Peotone resident says superintendent and school board not using tax money properly
In a recent op-ed for Edgar County Watchdogs, Peotone resident and retired teacher Jim Bowden argued that Peotone CUSD 207U is collecting tax money from residents, but the superintendent and school board are not using it for what they should.
When asked what his concerns were with the taxes, he explained that tax dollars that pour into the schools are not being used appropriately.
“I think I expressed my concerns pretty well—I have been fighting with the school district for 10 years,” Bowden recently said.
He said he believes in education, but the board is being evasive about what they are really using those tax dollars for.
“They are egomaniacs and they want power,” he said. “Up to 60 percent of (taxes) goes to schools, and it is mishandled.”
Bowden is no stranger to schools—he taught for 40 years, including colleges and inner city schools in Chicago. He has also offered oversight to school board and the education system for 30 years, so he knows when something isn’t right.
“I see what’s going on and I understand it,” he said. “Kids deserve a good school system and people should pay for it. But (the school board says) ‘we are doing it all for the kids’ and guilt people into paying more.”
He explained that school boards run up tremendous debts and then avoid transparency as to where the money goes.
“The open spigot of tax dollars that pours into local school districts has made school superintendents and the consultants – who are hired to guide district spending, borrowing and referendums – far too comfortable,” he said. “The salaries and benefits of superintendents are significant and financial consultants, in addition to being paid fees for services, also earn large commissions on bond deals. Because of their access to tax dollars, they have little incentive to change the status quo.”
In regards to transparency, Bowden argues that there are considerable efforts to hide the facts and to keep people from knowing where the money goes.
“One obvious example: After signing the speakers log of the July 21, 2014, meeting, I was called to speak, but the minutes of the meeting do not record my log signing or the fact I spoke at all,” he said. “When I spoke, I questioned Superintendent (Steve) Stein’s decision not to issue news releases to inform and update all residents of the district about the Wilton Center fuel leak and the closing of the school for five weeks. Stein told me a news release was not necessary, and he would not comment further.”
Bowden explained that residents have repeatedly requested that school board meetings be recorded and the recordings preserved, but Stein has repeatedly refused to do so.
Bowden further explained that he does not blame the teachers; rather, he blames school board members, superintendents and business managers. In an attempt to line their own pockets, they misdirect taxpayers as to why they need more funding and then do not show where the money is actually going.