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'Threat of Violence' Brings Police to D219 Board Meeting

Resident to school board: "I am not a terrorist. You guys are over sensitive."

Residents were greeted by uniformed Skokie officers carrying metal-detecting wands prior to entering District 219's board meeting on Monday night. Attendees were also subjected to a bag search. 

“District 219 received a threat of violence in connection with tonight’s meeting,” District 219 board president Robert Silverman said prior to the meeting. “In response and in consultation with the Skokie Police Department we put in place some extra security just as we do in our schools.”

The threat was received after property tax bills were sent out last week. While the amount of property tax revenue the district is receiving this year is set to grow by 3.13 percent, some homeowners saw the amount they are paying to the district jump by 13 percent or more.

Morton Grove resident Ron Nash, who has lived in the district for 45 years, addressed the board about the property tax bills, but started his remarks by saying, “I am not a terrorist. You guys are over sensitive.”

In a brief interview after making his statement, Nash, a senior citizen who uses a cane to get around, said he knows the added security was for him. He called the district more than once to talk about his tax bill, and was told each time that he could attend the meeting July 9. In one of those phone calls, he said, he asked if they would have someone using a security wand to make sure no one got hurt.

“I thought that was a reasonable thing,” he said.

But it was enough to draw a visit to his home from the Skokie Police, and to have two Skokie police officers in the lobby of the district office at the beginning of the meeting. The officers politely declined to comment or to be photographed.

“All this is for me,” he said. “It’s an overreaction.”

When he spoke, Nash told the board they should be cutting back, not expanding programs in these hard times. He also asked how to fire the school board and how to get the elementary and high school districts combined to eliminate duplicated administrative costs.

Administrators at District 219 are among the highest paid in the state, The district also has the second highest cost per pupil in the state - about $24,000. In comparison, the Illinois average is half that, coming in at $11,197. Meanwhile,

Silverman said he was “shocked” to see the amount he is paying to District 219 after it jumped 13 percent this year. He asked the district’s business office to explain why individuals’ bills went up when the amount of property taxes collected is capped at the increase in the consumer price index plus new growth. Last year’s CPI increase was 1.5 percent.

“What’s going on is a massive shift in our equalized assessed valuation from industrial to residential,” Silverman said.

In 2000, 44 percent of the property taxes were paid by individual residential taxpayers and the rest was paid by industrial and commercial property owners. By 2006, 50 percent of the tax base was residential, and in the latest assessment, it was 59 percent.

That means while the district is not collecting much more than before, a much bigger share is coming from homeowners. In January of this year, the school board

“This is a huge shift,” Silverman said. “We’re doing everything we can, but we cannot control the shift of the tax base. Who do you go to complain about this? I don’t know.”

In response to Nash’s comment about the need to cut programs, Silverman noted that the district’s tentative 2012-2013 budget cuts the operating expenditure per pupil.

“The district has been very prudent in how much we’re levying and how we’re spending,” Silverman said.

District 219 includes  and  high schools.

