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May 12, 2003

State Superintendent names new chair and members to Round Lake School Finance Authority

State Superintendent Robert E. Schiller has appointed George Lingel of Rockford to chair the five-member Round Lake School District 116 School Finance Authority.

In other changes to the SFA’s membership, Superintendent Schiller appointed Round Lake Beach resident Robert M. Traxler to fulfill the remainder of the term of Lewis “Bud” Hoose and Lake Bluff resident Edwin Kula to fulfill the term of the current chair, John P. Schockmel. Hoose resigned effective April 15, and Schockmel resigned effective May 1. Two members of the authority are district residents, as required by law; the other three are nonresidents.

Lingel, who has served as a member of the SFA since the group was formed in August 2002, recently retired from Palatine School District 15 where he was Assistant Superintendent for Business and Auxiliary Services. 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.

Traxler retired from the United States Army with the rank of major. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from St. Leo College and has completed several courses at Webster College in pursuit of a master’s degree in public administration. For the past eight years, he has served on the Round Lake Beach Planning and Zoning Commission, currently serving as its recording secretary. Traxler will serve the remainder of the three-year term.

Kula is Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Treasurer for Township High School District 113 in Highland Park. He is chairman of the Executive Board of the Collective Liability Insurance Cooperative and a member and past-president of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials. Previously he served area schools as a teacher, assistant superintendent for fiscal affairs, and business manager. He is certified as a chief school business official. Kula will serve the remainder of the three-year term.

The other SFA members are Maru E. Tomusiak of Fox Lake and Bish Krywko of Round Lake.

The Round Lake SFA was formed in August 2002 when the State Board of Education accepted the petition of the Round Lake School District 116 Financial Oversight Panel to create a school finance authority. The school district has had severe financial problems for several years.

District 116 was placed on the state’s Financial Watch List, and the State Board certified the district as “In Financial Difficulty” on April 16, 1992. Although financial plans were developed as required, the financial condition of the district continued to worsen. The district faced a short-term debt of $10.5 million and long-term debt of $37 million in April 2000 when it 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 oversight 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 more than ten years. Still, the district faced huge long-term debt that could not be met within the existing structure. The oversight 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. 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 students’ educational opportunities and stabilizing district finances.

The Illinois General Assembly passed legislation in spring 2002 authorizing 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 2002. The school finance authority has 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 to replace the position of school business official. In addition, the school finance authority is empowered to negotiate collective bargaining agreements, to issue debt within specified limits and to establish tax rates necessary to pay off the debt. It is removed from some of the limitations of tax caps.

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