Tag Archives: Julie-Ann Fuchs

Kaneland in talks to discuss salary contracts

KANELAND—The Kaneland Education Association is in talks to discuss its salary contracts for the next school year.

According to Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler, the Kaneland School Board and Kaneland Education Association have entered into collective negotiations. Both parties are negotiating using Interest Based Bargaining to work out the third year of teacher contracts that will expire June 30, 2015.

Schuler spoke favorably about Interest Based Bargaining.

“It’s a process we’re committed to,” he said. “It’s just something we feel has worked well for us as we’ve worked through this bargaining process in the past.”

The three-year teacher contract became effective July 1, 2012. KEA had agreed that the first year of the contract would entail a salary freeze. The second year resulted in an overall 2.7 percent increase. By Jan. 1, 2015, teachers are to receive health insurance deductibles that increase by $500 and $900 for single and family coverage, respectively.

The majority of the Kaneland School Board had approved a tax levy increase last December, with the requested amount at $52,210,825.

Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business for Kaneland, had noted in a previous report that the levy amount would provide programs, services, operating costs and other expenditures for 2014-15.

So is there now room to give salary increases to Kaneland teachers?

“I think the financial projections certainly suggest that we’ve got the opportunity to make some decisions about how we allocate resources,” Schuler said.

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.

D302 tax levy increases

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board agreed to increase the tax levy at the Monday meeting.

This means that the tentative tax levy that had been approved at the October meeting will go into effect.

The requested amount is $52,210,825 and includes operating levy amounts and bond and interest amounts.

According to a report by Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for Business for the Kaneland School District, money received will provide programs, services, operating costs and other expenditures for 2014-15.

The only two board members who have consistently voted against the tax increase are Tony Valente and Pedro Rivas.

“I’m not going to compare us to other districts,” Rivas said. “We’re us. This is a hard time. At home we’ve had to tighten our belts. That’s what we need to continue to do here.”

Area residents and taxpayers packed the meeting room and many stood up to express their opposition to the home tax increases before the board voted.

Denise Zabelle, Elburn resident, voiced her concerns.

“How much can you grab from us now?” Zabelle asked. “You’re taking more money from us.”
She pointed out that Sugar Grove is asking for $6.50 and the village of Elburn, $27 a year.

“This ‘it’s only’ is adding up,” Zabelle said. “I would like an explanation.”

Her husband Dave Filipski said that the private sector has taken a beating since 2006 and added that the federal and state government is “after us.”

“Everyone’s killing us,” Filipski said. “Enough is enough.”

Sugar Grove resident Jason Mann has spoken in favor of a tax levy increase. He noted the idea that the the district is working on “more with less.” He said that spending, not including Chicago public schools, is less per pupil on instruction than the state average.

“That is sad,” Mann said.

Gale Paviak, board secretary, said that there had been more than $7 million cut from the budget in the last four years. She said that teachers and administrators had not received increases.

“Do we provide our teachers with benefits?” Paviak asked. “Yes. We are not going into this blindfolded. But we have to look at the big picture.”

At the last meeting, Valente had questioned Fuchs about the special education fund in regards to July 31 through currently. He had asked what has changed to warrant doubling the special education fund amount.

Fuchs had explained that the education fund has maxed its tax rate and EAV has dropped.
“To me, robbing Peter to pay Paul—if that’s not a backdoor referendum, I don’t know what is,” Valente said Monday.

School Board discusses tentative Tax Levy

KANELAND—The Kaneland community on Monday had the chance to weigh in on the tentative Tax Levy recently proposed by the Kaneland School Board.

The requested amount is $52,210,825, and includes operating levy amounts and bond and interest amount. The operating levy is $42,345,200.

Close to three dozen people packed the meeting room at Harter Middle School, including Kaneland taxpayers and parents, community leaders and district employees.

Elburn resident Dave Filipski stood up to express his concern. He said that he works for the private sector, and that since 2006, his pay had gone down and he has not been receiving yearly increases.

“We just paid our taxes and everybody was having a good time,” he said.

He spoke about taxing bodies, like the forest preserve, police, fire and road departments, having an “it’s only” dollar amount.

“We’re strapped,” Filipski said. “And we’re strapped hard.”

Sugar Grove resident Dan Borowiak talked on behalf of clients he has in his Sugar Grove business.

“You’re seeing a great deal of pain out there,” Borowiak said.

Elburn resident and district teacher Lynn McHenry spoke in favor of the levy and noted the consequences if it did not pass, including many large class sizes and the loss of teachers.

The tentative levy had been approved by the majority of the Kaneland School Board on Oct. 28. The two board members who voted against the levy were Valente and Pedro Rivas.

The proposed levy would mean a tax increase for homeowners, and would pay for things such as programs, services, operating costs and salaries for the 2014-15 school year.

At the Oct. 28 School Board meeting, Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintentendent for Business, gave examples of assessed home values ranging from $200,000 to $500,000. For example, a home valued at $200,000 in 2012 had an approximate tax bill for the Kaneland District of $4,479. If the home’s assessed value remained static between 2012 and 2013, its approximate tax bill for this year would be $4,904, or an increase of $425.

