Paris School Board approves levy higher than levy OK’d by citizens at annual meeting

For the second year in a row, the Paris School Board approved a tax levy that was higher than that approved by district residents attending the district’s annual meeting Monday night.

The 2011-2012 board approved tax levy of $2,004,880 includes $252,000 of referendum authority to exceed the state revenue limit. That will result in a tax rate that is 3.41 percent lower than last year. However, property taxpayers likely won’t see a decrease in the grade school portion of their bill because the district assessed value also declined.

The levy was certified by the board with a 3 to 1 vote. Board Treasurer Mike Cavalenes voted against it.

Before the board voted, eligible residents of the district also voted on a levy as part of the annual meeting.

The public passed a levy that used none of the referendum authority for a total amount of $1,752,880. That levy passed the public by a 46 to 32 vote. If it had passed the board, that levy would have resulted in a 15.54 percent decrease in the tax rate, according to material provided by the district at the meeting.

Cavalenes made a motion during the board meeting to certify the levy approved by the public, but it failed for lack of a second.

There was extensive discussion by audience and board members about the  merits of both approaches.

Advocates of using none of the referendum authority argued the district did not need the money now for operations and  the fund balance (essentially the district’s savings) was sufficient to address emergencies.

“You asked for money to cover operating expenses,” said resident Don Logan. “Now that operations are balanced you want to use it for something else. That’s not right. We as taxpayers deserve as much consideration as the school district.”

But advocates of levying some of the referendum authority (the district could have levied as much as $585,000 under the referendum’s terms) argued that the addtional funds would allow the district to pay off some debt and set up the future even better.

Barbara Wisnefski said she didn’t vote for the referendum two years ago, but she now favored the district using some of the taxing authority residents granted in approving the referendum.

“It passed; it’s the democratic process,” Wisnefski said. “Use it to get your house in order.”

Board members also commented on their rationales for their votes.

Cavalenes defended detailed financial forecasts he developed showing that the district’s financial situation should improve over the next five years — including being able to add to the fund balance — without using the referendum authority. He said he found it surprising that the other board members disagreed with his position when he taught the rest of them about school finance.

But other board members said they had talked to many constituents and they were voting the view of those individuals as well as those at the annual meeting.

“This is definitely not an easy decision,” said board member Steve Hrupka in explaining his support for the levy scenario that ultimately passed the board. “In the best interest of the school, I think we should do this to maintain the fund balance and the future of the school.”

Information about the alternatives distributed by district officials at the meeting said the $252,000 in referendum money ultimately added to the levy by the board would be used in the following ways:

  • $35,900 for post employment benefit payout/fees.
  • $216,100 as a loan payoff payment to the Town of Paris.

An additional $130,000 for a principal payment on long-term debt would be taken from the fund balance.

33 Comments

  1. Northwestern Mike says:

    The majority is overridden by the minority two years in a row. Remember this at the Spring Election. One of these three board members is up for reelection.

  2. Northwestern Mike says:

    It should also be mentioned that Mike Cavalenes was elected to be chair person in place of the Board President. If I was board president and someone was elected to be chairperson in place of me I would be worried about my support.

  3. Steve says:

    I wouldn’t be worried about my support because there were people at that meeting that have never attended a school board meeting before. Coincidence? I think not – I think that Mike got a lot of people stirred up with untruths.
    As a side note – if you were such a wonderful Chairperson, why did you not have the gentleman (that’s a stretch), removed that was giving a board member the finger? Oh, that’s right – that person was one of your followers. That person USED to be on the school board – see what happened to him Mike?
    You’ve lived in the Town for 17 years? Hmmmmm – you really DON’T know what it’s like then to pay taxes in the Town do you? You’ve never had to pay your fair share of the County taxes or the Town taxes, have you? Well, you may just get a taste of that reality real soon. Instead of being such a pitbull on the school board, why don’t you transfer some of your “energy” to the Town Board? According to the paper – they need a “plan” to see whether or not they should continue to pay our taxes. What else would they be using the 20+ million dollars for???

  4. Paris resident w/kids in the school says:

    @Mike: You gave it a good shot and tried to show the residents what right looks like when it comes to school funding and basic principles of the time value of money. Thank you and thanks to the fact cmte. I do think that a better approach would have been to introduce the FACT cmte with thier qualifications then give a briefing on the process that the cmte followed. Great info delivered poorly is a recipe for the problems encounter last night.

    @Steve: The facts are accurate, there were no untruths. The three options presented by the board only dealt with paying off debt to various degrees. No board member disputed that point. I’ve been on school cmtes in the past, been to all kinds of school board meetings and I’ve been an involved parent. Mike speaks the truth.

