What is the Future of the Leyden Area Special Education CoOp (LASEC) ?l

LASECDocFile (1)

LASEC filled a unique community need in Leyden and Norwood Park Townships over the last 50 years by working with teachers, school leaders, and member school districts to improve educational and support services for students with disabilities,  including the following school district members: Rosemont School District 78, Franklin Park School District 84, Leyden High School District 212, Pennoyer School District 79, Rhodes School District 84.5, Ridgewood Community High School District 234, Norridge School District 80, River Grove School District 85.5, Elmwood Park Community Unit School District 401, Mannheim School District 83, and Union Ridge School District 86

In 2007, Schiller Park School District 81 disagreed with the funding formulas for LASEC and decided to go it alone.  By 2008, Schiller Park School District 81 had disassociated from LASEC.

Now with the ongoing budget and funding crisis in the educational system of the State of Illinois, Norridge School District 80 has taken a leadership role in questioning the costs of LASEC and their ongoing benefits to the District.

At the October 10, 2017, Norridge SD 80 Board Meeting the Board adopted a resolutionNorridge School District 80 Resolution Regarding Special Education empowering the School Superintendent to investigate the special education services currently provided to the District and report/make recommendations to the Board of Education.  This investigation will include reviewing the costs of special education services provided inside  and outside the District to its students with IEP’s.    This process will include examining options for revising SD 80’s relationship with LASEC.

What has to be examined is whether money that currently is being used for administrative services for another organization would be better served providing services to District 80 students in amore inclusive manner within the District 80 classrooms.

In parallel, Elmwood Park CUSD #401 is also reviewing their ongoing relationship with LASEC Elmwood Park CUSD 401 Letter Regarding Internalizing Special Education Services and Personnel as they expand their Student Services Department.   SD401 is proceeding to take over certain functions of the Leyden Area Special Education CoOperative which in they past LASEC has performed.    SD 401 projects that currently are funding approximately $400,000 of LASEC’s administrative costs which they hope to return to SD401 to provide those funds as services directly to the Elmwood Park students.

As the time proceeds, both Districts are attempting to enter into a meaningful dialogue with LASEC to achieve a mutually satisfactory working relationship with LASEC while protecting the taxpayers dollars as well as making sure the maximum amount of funds are available for the students’ services with IEP’s.

Future posts will explore the impact upon other partner school’s remaining in the CoOp as these relationships are redefined.

Furthermore, it is important to enter into a discussion as to whether withdrawl from LASEC is beneficial to the students and not just the taxpayers.

Such success or failure of SD 81’s Special Education Program upon their withdrawl in 2008 will be further explored in future posts as well.

Posted in #leydenpride, Autism, Chicago, East Leyden, Education, Elmwood Park School District 401, Employing Disabled, Franklin Park, Harwood Heights, IEP, Illinoi, Illinois, LASEC, Leyden, Leyden Area Special Education CoOp, Mannheim School District 83, Norridge, Norridge School D80, Northlake, Pennoyer School District 79, politics, Rosemont School District 78, Roy F. McCampbell, Schiller Park, Schiller Park School District 81, schillerparkblog, Social Media, Special Education, Union Ridge SD86, West Leyden | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

In a recent guidance letter, the federal Office of Special Education Programs (“OSEP”) explained that a local educational agency (“LEA”) may not condition holding an IEP meeting on a parent’s attorney not participating or on the parent providing prior notice of its intent to invite the attorney. Letter to Andel, 116 LRP 8548 (February 17, 2016). In Letter to Andel, OSEP reiterated its longstanding position that the attendance of attorneys at IEP meetings “should be strongly discouraged” due to the potential for creating an adversarial atmosphere. Despite this position, OSEP pointed out that IDEA’s implementing regulations permit a parent or an LEA to invite to the IEP meeting individuals with special expertise regarding the child. However, while the regulations require the LEA to notify the parent in advance regarding who will attend an IEP meeting, there is no corresponding obligation on the part of the parent. OSEP stated that in the “spirit of cooperation,” the parent should inform the LEA ahead of time if he/she intends to bring an attorney. Often times, attorneys, as a matter of professional courtesy, will notify the LEA or its attorney if they intend on participating in an IEP meeting. However, there is nothing in the IDEA or its implementing regulations that would permit an LEA to conduct an IEP meeting on the condition that the parent’s attorney not participate. Therefore, when a parent unexpectedly brings his/her attorney to an IEP meeting, OSEP explained that it would be permissible for an LEA to reschedule the meeting to another date and time so that it could include its own attorney under the following circumstances: (1) the parent agrees to reschedule, and (2) the postponement does not result in a delay or denial of FAPE to the child.

