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August 22, 2002

State Board authorizes School Finance Authority for Round Lake School District 116

State Superintendent Names Members

SPRINGFIELD--The petition of the Round Lake School District 116 Financial Oversight Panel to create a School Finance Authority for the district was granted today by the State Board of Education.

The Oversight Panel voted unanimously in June to petition the State Board to authorize the School Finance Authority. The school district has been plagued with severe financial problems for several years and the State Board authorized the School Finance Authority after determining that the petition is “in the best interests of the educational and financial interests of the district.”

District 116 was placed on the state’s Financial Watch List and as a result of their deteriorated finances, the State Board certified the district as “In Financial Difficulty” on April 16, 1992. Required financial plans were developed but failed to stop the flow of red ink. The District faced a short-term debt of $10.5 million and long-term debt of $37 million in April of 2000 when the district asked the State Board to create a Financial Oversight Panel to improve its financial condition and to make the district eligible for a state emergency loan and grant.

The Panel secured the emergency financial assistance of a $1.4 million grant from the State and instituted several cost-cutting measures that produced the first balanced budget for the district in over ten years. Still, the district faced huge long-term debts that could not be met within the existing structure. The Panel considered several options for assuring long-term viability for the district and held several public hearings to gather input on the financial and organizational options for the district. The Panel concluded that a School Finance Authority, similar to one created by the legislature in 1980 to stabilize the Chicago Public School District’s finances, held the most promise for strengthening the education opportunities for students and stabilizing district finances.

The Illinois General Assembly passed legislation last spring authorizing the creation of a School Finance Authority with the approval of the State Board of Education. Governor George Ryan signed the legislation into law in June.

“After reviewing the reasoned arguments in the petition, we have concluded that the Panel’s recommendation is the best way to stabilize district finances and to improve educational opportunities for the students it serves,” said State Board General Counsel Respicio Vazquez who was serving as State Superintendent when the petition was submitted.

The School Finance Authority will have the power to appoint the top management of the district, including a Chief Executive Officer, a Chief Educational Officer to replace the position of Superintendent when the current Superintendent’s contract expires, and a Chief Fiscal Officer replacing the position of School Business Official. In addition the SFA is empowered to negotiate collective bargaining agreements, to issue debt within specified limits and to establish tax rates necessary to pay off the debt. The Authority would be removed from some of the limitations of tax caps.

Superintendent Schiller Appoints Members

Under the legislation, the State Superintendent is required to appoint five members of the School Finance Authority, two of whom must be residents of the district. State Superintendent of Education Robert E. Schiller announced those appointments following Board action authorizing the SFA.

“I am pleased to announce that we have secured the assistance of five highly qualified individuals to accept this challenging assignment,” said State Superintendent of Education Robert E. Schiller in announcing the appointments.

Appointed to serve on the Round Lake Area Schools District 116 School Finance Authority:

  • John P. Schockmel, an educational consultant from Mundelein, was designated by the State Superintendent to be the Authority Chair and serve a three-year term. Schockmel has served several school districts as business manager, superintendent, principal, teacher and finance consultant. From 1973 to 1978, he was Assistant Superintendent for Business Affairs for Round Lake School District 116.

  • Lewis R. “Bud” Hoose of Round Lake Beach is Program Manager for PeopleSoft, a human resource management software development company. He is responsible for managing project teams and budgets for several simultaneous programs of the company. Hoose will also serve a three-year term.

  • Alejandro M. “Alex” Solla of Round Lake Beach was appointed to a two-year term. Solla is Human Resources Director for two Baxter Healthcare manufacturing plants.

  • Maru E. Tomusiak of Fox Lake will serve a three-year term. She is the Executive Director of the Mano a Mano Family Resource Center and a former bilingual teacher in District 116 and a former member of the Lake County Area Planning Council.

  • George Lingel of Rockford recently retired as the Assistant Superintendent for Business and Auxiliary Services for School District 15 in Palatine. He is a former director of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials and previously served several school districts in the business office and as a teacher. Lingel’s term will be two years.

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777