  5. Paris resident w/kids in the school says:

    I would also like to add that Mike is the kind of pitbull we want on the school board. He is an educated man that understands the value of a quality education. If you get to know him you would see that. I don’t question the motives of the current School Board, Administration or the FACT Cmte. I can not say the same about previous School Boards or the previous Administration. The people spoke but the Board did what they thought was right. I for one can live with the it.

  6. Daisy Mae says:

    Again the board (except Mike) proved how incompetent they are to run our school district. Why else would Mike need to teach them school finances? They had their minds made up before the meeting. Why is that? Because they continue to let the administrator and the LaBell cohorts tell them how to run the school! Who put the idea in their heads about curriculum? I laugh at Connie Bevry being offended that the past school board was responsible for Paris almost having to be closed! Damn right they are to blame, and don’t give me the bullcrap about “collective bargaining.” They didn’t bargain, they handed the teachers and past administrator their salaries on a silver platter! Tell me, why is the middle school teacher teaching reading when she doesn’t have her license in reading? Why are we paying a teacher 10K extra to do paper work that a secretary can do? I am so tired of hearing about Paris being the best, and being a Blue Ribbon school. I find it rather amusing that the teachers, during school hours, took hours to apply for the Blue Ribbon award. A bunch of democratic bull! Paris is no better than any other school. There is no crying on school boards! If you can’t hack it, get off!

  7. Marcy says:

    I find it all of this rather comical. Why didn’t I see Daisy Mae, or Paris resident with kids in school, on the ballot??? It’s very easy to complain – how ’bout trying to make decisions? You’re not so quick to jump at that are you? I give Mrs. Bevry a lot of credit. She had the guts to run against someone to get on the school board. The rest of you are just whiners. I’m hoping that Daisy Mae doesn’t have kids in Paris – you don’t deserve to have your kids taught by some of the best in the County. But, while you’re questioning things – why does the school have teacher’s aides? Why aren’t you complaining about them? If you’ve got such a gripe with the teachers, maybe they should do their own work – save the taxpayers dollars and eliminate the aides and their insurance. Have one teacher per class room – that’s it.
    I’m finding it very amusing that no one has commented yet about the fact that a previous school board member gave one of the present school board members “the bird”. That shows a lot of class, doesn’t it? You’re right “Paris resident with kids in school”, he WAS a previous board member – need I say more?

  8. Paris resident w/kids in the school says:

    Marcy: I guess serving on cmtes does not count? Going to school board meetings on a regular basis does not count? How do you know I didn’t run for school board? Daisy Mae happens to be right on the money when it comes to the silver platter comment. The facts from the DPI website support her. Regarding the ex board member giving th finger to someone, I didn’t see it so I won’t comment.

  9. Northwestern Mike says:

    Steve, I would worry about your support with a vote of 46 to 32. If you had more support they should have been at the meeting. It must have been a real shock that I was elected chairperson. I was surprised. Your support at this meeting was from ex-board members, family members, and Yes Committee members. Did you forget, I stated at the school board meeting to bring your supporters and I would bring mine and we could let them decide? Residents were correct. The decision had already been made and this Annual Meeting was unnecessary.

  10. Northwestern Mike says:

    Steve, is this another emotional argument unsupported by numbers. Check my numbers against what was in Kenosha News. They are the same. What was an untruth? Care to debate it? At the budget work session we agreed to show my truncated summary sheet at the Annual Meeting. Just like board members request, I sent my summary sheet to residents so they could study the information before the meeting. After my flier went out the board members changed their minds. The board did not release any information until the actual meeting. Was the control of information because the board was afraid residents might understand the numbers and question their decision?
    Per legal counsel, information presented at the Annual Meeting is controlled by the chairperson NOT the board. As chair I could have over ruled the board and I chose not to.

  11. Northwestern Mike says:

    What the gentleman did was unacceptable. If you were familiar with Roberts Rules you would know a warning is given first before asking someone to leave. I did not see the infraction, it was the end of the meeting, and further drama was not needed. It was my decision as chairperson. If possible get elected chairperson and you can decide next time.

  12. Northwestern Mike says:

    Steve, think about the bad feelings that were created by over ruling residents that showed up to the Annual Meeting two years in a row. People were so pissed they left before the board’s business was completed. They will not forget this for a long time and be assured someone will remind them. See what happened to the board member that was up for election last year. I took her place. Coincidence? I think not.

  13. Northwestern Mike says:

    You and I will both have to pay our fair share real soon. I was at the town board meeting tonight. Were you?

