about maybe a handful of kids … maybe five to 10 kids overall.”

According to the enrollment report, the current enrollment pattern in the district will continue for the next four years, at which point high school enrollment will taper off just short of 1,500 students, while middle school enrollment has already reached a plateau and will stay in the 1,100-1,700 during the next five years. The document states that K-5 enrollment has been stable over the last four years.

“Overall, the bottom line is that it continues to point to a very stable enrollment trend. You are not going to see great fluctuations in enrollment over the next four to five years,” Schuler said.

Letter: Kaneland Foundation wants golfers

The Kaneland Foundation is a non-profit organization that has contributed for decades to the educational needs of the students of Kaneland District #302. Our mission is to support academic excellence through innovation.

Please consider joining us at the Kaneland Foundation Annual Golf Outing on Thursday, Sept. 15, at Bliss Creek Golf Course in Sugar Grove.

Feel free to contact Beth Sterkel at (630) 365-8295 with questions you may have about the Kaneland Foundation or to have a registration form mailed or e-mailed to you.

Jeff Schuler, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

SG residents, taxing bodies take aim at proposed TIF District

Aug. 25, 2011 Update:
In the page 1A story about the Sugar Grove TIF District on Aug. 18, the Elburn Herald published an incorrect date for the next public hearing. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
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
phone (630) 365-6446

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Tempers flared and tensions were high at times as between 150 and 175 members of the public attended the village’s first public hearing regarding its proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District.

The turnout for the public hearing was so overwhelming that the Village Board was forced to move its meeting from Village Hall to the basement of the Sugar Grove Community House. Once the meeting began at 6:30 p.m., residents spent nearly three hours making it clear to the board their concerns regarding the TIF District.

And those concerns ranged from the length and size of the TIF District, to the issue of whether or not village residents would be on the hook for municipal bonds issued. Some residents aired their displeasure with the air, noise and light pollution caused by the light industrial property that already exists in the area, and balked at the development of even more industrial property via TIF District. One resident asked if Sugar Grove was going to become “the next Naperville.”

Mike Hoffman of Teska Associates, the company that designed the TIF District redevelopment plan for the village, handled much of the speaking on the village’s behalf, and provided an extensive presentation explaining the intricacies of the 1,800-acre TIF District, if approved, that would be in effect for 23 years.

A TIF District is an economic tool that seeks to stimulate economic development by taking the incremental tax the village receives for improving a projected area. Those dollars are then used to fund the development costs. Simply put, businesses within the boundaries of the TIF district are provided with added municipal support and infrastructure. The TIF District proposed by Sugar Grove is projected to cover the 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).

Sugar Grove taxing bodies were also given the floor during the hearing. Sugar Grove Fire Protection District Chief Marty Kunkel chose to speak to the residents instead of addressing the Village Board. Kunkel said the Sugar Grove Fire Protection District is “adamantly opposed” to the TIF District, because it believes the proposed district does not meet state statute qualifications and will negatively impact the FPD in terms of both operation and finance.

“Granted, there is TIF money that (may) be made available, and the key word there is ‘may’ be made available, for anything we might need—it might be a new fire station; it might be a new fire truck. But what (the TIF District) doesn’t cover is the operational costs … If I have an increased need for service, I have to put on more people and I have to pay those people,” he said.

Kunkel said that the 17 taxing bodies will have their tax grade frozen on day one of the TIF District, and it will remain that way for the next 23 years. The Fire Protection District currently receives $89,000 a year in revenue from the property included in the TIF. If the TIF District does work out according to plan, the Fire Protection District’s revenue will have ballooned to $1.3 million per year when the TIF District expires.

“That’s millions of dollars in lost revenue for us. Granted, that’s all based on (the TIF District) being built up, but I am just using the terminology and the numbers that were provided in the plan.”

Kunkel also spoke about the two Joint Review Board meetings that took place last month.

“Doing the Joint Review Board, there initially started out (with) 17 taxing districts that were a part of the Joint Review Board. That (number) was narrowed down to 15 for different reasons. Of those 15, there (were) only eight (taxing bodies) that voted,” he said. “Primarily, the Joint Review Board meetings were held in the afternoon, and there (were) members of those taxing bodies that could not come during the afternoon, because they were working full-time jobs that did not have the ability to provide input into the Joint Review process.”

One resident mentioned his belief that not all TIF Districts are bad—the city of Aurora used TIF money to create Chicago Premium Outlets—but believes the TIF District proposed by Sugar Grove places an “undeserving burden on an individual taxpayer almost immediately” by freezing what few tax revenue dollars each taxing body receives for the next 23 years.

Big Rock Supervisor Sandy Carr and Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler stated their opposition to the TIF District, and representatives from many other taxing districts also raised their specific concerns with the proposal.

