Guest Column: Taxpayers, did you know?

November 3, 2010

By Jane Hayes and Mary Jo Powers

Notice—A Taxpayer Rally will be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 9, at the Rockford School District Board office, 201 S. Madison St. Signs will be provided.

Following is a breakdown of costs and requirements for positions in Rockford School District 205, along with some relevant facts.

1. There are 55 Central Administration personnel making $4,937,695.00 (above the building level through Dr. LaVonne Sheffield). Of these 55 Central Administration personnel, 30 of them have job descriptions; the other 25 do not. In 2007, there were 38 Central Administration personnel; this year we have 55. That’s a 44 percent increase.

2. The Special Assistant to Superintendent does not have her master’s degree or a type 75 certificate.

3. The Director of Food Service has a high school diploma, some college courses and 30 years’ experience working for the food service vendor at the MetroCentre (fast food). The job requires a registered dietitian, preferably with a master’s. This person is presently making $78,000. We are also paying $35,000 to a consulting firm to help with menu planning, etc.

4. The CFO has a bachelor’s degree. The Illinois code requires this position to have a master’s degree in business, finance or accounting. The base pay for this position is $152,000.

5. The person who runs Human Resources has the title of Special Assistant to CFO, so her master’s degree covers for the CFO.

6. For the tri-fold quarterly called Context mailed to 92,000-95,000 homes, the cost was $74,547.60.

7. Last year, the principals’ book club cost the district $8,113.89 for the books and $15,625 for the free meals to administrators at Giovanni’s.

8. Dr. LaVonne Sheffield receives $210,000 yearly and rarely works a five-day week at the district office because she is working off-site!

9. Dr. Sheffield worked as an independent consultant with Newton Learning while in Detroit. Any relationship with Evans Newton that we spent $5,100,000 on for the school year 2009-2010? Aren’t we still paying, even though the scores were not significantly raised?

10. Caesar Mickens served as a consultant for RPS 205 from 2008-2010 while he also served as an executive consultant to Scholastic Library Division from 2008-2010. In May of 2010, Sheffield purchased one-half-million dollars worth of books from Scholastic. Sounds like a conflict of interest!

Come unite with other taxpayers Nov. 9 to find out more about how our tax dollars are being spent. We need accountability from this school board and the administration of District 205!

Editor’s note: The information above came from results of  FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests on District 205 spending by WEE. WEE, Watchdogs for Ethics in Education, is watching over the district by filing Freedom of Information Act requests to disclose unnecessary spending.

From the Nov. 3-9, 2010 issue


  1. Taxpayer2

    November 3, 2010 at 10:30 am

    This is fabulous reporting on what could possibly be the most corrupt happenings in all of Northern Il. THANK YOU Jane and Mary Jo, for revealing what many of us suspected. I will be at the rally and have passed the column on. Taxpayers, this is the time to voice your anger and frustration at the BOE and Dr. Sheffield. What they have done is no less then theft.

  2. Taxpayer2

    November 3, 2010 at 10:51 am

    I want the BOE to address these allegations of misuse of our money. I would also like to point out that while she may claim to work off-site, Sheffield not ONCE visited “our” school last year,despite numerous invites. Sheffield also says in the RRSTAR that she did not expect ENI to succeed in the schools-of course not, she got her kickback, on top of her district salary and could care less. Someone should look at legal recourse.

  3. John Penn

    November 3, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    ENI, the education consultants hired to boost test scores by 5 percent at 10 Rockford schools failed to make good on their pledge.

    Dr. Sheffield, claims “I didn’t anticipate, and I don’t think (the company) anticipated that they would move 5 percent in six months,”…even though that was the agreement made regarding the $5 million dollar ENI contract.

    Sure it was not Dr. Sheffield’s $5 million dollars…it is NOT her kids…she will come and go and her failed legacy will remain.

    Wake up Jeanne Westholder, David Kelley, and Robert Evans…or give up. Come the next school board election we want representatives that value our tax dollars and childrens education!!!