Posted in IEP, Special Education, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

We Live In A Dangerous World; but Who Poses The Greatest Danger To Us and Our Fellow Citizens ?

Over a nearly two-year period, the last years of the Obama administration (FY2015 – FY2016), Homeland Security and the Department of Justice spent $138 million on new guns and ammunition. That seems reasonable.

What’s curious, however, is that traditionally administrative agencies spent more than $20 million. Four notable examples:

1) The 2,300 Special Agents at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are allowed to carry AR-15’s, P90 tactical rifles, and other heavy weaponry. Recently, the IRS armed up with $1.2 million in new ammunition. This was in addition to the $11 million procurement of guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment procured between 2006-2014.

2) The Small Business Administration (SBA) spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to load its gun locker with Glocks last year. The SBA wasn’t alone – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service modified their Glocks with silencers.

3) The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a relatively new police force. In 1996, the VA had zero employees with arrest and firearm authority. Today, the VA has 3,700 officers, armed with millions of dollars’ worth of guns and ammunition including AR-15’s, Sig Sauer handguns, and semi-automatic pistols.

4) Meanwhile, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agents carry the same sophisticated weapons platforms used by our Special Forces military warriors. The HHS gun locker is housed in a new “National Training Operations Center” – a facility at an undisclosed location within the DC beltway.

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The Tax Is “Canned”

It’s dead. Cook County Board unceremoniously repeals sweetened-beverage tax, 15 yes, 2 no. Effective December 1, 2017


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Can Illinois Governor Rainer Be Re-Elected ?

 Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner lost an unprecedented battle with the “Springfield insiders” he once campaigned to dethrone when lawmakers approved a budget deal and $5 billion tax hike over his objections, and without the pro-business reforms the Republican promised for years.

Now the question is “whether the outcome of the more than two-year budget impasse will help or hurt the wealthy former businessman when he asks voters for a second term in 2018 ?”
Rauner, who last year deposited $50 million into his political fund, already was facing a particularly difficult re-election in a place where voters typically elect Democrats to statewide office. A growing list of Democratic contenders with access to equally massive campaign accounts have lined up to oppose him, and Democrats and other liberal groups nationally are spending money and calling him one of the country’s most vulnerable incumbent GOP governors.
Is it enough to say, ‘I worked hard for you. I couldn’t get it done, but keep me and I’ll keep working at it?’ Or does he look like an ineffectual bumbler that’s driven the state into the toilet?”

In my opinion the scenario that played out when lawmakers overrode his vetoes of the tax hike and spending plan could be a political gift for Rauner, who gets to take advantage of about $5 billion in new state revenue without having supported it.
Next week he’s expected to hold campaign-style events where he’ll portray himself as the defender of taxpayers and point blame for the stalemate and new tax hike at his chief political rival, longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan, who leads the Democratic Party of Illinois. Rauner also will have millions to do the same on television, and to link his rival to Madigan in campaign ads.
Mike Madigan is going to own the tax increase and it’s very difficult to win elections when your main accomplishment is you raised income taxes.    
Rauner said throughout the impasse that he wouldn’t support an income tax increase to help balance the budget unless he got some changes to improve Illinois’ business climate and give other relief to taxpayers, such as a property tax freeze and reduced workers’ compensation insurance costs. Democrats resisted, saying his agenda items would hurt working people and that a property tax freeze would hurt school districts that rely on that revenue.
With the two sides unable to agree on a budget, the state continued to spend billions more than it was taking in, due to court orders and state law mandating some payments.
Illinois racked up about $15 billion in unpaid bills, college students left the state because of cuts to higher education and social service agencies were forced to cut programs and staff or close entirely. Illinois also saw its credit rating downgraded multiple times, and ratings agencies warned as the state entered its third fiscal year on July 1 without a budget that Illinois could be the first U.S. state to be lowered to “junk” status.

The mounting pressure prompted 15 Republicans in the House and one in the Senate to break ranks and vote with Democrats for a $36 billion spending plan that relies on a permanent income tax increase. Rauner vetoed the plan, but enough Republicans remained “yes” votes to help Democrats complete an override.
Among the more than half a dozen Democrats vying to challenger Rauner are billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker, one of the country’s wealthiest men, and Chris Kennedy, the nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy.
On Friday, Pritzker’s campaign began automated phone calls to voters, which accuse Rauner of holding the state hostage for 736 days, causing “devastation” for Illinois families.
“It’s time Bruce Rauner was held accountable for the damage he’s inflicted on the people of Illinois,” says a woman in Pritzker’s recorded call who identifies herself as part of his campaign.
In my opinion the Illinois voters will not “buy” that argument.     

