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December 23, 2002

State Superintendent appoints School Finance Authority members for Hazel Crest Schools:

Reassures community that schools will complete year

State Superintendent of Education Robert E. Schiller today announced appointments of the five members of the School Finance Authority for Hazel Crest School District 152 ½ and emphasized that the community can now be assured that schools will remain open for the entire school year.

The Hazel Crest district was nearing insolvency until the General Assembly passed legislation to authorize the establishment of the School Finance Authority and provide for access to a state emergency loan if private lending sources can not be found to provide enough funding to complete the year. Governor Ryan signed the legislation December 6, and the State Board acted Dec. 9 to establish the Authority.

"These individuals bring a great deal of experience and expertise to this task that is difficult and vitally important to the 1,132 students of this struggling district," Schiller said. "Establishing this Authority not only assures students, staff and community that Hazel Crest schools will be open for the remainder of the school year; it also puts in place a process for determining what is best for the students in future years."

Members appointed by Schiller include two members of the previously formed Financial Oversight Panel, Lawrence E. Hupe and Edward M. O'Malley. Additional members are Barbara Toney and two residents of the Hazel Crest district: Steven Wright of Markham and Mary Emily Grant of Hazel Crest.

Hupe is the chair of the Financial Oversight Panel and has been designated by Schiller to be chairman of the School Finance Authority. He was the Worth Township School Treasurer for nearly 30 years, where he was responsible for investments and cash management for all Worth Township school districts and special education cooperatives. He was a founder, trustee and chairman of the Illinois School District Liquid Asset Fund. He is a former chair of the Illinois Financial Advisory Committee, the group that advises the State Superintendent on school district financial issues.

O'Malley most recently served as director of fiscal services for Rich Township High School District 227 in Olympia Fields. He previously served in the business offices of three other school districts and a special education cooperative. He holds a Chief School Business Official Certificate and a General Administrative Certificate.

Toney is an associate with The Bickert Group, a school superintendent search firm, the Public Information Specialist with Project CHOICES (Children Have Opportunities in Inclusive Community Environments and Schools) and a former teacher in Bloomingdale School District 13. She was a member of former Governor Jim Edgar's Blue ribbon Committee on Education Funding and was a member and president of the West Chicago Elementary District 33 Board of Education. She is currently a member of the School Funding Committee for the Legislative Education Network of DuPage (LEND).

Wright has a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Chicago State University and is completing his MBA in Finance from Roosevelt University. He is a Financial counselor with CitiStreet and previously held financial positions with American Express, Wadell & Reed, Firstar Bank and Chrysler Credit Corporation.

Grant holds both a B.A. and an MBA in Finance from DePaul University. She is a Portfolio Manager for Banc One Investment Advisors Corporation. She previously served in the Trust and Investment Department with Lake Shore National Bank. She is Vice President of the Hazel Crest Proper Neighborhood Association and co-chairs that group's Youth Committee.

Hupe, Grant and Toney will serve three-year terms; O'Malley and Wright were appointed to two-year terms.

The State Board provided an authorized emergency grant of $283,000 to the district after the Financial Oversight Panel was established in October. The district also recently received $1.5 million through a Member Initiative from the General Assembly. In addition, the FOP was able to borrow $1.7 million for the district through issuing Tax Anticipation Warrants. These resources have allowed the district to meet payrolls up to this point and to begin paying overdue bills that total over $1 million.

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