October 2008
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D150: Where does all the money go?

This is the first year we’ve put our kids in District 150. Before this year, my oldest daughter had attended a private school. Private schools, of course, don’t get any public money. Here’s how much public money goes to District 150, shown both in aggregate and per pupil:

Instructional Expenditure Per Pupil*: $6,297
Operating Expenditure Per Pupil*: $11,521
Local Property Tax Revenue*: $65,921,368
Other Local/State/Federal Revenue*: $84,928,611

One would think with that much revenue and per-pupil expenditures, all the schools’ needs would be more than met. Not so. First, we had to pay an additional fee for book rental. For our two school-age children, that came to $100. Then there have been the fundraisers — lots of fundraisers — more fundraisers than we ever had at a private school with no public funding and considerably less per-pupil (tuition) costs:

School fundraising requests received
within first two months of school year:
PTO fundraising requests received
within first two months of school year:
Charitable fundraising requests received
within first two months of school year:

Note that this is just the fundraising requests received in the first two months of the school year. Who knows how many more are on their way. I don’t begrudge the charitable fundraisers, but include them in the chart merely to show the totality of how many requests for funds bombard parents of District 150 students — parents who, like all taxpayers in District 150, are already spending an enormous amount of money in property taxes, state taxes, and federal taxes to support public education.

Lest you think I’m being petty here, take a look at those numbers again. Totaling the per pupil instructional and operating expenditures per pupil, that comes to $17,818… per pupil. High school tuition at Peoria Christian School is only $4,932 per year. According to Peoria Notre Dame’s website, their “projected cost for educating a student for 2008 – 2009 is over $7,000.” That $7,000+ is paid for by a combination of tuition, subsidies, fundraisers, and some miscellaneous revenue sources.

Meanwhile, at District 150, they receive nearly $18,000 per student in public money. So why the need for additional private funds in the form of so many fundraisers? My question is basically this: Where does all the money go?


*Source: Interactive Illinois Report Card, 2005-06 Fiscal Year

†Magazine subscriptions for computers; General Mills Boxtops for cash; recycling of aluminum cans for cash; Usborne Books’ “Reach for the Stars” for school & classroom library books.

‡Spirit Wear for cash; Bergner’s Community Day for cash; Butter Braids frozen pastry/cookie dough for cash. Cash used for Accelerated Reader program, subscription to Time Magazine for Kids, and other programs.

44 comments to D150: Where does all the money go?

  • ImaSwede

    In support of public schools, I believe they offer much more than private schools.  Orchestra, band, and Madrigal singers just to name a few.  I don’t know each and every thing District 150 offers that private schools do not, but I am sure the list is long.   

    Granted, I also believe public schools waste money…. but the opportunity is there for a great education.  

  • jim stowell

    A $150 mil budget divided by  over 14,000 students equates to almost $11,000 per pupil total.  I think that the instructional figure you present is part of the operational amount. In essence, you are double counting. Should $11k be enough? I think so, and then some. While it is 3am and I awoke to check the markets, I will verify your assertion later today. With a strong correlation between young babies mental development, third grade reading levels and the probability of future poverty and possible incarceration, why doesn’t our community collectively shout from the mountaintop that education is the first and utmost priority and responsibility of parents and students alike? Why doesn’t Springfield better incentivize state aid to reflect that importance? Many of our students overcome much adversity daily. Instead of the constant bitching, why not help facilitate a community wide response that provides a nurturing environment? Many are. While Dist. 150 (Board, admin., teachers, and staff) need to be challenged as any organization should, the negative bias that exists on most blogs isn’t productive, or healthy. Our community will be blessed as we endure the current economic downturn. Cat’s global strength, the medical communities growth, Bradley, ICC, and other aspects will enable us to weather it far better than most communities our size. We have many opportunities for our students, we just need to provide them the support and structure to own up to their responsibilities. It’s easy to criticize, more difficult to be part of the solution. We are on the cusp of many profound, positive changes in Dist. 150. Collectively we can help prepare our children for what is rapidly becoming a more challenging life.

  • deebie47

    The community is SHOUTING to the tune of $11,000 per student!  At that cost why is it not the responsibility of 150 to provide a nurturing environment.  I don’t get it.  What is the answer by 150 to the $11,000 shouting, where is their responsibility?

