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The Right Solution February 25, 2010

Posted by Janet Hughes in Uncategorized.
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As the only Board member who voted against a property tax increase proposition on the ballot during the last election, people have wanted to know what my solution is to the serious financial crisis facing District 113A today.

During my school board meeting last night, I had that chance.

Read “The Right Solution” here…

Thank you for your support.


For further information:

Illinois School Code

Illinois School Business Services

Illinois 7-Year Financial Profile Scores

Illinois Interactive Report Card


Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible. —Anonymous

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Comments»

1. Janet Hughes - March 1, 2010

I want to emphasize that “The Right Solution” is the start of a working document. These percentages are negotiable. It would not be wise to speculate on specific numbers since, according to the district’s auditor, the financials are unreliable.

Again, “The Right Solution” is simple, but not easy:

1. Obtain a forensic audit
2. Demand accountability
3. Rollback salaries

2. MalikTous - March 1, 2010

How about:
1) Deny ALL politicians any right or opportunity to skim off from the education fund involved.
2) Cut the pork! While I agree that most teachers are underpaid, there are also a lot of unnecessary ‘perks’ in any complex administration that can be gutted out.
3) Look for corporate sponsorship! Educated students are an investment in future competent workers.
4) Scrap all ‘no tolerance’ programs. Armed teachers (preferably with cattle prods and beanbag round shotguns) are better than all the damn metal detectors and idiot security goons in the world.

3. The_Conservative_Lie - March 2, 2010

Darn, I thought this was going to be a solution to the right wing problem our nation is having.

4. Janet Hughes - March 4, 2010

Five weeks ago, I voted “no” to the district’s financial plan that would be submitted to the State in compliance with the recent certification in financial difficulty. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, this financial plan needed to “maintain an adequate educational program for your students.”

According to the District 113A Financial Plan, it’s described to include: “Staff and service reductions that will have a significant impact on the district’s ability to develop each student’s full potential across all areas of learning.” Isn’t this plan supposed to maintain an adequate education?

Another inconsistency found in this plan regards the financial statements.

The District 113A Financial Plan uses the “previous year’s budget as a basis for yearly reductions” yet two different budgets were found in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Which budget was used? The district’s latest audit by Knutte and Associates found the financial statements unreliable for the fourth year in a row.

How can the District 113A plan cut almost 25% of its staff based on financials that are unreliable?

We need a new direction to solve this financial crisis. This board should obtain a forensic audit to exactly determine this district’s finances. We haven’t had an accurate financial report since I’ve taken office! Heavy cuts should first be made at the top in administration before any teacher who works directly with the children is removed. Salaries across the board should be rolled back in order to move this district forward. A fourth failed referendum should be a wake-up call to the leadership in this district that this town deserves better.

The District 113A plan is a serious error in judgment. It’s an administrative plan not a board driven one. The Illinois State Board of Education should deny the District 113A plan based on inaccurate assumptions from unreliable financials.

I’m not going to give up on Lemont. There is another way, and there should be another plan.

5. joyce - March 5, 2010

Great idea, Jan. The board is lucky to have such an intelligent, caring person on their side.

6. Aletta - March 5, 2010

Glad to hear from you again, guess you have been busy. Keep up the good work !!

7. Ron - March 5, 2010

Well, looks like little unassuming Janet is making the news again.

Shocking that such a little person in stature, has made such enormous waves in the status quo of the politics and book fixing that infests school districts and school boards. Who knows, maybe she’ll become contagious herself one day, and the good work she is doing will spread throughout the state as well as the region.

We all know that the IOA cringes at the very thought of her. What she needs is a white horse.

Maybe, Janet should contact MSNBC and try to get featured with Chris Matthews, or Keith Oberman, or you know that woman with the short hair, Rachel Maddow. Crazy as it sounds Bill O’Reilly on Fox might run with this one. Don’t take it to Brush Limbaugh, he won’t understand it, or Anne Coulter because she’ll claim that you have leftitis, which could be fatal in some cases.

I think Janet’s on the right track, keep on going and going, just like the Ever Ready Bunny.

This was a response from a citizen who is too old to remember what school was like.

8. Frank - March 6, 2010

Of course, there is no easy solution to a financial crisis like this. But if cutting salaries at the top can save teachers, that is surely beneficial to students. Keep up your courage, Janet!

9. Jenny Dooley - March 6, 2010

Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.

Janet, you epitomize excellence! So many owe you thanks.

10. Lynn M. - March 6, 2010

Hi Janet,

You’re doing an excellent job! Your proposed ideas seem very sound and made in the best interest of your students. Only someone with a concerned and loving heart would make the outlined suggestions you have. Kudos- you go girl!

Hugs,

Lynn M.

11. Peggy - March 6, 2010

Janet you always do a good job, and I support you. There will always be critics. You just keep up the awesome job you always do.

12. Teddy - March 6, 2010

I think the problem here is clear: the generation that has been fleecing the school system from within, thus destroying the very school district they “say” they care, are clearly afraid of Janet Hughes, who continues to come up with ideas that are forward-looking, caring, and professional. Exactly what an elected official is supposed to do.

The real problem are those on the board who clearly have been up to no good over the years getting little done, while blaming anyone (except themselves that is) for the entire mess they habored over for years.