Hank July 10, 2012 at 01:22 PM
We are overlooking all of the TIF districts in Skokie. Unless specifically provided for TIF district tax increases go to the TIF fund which is earmarked for the developer instead of the school districts. NOW the school districts have a say in this as part of the TIF process. They have to agree that they do not need the additional tax money for the next 20 years from the TIF district. If they agree the TIF process passes easily, if they do not agree the TIF process becomes more complicated and requires a larger percentage of the board votes to pass. Now after that has been forgotten and the schools need more money they ask for a tax increase from the entire village. The tax increase has to be larger than it would have been because it has to make up for the TIF district. The properties in the TIF district also see the tax increase but the increased portion of the taxes goes to the TIF fund for redevelopment (as we have seen with a popular deli on Dempster St.) instead of the schools. Skokie has several TIF districts, In the future I expect to see increase for police, fire and other services as well because their funds are also affected by the TIF districts.
n.f. July 10, 2012 at 01:34 PM
The 7/1/2012 issue of the Chicago Tribune published a supplement titled "Read Your Tax bill." Just looking at District 219: They have a gross operating budget of $157,94,115; Total debts and liabilities of $198,025,058 and a total pension liability of $29,070,810 (56.24% funded). The administrators of the various Skokie school districts are over payed with ridiculously high pensions. On top of that we have six school districts for a town of 60,000+ people. The salaries need to be capped. If the administrators do not like that, too bad. Go find a job in the private sector.
h m July 10, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Why doesn't Skokie combine the school districts?
Randy Miles July 10, 2012 at 02:40 PM
It's about time the residents and bussines communitty wakes up to the fact that we have entirely too many school districts in this town. Consolidation is one way of reducing costs, which in turn reduce taxes. Public outcry is the only way to get the ball moving in the right direction. The school admistrators will fight this effort to their death. We need to devolop a plan that goes into effect 8, 10 or 12 years down the road, so you can get support from the existing admistrators.
Frank July 10, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Property values decline in communities who do not value education....pity people don't understand that.
Anna July 10, 2012 at 05:05 PM
h m, follow the money. The official reason they dont combine school districts is a lot of blather about what the children need and how multiple school districts serve the interests of the children. The real reason? To serve the needs of the education beaureaucracy. More school districts = more highly paid school superintendents and highly paid administrative positions. Bloodsucking leeches, the lot of them.
h m July 10, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Why do we need 6 or 7 school districts in Skokie, they should be following the common core state standards? Anna, at the same time these school bureaucracies do require additional money, they do serve a purpose. If you were to terminate all the administrators, then the principal of each school would have to worry about payroll, HR, IT, Internet access, obtaining their funding from the State and Fed, administrating the Free / Reduced lunch Program, and so on. But if you have one unified school district, you would only have to pay for each of these functions once.
John Lyrla July 10, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Too funny. For all that money what are you getting? A bunch of uneducated dummies.
Earl Weiss July 10, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Yep, the same song and dance district 219 gave us 6 or 7 years ago when they lobbied for an unneeeded tax increase and told us how the increase would enhance property values, just before the former superintendant was theliteral front page poster child for spending excess.
Earl Weiss July 10, 2012 at 08:20 PM
If you think combining school districts will save money you have more faith than I. They could cut the bloat with 2 school districts by eliminating superintendants that get paid more than the Chicago public school superintendant. They don't do that.
h m July 10, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Earl, Chicago Public Schools does not have a superintendent. Jean-Claude Brizard is Chief Executive of the Chicago Public Schools. Tim Cawley is Chief Administrative Officer The Board Members are appointed unlike the school districts in Skokie where Board Members are voted upon Randy, You have a great idea but in order to do this we need new Board members that will not just automatically raise salaries of administrators that are about to retire. this is needed so the Administrators that are suppose to be retiring with 80% of there current salary retire with 100% of there old salary because the Board gives them a 30% raise the last 2 or three years.
Nancy Englund-Kabat July 10, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I strongly value the education my children are receiving in 219 and do NOT want to see valuable programs like Fine Arts getting cut. I do think administrators are over paid and that is where the cutting should begin. In many districts top administrators get full family health insurance PPO paid for and some even have a car allotment budget.....really? Lets consolidate in those areas and put more to supporting the teachers and giving students the programs and services they need to become productive members of our society.....cutting educational dollars that benefit students is like giving dollars for building correctional institutions.