  4. bookwrm

    November 3, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Check out one of Dr. Sheffield’s highly paid consultants: Thandiwe Peebles (“Tandie”). Google her name. She is the former supt. of the Minneapolis Schools. She was fired 18 months into her contract. Also a member of the Broad Foundation as is Lavonne.

  5. Cathy Adams

    November 4, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I hope the news gets out and there is a huge crowd at the Bd. of Ed. building next Tuesday night. It can make a difference to make the Board members aware that there are people who pay attention and care what is happening.

  6. Sue

    November 4, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    What is it with the graduates of the Broad Foundation?

  7. John

    November 5, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Who cares? After this weeks election, it is clear that the majority of Illinois voters either agree with fraud, waste, and abuse, or at least are willing to look the other way.

    We voted in a Governor that intends to spend more, tax more, and borrow more. And everybody is okay with it! We re-elected a Speaker who stinks of corruption.

    I’m done with the state. I will be leaving as soon as possible and leave this massive debt and corruption to your children. This is, after all, what you want. At least, it’s what you voted for.

  8. Kevin Raymer

    November 6, 2010 at 10:33 am

    I can’t believe all of the powerhouse news agencies aren’t investigating this story of dist.205? Thank you TRRT and WEE, thank you!! In protest i’m going to withhold my $1800.00 this year that goes to dist. 205 from my property tax, if you could make signs up for that at the rally that would be great. The homeowners that are left in Rockford please join in this simple protest that will get attention from the state to do an all out investigation of the employees the school board approved for hiring without the proper Il. requirements. Withhold your 205 property tax amount!! Period!! Contact your alderman, board member, mayor, state rep., gov., and let them know. School board members you should be ashamed of yourselves!! Your not getting my vote again! The $9-12 an hour jobs within the school dist. go through an extensive interview process, criminal background check, reference check, education check, driving record check, physical, drug and alcohol testing, and whatever else the HR people want!! But the $70k- $200k plus a year jobs you can get with a poor performance background, criminal background, fired from recent employment background, and dont even meet Il. certification or code requirements for the job background??? Come on board, what’s the problem?? If no change occurs like John said about leaving this area, is going to be happening with alot more residents. We have plenty of college educated Rockford citizens that are unemployed right now, the Rockford school board and all employment positions within dist.205 should be filled with experienced Rockford resident’s first!! Do we even have a Mayor in Rockford, somebody in charge of the city? Somebody in charge of our tax money? Or is Rockford just a free for all city? Come to Rockford, rape and pillage the tax payer then leave! Should be the slogan for Rockford city and local gov’t employment and elected positions. My name is Kevin and i’m a pissed off lifelong Rockford resident, tax payer, homeowner, and honest and responsible, living paycheck to paycheck with a balanced checkbook. What about you?

  9. Rockford Parent

    November 7, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Agreed Kevin! This Administration and BOE are pissing away our tax dollars!

    Thank you WEE and RRT for having the guts to report what is really going on in District 205.

    All non certified teachers in “specialized” positions; ex. math coaches and reading coaches, were removed from their positions this past year because of not holding the correct certificate…even if they were within weeks of obtaining it.

    Luz Ramirez, does not hold the correct certificate for her position, yet is still in her “tax payer funded” position. Completing her certification, thanks to tax dollars and the superintendent.

    Queen Lavonne did not hold the correct certification, yet we hired her anyway???


  10. Dione

    November 8, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Is there a NEW Facebook page up AGAINST Sheffie?

    I refuse to call her Dr. She in all likelihood earned that title under the table–nudge, nudge.
    We should also be raising an all–out internet ****storm against her and the schoolboard.

  11. monkey

    November 10, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Wonder if the RRT will have the guts to publish Dr. Sheffield’s response from last night’s school board meeting. Jane and Mary Jo are an embarassment to the teaching profession. Clearly this is about THEM and not the kids. Sad.

    • Brandon Reid

      November 10, 2010 at 10:03 am


      Thank you for your feedback. A full transcript of Rockford Public School District 205 Superintendent Dr. LaVonne M. Sheffield’s comments at the Nov. 9 Rockford Board of Education meeting can be found by clicking here.

      Best Regards,

      Brandon Reid
      Assistant Editor
      The Rock River Times

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