A Positive Change To Improve Our Community
The Purchase of 162 York: During the process of purchasing this building, several concerns arose including: the legality of puchasing an instructional site without holding a referendum; miscounting the number of students who would use the building, and the purpose of its use; and extemporaneous decisions made creating cost overruns from new leases, no-bid build-outs, legal fees and outside consultants. Any one of these issues alone warrant concern, together they point to an alarming lack of accountability and financial responsibility from those whom we trust with our childrens' education and our hard-earned tax dollars.
The history of the purchase of 162 York: The decision to move administrative offices out of the Madison Early Childhood Center was deemed reasonable. However, the decision to purchase 162 York for housing both administrative offices and the 18-21-year-old Transition Program is somewhat more perplexing. The entire process included the Superintendent's ensuing insistence to purchase this property created an "eminent domain" battle cry heard by attorneys all around. Then an inaccurate count of students being housed in the Transition Program, forcing the Board to take down even more space, left Elmhurst citizens incredulous. This entire process culminated in a $5 million dollar spending spree, mired in questionable conduct and decision-making by Superintendent Krizic and the Board. Making matters worse are the seemingly defensive and ever-changing rationales behind this purchase.
Contingent on Lynn Krizic's audience, the community has been told different rationales behind the decision to purchase this expensive piece of property:
♦Administrator Offices- In this economic downturn there is a glut of inexpensive office space to be had within Elmhurst. In fact, an extensive real estate survey yielded multiple listings within the borders of the Elmhurst School district that met the square foot requirement at a significantly lower cost.
♦The Transition program needed to be placed there - If indeed this was a driving decision behind the purchase, a feasibility study including potential student growth, type of instruction, and stakeholder requirments vis-a-vi adequate and safe learning environment would have clearly shown this to be a good idea on the first floor only (never the second floor) and only after a referendum was passed.
♦Green Space-is green space literarily the size of a single tree worth 5 million?
♦Parking for Hawthorne- While certainly convenient, hardly the number of open spaces can justify this expense.
♦Teacher Training Site- Since teacher in-services are either conducted at their respective schools or York High School, the teachers we have talked to reported that this was not an "essential need."
In fact, not one teacher we talked to requested additional meeting space. Additional meeting sites are available at Wilder mansion, the library, Elmhurst College, and the Park District. A $4.5 million dollar building isn't necessary to house all-district in-services that occur maybe once or twice a year.
♦A Good Real Estate Investment. The term resale value was indeed used. Since when have the tax payers authorized the School Board to be real-estate investors? What happened to the primary responsibility of the education of our children? The investment in our future is not in real estate-it’s in our children. With monies from the state always questionable was this the time to make a 5 million dollar investment?
The superintendent of our school district, Dr. Krizic made multiple errors regarding the purchase of the AT&T building:
Dr. Krizic repeatedly stated at board meetings that the transition program "changed." She
stated that this “change” was one of the reasons the program could not be placed in the building.
It was reported by the Transition Task Force that the format of the program never changed.
Dr. Krizic also replied she was unaware of the numbers of students enrolled in this year's Transition Program. She reports that the surprise increase in numbers was one more reason
that the 162 York building could not be
used to house the transition Program.
Dr. Krizic miscounted the number of students in the transition program by fifty percent. This is alarming since Dr. Krizic was given the numbers at a November 2008 PTA meeting in which there is documented meeting minutes. Dr. Krizic, herself also stated at the June 1st 2009 school board meeting that at the age of 14 ½ students are identified though the IEP process as needing placement in theTransition Program at 18. Additionally, at this meeting, Janet Cook – Supervisor of Special Ed for York HS., stated that the numbers were available November 2008.
Dr. Krizic reported that the Transition Program was not an instructional program.
The Transition Program is an instructional program that is required by Federal Law and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Section 300.43, IDEA).
Dr. Krizic stated that she was unaware of how much time was spent in a classroom. This was also listed as one of the reasons that 162 S. York could not be used.
Dr. Krizic repeatedly failed to contact stakeholders in a timely manner so that information can be obtained
The District website documented: “It was determined that the rental of commercial property would be the most
financially responsible means to providing
space for the growing program, versus
the cost of extensive renovations to
162 S. York.”
According to the May 26th school board meeting the Transition Task Force determined that the optimal placement for the Transition Program was the first floor of the 162 York building.
When asked by an Elmhurst newspaper
when she knew of the law requiring a
referendum for instructional use of a
building, Dr. Krizic replied, "recently".
There was a written board legal opinion dated December 15th 2008 (prior to the purchase) stating that a referendum was indeed needed for instructional use in the 162 S. York building. It is inconceivable that the superintendent and board members would not know about this law.
On the school district website, Dr Krizic
stated that she, “ is maintaining strong fiscal responsibility”
This one purchase alone attests to a severe lack of fiscal oversight and responsibility. This purchase has led to extra legal fees, hiring outside consultants, leasing new property, renovating newly leased property in a no bid process, fixing the lease space, making renovations to the purchased site, all due to Dr. Krizic's negligence. Who is responsible for paying the extra money due to the superintendent's lack of due diligence? The tax payers?
In going through this process it became apparent that these errors were not just issue-specific but that our Superintendent has a history of 1.) Micromanaging to such an extent that she is not involving her administrative staff in key decision making processes – she refuses to worked collaboratively with staff 2.) The Superintendent appears unable to hold in check her fabrications, prevarications and outright lies 3.) The Superintendent engages in willful blaming of others in her administration rather than admitting culpability/responsibility in errors made under her administration, thus giving her no opportunity to learn from her errors 4.) The Superintendent withholds information from the Board of Education in areas of key critical financial decision making processes. 5.) The Superintendent has not implemented effective communication strategies throughout the district 6.) The Superintendent has not adequately developed and implemented strategies and policies to address the information gathered by facility task forces 7) The Superintendent is unaware or neglectful in understanding the citizens of her community and the values that they hold (child-centered focused with a strong financial responsibility).
During the past two months at least THIRTY times during School Board Meetings speakers have stood up to ask who is ultimately responsible for these egregious errors? At no time have any of these questions been answered. When the Superintendent makes this many mistakes, who is held accountable? What actions can be taken? What is the school board going to do about this?
This Board is accountable to the citizens of this community, We believe that we are entitled to answers to our questions. What kind of information did the Superintendent give to the lawyers when decisions were being made about the purchase? Were the Superintendent and the BOE aware of the Dec 15th legal opinion stating that a referendum was needed for instructional use of 162 York, prior to purchase? If not, why did they vote on the purchase of this magnitude without a legal opinion? If so why did they go ahead with the purchase? What did the Superintendent do to research the needs of the Transition Program prior to putting in an offer to purchase? Were the stakeholders of the Transition Program involved in the process? Who was privy to the number of students to be in this program and when? Does the board think that the degree of fiscal mismanagement should lead to some type of recourse from the administration?
It is time for the superintendent’s review. In this process, The Board of Education reviews the superintendent’s progress over the past year. It is important that at this time, the Board of Education receive input from community members. If you have concerns about the superintendent's performance or would just like more information about the purchase or any other matter, please contact your school board members by clicking on their email address to the right of this page.