What the voters will see in the next 18 months is a constant barrage from candidates spending millions of dollars to deliver their message with their own “spins” to the voters of Illinois.

Posted in Chicago, Crime, Economic Development, Economy, Education, Elections, Employing Disabled, Finance, foia, Franklin Park, Harwood Heights, Illinois, Illinois Pensions, Leyden, Mayor Caiafa, Norridge, Norridge School D80, Northern Illinois University, Northlake, O'Hare Noise, Pennoyer School District 79, politics, Rauner, Roy F. McCampbell, Schiller Park, Schiller Park School District 81, Social Media, Special Education, Taxation, Union Ridge SD86, West Leyden | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Local School Districts Have To Now Pay Some Additional Teacher Pension Costs

In conjunction with this week’s passage of a state budget for fiscal year 2018, the Illinois General Assembly approved a new law that significantly changes the Illinois Pension Code by creating an optional “Tier III” benefit structure and changing the way state government funds TRS. 
None of the Pension Code changes enacted on July 6 affect active Tier I members or retired members in any way. There are no changes to benefits, active member contributions or health insurance coverage for Tier I and retired members. There are no changes to Tier II except that these members will be able to switch to Tier III. 
The legislature did not extend the state’s income tax to retirement income. 

The law gives current Tier II members and future Tier II members – all new teachers – the option of joining a new “Tier III” retirement plan.

The optional Tier III “hybrid” retirement plan has two parts – a small life-long “defined benefit” (DB) pension and a “defined contribution” (DC) plan similar to a 401(k).

It is unknown at this time when Tier III will be available to members. Before Tier III can be implemented, the plan must be reviewed and approved by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. It is unknown how long that process may take. The TRS Board will establish the final implementation date of the Tier III plan.

For Tier III members, the full retirement age will be 67 years and the automatic annual increase (AAI) is the same as the Tier II AAI – one-half of the previous year’s consumer price index, not compounded.

The calculation for an initial pension under Tier III is Service Years multiplied by Final Average Salary multiplied by 1.25 percent. The Tier I and Tier II pension calculation is Service Years multiplied by FAS multiplied by 2.2 percent. 


New laws enacted with the state budget are designed to reduce the amount of money TRS will receive in fiscal year 2018 – and in the near future – from state government in its annual contribution to TRS. It is expected that the original state contribution for TRS in fiscal year 2018 – $4.65 billion – will be recalculated. 
First, TRS must retroactively “smooth” the fiscal effect of any changes made in the TRS assumed rate of investment return over a period of five years. The “smoothing” applies to any assumption changes from 2012 on. 
Second, local school districts will pay more of the cost of a member’s pension if that member’s salary is equal to or greater than the governor’s statutory salary. The district will be responsible for paying the actuarial cost of the benefits earned on the portion of the member’s salary that exceeds the governor’s salary, currently $177,412.

Posted in East Leyden, Economy, Education, Finance, foia, Franklin Park, Harwood Heights, Illinois, Illinois Pensions, Leyden, minimum wage, Norridge, Norridge School D80, Northlake, Pennoyer School District 79, politics, Roy F. McCampbell, Schiller Park, Schiller Park School District 81, Social Media, Special Education, Taxation, Union Ridge SD86, West Leyden | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leyden High School District 212 Has Embarked on “the beginning of a historic construction project” Paid for By the Leyden Taxpayers

On May 18th, a ground breaking was held for the construction and renovation project at West Leyden, with additional construction and renovation projects planned for East Leyden.

You can follow the construction projects at :

East Leyden :      http://leyden212.org/Page/3979

West Leyden:    http://leyden212.org/Page/3996

The press release termed this ground breaking as “the beginning of a historic construction project”, with a earth shaking price tag.

The “historic construction project” will cost anywhere between $85,000,000 and $125,000,000 depending on which newspaper article that you read,

At East Leyden, plans call for new classrooms, practice rooms for band and choir, a new cafeteria/commons, an enclosed inner courtyard, a preschool and day care facility, new wrestling room, new labs, new girl’s locker room, and a new aquatic center.