However, suppose the above-mentioned $200,000 home experienced a 7 percent decrease in value between 2012 and 2013. Now valued at $186,000, the home’s tax bill would be $4,561, or an increase of $82.

Thus, the range in tax bill increase for a home valued at $200,000 last year is $82 to $425, depending on how much the home’s value has decreased.

Provided home value has not shifted between 2012 and 2013, a $300,000 home would see a tax increase of $638. A $400,000 home would experience a tax increase of $850, while a $500,000 home would see its tax bill increase $1,063.

At a 7 percent decrease in value, a home valued at $300,000 last year would see a tax bill increase of $123, while a $400,000 home would see a tax bill bump of $164. A home once valued at $500,000 would now be worth $465,000, and would see a tax increase of $205.

Fuchs provided new information at the Monday meeting about DeKalb County. In her levy update report, she noted that the estimated EAV from DeKalb property is estimated to decline about 7 percent. This is similar to Kane County’s estimated decrease. New DeKalb County construction is estimated to be $100,000. She wrote that an estimated new construction amount of $3,200,000 had been used in the estimated new construction amount for the levy formula. She noted that she is not recommending changes to the tentative levy amount the board had approved.

Fuchs provided three option scenarios. Option 1 is as noted, with a CPI of 1.7 percent where the average increase ranges from $425 to $1,063 for home values ranging from $200,000 to $500,000.

Option 2 with a 1.2 percent CPI, the average increase would be $405 to $1,014. Option 3 with a .7 percent CPI range is from $386 to $965. Option 4 has a .0 percent CPI and the average increase is $359 to $897.

“The difference between the 1.7 percent and 0 percent to the taxpayer is estimated to be between $66 and $166, but the decrease to the district would be about $688,000 less if the board levied the 0 percent,” Fuchs later said.

Tension and tempers flared during the meeting.

“We’re taxing people out of their homes,” School Board member Tony Valente said. “I can not stand here and allow you to do that.”

Valente also questioned Fuchs about the Special Education fund in regard to July 31 through now.

“What has changed in the Special Ed fund?” Valente asked. “What has changed in the Special Ed fund that has warranted us doubling that amount?”

Fuchs explained that the education fund has maxed its tax rate and EAV has dropped.

“You’re robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Valente said.

Board member Peter Lepatin weighed in on the matter, stating that Special Education is subsidized with General education dollars.

“That is correct,” Fuchs said.

School Board approves tentative tax levy

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday approved a tentative property tax levy.

Not all board members were on board with the decision to approve the levy amount of $52,210,825, however, as Pedro Rivas and Tony Valente voted against the levy.

The levy includes operating levy amounts and bond and interest amounts, and would mean a tax increase of about 9.5 percent for homeowners.

Krauspe spoke on understanding the taxpayers.

“We’re all sensitive to taxpayers’ burdens,” she said. “We’re charged to protect their assets.”

Krauspe said that includes education, and that there are consequences if the district falls short of that responsibility.

Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for Business, during the meeting presented a “bottom line” report about the impact to taxpayers. The report noted that this year’s tax levy will pay for things such as programs, services, operating costs, salaries and other expenses for the 2014-15 school year.

The report gave examples of assessed home values ranging from $200,000 to $500,000. The increase from 2012 to 2013 would be an increase ranging from approximately $425 to $1,063 more in taxes to pay.

For instance, a home valued at $200,000 had an approximate tax bill for the Kaneland district at $4,479. The approximate tax bill for this year would be $4,904.

The report also factors in an assumption of a 7 percent decrease in home value. That means the above mentioned home would be valued at $186,000. The approximate tax bill at the “reduced value” is $4,561 and this reduced value entails that the increase from last year to this year is $82.

The other home examples at the decreased home value ranges of approximate increases of $123 to $205 from last year.

Jerry Elliott, Sugar Grove Township resident, voiced his concern during public comments and requested “transparency in their spending and taxation from the Kaneland School Board.”

“Why does the School District need more money?” Elliott asked during the meeting.

“You’ve gotten answers to those questions,” Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler responded.

Kaneland athletic director resigns

KANELAND—Kaneland Athletic Director Leigh Jaffke has stepped down from her position.

Jaffke turned in her letter of resignation prior to the Kaneland School Board’s meeting on Oct. 16. She had served as the district’s athletic director for 14 years.

Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said he doesn’t know the reason for Jaffke’s departure.

“I do not know the answer to that,” Schuler said. “She resigned on her own. We were not aware that we were going to be getting a resignation.”

Schuler said the resignation was received “just before the board meeting.”

“Leigh has been dedicated to our athletic program for our students for the last 14 years,” Schuler said. “We appreciate that.”

Jaffke could not be reached for comment.

Anna Piazza, 17, a KHS senior, said she wondered where Jaffke was as of late, and had not seen her in the high school’s commons area, on the way to the locker room or in the hallway.

“She always greeted me with a smile,” Piazza said. “And she always knew who I was and that I was an athlete. And so even though we were never really close and never had a lot of interaction, I thought she was really nice.”

