Wheaton 'watchdog' questions school district's financial sense
To the best of Jan Shaw's knowledge, some Wheaton-Warrenville school district administrators are working on expired contracts.
The contracts only expired at the end of June, but Shaw says the issue is the tip of the iceberg of problems with maintaining good financial stewardship and keeping school district finances straight.
Shaw, who maintains the DuPage Watchdog website, ran for a seat on the Community Unit School District 200 board in 2013 and says she has data on the district going back at least 10 years that points to unsound business practices.
“I posted some stuff about all of the goodies that administrators shouldn’t be getting,” Shaw said.
Shaw contended that some school board members share her view that there should be more transparency on administrators’ salaries and benefits before re-inking any contracts.
“They need to be responsible for what they are already getting,” Shaw said, calling pensions, salaries and other benefits like sick pay out of control.
Shaw cited a referendum in which voters in April declined to provide $132 million for a learning center and other improvements in the district. She said voters are not likely to approve big spending increases until certain “sweeteners” are taken out of administrative contracts.
She said it's important to separate spending on buildings and spending on salaries and benefits.
The school board as a whole seems adverse to addressing budget issues until money runs out, Shaw said, noting that the district is at its maximum in terms of borrowing. After multiple tax increases, she said, district officials are stuck. They need money to pay for building upkeep.
“They’re between a rock and a hard place,” Shaw said, adding that a lack of action has gradually put more pressure on district leaders to come up with some kind of solution. Describing another failed referendum proposal in 2013, Shaw said the fix is not likely to come from continuing to raise taxes on residents.
Instead, Shaw mentioned a number of things she would like the board to consider cutting, such as end-of-career “spikes” in salary and benefits for administrators.