A brief moment of considerable tension between residents and Village Board arose when Carr, reading a prepared speech, reiterated a question she was asked regarding whether or not it is a conflict of interest for Village President Sean Michels to vote on the proposed TIF District when members of his family could potentially benefit from the establishment of a TIF District. After the question was raised, Sean Michels immediately took exception to the remark and claimed that his ethics were being questioned. Shouting between a group of residents and a few board trustees ensued, escalating for a few moments before Michels allowed Carr to finish her prepared speech.

As comments began to wind down, the TIF District public hearing was tabled, allowing it to carry over to the next Village Board meeting on Sept. 6.

School Board discusses upcoming TIF district public hearing

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board spent the first half-hour of its meeting on Monday discussing the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district public hearing that will take place during Sugar Grove’s regular board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 16.

Kaneland plans to speak out against the proposed TIF district at the meeting. Superintendent Jeff Schuler previously stated that he is concerned with the the length of the TIF district (23 years), which he said could push local taxing bodies too far.

“I think it would be beneficial for the Village Board to see both district staff and members of the Board of Education (at the public hearing),” he said. “I think our best opportunity to at least have (the village) rethink it is to hear from lots of folks.”

Schuler cited other taxing bodies that are opposed to the TIF district, including the Sugar Grove Fire Protection District, Kane County Board and about 20 percent of the properties in Hinckley-Big Rock.

A TIF district is an economic tool which seeks to stimulate economic development by taking the incremental tax the village receives for improving a projected area, and then using those dollars to fund the development costs. Simply put, businesses within the boundaries of the TIF district are provided with added municipal support and infrastructure. The TIF district proposed by Sugar Grove is projected to cover the 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 rationale for the TIF (district) is that any type of commercial development shifts the burden of tax dollars and increases that commercial (and) that industrial tax base,” Schuler said. “There’s a logic to that argument to some point, but when residential owners aren’t going to see that impact for 23 years? And when it’s not a contained area where you can say, ‘Well, gee, if we can at least get something going here, then all the area around it will develop outside of the TIF.’ When (the district is) 1,800 acres, there’s really no other real estate that’s going to develop outside of it … residential owners aren’t going to feel that impact.”

The Village Board meeting on Tuesday will begin at 6 p.m.

Kaneland says no adequate resources for non-resident students

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 6-0 to approve a resolution stating that no District 302 school has the adequate resources, capacity and staffing to qualify as a candidate for accepting non-resident choice students from non-district schools without doing harm to educational programs in the district.

Board member Tony Valente was absent from the meeting.

According to a memorandum from Superintendent Jeff Schuler, West Aurora School District 129 inquired last week as to whether or not the Kaneland Board of Education would consider an intergovernmental agreement that would allow students attending “choice schools” in District 129 to attend higher performing schools in District 302.

The document also states that Kaneland would need to accept the financial responsibility for all staff and material expenses associated with educating “school choice” students.

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

$250,000
Job training and retraining

$1.0 million
Relocation costs

$128.2 million
Total Redevelopment costs

School Board approves budget amendment

MAPLE PARK—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 6-0 to approve a 2010-11 budget amendment.

According to Superintendent Jeff Schuler, auditors recommended that the district do budget amendments for this year to account for payments made by the state into pension systems on behalf of Kaneland employees.

“The more significant amendment was the adjustment in revenue for mandated categorical,” Schuler said. “Those are reimbursements for services we are required by law to provide, such as transportation and special education. Unfortunately the delay by the state of Illinois in releasing those numbers means that we don’t have accurate budget numbers at the time the budget is approved.”

Schuler said the budget amendment allowed the district to update the revenue numbers so that they reflect the amount Kaneland expects to receive from the state.

“To date, only one of the four payments for the 2010-11 school year have been received,” he said.

Board member Tony Valente was absent from the meeting.

School Board approves health insurance renewal

by Keith Beebe
MAPLE PARK—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 4-0 to approve a health insurance renewal that will allow the board to eschew its grandfathered status within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 in order to eliminate any unnecessary financial burden.

Board Members Gale Pavlak and Joe Oberweis chose to state “present” during the vote. Board Member Tony Valente was absent from the meeting.

With the health insurance renewal, the School Board of Education approved renewal rates for 2011-12, including life insurance, medical and dental. The board will also implement a four-tier structure for health insurance premiums that will go into effect on Nov. 1, which will allow employees to have rates from the two-tier system for a third of the upcoming year. The four-tier system would be implemented for the latter two thirds of the year.

“Health insurance costs continue to challenge the School District,” Superintendent Jeff Schuler said. “The amount of money allocated to health insurance benefits is something we will need to carefully monitor in the coming years, as it will impact our ability to allocate resources to other areas of our educational program.”

The reason for retaining the two-tier structure for one third of the year is to ease the financial impact that staff in the Family tier for health coverage will experience in a four-tier system (18.2 percent, or an increase of $567.60 per year).

Staff members included in the Employee and Spouse, and Employee and Children tiers will see a decrease of 52.3 percent ($1,629.84 a year) and 59.4 percent ($1,849.44 a year) in the four-tier system.

“The committee worked hard this year to explore cost containment strategies,” Schuler said. “That will need to continue as we look to future years.”