Diane Piazza, Anna’s mother, said she was surprised to hear about Jaffke’s resignation.

“I would see Leigh at football games,” Diane said. “But I have seen her at the soccer games. I’ve been in the building when there’s been wrestling meets, when there’s been basketball. I’ve seen her. She’s always been like a physical, visual presence.”

A letter written by Schuler to the Kaneland staff and community was sent last week concerning the resignation. It explained that KHS Assistant Principal Mike Rice will oversee the Athletic Department until there is an interim athletic director.

Schuler noted in the letter that he anticipates the the position will be filled in an interim basis for the remainder of the school year. A search and interview process is expected to be be in the spring to hire a new athletic director.

Meanwhile, the admin known by some students as just “Jaffke” has not been forgotten.

“I’m really going to miss her,” Anna said. “I can’t really imagine the Athletic Department without her.”

Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, Kaneland’s assistant superintendent for Business, confirmed that Jaffke’s salary was $96,905.

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.

KSS Elementary roof repairs may extend into school year

KANELAND—John Shields Elementary School has been under construction to repair its roof. Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business for the Kaneland School District, on Monday told the board that the repair project should be finished by the time school starts on Wednesday, Aug. 21.

Fuchs cautioned that the projected date of completion could change if weather conditions slowed down the two site crews. Board member Tony Valente questioned if the repairs would extend into the school year, to which Fuchs said, “not many days.”

“They know that they need to meet that deadline,” Fuchs said. “I have not approved overtime at this point.”

Valente expressed his concern relating to how students could be affected.

“I’m disappointed that this may impact students learning at Shields,” Valente said. “It’s just unacceptable to me for it not to be finished.”

According to a report, the estimated total contract cost is $479,420. Work includes replacing plywood and insulation.

Sugar Grove Township resident Dan Nagel attended the meeting and expressed his concern afterward.

“Another $475,000 on this roof,” Nagel said. “We’re paying taxes on this … We are trying to represent the taxpayers and ask diligent questions. Why did this happen?”

School Board approves student fee structure

by Mary Parrilli
KANEVILLE—Kaneland School Board members on Monday discussed the student fee structure for the 2013-14 school year.

Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business, presented to the board the recent discussions and recommendations from the Finance Advisory Committee (FAC).

“The FAC has been very active on these issues, and has spent a lot of time in review,” she said. “I wanted to inform the board of their hard work.”

The FAC determined that Kaneland school fees are at an acceptable amount and should remain the same for next year. The board then voted unanimously to approve the fees for the 2013-14 school year.

Currently, middle and high school students are allowed to pay for extra-curricular and parking fees before paying their registration fees. The FAC has recommended a requirement for students to pay for their registration fees first, in line with the philosophy of “education first.” The board brought up a number of concerns they had with this type of change, ultimately deciding against it. School Board President Cheryl Krauspe and trustee Gale Pavlak agreed that it would add unnecessary accounting issues, and would cause more paperwork for the administration.

Although general fees have not increased, the school hot lunch prices are set to go up by $.10 for students and adults. The district must comply with federal guidelines, since it is a participant in the National School Lunch Program, and Kaneland’s lunch prices are under that of the federally set level.

Fuchs presents safety procedure review to School Board

by Mary Parrilli
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday was given a school safety procedure review by Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business.

Fuchs explained the various safety measures that are already in place at Kaneland, including swipe cards used instead of keys, a measure introduced last year. Any person who holds a key must swipe their card before entering the building. Their swipe times and locations are electronically documented, and allows certain people to swipe-in at permitted times.

Fuchs introduced recommendations for new safety measures, as well, including adding panic buttons in the offices, and equipping each phone in the building with P.A. availability. Fuchs also recommended the institution of a new safety oversight panel, which would consist of administrators and parents, and provide more insight regarding safety procedures.

“I want the board to know that our police departments have been incredibly accommodating, and that they’ve given us all the support we have asked for since the tragedy at Sandy Hook,” Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said.

Board approves 2012 tax levy

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland School Board members on Tuesday voted 6-0 to approve the 2012 tax levy.

The total 2012 levy is $49,366,195, and includes a 4.93 percent increase over taxes that were extended in operating funds last year, as well as a .99 percent decrease from taxes extended in last year’s bond and interest fund. As a result, the total levy increase in 2012 is 3.83 percent.

Levy amounts include: an education fund of $30,172,470; an operations and maintenance fund of $4,242,000; transportation fund of $2,626,000; working cash fund of $101,000; municipal retirement fund of $505,000; Social Security fund of $707,000; and special education fund of $2,227,050.

Aurora resident Jerry Elliott, who authored a letter to the editor in the Dec. 6 issue of the Elburn Herald, stating his disagreement with the projected tax levy numbers discussed at the Kaneland School Board meeting on Oct. 29, spoke during the public hearing portion of the tax levy discussion and voiced his pleasure with the reduced final levy amount.

“I really have no objection with (those numbers). Thank you for fixing that,” he said.

“The public was served well,” board member Tony Valente added.

Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business, stated during the meeting that the reduced amount was due to the fact that she hadn’t received estimates from DeKalb County at the time the tentative levy was introduced in October. With the DeKalb County numbers in place, Fuchs was able to reduce manual override column amounts by $400,000 in the operations and maintenance fund, $100,000 in the transportation fund and $795,000 in the special education fund. The 2 percent balloon amount was also cut in half.

Board member Joe Oberweis stated that the final levy was essentially the same as the tentative levy.

“The only question is how much we overestimated by,” he said.

School Board talks John Shields roof repair

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The sky could be falling for Kaneland John Shields Elementary School … sort of.

More specifically, the school’s roof is deteriorating and in need of repair. School Board members on Monday discussed the state of the roof, and approved an official second review of the situation, which will be conducted by the architectural firm Studio GC.

A document from Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business, states that there is still some uncertainty as to what is the root cause of the deteriorating condition of John Shields’ roof, and whether it could have been prevented at the time of its construction.

Fuchs during the board meeting mentioned that the deterioration could be the result of a “galvanic action between galvanized screws and treated lumber.”

Initial estimates to repair the roof are in the $400,000 range.

“It is important to know that we will need to do something next summer. Not repairing the roof is not an option,” Superintendent Jeff Schuler said. “At this point, we just want to get a second professional opinion to ensure that the proposed fix is the right thing to do.”

Schuler said the board also wants to better understand what caused the need for the repair.

“If it could have been prevented at the time of construction, the board needs to know that so that it can explore all options to remedy the situation,” he said.

Kaneville passes Kaneland IGA

by David Maas
KANEVILLE—The Kaneville Village Board on Sept. 20 discussed the proposed intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the Kaneland School District.

“We got a call from Assistant Superintendent Julie-Ann Fuchs,” trustee Rick Peck said. “She asked us to review the IGA now that Maple Park had passed it.”

The IGA, which will be in effect for 10 years, institutes rate tables for impact fees from development on newly annexed land within the village.

“We don’t have any big development coming into the village right now,” trustee Paul Ross said. “But anything can happen in 10 years. It’s for the schools; we should do it.”

The board unanimously agreed to pass the IGA.

“Passing the IGA is the right thing to do,” trustee Paul Flamand said. “If we have any development, that’s money the schools get.”

With Kaneville passing the IGA, Sugar Grove is the only municipality to vote against the agreement.

“It puts us on a level playing field with the other municipalities in the School District,” Peck said.

School Board approves temporary roof repair

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—School Board members on Monday voted 5-1 to approve temporary roof repairs at John Shields Elementary School.

Board member Gale Pavlak voted “no” on the item.

A document from Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent of business, states that significant problems in the school’s roof were discovered during a recent repair process.

“The crux of the problem is that the fasteners/clips that hold the metal panels onto the roof are disintegrating, which leaves these metal panels at risk for blowing off,” Fuchs states in the document.

A temporary solution to the roof problem is necessary because the district will not be able to permanently repair the roof prior to the start of the 2012-13 school year. Steve Hougsted of ARCON, the district’s architect, was in attendance at the meeting, and outlined the board’s options for a permanent repair next summer.

According to a document from ARCON, the three repair options involve about 25,000 square feet of roof area (the school’s total roof area is 61,600 square feet). Option one would involve the removal and reuse of every third panel in order to “repair existing underlayment and resecure existing plywood and panels,” with a total projected cost of $238,078.80; option two would involve the removal and reuse of all panels, with a projected cost of $417,163.20; and option three would involve replacement of all panels, with a projected cost of $444,630.

“These options will come back to the board in August for approval to put them out to bid,” Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said. “It is likely that the board will put two options out to bid so that they have all the information they need to make an informed decision regarding the roof repair.”

According to Fuchs’ document, ARCON sought out two estimates for the temporary repair work—the lower of which was $15,760.

“(There is) some concern with needing to spend money on a temporary repair knowing work has to be done the following summer,” Schuler said. “We have the same concern, but unfortunately there just is not time to get the full project done without having people on the roof working while school is in session and kids are in the building. That is not a good option for us.”

Board increases discretionary fees

KANELAND—Kaneland School Board members on Monday voted 6-1 to approve an increase in discretionary fees.

The fee increase is expected to generate $85,080 in potential revenue, and will include, at the high school level, a $30 spike for parking, $50 for sports, $20 for clubs and $60 for theater (class plays and musicals). Increases at the middle school level include a $40 bump for sports and $35 for school plays.

There will not be a fee increase for clubs at the middle school level.

A document from Dr. Julie Ann-Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business, states that the athletic and activities fees represent a 50 percent increase, while the parking fee is a 20 percent increase.

School Board approves 2011 tax levy

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 6-0 to approve the 2011 tax levy.

Board member Tony Valente was absent from the meeting.

The total 2011 tax levy is $48,571,877, with an operating levy of $39,614,417 and a bond and interest fund of $8,957,460. According to a document from Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, superintendent of business, the 2011 levy represents a 4.46 percent and 9.23 percent increase over the taxes extended in last year’s operating fund and bond and interest fund, respectively. The document states that the money received from the tax levy will help to provide programs, services, operating costs and other expenditures for the 2012-13 school year.

