The Board of Education will hold a special meeting Tuesday to further discuss the possibility of state financial takeover.
District 113A Superintendent Tim Ricker told board members during a special meeting last week that he was informed by ISBE Division Administrator for Business Services Deb Vespa that state officials are considering a recommendation to the Illinois State Board of Education that the school district .
Citing his conversation with Vespa, Ricker said the state is concerned about the district's difficulty with cash flow and its reliance on tax anticipation warrants, a form of short-term borrowing. District 113A Board President Mike Aurelio and Board Member Al Malley said they also spoke to Vespa, who they said indicated three areas of concern: marketability of tax anticipation warrants, student achievement and the closing of fiscal year 2011.
ISBE officials are requesting that representatives from District 113A attend the next state board meeting—scheduled for Sept. 27 and 28, in Bloomington, IL—to present information on district finances.
During Tuesday's meeting, District 113A board members will discuss Senate Bill 2149—the Financial Oversight Panel Law of the Illinois School Code—which was signed into law Aug. 16 by Gov. Pat Quinn. The new legislation expands the oversight of the panels, which were previously utilized for "specific school districts that were facing dire financial consequences, needed specific attention from ISBE and met certain statutory criteria," according to the Illinois Association of School Boards.
The purpose of the panel, according to Illinois School Code, is "to promote sound financial management and to ensure the continued operation of the public schools."
A FOP consists of five members, who are appointed by the state superintendent. The panel serves for a minimum of three years and a maximum of 10 years.
Powers of the FOP include making or canceling contracts, leasing or purchasing property, borrowing money. With ISBE approval, the panel may also levy a one-time-only tax not to exceed 75 percent of the amount expended by the district in the preceding year.
District 113A board members will also discuss Tuesday the presentation that must be made to ISBE officials later this month. According to the agenda, the presentation should include information on the district's financial history, amended financial plan, deficit reductions, tax anticipation warrants, academic achievement and why financial oversight is not in the district's best interest.
The school board must also select individuals to make the presentation. During last week's meeting, Ricker said presentations are typically made by the superintendent, business manager and two or three board members.
Since last week's meeting, district officials have been in contact with Lemont Mayor Brian Reaves, as well as state representatives and officials from .
In a phone interview Thursday, Reaves confirmed that he had spoken with school board members regarding the possibility of financial oversight.
"This is very much a 'wait and see' situation," Reaves said. "It's my understanding that the recommendation hasn't officially been made by the state, so until then I've offered my support to the board in whatever way it's needed."
In order to avoid the matter going before the state board Sept. 27, Ricker is still attempting to set up a conference with ISBE Superintendent Chris Koch and Chief Financial Officer Linda Riley Mitchell, according to district documents.
"I'm going to do my damnedest to make sure that this meeting takes place, and to work to get our people in front of their people so we can find out what their concerns are and how deep their concerns are," Ricker said last week. "[We'll work] to see how we can come together for a presentation that helps them understand that we've taken care of these issues."
Also on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting is a discussion on the marketability of TAWs to financial institutions. At the request of Board President Mike Aurelio, a presentation will be made by Jeff Schuppel of Bridgeport Partners, LLC.
The special meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the All-Purpose Room at , 15425 E. 127th St.