Guest Column: R.E.A.CH. predicted District 205’s enormous deficit

Guest Column: R.E.A.CH. predicted District 205’s enormous deficit

By Barb Dent

On Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2002, District 205 finally had to admit that R.E.A.CH. was right when we predicted that the current administration and school board majority (Michael Bliss, Nancy Kalchbrenner, Jay Nellis & Mike Williams) were VIOLATING their balanced budget policy. At the District 205 Operations Committee meeting, it was announced that Dr. Brown’s administration and the school board had overspent their education budget by $13 million. Instead of the overall deficit remaining at $26 million as promised by Dr. Brown and the board majority, the deficit has been raised to $39.25 million. Dr. Brown has tripled the deficit in his two short years in Rockford, and this board majority has increased it by 50 percent in less than a year in office.

Ironically, on that same day, Dr. Brown was on WNTA (1330 AM), Doug McDuff’s show, misrepresenting the district’s financial position. He stated INCORRECTLY that the district was living up to their promises to reduce the deficit and that they had a balanced budget (obviously, Dr. Brown and this board majority have raised overspending to an “art form”). He also was WRONG when he stated that they had reduced their work force by 211 people. Current employee numbers show that they have reduced it by only 93 people. Again, this administration and this school board haven’t made the cuts, as they promised.

The board must do the “right thing” and remove their tax referendum from the November ballot. They have failed to live up to their part of the bargain when they promised to balance their budget and reduce the deficit by 2006. There is NO WAY that this board and administration will reduce this enormous deficit in four years. They simply lack the capability and dedication to stop the overspending. The beleaguered taxpayers and students have paid a hefty price for their financial ineptness and lack of educational focus. It’s time to clean house in District 205. The board should immediately remove the superintendent and financial staff who cannot do their jobs properly. They must eliminate the expensive and educationally ineffective magnet schools. Next April, the voters shouldn’t re-elect Williams, Bliss, Kalchbrenner, Nellis and Bob Evans (I’m still hopeful that the court will order Kalchbrenner and Nellis’s seats up for re-election) if they choose to run.

The board, which promised to focus on the classroom, not the courtroom, spent almost $10 million in attorneys’ fees in less than a year. They gave People Who Care attorney Bob Howard around $6 million and stopped appeals that could have saved us millions in attorneys’ fees. They took precious tax dollars from the students and gave them to an outsider who caused “middle class and bright” flight in our schools.

The good news for District 205 students and taxpayers is that R.E.A.CH. will continue to work hard for them. We have offered to work with the present school board but have been rejected and shunned by them. We will continue to come up with sound educational and financial proposals. Check out our web site:

Barb Dent is the president of Rockford Educating All Children (R.E.A.CH.).

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