The total operating levy consists of the education fund ($32,318,927), operations and maintenance fund ($3,896,490), transportation ($1,854,000), working cash ($103,000), municipal retirement ($463,500), Social Security ($669,500) and special education ($309,000).

“By approving the levy tonight, it will allow me to file with the county clerk. The county clerk, throughout the winter, will hear revisions from the Board of Review and things like that for assessments,” Fuchs said.

Amounts will be finalized after the tax appeal process concludes in spring 2012. The district will begin to see that money the following June.

Fuchs said the levy includes a balloon amount that ensures the district will receive all available tax dollars, under the property tax cap law, should she undershoot any of her estimated figures. In her document, Fuchs states that she adjusted the 2 percent balloon amount down to 1.45 percent, since the education fund levy amount would exceed its maximum amount with a 2 percent balloon in place. As a result, the balloon amount was distributed to other levy funds.

The document also states that levy request is slightly lower than the tentative levy approved by the board last month.

School board approves card swipe system

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 6-0 to approve the purchase and installation of a card swipe security system for Kaneland Middle School and all four elementary schools.

Board member Tony Valente was absent from the meeting.

According to a document from Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business, the card swipe system will allow administration to better control access to each school building, especially during non-school hours.

The cost to purchase and install the security system is $63,021—a quote proposed by Pentegra Systems.

School Board approves tentative D-302 budget

MAPLE PARK—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 6-0 to approve the tentative 2011-12 budget.

According to a document from Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business, Illinois School Code requires boards of education to adopt an annual budget within the first quarter of each fiscal year, followed by the budget being put into tentative form and put up for public inspection for a duration of at least 30 days before the budget is adopted.

A public hearing and adoption of the District 302 2011-12 budget will take place on Sept. 12.

Board approves summer construction projects

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted 6-0 in favor of granting the administration approval to seek bids for summer 2011 projects, including high school roof and masonry repairs, as well as the completion of any work remaining on a 10-year Life Safety study.

According to a document from the district’s architect, Steven Hougsted of Arcon Associates, Inc., the Life Safety study items include replacement of doors, wire glass and flooring, fire alarm and fire protection work, plumbing and electrical at Kaneland High and Middle School, and both John Shields and John Stewart elementary schools. Roof repair at the high school entails replacement of the section of the roof directly above the Fox Valley Career Center shop classrooms, while masonry repairs includes tuck pointing the walls surrounding the west gym.

The district’s budget for these summer projects is $800,000. According to Hougsted, the cost to complete all three projects is projected at $832,000. However, Hougsted said that he believes competitive bidding will result in the work being completed within the confines of the original budget. If work costs exceed the budget, then either the flooring repair at the middle school or the masonry repair at the high school will be postponed.

“What we’re looking at doing is repair and roof renovation work; we want to finish the entire rest of the projects on the Life Safety study,” said Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, assistant superintendent for business. “Once we do that, Steve Hougsted will be able to submit our application to the state (stating) that we have completed all of those (Life Study projects) … and then we’ll get signed off, and then we won’t have to do the 10-year study again for just a couple more years.”

According Hougsted’s document, ARCON projects the cost of the Life Study project repair and renovation work at $200,000, the high school roof repair at $405,000, and the high school masonry repair at $127,000. A document from Fuchs states that part of the work will be bid as an alternate, which will give the board the option to either accept or reject that particular bid depending on how many bids are submitted under the budgeted amount.

Board approves 2011-12 school fees

Kaneland—The Kaneland School Board on Monday evening voted 7-0 to approve school fees for the 2011-12 school year. The approved fees include textbook and curriculum-based fees, and discretionary fees (athletics, clubs, etc.).

According to a document from Assistant Superintendent for Business Julie-Ann Fuchs, Kaneland’s school fees have not increased since the 2006-07 school year.

MP mulls intergovernmental agreement

Discussion with Kaneland focused on handling growth
by Lynn Meredith
MAPLE PARK—A lot has changed in the six years since Kaneland School District and the municipalities in the district signed their first intergovernmental agreement (IGA). In 2004, growth was omnipresent; today, well, not so much.

The IGA is an agreement specifying that the villages will charge developers the same capital-impact, transition and land-use fees. With all district towns agreeing to a standard rate, developers cannot bargain for better impact fees in one town than in another.

“The agreement protects villages from development, especially at a time when developers are hungry,” Kaneland Assistant Superintendent of Business Julie Ann Fuchs told the Maple Park Village Board on Monday. “By uniting through the intergovernmental agreement, you are telling developers that if you come to Kaneland, you are paying Kaneland fees.”

When a family moves into a new development in the district, the students begin attending school right away. But the district doesn’t see impact fees from the development for six to 18 months. With the cost to educate every student being $9,000, regardless of what community they come from, the district wants to ensure that the villages collect appropriate fees, Kaneland officials said.

The tables in the updated agreement are the same as in the previous two agreements. For a three-bedroom, $200,000 house, the villages collect $6,148.

Five of the eight municipalities in the district have signed the agreement so far. Virgil, Maple Park and Sugar Grove are in the decision-making process.