  14. Northwestern Mike says:

    Curriculum was also mentioned last year in a board member’s email as a very convenient reason to add money to the budget. Surprise, nothing was added. Those that requested the board add money for curriculum this year failed to add it on their watch.
    Check the current board minutes. Curriculum was never mentioned in any budget work session I attended and I attended them all. Maybe it should be a required item of the additional referendum money.

  15. Steve says:

    Actually, yes, I WAS at the Town Board meeting last night. The Board is simply back peddling – they didn’t invest the Town’s money wisely, so, now all of us have to pay.
    Also, regarding the board member that was up for election last year – she didn’t run again – you didn’t “beat” her. So, there is no “coincidence”.
    If it weren’t so childish, I would almost find it laughable that you “didn’t see” the infraction. I truly believe that you’ve got blinders on when it comes to your followers. If it would have been someone from the YES committee, I’d be willing to bet that they would have been warned – no matter how far along the meeting was.
    You’ll continue to have your opinion, and I’ll continue to have mine, and they will never be on the same page. But, like I said before, wait till you have to pay more in taxes, and NOT to the school – then, you’ll see who’s been spending foolishly – it hasn’t been the school. By the way, where have YOU been during all the Town Board meetings??? Why are you worried about it now?

  16. Xfactor says:

    I’m glad you went to the Town Board meeting Mike. You can see where the real problems are in this town.

  17. Xfactor says:

    I’m glad you went to the Town Board meeting last night. Now you can see where the real problems are in this town.

  18. Northwestern Mike says:

    I have been at school board meetings and you are a different Steve.
    I didn’t see the infraction because I was watching the person speaking. He was warned. We were all adults not children. It happened in Washington DC and lawmakers were not removed.
    Why now, because residents told me to look into it.

  19. Northwestern Mike says:

    What are the real problems in the town? Landfill revenue is declining and expenses need to be reduced. By far, the biggest expense is the $1.2 million spent paying county taxes. That’s where the cuts will have to be made. The supervisors seem well aware of the problems and have asked for community input. I would do the same.

  20. 1st time attendee says:

    I attended the meeting (a first for me) and was struck by the juvenile behavior displayed by the chair and his minions at the meeting. I agree with Paris resident w/kids in the school in his assessment “I don’t question the motives of the current School Board, Administration or the FACT Cmte.” including the “pitbull.” But I disagree that we need the “pitbull” on the school board. We need the pitbull to set aside his vaste ego and act like a grown up and present his serious position like a respected and respectful member of our community. And the idiot (bird flipping previous board member) who behaved like a petulant 10 year old needs to be left at home.

  21. 1st time attendee says:

    And the really sad thing is that nobody celebrates that Paris is a great school with great leadership, teachers and kids. That despite the other night’s bicker fest, it is in very strong financial shape. That the school’s reputation increases property values and makes Paris a desirable community to raise a family and live. What I would think the board should uniformally promote is the communities investment in the school was money exceedingly well spent and we should continue to prudently invest in this incredible resource.

  22. Xfactor says:

    Except that the supervisors should have been doing this 2 years ago. They have been financially irresponsible, just like I believe previous school boards have been. Just on a much larger scale.

  23. Steve says:

    I am in total agreement with what 1st time attendee said about Paris school being a great school. It has always been a great school. The school has had some of the best teachers in the County. The students are wonderful kids, and the parental involvement has always been some of the best in the County. When my child attended Paris, the deputy that was teaching the DARE program, specifically said that Paris School had the best parent involvement of all of the school west of the interstate. That in itself, is something to be proud of.
    As far as Mike’s comments about the Town Board being aware of the problems – they were also aware of the problems two years ago. Why did it take almost two years for them to invest the money in interest bearing accounts? Where were you then Mike? Do you know what the interest on 16+ million would have been during that two year time frame? Curb spending? The Town is the only part-time fire department that has day staff members being paid. How many calls do they go on during the day? For a Town our size, was a two million dollar addition really necessary? Now for the big question – do you really think that the town board is going to even listen to what the people have to say? Did you ever attend any meetings that were held for the dump? Really? I attended one and got frustrated – didn’t bother going back. What about when a resident asked for the Town Board to help with the school funding before the referendum was done – the Town chairman shot him down cold at the meeting. I think that you were there asking the town to pay us the money back. I remember reading that in the Kenosha News.

  24. Former Student says:

    Everyone here is an emotional nutcase. Nobody can take a step back and think about what they are typing, and nobody can take a little critisim without flying off the handle.

