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D86 Candidate: Current Board 'Gouging' District Taxpayers

Roger Kempa of Darien is one of eight candidates in this spring's District 86 school board election, and he submitted the following letter to the editor on Feb. 23.

The following is a letter to the editor from Darien resident Roger Kempa, one of eight candidates vying for four open seats on the District 86 school board.

All of us, residential and business property owners, will be receiving our annual property tax bill in the mail soon.  Courtesy of the board majority of Hinsdale Township High School District 86, you can expect that portion of your tax bill to be higher than last year, even with the value of your property still decreasing. 

The present board majority believes in getting every last dime out of you that they want, not what the school district actually needs.

Unwilling to give property owners a break, the board majority voted instead to increase the 2012 property tax levy over 2011 by 4.5 percent ($3.2 million) for the district's capped funds.

Before approving that increase, it was brought to their attention that:

  1. Residents and businesses in the district are still experiencing harsh economic times;
  2. The district has a huge cash reserve, actually in the amount of $61 million;
  3. Numerous other local tax entities did not increase their property tax levies;
  4. A suggested compromise of a lower increase was ignored; and
  5. A “no tax increase” motion  was voted down.

In essence, the board majority said the following five times:  NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! How arrogant! I stand by my statement to that board majority, including Dennis Brennan, Deirdre Gorgol, and Kay Gallo:

You are gouging the taxpayers of this district. You are sending them a direct message. You don’t care!

I respectfully ask for your vote on April 9. 

Roger J. Kempa

8727 Carlisle Ct

Darien, IL                           

Bob B February 28, 2013 at 09:18 PM
I absolutely agree with you John. I'm tired of the board consistently voting to spend our money by either a 5-2 or 6-1 majority. I will be voting for Kempa; not sure who else yet.
Will Hunt February 28, 2013 at 09:43 PM
Why not write in Dianne Barrett? She sounds like your kind of candidate
Rich Brandeis March 01, 2013 at 12:27 AM
John, you are dead wrong my friend. School Administrators and Boards of Education in Illinois are faced with belt tightening on a daily basis. It is ingrained in everything they do. They are faced with unfunded Federal mandates like No Child Left Behind and a bankrupt State government that is either delinquent in their payments or looks to shirk their burden and shift it to local taxpayers. In spite of these difficult circumstances this Board of Education has managed to run a balanced budget every year since 2006. That was not necessarily the practice with previous District 86 Boards. They cut $1.3 million from the budget in 2007 when facing a potential deficit. In 2010, 2011 ,and 2012 they avoided additional potential deficits through containing expenses. In that same time period, ACT scores in District 86 have increased every year. 96% of graduating seniors go on to college. This Board and these Administrators have done a great job of providing excellent results under very difficult conditions. It is easy to sit on the sidelines and spout platitudes about cutting spending, but don't let your understandable dissatisfaction with State and Federal government be misplaced on the local educational system. Until you have looked in detail at the yearly District 86 budgets and seen where the money is being spent, what you are doing is just finger pointing.
John Regan March 01, 2013 at 01:29 AM
Rich, as a taxpayer for over 16 years and a son who attends Hinsdale South, I'm definitely not sitting on the sidelines. My perspective is informed, for instance, as a former shareholder of Lucent, which lost about 75% of its revenue overnight and was forced to make draconian cuts including slashing headcount and employee and retiree benefits. In fact I know some of the employees who were laid off. I believe some are taxpayers who reside in the district. I've been CFO of an organization about D86 size and I had to close a plant and let go over 300 employees, personally. I've read the D86 budgets, board minutes and achivement results. I can cite chapter and verse to dispute your assertions, but I won't, because it's obvious that the District Board has never had to deal with the kind of cuts ($1.3 million is child's play-are you kidding?) we deal with routinely in the private sector.
Sue Pircon March 01, 2013 at 03:32 PM
John, I agree with your perspective regarding the fiscal challenges experienced in the private sector, but this discussion is about public education. Are you looking for District 86 to take a 75% revenue reduction to save taxpayer money? The job of the school board is to provide a quality education and do it within the financial restraints of the district. I believe the board has done an excellent job in balancing financial challenges while maintaining an excellent educational standard. As someone who regularly attends District 86 board meetings I do not consider myself a “benchwarmer” when it comes to the business of the District and I can cite plenty of examples of sound financial decisions from this board, most often with a 5-2 vote. Are you aware that since 2006, District 86 has experienced a savings of over $3.8 million through revenue enhancement and expenditure containment? That certainly doesn’t sound like taxpayer gouging to me! And the operating expenditure per student in District 86 is currently $16,800, compare that to New Trier’s spending of $20,800 per student or Evanston Twp spending $21,000 and our schools are consistently ranked along with those schools as the best in the state. This is an excellent example of the board doing a lot with less. If you choose to listen to the spin from those “like minded” candidates, feel free, but realize you will be casting a vote against education.

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