At West Leyden, an addition is to be built inside a portion of the inner courtyard.  The first floor  will be a cafeteria/commons addition and a kitchen renovation.  The second floor addition will include a new library and media center.   There will also be renovated classrooms and office spaces, among other projects.

This “historic construction project” with a mega price tag was undertaken without consulting the Leyden Township taxpayers.    In a reasonable and normal process for a project in excess of $100,000,000 the taxpayers would be consulted by an elected body in the form of a referendum that would authorize the sale of bonds and undertaking of the debt after a public debate and vote by the taxpayers.

But instead the Board of Education foreclosed any opportunity for the voters to have a say in this massive undertaking by utilizing some obscure laws which not only bypass the taxpayers but thwart their objection to such a massive amount of borrowing.

Financially, the District is facing an increasing percent of students classified as low income’which further focuses on the plight of the financial struggles of the families who reside in Leyden Township.  These families are being forced to confront this additional tax burden.  

In 2014/2015, over 53% of the District’s students qualified for free or reduced lunch.  The District is seeing an increased percent of students classified as “low income”, while the District continues to increase the tax burden on their parents.   

At the same time increasing taxes have chased business and industry from Leyden Township

This blog will discuss in future postings the maneuvering that occurred to obligate the taxpayers to such a massive amount of debt without their approval.








Posted in #leydenpride, East Leyden, Economic Development, Economy, Education, Elections, Finance, Franklin Park, gangs, Illinois, Illinois Pensions, Leyden, Norridge, Northlake, political satire, politics, Roy F. McCampbell, Social Media, Special Education, Uncategorized, West Leyden | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leyden and Norwood Park Townships Need To Seriously Consider School District Consolidation 

One of the maddening aspects of the state’s ongoing financial crisis is that some obvious long-term solutions are rarely considered.

One solution to the massive tax collections by state and local government is to reduce the number of local governments. That includes school districts that have been slow to consolidate in ways that would save money and allow more money to flow into classrooms.
According to a recent research report by the Illinois Policy Institute, the state’s 859 school districts are ripe for consolidation. About 25 percent of them serve just one school. One-third of Illinois school districts serve fewer than 600 students.
Although the districts are small, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a layer of bureaucracy. Not only does every district have a superintendent, but many have assistant superintendents, transportation supervisors, human resource and business staffs and other positions that could be eliminated with more school consolidations.
When compared with other states that serve more than one million students, it’s clear the Illinois system is inefficient. Florida, which has taken school district consolidation to the extreme, has an average of more than 40,000 students per district. California and Texas have about 6,000 and 4,000 students per district, respectively. Illinois has 2,339 students per school district, on average.
The savings of district consolidation could be significant, in both administrative costs and future pension costs. The institute study looked closely at districts in the New Trier Township. This wealthy Chicago suburb is home to six elementary school districts that feed into a single high school district. Taxpayers pay for seven superintendents; the average salary of those seven is $280,000 per year. Taxpayers could save millions a year on superintendent salaries alone.

The savings would not be confined to just one district, however. Because taxpayers across the state pay into the educators’ pension system, reducing the number of administrators in this one district would save taxpayers $30 million over the next 30 years, said the study.
The institute estimates if the state cut the number of districts in half, putting the average district size still less than California, there would be district operating savings of between $130 million and $170 million annually. The costs in pensions would be between $3 billion and $4 billion over the next 30 years.
In other words, this is something that would save the state, and taxpayers, real money. There are obstacles to consolidation, including a concern about the loss of identity. However, in this case, consolidation is not a rural issue. In fact, some of the greatest targets for consolidation are in heavily-populated areas.
There is little doubt that consolidating school districts is politically difficult. But so is raising taxes and explaining to schools why they don’t receive the resources they expect from the state.
To escape from its current financial doldrums, Illinois government needs to fundamentally change and the size of government needs to be smaller. School district consolidation is one place where change is necessary.

Local Mayors and Village Presidents, along with School District Board Presidents and Township Supervisors in Leyden and Norwood Park Townships need to provide the leadership to begin a conversation about consolidation.      

As the over levying, and the excessive funds accumulations by some Districts and other Districts operating in serious deficit conditions continue to spiral out of control, the municipal officials are facing serious impediments to economic development and redevelopment, further increasing the tax burdens upon its taxpayers.    