“The School District is the equalizing force in the district, but there is great disparity among the communities,” Trustee Terry Borg said. “It’s a conversation. As we think about this conversation (among the communities), we need to have you as partners at our table, too.”

Schuler stressed that he wanted to avoid a situation where villages in the district are competing with one another for developers.

“This is the time to make the agreement, not when developers are knocking and decisions are based on emotions,” Schuler said. “What I fear is if you have seven to eight municipalities all cutting deals individually, it’s not going to fall equally. If you have a referendum, then it will hit everybody squarely.”

Trustee Mark Delaney said future impact fees must not only help the School District, but the village, too. He said development cannot take place without costly major infrastructure improvements.

“In order to build houses, we have to have a wastewater plant that will help us build the houses that will bring the kids. We’ve got a $13 million obligation on our hands,” he said.

School Board updated on capital projects

KANELAND—Kaneland School District Assistant Superintendent for Business Julie-Ann Fuchs on Monday updated the School Board about recent and ongoing capital projects and school repairs.

Fuchs said the Kaneland Middle School building renovations and cleaning are nearly finished. She added that the district earmarked $300,000 for furnishings, an amount that could change depending upon what district officials decided to use the building for in the future.

Other recently finished projects include repairs to the Kaneland High School roof, various life-safety building repairs and renovations, and summer paving work. Projects still under way are the Esker Drive project, and the Harter Middle School storage facility.

When these projects are finished, the capital projects fund is expected to have a remaining balance of $697,000, Fuchs said.

Roof project delays could mean hot school days

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Monday assessed the progress of District 302’s summer construction projects, including a new roof for the high school, whose construction has been delayed because of frequent rain.

The roof is 60 percent complete and is set to be finished by Monday, Aug. 19, Kaneland Assistant Superintendent for Business Julie-Ann Fuchs said. Construction on the roof has been delayed at times this summer because of excessive rainfall.

The air conditioning in Kaneland High School is projected to be fully operating again about a week after the roof is completed, which also is when school is set to start.

“It’s going to be close (to when classes resume),” Fuchs said. “If, for some reason, we get another couple of rain days here, that delays the progress of the roof, so we all need to be prepared for the first week of school, (because the air) may or may not actually be working.”

The significant rainfall from last weekend also caused the roof to leak, damaging some of the high school carpeting to the extent that it may need to be replaced.

“It seems like sometimes our rains are just pretty hard lately, and with a new roof like that, it’s tough,” Fuchs said.

The high school’s air conditioning will not be functional for Kaneland freshman orientation on Tuesday, Aug. 10.

Tentative Kaneland budget has $2.5M shortfall

District hit by higher costs
by Martha Quetsch
KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board adopted a tentative 2010-11 District 302 operating budget on Monday that has a $2.5 million shortfall, despite drastic cost-cutting measures taken this spring.

The tentative operating budget includes revenue of $44.1 million and expenditures of $46.6 million.

Comparatively, 2009-10 operating revenue was $46 million and expenditures totaled $45.7 million.

The main reasons for the projected drop in district revenue were the lack of local new property growth, the expected decrease in state-mandated categorical grants and the state property tax cap, Kaneland Assistant Superintendent for Business Julie-Ann Fuchs said.

Fuchs also cited two reasons projected 2010-11 expenditures are higher than expenses last year, despite the School Board having reduced costs by $4.3 this spring through cuts in staff, supplies and substitute-teacher pay.

“Our (employee) health insurance came in nearly 20 percent ($1 million) higher, and projected special education program tuition and transportation costs are $1 million more,” Fuchs said. “Not only are the (special education) costs going up, but we continue to have more kids that need special placement.”

The district will use existing funds to cover the budget deficit.

The budget is available for the public to examine at the district office through Sept. 13. On that date, the district will hold a public hearing and approve the final budget.

Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said district officials expect some changes to the budget before the board approves it, but none that will be significant on the expenditure side.

“The vast majority of our costs are in personnel, and our staffing plan has been established for next school year,” Schuler said.

District officials are hopeful but uncertain that the revenue picture will improve by September.

“In our tentative budget, we were very conservative in our projections for state revenue given that we still don’t have specific information regarding how much money we will receive from the state this year,” Schuler said.

The state of Illinois is $3.2 million behind in categorical grant payments it owes the district, which significantly affected the transportation and education funds, Schuler said.

Kaneland Assistant Superintendent for Business Julie-Ann Fuchs said the district will continue to obtain information and updates from the state throughout the summer.

Unpaid school fees on the rise

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—Unpaid Kaneland School District fees have reached an all-time high this year, with $50,179 being equivalent to the cost of a full-time teacher.

Fees in arrears are highest at the high school level, where, including $17,596 from the previous year, a total of $42,040 remains unpaid for textbooks, driver’s education, book fines, sport and club fees, lunch fees and others.

While the administration recognizes that the unpaid fees do not represent a significant potential revenue source, it is important to note that the amount has an effect on the overall budget, Assistant Superintendent for Business Julie-Ann Fuchs said.