  • kcdad

    $11,000 per student?

    Start sending them to my house. I guarantee they will be able to read and write AND discuss intelligently the issues that face them.

    I’ll start with out just 4 or 5 please.

  • kcdad

    I’ll start out with just 4 or 5 please.

    Danggit… I hate not being able to edit….

  • jim stowell

    debbie47 – The District has vibrant programs and dedicated teachers ready to educate our students. The challenges many of them have to overcome before and after school (and through the night) are daunting. The baggage they carry into the classroom hinders their focus and ability to learn. But thanks for reinforcing my point on how easy it is to criticize.

  • Jim — Thanks for the correction.  I searched in vain on the IIRC to find how they determine each per pupil cost and was worried that there may be some overlap.  If it’s $11,000, so be it.  As you say, that’s still enough per pupil to provide a top-notch education and without having to raise extra funds for basics like books.

    As for the “negative bias” on blogs, there’s a reason for that.  It’s called frustration.  It’s not like blog owners haven’t tried to be positive and helpful.  Many parents — including those who have or comment on blogs — put together a proposal that would allow for common teacher planning time without shortening the school day, and it was ignored.  While a majority of the time was restored, not all of it was, apparently in order for the superintendent to save face — and in the face of over a thousand parents and residents who signed petitions against shortening the school day.  During this time, one of your fellow board members refused to even meet with a representative of the parents’ group, saying it wasn’t her job to meet with constituents.

    This works both ways, Jim. The board needs to start having a positive attitude toward parents and their concerns.  The board needs to see the parents as an asset, listen to them, and work with them.  Instead, we’ve been treated as “complainers” and a “vocal minority.”

  • Fundraising isn’t required. When I was president our PTO we offered parents the option of making a cash donation rather than selling – and even that was optional. Also, a couple of the things you mentioned don’t involve anything more than saving items you may already have around the house.

    Public schools are madated to provide far more services than private schools. Most private schools don’t provide transportation and if it is provided, that’s an extra cost. Private schools are not REQUIRED to provide special education services, Title 1, speech/language, PT, OT, adaptave PE, homebound tutoring for medically involved children, school nurses, etc… Oh sure, your kids don’t use those services…but it’s is reassuring to know that those services are available to any child who might unexpectedly find themselves in a situation where their educational needs change.

    I agree with Mr. Stowell. The public school bashing is getting out of hand. Especially when it comes from individuals who have spent little to no time IN public education.

  • So, asking questions is now synonymous with “bashing”?  All I’m asking is why there have to be so many fundraisers when so much money is spent per pupil.  Your comment is the first one to provide some specifics — special ed, school nurses, etc.  That’s helpful.

    I want to see the schools fully funded. I’m a proponent of public education. But I want to be sure they’re using that money wisely and not spending it foolishly.  Is that really so terrible? When a private school can educate a child for $7,000, and a public school can’t educate a child even with $11,000, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask some questions.

  • ImaSwede

    It is my understanding that many other public school districts put this information on their websites. In all honesty, we shouldn’t have to ask. I agree that public schools have many more expenses. When my disabled sister was born, my parents were told that living in the city was the best place for them to be because of the services District 150 offered.

    But, when the district makes cuts in valuable educational time, what message are they sending? When concerned and involved parents beg them to find other means, they are called “naysayers.”

    District 150 administration and the board cannot have it both ways. They cannot continue to do things behind the scenes in secrecy and then expect taxpayers to blindly support their efforts. They have lost the trust of much of the community with their own actions. Now they have to gain it back instead of seeing taxpayers as the enemy.

    “Frustration” is the appropriate word here.

  • The Mouse

    Sorry, Jim, I’m not buying the sob story about how much adversity your students face outside the classroom.  The reality is, private school students face adversity outside the classroom too.  I used to be a supporter of public education, but I don’t share your optimism.  Public Education is top heavy, bureacratic, too unresponsive to parents, too politicized.  It has become a big business, consuming more and more money, and not producing good results.  The constantly-repeated solution, “More Money!”  is NOT the solution.
    It’s time to shake up the status quo. 

  • The Mouse – you are dead on!

