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District 15 Deficit Spending

September 9, 2014

Dear District 15 Community,

Are you concerned about your property taxes? You should be.

District 15 is heading down the slippery slope of deficit spending, which ultimately leads to higher taxes.

The budget for this year authorizes a $4.0 million deficit and is on the agenda for approval by the Board this Wednesday, September 10th, at 7pm.

Putting this in perspective… to balance the budget would require only a 1.5% reduction in the District’s $151 million expenditures budget. A reduction of this size would continue to fund the $1.8 million for additional capital improvement projects approved by the Board in March from our relatively small fund balance surplus.

A balanced budget can easily be accomplished through some combination of finding real savings, deferring discretionary spending, and/or adjusting the forecast if estimates are overly conservative.


  1. In Person. A public comment period is on the agenda at each Board Meeting before the Board takes action. Board meetings are normally held at Walter R. Sundling Junior High School (Google Map).
  2. Email. Board Member email addresses are listed at District 15 School Board. And/or you can provide feedback to Superintendent Scott Thompson at or to me by visiting my contact page.


As you may recall, the severe structural deficit we were facing in District 15 was corrected over two years ago through a collaborative effort between the board, administration, employee groups and the community.

Unfortunately that success appears to be slipping away. This slide is apparent in the estimates for the 2014-2015 budget. Following shows how the estimated 2014-2015 deficit has gotten worse each time we received an update over the past year:

  • October 2013: $1.1 million deficit
  • March 2014: $1.3 million deficit
  • June 2014: $3.6 million deficit
  • September 2014: $4.0 million deficit

As you can see, the District 15 Administration has long been forecasting a deficit but has not taken action to balance the budget. Nor have they presented options to the Board to help reduce or eliminate the forecasted budget deficit.

A majority of the Board also has not taken any action and instead has allowed the Administration to continue proposing a deficit for this year.

On the other hand, a minority of the Board has consistently expressed concern about this, most recently at the August public hearing about the budget. Watch this video starting at 0:00:45. Video of District 15 August 2014 School Board Meeting.

This budget public hearing was the subject of the Daily Herald article “Dist. 15 projects $3.6 million budget deficit.”

Best Regards,

Scott Herr

1 comment to District 15 Deficit Spending

  • Scott Herr


    – 9/10/2014 10:50 Peter Mirkovich:
       Hello District 15 Board Members: I am a 30+ year resident of District 15 and I see that you are going to vote on a new budget this week. Please do not vote for a budget that authorizes a deficit. Please do your job for the taxpayers and balance your budget without deficits. Just as with our country, our state, our county and our community we need you to cut spending and not increase taxes. Please search for cuts and reduce your spending. We residents can no longer afford your tax increases. I know you are trying to do what you think is best, but please listen to your constituents. Sincerely, Peter G. Mirkovich

    – 9/10/2014 9:34 District 15 Taxpayer:
       I find it unacceptable that the District 15 Board of Education and Fiscal planning entities continue to approve deficit spending. We teach our students the difference between wants and needs in their early years of schooling. The Boards’ recent history of deficit spending leads one to believe that the Board is having trouble knowing the difference of the two. A reasonable person understands that in balancing life whether it is money, time or energy, we must say no at times; it is called responsible living. This District seems aligned with the mismanagement of Illinois in general. Budget planning is a moral responsibility. It is outrageous that the Board feels it is okay to spend tax payer money outside of the budget it is given.
       Many, if not most Illinois constituents, have gone without raises and/or cost of living raises for many years while educational and other government entities feel entitled to the continuation of past budget increases in payroll and benefits. The average citizen is not reaping similar increases/benefits yet must somehow must figure out how to pay their ever increasing tax bill.
       It is the District’s responsibility to provide a balanced budget. Decision making should be done in consideration of the best interests of the entire population of District 15 constituents rather than siding with the employees of District 15. Not giving equitable consideration to the District 15 tax payers is irresponsible and unreasonable. It is the Board’s responsibility to do their best to find ways to stop or slow spending. It is unreasonable to expect to ‘harvest more during a drought.’

    – 9/9/2014 11:37 Eric Friedman:
       As a D15 parent and taxpayer I would like to implore our board to see to it that our administration does not implement a FY2015 budget which begins with a planned $4.0M deficit. The email from Mr. Herr was very enlightening, as was the August public hearing video that he referenced.
       I understand, and believe, that all parties involved are placing the quality of our children’s education first. I also understand the variables which include state or federal funding changes and capital improvement requirements. That said, the direction in which the FY2015 forecast has been heading is bad to worse as noted below.
       Please see to it that our district does not act with disregard for fiduciary responsibility by simply approving the proposed budget as a matter of convenience or timing urgency. Thank you for your generous time spent guiding and supporting our district.

    – 9/9/2014 10:36 Darryl Whitmore:
       My family does not have the luxury of living beyond our means. We cannot extract higher salaries from our employers. Our only choice is to reduce our spending. By deficit spending, which leads to higher property taxes, you decide not to make hard choices to reduce your spending, and instead decide to extract more revenue from us. Education is important, but it is not sacrosanct. Like everything else in life, it must vie among competing priorities. In our family, we have a lot of wants and a lot of needs, and they all have be evaluated and measured against a pool of limited resources. As mentioned before, we cannot increase that pool of resources just because we want to do so. District 15 is no different. The board needs to do their job and live within their means.

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