Several options brought forward by the administration were discussed by the board, including not allowing students to participate in extracurricular activities or school events until their fees are paid and requiring that all driver’s education fees be paid before the student would be allowed to participate in the behind-the-wheel training. However, board members said they were not comfortable with such restrictive measures at this time.

“The economy is going to be extremely difficult,” board member Bob Myers said. “A lot of people in our community have lost jobs, and a rising number of people will have a hard time paying their fees … It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

While the schools do set up installment plans for families who are having trouble paying their fees, board members agreed that information about the plans are not as widely communicated as it could be.

“We need to be much more liberal in setting up payment plans,” Board President Lisa Wiet said.

Kaneland appoints Open Meetings Act designees

Kaneland—The Kaneland School District appointed several people to undergo training from the Ilinois Attorney General’s office regarding the Open Meetings Act.

The three employee designees are Associate Superintendent of Human Resources Jeff Schuler, Assistant Superintendent of Business Julie-Ann Fuchs and Schuler’s administrative assistant, Beth Sterkel. The School Board designees are the three board officers, Board President Lisa Wiet, Treasurer Elmer Gramley and Secretary Cheryl Krauspe.

All board members were encouraged to take the training, and the designee status will change with the positions.

Lack of new growth adds to school deficit

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—Kaneland School District officials expect a substantial decrease in new property taxes due to the virtual standstill of residential development within the district. That decrease in revenue growth adds to the district’s budget deficit and will also translate into a higher tax bill for current district residents.

Julie-Ann Fuchs, Assistant Superintendent for Business, said that a recent estimate from the Kane County assessor puts the Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) of new construction at approximately $8.5 million for 2009, down from $21 million in 2008.

Fuchs said the district has typically received millions more in new money in recent years. In 2006, more than $65 million was added to the district’s EAV from new growth. This year’s projected new growth EAV of $8.5 million represents a smaller increase from last year.

Each taxing body must file its tax levy for the upcoming year prior to the last Tuesday of the calendar year. The School District is considering raising the levy to $4.12 per every $100 of EAV for their 2009 taxes, an increase of 14 cents per $100 of EAV.

This will increase the levy to a little more than $38 million, and the School District can expect to collect an additional $386,000 more in 2010 than in 2009.

For a homeowner of a $250,000 home, this will translate to an additional $116 in property taxes.

A truth-in-taxation levy hearing will take place on Monday, Dec. 14, with filing scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 22.

Students receive break on hot lunch

by Susan O’Neill
Students at the middle school and high school saw a decrease in their cost for a hot lunch from $2.50 to $2 when school started. This benefit comes from an overage in the net cash reserves for the food service program, according to guidelines in the federally-funded program.

The school food service account is required to limit its net cash resources to an amount that does not exceed three months’ average expenditures for its nonprofit school food service.

According to Assistant Superintendent for Business Julie-Ann Fuchs, one significant advantage of this change is that the hot lunch program is a well-balanced and nutritional meal consistent with the district’s wellness policy. By reducing the price, students may be encouraged to select a healthier choice for their lunch, she wrote in a memo to the board.

Just in time

Harter Middle School walk-through completed day before school opening
by Susan O’Neill
The final walk-through of the Harter Middle School took place on Tuesday, just in time for the first day of school on Wednesday.

“It’s been tight, but we’ve made it,” former Superintendent of Business Tom Runty said.

After Runty retired, he was hired back by the district to supervise the completion of the new school, as well as renovations of the current middle school and Blackberry Creek Elementary School.

“A lot of progress was made in a very short time,” he said.

Runty and Assistant Superintendent of Business Julie-Ann Fuchs credited the custodial and technology staff for working quickly and efficiently to get things done The final concerns had been to complete the roadway and to get the exits cleared for students to enter the grounds. Runty said that everything is finished on Harter Road except for some work on the road shoulders.

New students and their parents visited the school for the first time last Thursday, to orient themselves and find their way around.

“There were a lot of ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs,’” Runty said.

Kaneville talks priorities

Draft of village plan addresses top concerns: Prairie Parkway, encroaching growth
by Susan O’Neill
KANEVILLE—The Prairie Parkway, a proposed and partially funded highway intended to connect Interstates 80 and 88, and the growth of the neighboring villages remain two of the biggest concerns Kaneville residents have about the village’s future.

During an open house last Thursday set up for residents to view the Kaneville comprehensive draft plan, a number of the approximately 40 people who attended ranked what happens with the Prairie Parkway as their highest priority for the future.

Lynette Werdin said she feels it is vital that the Prairie Parkway does not cut the village off from other destinations, such as Aurora and other nearby towns. She thought the plan addressed her concerns, in that it included overpasses to keep access open.

She said she realizes that plans for the Prairie Parkway will not be based on Kaneville’s feedback alone, but now that it is an incorporated village, its officials at least have a seat at the table.

She and her husband Dave live outside of the village limits but within Kaneville’s planning area. Werdin said she thought the plan commissioners who worked on the plan did a good job of representing the desires of the residents for slow and planned change.

“They know we like things the way they are,” she said.

She said she was somewhat surprised by the commissioners’ attention to detail in the plan, including a plan to upgrade the sidewalks.