Money does not grow on trees, but where has the money over the last 18 years been going to? I would like to really know and why hasn’t an audit been done to discover this?

Ms. Hughes laid out a solution: suggested the district open employee contract negotiations; roll back teacher salaries 5 percent or more, and administrative salaries 10 percent or more. Her 51-slide PowerPoint contained photos, inspirational quotes and a time line of alleged financial mismanagement from the current administration.

Now that Janet Hughes comes along with fresh ideas, and ways to help ease the suffering, the Baby Boomers who’ve been fleecing the system from within are scared because they know an “audit” will reveal exactly what they’ve been doing for years to the Lemont-Bromerek Combined School District 113A – destroying it.

These Boomers continue the ideological wars, rampant cynicism, and complete lack of honesty in facing the truths of their own failures, and project onto anyone – in this case Janet Hughes – their own failures, but obviously are not honest enough to call it a day and resign themselves.

The problem is this – until people get off their own tufts, and quit with sitting on their hands, while shouting, complaining, and back-biting on those who are working – like Janet Hughes – expect more of the same until the people who’ve been fleecing the system from within are removed from their long-held positions.

Enough is enough. The Boomer generation has done much damage over these past two decades, and it is simply time to move on.

Support Janet Hughes because it is wholly refreshing to see someone who gets it, a true professional, and someone who really cares.

13. Rebecca Fulco - March 7, 2010

I’m absolutely shocked that the Lemont residents do not care about their children enough to intelligently listen to your solutions for the economic and fundamental meltdown of the schools in your community. It’s typical for administrative top-heavy school districts to be apposed to your ideas. If the teachers and parents know what is good for them, and especially their students, they’d applaud your ideas. Too bad administrative greed has to get in the way. Truly sad.

14. Antonio Mendes - March 7, 2010

Janet, your solution is truly the right one. That’s better to cut salaries, than to reduce the teacher’s staff.

15. Gillian - March 7, 2010

This is the comment I left on the news article:

I have seen a copy of the presentation and read the comments on this board. I am a trained taxation accountant in the UK so can bring experience to this conversation.

First of all, without seeing the accounts, it is difficult to make cost cutting comments so will offer a more general view. The greatest expense in most accounts, after capital items, is wages. There you have a choice, either you sack people thereby having fewer staff or you reduce their salaries. The problem with sacking teaching staff is that there is little to no slack should a teacher be absent for any reason. It can mean larger classes, less supervised time available or even a shortage of staff experienced in working with special needs children who are in the mainstream school. It can also mean employing nothing but new teachers with little to no experience as they are cheaper but the quality of education will suffer.

The only way to deal with this is to employ temporary staff to cover absences or to supplement the inexperienced, which then costs more money.

If not removing teachers then it would have to be administrators. It would be better to look at combining jobs or making them part-time than losing teachers. Personally, I would want to see the review that the board has made to justify the removal of teachers and not administrators. If such a review is not available then why not? No removal of such a large number staff can be justified without it.

Other cuts would be on the standard budgets for each department. Each department must claim a budget and justify it. The head of school/principle must also draw up a budget and justify it before presenting it to the board. This way the staff and parents can see how much money is available. Capital projects must be suspended unless extremely urgent eg patch a roof if it is leaking rather than replace it. Putting timers on lights and computers, not buying so much equiment, asking parents to volunteer if they have certain qualifications to help coach games or art. I used to bring in things like cereal boxes for art lessons and scrap paper (printed on one side) for drawing. Perhaps ask local companies to sponsor or donate.

There are many things that can be done but asking someone who has come up with a new idea to resign because it is too different or radical an approach isn’t the way to go! Getting rid of the people who brought the school to at least $3 million in the red might be a better way to go!

I would like to add to this comment by saying that if a proper audit has been done then I do not see why any other should be necessary unless anyone thinks that the board has been fraudulent.

16. Tere - March 8, 2010

Dear Janet,

I think your proposed solution is good and down-to-earth. Parents ask for “numbers”, it is obvious that an audit needs to be done. Then, and just then, you would be able to provide numbers.

It is always easier to point fingers rather than come up with solutions. Reducing salaries is a better solution than just “cutting” teachers, making room to more mistakes with your children’s education.

Do not give up, you are a great addition to the board, you are a challenge to all of them. Keep on going… there is hope.

17. Steve - March 11, 2010

Great work !!

You appear to be pushing all the right buttons !

Too many people these days are one dimensional, having no idea how important it is to fight mediocrity and corruption.

Keep being three dimensional !!

18. Pamylle - March 15, 2010

Good for you, Janet – it’s good to see someone stand up against corruption ! Thank you for all you do.

19. Kudos to Batavia Schools! « Reaching the Stars ~ Celebrating excellence in education - March 18, 2010

[…] unfortunate my presentation “The Right Solution – Kids First” has been unfairly judged by those opposed to saving jobs and saving programs for […]

20. Janet Hughes - March 25, 2010

UPDATE: The Illinois State Board of Education unanimously approved the District 113A financial plan today. Read more here…

21. Plumbing Fittings - May 4, 2010

It’s good to see that you’re really trying your best to do what you think is right. and also, congratulations in doing a great job.


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