  • dd

    Your right, we do need to shake up the status quo.  With NCLB and its offspring, the myth of local control is just that, a myth.  With local control no longer present, there is no need for local funding.  The answer is to make “public” education both state controlled and state funded.   Why continue the myth that the local school board is anymore responsive to the people than the state legislature.  If we want better public education, politicize the heck out of it.  Make education the number one issue in state legislative and gubinatorial elections.  Just think of the money that would be saved in eliminating every school district administrative staff.  Also, make public school funding fair.  Drop property tax funding of public schools and replace it with an offsetting (maybe even smaller) amount in income tax.    How’s that for a start.   

  • Sharon Crews

    Ok, here I go again.  Jim knows what’s coming; I will keep singing this song until someone listens.  First, schools do need money.  Second, District 150 does offer many good programs–many which aren’t offered in private schools. Third, 150 has many dedicated teachers (even administrators and board members).  BUT money, programs, good intentions, and highly-qualified staff are not going to change District 150 (the perception or the reality) until something is done about discipline.  Jim and I agree on much–but we don’t agree on which came first the chicken or the egg.  I say discipline must come before any of these programs will work.  (I think I even Mary Spangler agreed at the last board meeting when she said something to the effect that until there is an alternative school, these great programs won’t accomplish anything).  Jim (and central administration and other board members) seems to think (I think–don’t want to put words in his mouth) that exciting programs will motivate students to learn and to behave.  It isn’t going to happen.  Again Manual is the perfect testing ground–and I’m betting that if the discipline problems aren’t handled soon, the money spent on John Hopkins programs will be to no avail.  I’m begging 150 to listen to teachers (and school administrators, especially retired ones who aren’t afraid to speak up–unless they’re waiting to be chosen as consultants).   Last week’s board meeting when the two PHS parents spoke up did seem to wake the board up.  Parents in all the schools where there are discipline problems need to find out about the classroom disruptions, fights, etc., going on in the schools and complain loudly and often–their children are being cheated of education time every day in many, many classrooms.  Listen to teachers who will tell you that there are no real consequences for some very shocking behaviors–and that the few students who cause these problems are returned to the classroom after every reported offense and the behaviors continue.  Most kids can do better than that–but District 150 doesn’t send a very clear message.  In fact, most of the time the teachers are blamed for the bad behavior of students.  On this blog, I get the sense that Kcdad blames teachers (or maybe the system).  I think most of you know that teachers do not have the magic cure for behavioral problems exhibited by young people who have some severe emotional problems.  These young people really need help, but the regular classroom and teacher are not able to give that help.  Jim is right about the kids coming from adverse circumstances, etc., but we just can’t continue to excuse their behaviors because of it.   We need alternative school(s) soon–and not just for the high school.  Serious intervention has to come long before 9th grade.
    C. J. is also right about not listening to parents with regard to the time taken away for common planning–but Jim voted “no” on that issue, so there’s no disagreement there.

  • Sharon Crews

    PS–All fundraisers should stop immediately!  I love the children in my life, but I really don’t like participating in their school fundraisers.  At Manual (because many students didn’t know many adults who could contribute) teachers were constantly hit with pleas to buy things to benefit various extra-curricular activities, etc.   Also, would someone please do an FOIA request to find out what happens to all the money from soda machines and candy machines.  The fundraisers create inequities in the schools–how much do you think the south end schools raise through fundraisers?

  • New Voice

    The number of students exhibiting poor reading & writing skills have reached epidemic proportions.  A large number of these students come from Dist 150.  A large number of these students come from other school districts around the area.  The problem is the same. 

    I see an ‘internet generation’ who can’t do a simple search for the relevant information needed to write a research paper.  Compare the U.S. to the rest of the world when it comes to math/science, and we fall off the charts.  The concern of everyone who blogs on this cite is admirable; for the most part! 

    KCDAD argues the system is to blame.  I believe the system is to blame.  All of us are horrified as we watch the economy collapse, our retirement savings disappear, the jobless rate rising, etc.  We are filled with rage when we hear about CEO’s who leave their failing companies with millions of dollars in comp! 

    If our system [Dist 150] is broken – fix it.  The ‘fixing’ must start from the top down.  Overpaid administrators tax the system – no pun intended.  If they can’t fix it………..?  You decide.

  • Sharon Crews

    We all agree–poor reading and writing skills have reached epidemic proportions.  If we could just agree on the cause for this decline, then maybe we could solve the problem–or maybe not.  Maybe the solution is out of the control of the schools.  Try to keep in mind that some of the same teachers that had great success 20 years ago (and are still teaching) are not having the same success today.  Why is that?  Since I retired, I have worked for  three years with a child who is now in kindergarten (and also with his siblings) and he is doing well.  He knows his alphabet and also the sounds the letters make, etc.–and more.  Besides he has had many, many positive life experiences that his peers have not had.   (You know, that kinds that those of you on this blog have undoubtedly given your children).  And his parents and his older sibling all helped, and we go over the work he brings home every night, etc.  There are children in his class that didn’t have this head start–and no one is at home to reinforce what they are learning at school.   Many of them will not catch up and will get further behind each month, each year (and if there are too many of them in one class they will pull the others back, too).  And the older they get, the more apt they are to become discipline problems because they are frustrated and simply can’t keep up with the kids who have progressed to grade level.  Oh, yes, and many of them have been passed on without the skills–and THAT IS NOT THE TEACHER’S DECISION.

  • dd

    There is no epedemic of poor reading and writing skills.  Children today are not any different than they were 20 years ago.  The difference between 20 years ago and today is that today we treat every kid like the only measure of success is whether he/she can get into Harvard.  20 years ago we used to provide a variety of educational options for children.  We used to call them “College Prep” “Industrial Arts” “Vocational Ed”  and good old “Business Ed” and/or “General Ed.”   Today, in a city like Peoria, one of the last manufacturing cities in America, a high school kid can’t get into an industrial arts program.  Why?  Because we don’t have one.   Instead, we all have to pretend that he’s going to Harvard and drag his behind through a totally irrelevant educational system, complain when, out of bordom he “acts up”; then  complain some more when he gets a single digit ACT score.  Then we blame the parents, teachers or anybody else we can think of when he drags down the overall average test score and causes us to lose federal funding.  Doesn’t anybody realize why the Chinese and the Japanese and Europeans and just about anybody else in the world has better test scores than we do?  Its because, unlike us, they don’t test every kid.  They only test the best.  We’d do just as well if we were as selective.  Don’t believe me, check it out.  Did you know that in Japan a student has to take a test to get INTO high school.  So is it any wonder that their “high school students” score so much better than ours.         

  • serenity

    What is the total of the “retired” folks’ salaries they are paying to come back (especially Tommy Simpson)? Nothing against them personally, however, their old ideas and thinking patterns have stifled the education in #150.  When new ideas are brought up to them, you get a look like you’re crazy, then they say “we don’t do it like that”.  Hmmm, has anyone FOIAed the salaries of these retired “consultants”?

  • Sharon Crews

    dd:  I agree totally.  I think I can agree with you and still hold to some of the points of my assessment of the problem.  The worst thing that ever happened to District 150 was the end of the industrial arts and home ec courses.  (Of course, the end of manufacturing jobs didn’t help either–but there’s still a place for the courses).  Teachers predicted the damage that would come as a result and we were so right.  I watched first hand how the loss of these courses changed Manual.  Student who didn’t do well in academic courses gained self-esteem in hands-on courses, and sometimes that transferred into the “book-learning” classes.  And I do agree that we look bad in large part because we test everyone and try to educate everyone at the same level–college prep.  However, there is still a problem with literacy in the lower grades that needs to be addressed.  And there is still a need for an alternative school for those students who can’t succeed in a “typical” high school. 

  • serenity

    Oh, and why do the Board members allow all of these “consultants” to come back?  When will they realize the central office is a mess?

  • kcdad

    We need to stop thinking in the “global” mentality. Bigger is not better. We have reached far beyond the point of diminishing returns. In education, smaller is better. I am serious, give me $17,818 per student, per year, and give me 5 students I will give you the finest educated students in the state of Illinois. (It won’t take me 12 years, either.) Give me nine students and I will give you the next Supreme Court of the United States.

    We need to stop spending money on buildings and administrations and spend it on the teachers and students.

  • Tulip

    Any public school system is going to pay more per student than a private school because they have an obligation to serve the entire, diverse population and must put in place many expensive programs to meet standards.