“I roller-skated those sidewalks when I was a girl,” she said. “And they were bumpy then.”

Plan Commissioner Joe White said he and the other commissioners tried to address as many of the issues that people had raised as possible. The two-year process has involved a number of meetings with local landowners and a survey of the residents to ask for their input.

Among the 15 areas included in the plan are land use, natural resources, transportation, economic development, housing, historic preservation and community facilities.

Residents were asked to place stickers on six items, to identify their top six priorities.

White said Julie Ann Fuchs, a Kaneland School District official and Kaneville resident, asked where a school site might be located. He said that Kaneland Superintendent Charlie McCormick told him that 600 homes would be needed before a school would be built in town.

With only approximately 435 residents within the village, that would be a number of years down the road, he said.

Jody Springsteen, who lives near the corner of Dauberman and Harter roads, said that one of her biggest concerns was that village officials keep residents informed of what their neighboring communities, such as Elburn and Sugar Grove, are doing.

The village has tentatively scheduled a public hearing for Thursday, Sept. 24, which will be the time for formal feedback on the plan. White said he does not anticipate any major changes in the text. The plan will then come before the Village Board for approval, likely on Thursday, Oct. 15.

Once the plan has been approved, one of the next priorities will be to engage in boundary agreements with officials from neighboring villages, such as Elburn, Sugar Grove, Maple Park and Big Rock. The current maps show some overlap in the villages’ planning areas that will have to be addressed.

Fuchs says district will balance budget by fall

by Susan O’Neill
The final version won’t be approved until September, but the Kaneland School Board last week passed a tentative budget that projects a deficit for the coming school year. Current projected expenditures outweigh projected revenues by $118,956 for the 2009-10 $46.8 million operating budget.

However, according to Assistant Superintendent for Business Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, when the final budget is approved in September, it will be balanced. Fuchs said the board will work throughout the summer to look for ways to accomplish a balanced budget.

Fuchs said there are several reasons for the decrease in revenues and increase in expenditures projected for the coming school year.

On the revenue side, the slowdown of growth in the housing market has significantly reduced revenue from impact fees and other monies from the lack of new development.

On the expenditure side, the anticipated opening of the Harter Middle School in August brings with it many one-time expenditures. In addition, the 6.21 percent salary increase for teachers is another line item that raised expenditures beyond what had been anticipated.

The district continues to spend what will be a total of $65 million in bond proceeds from the passage of recent referendums. The opening of Kaneland Harter Middle School, the Blackberry Creek Elementary School addition, as well as the addition and remodeling of the current Kaneland Middle School is expected to be completed in spring 2010.

The board decreased the certified staff by 6.5 full-time equivalents and the support staff by 11 full-time equivalents from last year to the coming school year.

On the plus side, the federal government determined that the district will receive an additional $919,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money, a one-time amount to be used for special education purposes.

Fuchs said that as the state of Illinois continues to experience cash flow problems, the district must monitor the timely payments of all state funding. She said that once the state legislature balances its budget, the School District will be able to balance its budget.

Kaneland revenue challenges continue

by Lynn Meredith
With the Kaneland School District facing several revenue challenges for the 2010 fiscal year, the School Board is reviewing a long-range financial plan to help the district make informed budget decisions.

“We have some decisions to make to prepare for the 2009-2010 budget. Our next task is going to be talking about how we can balance our revenues and expenditures,” school business official Julie-Ann Fuchs told the School Board on Monday.

PMA financial advisor Michael Frances laid out the plan charts and graphs depicting the district’s financial past and projecting its future. The stagnant housing market, limited state funds and a low Consumer Price Index (CPI) have all contributed to a drop in revenue, he said.

Frances said Kaneland receives the bulk of its money from property taxes. The CPI fell radically earlier this fall, effectively stopping the flow of revenue, he added.

“The CPI in 2008 (last year) was 4.1 percent. The CPI for 2009 is 0.1 percent,” Frances said. “We’re hitting two extremes: Previous to this, the CPI was 3.4 percent on the high end and 1.67 percent on the low end. This number is basically saying you are getting no new revenue next year.”

The increase in Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) also dropped. From 2004 to 2007, when housing was booming, Kaneland had from $41 million to $65 million worth of additional assessed valuation added to its EAV.

“We have received a solid projection for 2008 from the county of what that number is going to be. It’s fallen more than half—to $22.4 million,” Frances said. “With the stoppage of new construction, the number is realistically going to fall further.”

The emergency cost-cutting measures implemented so far have been to slash $740,000 from the current budget. Those cuts will remain as the administration finds ways to cut an additional $1 million for next year.

The district plans to operate only one middle school, instead of the planned north and south schools. It also will not hire additional staff.

Officials will bring a list of recommendations to the board at the Monday, Feb. 9, meeting. The list will ensure that the district does not go into deficit.

“As you well know, we don’t have much control over the revenues, but certainly we have control over our expenditures. That’s where we’re going to focus our efforts, so that we are proactive and don’t get ourselves behind the eight-ball and get to where we have to cut 10 percent, and now we’re looking at a lot of pain for our organization,” Fuchs said.