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December 26, 2002

State Superintendent appoints final member of Financial Oversight Panel for Livingston School District

State Superintendent of Education Robert E. Schiller has appointed former O’Fallon school superintendent Maurice Hesse to fill the remaining seat on the Financial Oversight Panel for Livingston School District 4.

Hesse joins Panel chairman Curtis Smith, a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and Robert Stuart, retired Superintendent of Edwardsville School District 7. The Panel’s first meeting is scheduled for Friday, December 27 at 1:00 P.M. in the Madison County Regional Office of Education, 157 N. Main (Suite 438), Edwardsville.

Hesse retired as the Superintendent of O’Fallon High School District 203 in 1992. He currently serves as a member of the board of education for that district.

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School Board voted in November to petition the State Board to appoint a Financial Oversight Panel, then subsequently rescinded that action.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.

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