    I agree that chronic troublemakers should be taken out of their regular classroom until they learn proper social behavior. I was thinking the other day that perhaps retired Army officers could be hired to establish a “boot camp” school and teach these kids proper behavior and proper respect for others. Once they pass boot camp, they can return to their classroom. Likewise, special needs students should demonstrate appropriate behavior to remain in a general classroom. 

    Just as important as this, however, is to offer as many positive, encouraging opportunities as possible for every student who is willing to learn.

    I believe it is important to assess and understand individual students’ needs and have programs in place that best serve them.

    National and state standardized tests are not the answer. These set a norm and ask whether individual students meet it. Better, I think, to look at the individual and determine what that child needs to fulfill his or her potential.

  • ImaSwede

    Kc, who gets to choose the children you are going to educate or can we just pick their names out of a hat?

  • deebie47

    debbie47 – The District has vibrant programs and dedicated teachers ready to educate our students. The challenges many of them have to overcome before and after school (and through the night) are daunting. The baggage they carry into the classroom hinders their focus and ability to learn. But thanks for reinforcing my point on how easy it is to criticize.
    Left by jim stowell on October 27th, 2008

    Why does it cost so much more to provide an education to Dist. 150 students than it does to provide a better education in a private school or even surrounding school districts?  Why?  You’re right, it is NOT the dedicated teachers.

    And, I am only able to reinforce your point as long as you are unwilling to answer my question.

  • New Voice

    Kids today are NOT the same as they were 20 years ago.  The schools are different, their environments are different, and their worlds are different.  Everything from far-out technology to globalization changes the way students act and re-act today. 

    Harvard?  Where did you come up with that one?  Lets keep it simple and look at ICC [where MOST students have trouble reading, writing, or just plain THINKING!].  Your idea about bringing the trades back to high school was noteworthy, but students can get that kind of training at any junior college or trade school. 

    Let them learn to read and write first……then weld.

  • Tulip

    Kids ARE the same as 20 years ago. Biology is biology. Evolution a slow process.

    You are right, however, in noting that the world around them is different. I don’t know if it is worse or better. Growing up 25 years ago, I thought my immediate environment and my school and my teachers (with a few notable exceptions that I am thankful for) pretty much sucked. Kids today probably feel about the same way.

    I believe I was allowed to spend more time just being – experiencing the outdoors – reading books – riding bikes – talking to friends and neighbors – than kids today are allowed to do.

    I observe that kids LOVE their video games and their cell phones. These, I think, keep them from “just being” in the world. I tend to think this is a negative thing, but maybe these are teaching them skills they will need to survive in future. Who am I too judge?

  • Tulip

    Should have said “to judge.”

  • Sharon Crews

    I’m curious.  How many of those of us who regularly speak out about education and District 150, in particular, are teachers–and how many have extensive experience in inner city classrooms? 
    Tulip, you were right on about the retired military personnel as teachers (and your other ideas, too).  Two of our best teachers at Manual were retired military who taught our ROTC program.  Granted, they didn’t teach subject matter per se but they taught discipline and taught kids to be proud of their behavior, etc.  However, they had one advantage that the rest of us didn’t have–they could kick non-comforming students out of the program. 
    Also, I don’t want anyone to think that I favor just “getting rid” of the troublemakers.  Over the years, I developed a love and understanding of many of the so-called troublemakers, but I realized that they were “troubled” more than they were troublemakers.  And I realized that keeping them in the regular classroom didn’t help them or the other students–everyone is hurt.  If help is possible, I would like to see them get real help–both academic and emotional.  Since as a country we are striving to educate all children (and NCLB says we have to get equal results), we need to change something and wouldn’t it be great if District 150 could face reality and do it right.
    KCdad, About teaching just 1 to 5 students, wouldn’t the whole city have to be part of the “educational work force” to educate all the students in the city.  Isn’t your proposal called “home schooling?”  I wonder why no one has thought about giving vouchers to home schooled students–$17,000 x 5 ($85,000), not too bad a salary for the teacher–probably would want to add a few more to increase the salary.  Your idea sounds great for individual attention, etc.–but a bit idealistic and probably not too inclusive.
    I definitely believe District 150 has gotten much too “top heavy”  and  much too much  is spent on people with nice titles who accomplish little.   The real work goes on only in the classroom–and what they plan on paper in their philosophic ivory towers often has no basis in reality.

