District 308 Parent Demands to Know Where the Money Goes
Sep 23, 2014 10:28PM ● Published by Steven Jack
On the same night the Oswego School District 308 Board unanimously passed a 2014-15 budget that likely will mean increased taxes for property owners, one parent wanted to know “where does the money go?”
Parent Maureen Sanchez spoke to board members during the public comment portion of their meeting Monday night, demanding to know where her tax dollars are spent, and why there is such a need for student fees and school fundraisers. She said as the mother of three children in the district she’s run out of patience.
“Can someone please tell me where the money is going? It’s very frustrating to me that our taxes are so high and we are constantly hit over the head looking (for more participation in fundraisers,)” Sanchez said. “I’m frustrated that no matter what happens the hand is always out for the free public education. The registration fees — I don’t know what any of it pays for anymore.”
After the meeting, Sanchez said she wasn't directing her frustration at parent groups organizing fundraisers; instead, she blamed district and state officials for underfunding classrooms.
Board member Brent Lightfoot said there’s little the board can do regarding school fundraisers.
“I don’t think the school board's position is to tell the schools what they can and can’t do as far as fundraisers go.” he said. “Parents can choose to or choose not to participate."
Board member Greg O’Neil said he’s also noticed an increased level of fundraising this year, specifically in calls to his mobile phone.
“I am being bombarded three of four times a week now with this fundraiser or that school activity,” he said. “I do not want my cell phone to be used as a marketing tool for this school district.”
Superintendent Matthew Wendt said the district has been shorted $16.6 million in funding from the state of Illinois since 2010, and that’s taken a toll on district finances.
“That $16.6 million could have paid for every student fee for the last 10 years,” Wendt said. “Want to eliminate student fees? Have a conversation about where the problem really is.”
Wendt also blamed the district’s comparatively high taxes on the $30 million in annual principal and interest the district makes on its debt incurred from the 2002 $155 million referendum.
“Those decisions were made before anyone at this table was even at this table,” he said.