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December 24, 2002

Schiller appoints members of Financial Oversight Panel for Livingston School District

First meeting set for Friday December 27

Two former school district superintendents with substantial finance experience will serve on the Financial Oversight Panel for Livingston School District 4, State Superintendent of Education Robert E. Schiller announced today. A third appointment is pending and Schiller said he expects to announce that appointment prior to a meeting of the FOP scheduled for Friday.

The State Board of Education voted Dec. 18 to establish the Financial Oversight Panel to help the district address its growing financial problems.

“The Financial Oversight Panel faces a large – and very important – task in guiding this ailing district to a strengthened financial position,” Schiller said. “These individuals bring substantial expertise and experience to this new role, and I am very grateful for their willingness to accept this challenge.”

Schiller appointed Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville professor Curtis Smith to serve as chairman of the FOP. Robert Stuart, retired Superintendent of Edwardsville School District 7, was also appointed by Schiller to serve on the FOP.

Smith has been a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at SIU-E for 13 years with specialty areas including finance, strategic planning and school business management. He previously served four years on the board of education for the Edwardsville school district. Prior to joining SIU-E, Smith was Superintendent for two school districts in Ohio.

Stuart served the Edwardsville school district for 35 years, retiring in 1996 after serving five years as Superintendent. He began his career as a science teacher at Edwardsville Junior High School. He also previously served as President of the Region II Special Education cooperative.

Livingston, in Madison County, has been on the State Board’s list of districts “Certified In Financial Difficulty” since 1988. The Livingston School Board voted in November to petition the State Board to appoint a Financial Oversight Panel, then subsequently rescinded that action. The State Board established an involuntary FOP because the district’s finances are deteriorating and the district did not follow the financial plan approved by the State Board for the 2001-2002 school year.

The State Board is authorized by state statutes to impose a FOP on certified districts that do not adhere to approved financial plans. Livingston’s previous plans had shown modest reductions in outstanding debt, and the FY2003 plan was approved in June contingent on the continued reduction of outstanding debt.

However, a recent audit of the district raised numerous concerns regarding declining fund balances and the necessity of borrowing further.

Creation of a Financial Oversight Panel means that the Livingston Board of Education will have to develop a financial plan to be approved by the Panel, and the FOP will have to approve every financial transaction of the district.

Livingston is the fourth district to operate with a FOP. Mt. Morris, the first district to have a FOP, has since annexed to another district. East St. Louis School District 189 in St. Clair County has operated with a FOP since 1994. Round Lake School District 116 in Lake County and Hazel Crest School District 152 ½ in Cook County each operated with a FOP but have since been placed under the oversight of School Finance Authorities.

Establishing a Financial Oversight Panel makes the district eligible for a grant and a loan from the Emergency Financial Assistance Fund if requested by the FOP and approved by the State Superintendent. The Financial Oversight Panel is to be composed of three individuals appointed by the State Superintendent of Education and will exist for no less than 3 years and possibly up to 10 years.

The first meeting of the Financial Oversight Panel for Livingston School District 4 is scheduled Friday December 27 at 1:00 P.M. in the Madison County Regional Office of Education, 157 N. Main (Suite 438), Edwardsville.

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