  • Tulip

    Over the years, I developed a love and understanding of many of the so-called troublemakers, but I realized that they were “troubled” more than they were troublemakers.

    Sharon this is so right on. I remember as a high school student tutoring some of the “troublemakers” in my class so they could graduate. I’ve lost contact with those guys since graduation – and they don’t come to class reunions. But if I were to meet them in the grocery store on a Saturday afternoon, I know for sure we would throw our arms around in each other.

  • Retired people in some areas of teacher expertise were brought back part time at 3/4 of their salary at time of retirement.  Plus all benefits.

    I keep telling this comunity that educators, or doctors, or stockbrokers can’t run an $160,000,000 and growing budget.  the union leadershp is stronger than the board and will be getting stronger for at least the next four years. A union stronger than administration doesn’t work in the private sector either.  Look at Detroit auto industry and what is happening in Seattle where I’m pulling for Boeing to keep strong.  All the union pension plans invested in Boeing stock are taking a big hit too.

    As I’ve witten and said many times the top person has to have a business and financial background, the full time board of three elected for 3 year terms; paid a minimum of $100,000 a year.

    The old sytem hasn’t workedefor years and will never work again.

    Who are you rounding up to run for the scchool board opening?  Who wants five year “sentence” with no pay?  Petitions have to be in by Jan 26.

  • New Voice

    Would you suggest some of the same people, with business and financial backgrounds, that have done such a marvelous job with our nation’s economy?

    I don’t know about “skills for the future.”  You do make a good point.  ‘Kids’ know how to use cell phones, i-net, etc as a quick fix.  The i-net has a world of knowledge, yet most students cannot find a single relevant article when writing a research paper. 

    They know how to activate 23 different chat rooms and music downloads, but not use the countless number of e-libraries, museums, etc. found on the net.  Maybe we should take a page from dd’s ‘book. and have an i-net training class in high school…….

  • dd

    …… or we could blame the unions for all the problems in our schools.  The ony problem with that old tired saw is that the last time unions were strong in this country we had good health care and safe pensions.

  • Yes, and that’s why we now have 401k’s and companies merging with other companies because they can’t afford the cradle to grave health care any longer. If they would have said no 30 years ago and let the unions strike maybe a better contract could have resulted. Instead to keep producing automobiles, they gave in and now we are reaping the consequences. That is why we need redistribution of wealth. Let’s take from those who work for their pay and give it to those who don’t. This is Barrack Obama and I approve of this message.

  • New Order

    Point of Order,

    Your grasp of the situation is astonishing.

  • kcdad

    “Kc, who gets to choose the children you are going to educate or can we just pick their names out of a hat?
    Left by ImaSwede on October 27th, 2008″
    Pick ’em out of a hat. What’s the difference? 3lbs of brain matter in all of them.

  • Sharon Crews

    Sorry, Yes–Junior ROTC

  • Vinron

    Instead of generalities, it would be much better if we could review and discuss actual expenditures.  Schools listed here:

    post or promised to post their check registers online so the taxpayers can actually see how the money is spent.

  • Vinron

    Instead of generalities, it would be much better if we could review and discuss actual expenditures.  Schools listed here:

    post or promised to post their check registers online so the taxpayers can actually see how the money is spent.

  • Sharon Crews

    C.J.–In case you are running short of topics to comment on–I would appreciate some discussion about the story on PJS Ap7 – Schools, states pressured to improve dropout rates. 

  • kcdad

    Dropout rates not high enough already?

  • Sharon Crews

    District #150 Charter School – The visit to the Green Dot Schools in California is on the school board agenda for tonight.

  • Sharon Crews

    Charter School:  Today’s paper:
    Superintendent Ken Hinton said Fischer was hired to act as a consultant for the possible new charter school and/or the new math, science and technology school.
    Questions:  What is the and/or about–I thought the math, science, and technology school was to be the charter schools.  Is there any possibility that District 150 will be adding two more new schools to their already extensive building and rebuilding projects?  Also, are the plans firm enough to need a consultant at $350 per day–or will Fischer start when (or if) she is needed?