FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 2003
State Superintendent Appoints Three-Member Oversight Panel
for Venice School District
SPRINGFIELD - State Superintendent of Education Robert E.
Schiller today appointed the three members of the Financial
Oversight Panel (FOP) for financially struggling Venice CUSD
#3 (Madison County). The panel will help develop an emergency
assistance and recovery plan for the troubled school system.
The Venice School Board voted unanimously June 18 to petition
the State Board for a Financial Oversight Panel and emergency
financial assistance. The Illinois State Board of Education
(ISBE) approved that request June 25.
The panel members - who serve without pay - are: Rudolph
G. Wilson, Assistant Provost for Cultural and Social Diversity
at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville; Mary C. Kane,
an investment banker with Stifel, Nicolaus & Company,
Inc.; and Mike Blacharczyk (Blah-HAR-check), Director
of Special Education for the Belleville Special Education
Cooperative. Wilson will serve as the FOP Chair.
"I am very pleased that these individuals have agreed
to help the Venice district address its financial problems,
which are considerable," said Schiller. "They bring
to this hard job a combination of experience and tough-mindedness
that will be necessary to help this district provide quality
education for its children."
Under state law, the financial panel is empowered to provide
oversight and approval for additional borrowing by the district.
It has the authority to approve or disapprove spending decisions
made by the local school board.
The panel can also recommend an Emergency Financial Assistance
grant from ISBE of $66,250 ($250 per student) and an Emergency
Financial Assistance Loan of $265,000 ($1000 per student).
The loan would have to be approved by the General Assembly
and the Governor. Neither request has yet been made.
In addition, the panel could recommend special legislation
- such as creation of a School Finance Authority or even dissolution
of the district - to address the situation.
The Venice district qualified for state oversight for a number
of reasons. According to ISBE officials, the school district
previously maintained no financial records for FY02 and 03
and has not filed its annual financial report with ISBE for
FY02. The district also failed to meet its last teacher payroll
and was unable to pay its adult education staff. In addition,
the district has not paid its special education co-op or provided
special education services for students.
Venice is the seventh district in Illinois history to operate
with an FOP. Mt. Morris, the first district to have an FOP,
has since annexed to another district. East St. Louis School
District 189 in St. Clair County has operated with an FOP
since 1994. Round Lake School District 116 in Lake County
and Hazel Crest School District 152 ½ in Cook County
each operated with an FOP but have since been placed under
the oversight of School Finance Authorities. The State Board
created a Financial Oversight Panel in December 2002 for Livingston
School District 4 in Madison County, and an FOP was appointed
for Cairo Schools in February of this year.
FOP Panel Information
Rudy Wilson, Assistant Provost for Cultural and Social
Diversity with Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville,
also holds rank of Associate Professor of Secondary Education
in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. He has been
chairperson of the English Department at Claremont and was
Master Teacher of English for the State of California. He
served for 18 years on the Edwardsville School Board and 6
years as President. He has served as President of the Piasa
Health Care and as Chairperson for the Department of Curriculum
and Instruction at SIUE.
Wilson has been recognized for his leadership and contributions
in many areas. He is the recipient of the SIUE's Teaching
Excellence Award, The Hudlin Award for Humanistic Teaching
and the Great Teacher Award, Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian
Award, The Kimmel Leadership Center Aware for Faculty who
contribute greatly to the community and was named Educator
of the Year by the St. Louis American newspaper.
Mary C. Kane is employed as an investment banker at
Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Inc. She is responsible for
initiating, and currently leading, Stifel's Public Finance
Office serving central and southern Illinois. She worked for
Southwestern Illinois Development Authority as its Executive
Director. In this position she guided the issuance of over
$150 million in economic development bonds, the establishment
of a multi-bank Community Development Corporation providing
loans to small businesses and the acquisition of land for
the MetroLink Light Rail.
She has been executive Director of a not-for profit economic
development and regional promotion group comprised of major
business, industry, labor, government and education leaders
of the southwestern Illinois counties of Madison and St. Clair.
She has also been the Director of Administration and Community
Development Director for Madison County. Kane's honors include
the Albert Cassen Community Leadership Award, St. Louis Women
of Achievement, and 15th Anniversary Community Leadership
Award in St. Louis.
Mike Blacharczyk is Director of Special Education
for the Belleville Special Education Cooperative, a position
he has held for the past 10 years. Blacharczyk has a strong
background strong in special education, business administration
and educational administration. He was a previous Director
of Special Education and Assistant Director of Special education
for Madison County Region II for 16 years. Blacharczyk has
been a supervisor for special education in Collinsville and
a special education teacher in Belleville School District.
He also has experience with negotiations of union contracts,
public speaking, and construction.