Earl Weiss July 10, 2012 at 08:58 PM
h m thanks for the info. Great idea, re title all the overpaid Superintendants "Chief Excecutives" and cut their salaries.
h m July 11, 2012 at 03:40 AM
I hate to say it but the current system is broke. Why does everybody seem to think that since other districts are paying these ridiculous salaries it is OK for D219 to pay them also. The are many unemployed school administrators out there that would be willing to do the job for a lot less. How about cutting administrators salaries, make administrators and teachers pay more for health insurance, stop giving care allowances, revamp how teachers get raises, for all new hires instead of putting them into the pension system why not make them have a 401K like everybody else.
Gordon July 11, 2012 at 06:49 AM
Silverman and his croonies last month, spent education funds to help sponsor a non educational/school, for profit organization, quietly advertised in the newspaper in June 2012. What other under the table expenditures are draining our childrens money?
smallbizman July 11, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Where's the value in education?Value implies you get something for your money.A superintendent that makes 385k is no value.
David Zornig July 11, 2012 at 04:52 PM
It seems the mention of D219 hiring a law firm to sue taxpayers (with their own money) has been removed. That action alone should have caused the ouster of the current administration then. Lincolnwood just partially cleaned house, so it can be done. @Frank, to imply that people don't value education, simply because we disagree on what it costs us is absurd. Are we supposed to go along with whatever these overpaid admins come up with without question? For some condescending fear our property values (which are already down anyway) will suffer further if we don't? I frankly pity anyone who believes that. The market & comparable homes are what guides property values. Comparable is key because desperate sellers are taking anything for even huge homes, just to be out from under them. I never saw: "% That Doesn't Value Education" on a listing. I don't even have kids, and I'm paying for this. I'll take my chances with my property values, after a responsible downsizing and administrative purge has happened. THAT I could use as a selling point. If anything it IS our value of education, that demands overpaying for it be addressed.
Lennie Jarratt July 12, 2012 at 12:56 AM
It's just tax and spend, tax and spend year after year regardless of what the taxpayers can actually afford.
David Zornig July 12, 2012 at 04:10 AM
BTW Michelle, although the Skokie Police can politely decline to comment at a public forum, declining to not be photographed at this or other events, is not within their Police powers to enforce. Particularly with a journalist. Unless such action directly interferes with an arrest or investigation, at which a reasonable distance from those is then determined. There is no expectation of privacy for a public servant, while in the act of performing their duties that the public pays them to perform. A Federal Court recently shot down the outdated Illinois Eavesdropping Law, covering the audio portions of video tape, obtained while taping officers on duty. After several high profile arrests ended with even Illinois Judges, ruling use of the law as unconstitutional. As a journalist, you can of course use professional courtesy and refrain from using flash photography at such forums. Hypothetically, organizers of meetings such as the above, may have ulterior motives for NOT wanting Police with security wands to be photographed. Specifically at their public forums. But it is the public's right to know regardless. You and Patch should consult with your own legal dept., so as to not to be wrongly denied in the future, access to covering public forums as they actually appear. We as taxpayers should probably push to have all of these type forums videotaped in the future anyway.
Earl Weiss July 12, 2012 at 11:56 AM
"David Zornig But it is the public's right to know regardless. " Curious. Where might I find an establishment of this "Public right to know" vis a vis photgraphing police at public events?
David Zornig July 12, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Earl, I am trying to attach the July 9th article that outlines the Federal Court's ruling on the Illinois Eavesdropping Act. The Public's Right To Know as I see it, is a given. This article is evidence a public forun was covered by the Press. Public servants at a public forum I see as being covered by such, though photographing Police versus videotaping them is not addressed specifically in attached case. My comment was directed to the author as a journalist. I did not imply that citizens should do it, only that I believe it would be their right to know what transpires visually, Obviously a bunch of citizens snapping pictures at a public forum isn't going to fly. It will be seen as a distraction, and in theory could then be stopped. A journalist should be able to make a few establishing shots at a public forum. Particularly given it's title. Why do the Police then get to decline being photographed? A venue that is considered private, but that holds a public forum could be a legal sticky wicket. But more often than not, law enforcement tries to imply at the time that telling someone to not photograph them is legal. Unfortunately even if an arrest occurs over that dispute, it can take 2+ years in court to prove one was right all along. Hence I suggested the author consult with Patch's own legal team. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/court-issues-order-barring-controversial-enforcement-of-illinois-eavesdropping-law-161797155.html