  25. Karma says:

    1st time attendee, I am with you in celebrating Paris School and am appalled that a School Board member fosters such opposition in our community. Since our community voted Yes for Paris School, a lot has changed because there are people in our community that GET IT that a school is about KIDS and that having a GREAT school in our community is a GREAT thing.

    Paris has the lowest taxes to begin with (thanks to the Town of Paris), has been saved SIGNIFICANT tax expense because of open enrollment, has received a TAX CUT two out of three years of a referendum term—yet STILL the minority voice whines and complains. Really??? Give me a break.

    I will laugh hardily when our Town jacks up taxes far beyond any school tax. This Town has been running a deficit for a couple of years and pit bull and company have been quiet as mice about it. Interesting how they choose to bully those who stand up for kids rather than those who pay half their taxes.

  26. Northwestern Mike says:

    1st Time attendee
    I presented my serious position in the many fliers I sent to residents which inspired a majority to vote against the board’s emotional arguments. SHOW ME YOUR NUMBERS. By the way my analysis was the basis for the FACT committee recommendations. Read the FACT minutes on the school website and if you dare look at my charts that were used. Did you attend the budget work sessions and share your wisdom? Per board policy the presiding officer can participate in debates. Just because you didn’t like what you heard does not mean it was not true.
    I agree Paris school is in a strong financial position and did not need to levy an additional $250K.

  27. Northwestern Mike says:

    Steve, ask the town not me. There was no Steve on the board sign-in sheet from last night. I was working on school issues, fliers, FACT committee, getting elected, being a board member. You sound like someone who lost an election to a board member. The reason to deny the resident’s request was valid.

  28. Northwestern Mike says:

    Former student
    Democracy and debating is not always pretty. Get used to it.

  29. Northwestern Mike says:

    Karma
    Being a board member does not mean I give up my right to free speech. The majority at the Annual Meeting agreed with me. Does that make them all wrong or just me? What changed is the additional money is not needed.

    Paris school district has the second highest mill rate in Kenosha county and with county taxes increasing this will be a double hit for taxpayers. Paris’ mill rate could have been in the middle. The first year tax hike was 31% and the second year of the referendum stayed at that elevated rate. 65% of the residents are over 55 years of age. Give them a break. The largest portion of my tax bill is for Paris school and it increased. The town was zero so I focused on the largest part of my tax bill not the smallest? Hind sight is 20/20.
    See above for what I have been doing to educate residents. What have you been doing to educate residents? I have received nothing from you.

    Over $70K was saved from the budget through teacher copays and a different Health Insurance carrier. There were no teacher layoffs or program cuts. An aide was hired. There are many school advocates who say everything is about the kids. This was not about the children it was about excessive expenses. I am a taxpayer advocate and proud of it.

  30. Northwestern Mike says:

    Is what the ex-board member did to the present school board member the same as what the school board did to taxpayers two years in a row? Three people know better than 46?

  31. 1st time Attendee says:

    @ NM – reread my comments – it is the boorish behavior demonstrated by your minions and you that I object to – not the numbers, Is it so diffucult for you and the clown to act and behave with respect? Democracy is achieved through thoughtful discourse – not bullying vulgarity. Your retort to former student made me laugh – actually democracy is beautiful – vulgarity is ugly. What becomes increasingly clear as I read your letters and these comments and listen to you and yours is that this isn’t about garnering support for your position – it’s about you and your ego. If you really care about the issue and generating support you should allow those who have to capacity to listen and engage in honest debate promote your views – but I think that’s probably out of the question. This is about you – not what’s right.

  32. Northwestern Mike says:

    1st time attendee, it shows
    Maybe messy is a better term than ugly. It seems to bother you that the majority supported my position therefore you make the issue about me.

    Have you ever been to a Town Board meeting? The supervisors hear comments and then respond. Have you been to a recent school board meeting? We have a discussion with comments and questions asked back and forth. Yes, board members even ask questions of visitors and they respond willingly. The board is in the process of changing the public comment policy to reflect this change. I guess this is not your idea of a discussion.

    It’s what is good for the school district and the taxpayer, not me. The district did not need the extra money. Since the money was not needed I would rather let the taxpayers keep it.

    See above, I am allowed to participate in the debate. The other board members had already made up their mind and did not listen to the majority. The Annual Meeting was a waste of time. I am well versed on this topic and you take that as being boorish. I am willing to debate this topic with you any time, so stop making it about me.

  33. longgone says:

    While reading the commements you people post about the school and board of Paris I can see that you all need to get a life since what I have read is a Joke. You really must have too much time on your hands to to write crap like this bye

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