Leyden SD212 has successfully over levied to the point where they have accumulated massive sums of surplus funds and now realize over $7,000,000 more in annual tax revenue than expenditures.    Now coupled with their accumulated surplus they are selling debt certificates to finance a capital building program which is approaching $125,000,000.    This entire expenditure of a publicly funded project has been pursued by the SD 212 Board of Education with no public input nor a voter referendum.    SD 212 has exploited holes in Illinois law to circumvent the taxpayers and voters of the District.    

Schiller Park School District 81 has pursued a similar course of actions on the Kennedy School project.   

In both circumstances, the Boards of Education have denied the taxpayers a voice while committing them to millions of dollars of principal and interest repayments over the next decades.  All of this debt retirement is designed around escalating and excessive levies;  while the taxpayers are told they face no additional costs.    As these elected bodies engage in a “smoke and mirrors” strategy.

At the same time, the school districts of Norwood Park Township (while raising school fees to epic proportions) are operating with deficits and eroding what reserves they may have, hoping when the financial crisis reaches epic proportions in each district the voter will cave and approve rate increases.    

The paradigm of protectionism of turf by school districts needs to end so that the best educational interests of the students are preserved while guarding the reasonable interests of the taxpayers and making the business environment affordable. 

Property  taxes are outpacing residents’ ability to pay them.   Over the past 50 years, whether measured in comparison to household income, economic growth, population or inflation, all classes of property taxes – residential, commercial, industrial, etc. – have placed an increasingly unaffordable burden on Illinoisans. Since 1963, Illinois property taxes have grown 2.5 times faster than inflation and 14 times faster than the state’s population.
And looking at residential property taxes alone since 1990 shows:
• Residential property taxes in Illinois have grown 3.3 times faster than median household incomes.

• Illinoisans’ residential property-tax burden – as a percentage of median household income – has risen 76 percent.

• If Illinois froze its residential property taxes today, it would take 28 years for residents’ property-tax burden to return to 1990 levels.

The myoptic conduct of the boards of education are strangling the taxpayers;   this  thirst by the multiplicity of boards to squeeze excessive amounts of revenue for their fiefdoms is making it unaffordable for property owners and renters to continue to reside in our communities.     

Our elected leadership has to act and act now before the economies of our communities are destroyed.    

Posted in Chicago, East Leyden, Economic Development, Economy, Education, Elections, Employing Disabled, Finance, Food, Franklin Park, Harwood Heights, Illinois, Illinois Pensions, Leyden, Mayor Caiafa, News, Norridge, Norridge School D80, Northlake, Pennoyer School District 79, politics, Roy F. McCampbell, Schiller Park, Schiller Park Commentaries, Schiller Park School District 81, Social Media, Special Education, Taxation, Union Ridge SD86, West Leyden | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Today is the Day !!!

The minimum wage increase in Cook County starts today, July 1st
It’s going up to $10 an hour and will increase by a dollar every year to get to $13 an hour by 2020.

There are at least 50 cities, towns and villages that have said no to the pay raise and sick leave requirements, so they’re opting out of the deal passed by Cook County officials. Schiller Park has opted out.  
In Chicago, the minimum wage went up to $11 and hour, rising to $13 by 2019.

Posted in Chicago, Economic Development, Economy, Employing Disabled, Finance, Illinois, Mayor Caiafa, minimum wage, politics, Taxation, Union | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Time To Streamline Illinois Government

Last year legislators from both sides of the aisle came together to approve a “smart streamlining” bill (Senate Bill 3) that would enable all 102 Illinois counties to begin merging or eliminating overlapping, and arguably, unnecessary units of government, including many of our 1,400 antiquated townships.
Illinois has 7,000 units of government, more than any other state in the nation. In fact, there are more governing bodies in Illinois than in New York and Florida combined, even though both states far outpace Illinois’ population. Partly due to all those governments, Illinois has the second-highest property taxes nationwide.
SB 3 gives local governments the flexibility they need to make the most out of limited resources by, when appropriate, consolidating or dissolving districts and townships into more efficient governing bodies.
The Better Government Association supports SB3, along with other non-partisan organizations and advocacy groups across the state, including Transform Illinois, of which the BGA is a member.
SB 3 gives Illinois an opportunity to become a national leader in government efficiency.

Posted in Chicago, Crime, East Leyden, Economic Development, Education, Elections, Employing Disabled, foia, Franklin Park, Harwood Heights, Illinois, Kemper Sports, Norridge, Norridge School D80, Northlake, Pennoyer School District 79, political satire, politics, Roy F. McCampbell, Social Media, Special Education, Taxation, Uncategorized, Union Ridge SD86, West Leyden | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment