Election 2013: Is District 86's Board Fiscally Responsible?
Patch asked the question, and the eight District 86 Board of Education candidates provided their answers.
In its 2013 candidate questionnaire, Patch asked the eight candidates for Hinsdale Township High School District 86 Board of Education the following questions:
How would you describe a board that is fiscally responsible? Does District 86 currently have a fiscally responsible board?
Not surprisingly, there were some differing points of view.
Here, in alphabetical order, are the candidates' responses:
Dennis Brennan: "The definition of fiscal responsibility includes balancing budgets, creating reserves for emergencies, actively improving the facilities through long-term financing while adjusting to ever increasing federal and state mandates while producing a quality education for the students at a reasonable price for the taxpayers. Absolutely, the board majority is fiscally responsible. We’ve maintained reserves at a level of about 25% while providing necessary mechanical improvements, security improvements and air quality improvements to both campuses at a cost of about $27 per household for three years. The board instituted cost containments in the amount of $1.6 million during my term while improving test scores, academic growth numbers, and AP exam participation. 96% of our students go to college. This election truly is a story of 'If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.'"
Victor Casini: "A fiscally responsible board is one that is wise in the use of the taxpayers’ money and that maximizes the students’ educational opportunities with the available funds. I believe that the current board could improve its fiscal responsibility, especially with regard to the transparency of its spending decisions. The community deserves to be kept better informed about major expenditures."
Edward Corcoran: "A board which is fiscally responsible looks to control spending and will approach tax increases in a sustainable manner. Real taxpayer input is needed and the must be challenges to staff proposed increases in a healthy and collaborative manner. D86 needs a clear and sustainable tax policy. More serious self-critique on matters of tax increases, measurements and evaluation on spending, best practices for project management protocol on major capital expenditures, and methods of cost control can be improved. Healthy challenges to all parties receiving taxpayer money can only improve and balance the level of fairness to taxpayers given the large increases in salaries and spending over the last decade. When there are proposed capital expenditures, we need to assess the justification, true benefit to the student and how to measure the success once spending occurs. Every dollar spent towards consultants, construction managers, attorneys, insurance, and overhead is a dollar not being spent in the classroom. Taxpayers deserve more financial information and objective evaluation of projects."
Kay Gallo: "A school district which is fiscally responsible balances the needs of the student to the wants of the taxpayer. A school board must weigh options, both pro and con, to spending.
"While serving on the board for District 86, we have continued to hold the line on most expenses. Yes, we are a fiscally responsible board because we have employed a fiscally responsible superintendent who has hired fiscally responsible administrators."
DeeDee Gorgol: "A fiscally responsible board must maintain a balanced budget while meeting the needs of the students and constituents. I do believe District 86’s current board is a fiscally responsible board. In my four years on the board, we have produced a balanced budget all four years. As stated in an earlier question, each year we successfully do cost containments to produce this balanced budget without having to cut staff or student programs while maintaining our buildings along with maintaining our high credit rating."
Roger Kempa: "A fiscally responsible board is one that is in touch with its constituents on fiscal issues. The board will have an open dialogue medium, welcome them to board meetings, addresses their ideas, suggestions, and answer their questions with an open and positive attitude at board meetings. Confrontational attitude or a standard reply of, 'See the superintendent,' is not acceptable. Major fiscal policies should be in place to detail and disclose board position on major issues including but not limited to: determining the annual property tax levy, amount of cash reserves, issuance of debt, contracts, requests for proposals, etc.
"The answer to the second question is, 'No.'"
Claudia Manley: "First, to explain my view I must state that fiscal responsibility is NOT large budget cuts to student educational programs or activities. Fiscal responsibility relates to well informed transparent decision making for the well being of the students, staff, community and taxpayers while protecting the financial assets of District 86 as best as possible. Members have an important ethical and moral obligation to manage and account for school district funds, especially for the benefit of the students. I believe our community can get more for its money through utilization of proper budget setting priorities, standards for budget preparation and protection of assets, purchasing, prudent project management on capital projects and related business activities. The school district receives and expends large amounts of public money and the Board is accountable for all of it. I would carefully consider the tax levy and how best to achieve budget priorities while acknowledging decreasing home values, foreclosures, short sales and the difficult financial times our families are experiencing as a result of the economy. Monies spent on no bid contracts without evaluation of the benefit of that expenditure is less money spent in the classroom, the District 86 taxpayer deserves transparency on financial issues and objective evaluation of expenditures."
Roseanne Rosenthal: "A fiscally responsible board 1) engages in careful oversight of finances; 2) assures that highly competent individuals are managing the school’s finances on a day-to-day basis; 3) balances long-term financial oversight with short term concerns; 4) understands the school code with respect to budget, finance, and taxation; 5) understands the cash flow of the school; and 6) discusses school financial issues openly and honestly.
"I believe that the current D86 board members’ decisions have been fiscally responsible."