Earl Weiss July 12, 2012 at 03:53 PM
David, The point I am trying to make is that people confuse certain rights. For instance there is an open meetings act which requires public meetings. There are certain guarantess that prohibit government from restricting things. Restricting speech is one exception with limitations. However, freedom of the press is often misconstrued as "The Publics right to know" unless specificaly enumerated in something like a public meetings act there is no such right. Further, such a limited right to know does not imply a right to take photographs etc. So, I was just wondering if you had some specificaly enumerated law in mind establishing the referenced right in these circumstances.
David Zornig July 12, 2012 at 04:10 PM
I see your point. I doubt the attorneys who draft such stuff originally, will ever specifically include "OK to photograph Police at Public forums." Unfortunately for journalists it then becomes a "try & see" approach, on a case by case basis. But law enforcement traditionally throws their weight around regarding being photographed, even when legally wrong. If a public forum is covered by the press, a reasonable amount of photos should be allowed. I am suspect that the School Board did not want the imagery of Police with wands, and requested that that be insured. However I personally don't believe they should have been able to do so, if that was the case. A blurry cell phone pic of presumably security or a detective, is indicative the reporter got what she could.
Lennie Jarratt July 13, 2012 at 02:11 PM
http://www.championnews.net/2012/07/12/the-ever-increasing-property-taxes/ Top 10 non-administrative salaries: Name Salary Position Naughton Jacklyn $167,768 Biology (Grades 9-12 Only) Nash Susan $166,755 Guidance Counselor Cantor Iris $161,536 Learning Behavior Specialist I Koch William $159,964 Instrumental Music Ortmann Timothy $159,755 Drama/Theatre Arts Philbin Cynthia $157,358 English as a Second Language Moore Linda $155,546 Librarian/Media Specialist Hendrix Pamela $155,319 Instrumental Music Eisele Elton $149,943 Instrumental Music Levitan Marla $149,909 Guidance Counselor
Lennie Jarratt July 13, 2012 at 02:11 PM
240 Employees with compensation over $100,000 – See Family Taxpayers Teacher Salary database 292 Employees with compensation over $90,000
Will Stokes July 13, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Oh for heavan's sake, while you two quibble about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin -- don't you see what's going on here? A 76 year old handicapped Morton Grove taxpayer makes an offhanded comment about the citizens storming the Bastille and armed Skokie Police officers show up at his (Morton Grove) door. Then Skokie's armed government agents institute a TSA-styled police state wanding of citizens at a public forum and intimidate an AOL cub reporter into not making a photographic record of their unusual and unprecedented public activity. Reminds one a bit of Sam "Momo" Giancana and Tony "The Tuna" Accardo and other mobsters who when leaving a courtroom would drape their coats around their faces and grunt, "No Pictures, No Pictures." Just who do these District 219 administrators and Skokie cops think they are? The politburo and KGB? And Zorning is right, AOL patch and other local media should grow a pair, begin doing their jobs and insist on their 1st Amendment rights and back it up with their lawyers if need be.
Will Stokes July 13, 2012 at 03:53 PM
You forgot to mention that District 219 had (until he began drawing his opulent pension) the state's (if not the world's) highest paid gym teacher and that D219 is second only to posh Lake Forest in employee and administrator salaries: http://bit.ly/NvjNh2
amorro July 29, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Melongo’s Eavesdropping Case Dismissed: Another Blow To Illinois Eavesdropping Law Upon the defendant's motion[1], Judge Goebel filed his written order[2] dismissing Melongo's eavesdropping case on June 19th, 2012. The state hasn't decided if it will appeal. [1] http://www.illinoiscorruption.net/documents/MotionRequestAmendedOrder.pdf [2] http://tinyurl.com/cqq6ahg Melongo's motion : http://tinyurl.com/6nqv2se State's response: http://tinyurl.com/73fwecf
amorro August 01, 2012 at 12:23 AM
RCFP Article on Melongo's Case: http://tinyurl.com/cx45d4b
JAMES CHWALISZ December 04, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Thank You Mr. Jarratt for providing the sample salary figures for non-administrative positions. Add these figures to the outlandish salaries of administrators and you can see that our schools are in financial trouble or should I say our tax-payers are in financial trouble. Why do we need more than one administrative superintendant for each high school, junior high or grammar school? And what are we getting for our money? Failure of any of our schools to be included in the top 100 grammar, junior and high school ratings which were recently published in the Sun-Times,

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