Indian Prairie superintendent spent $1,200 to fight funding bill beneficial to her district
Indian Prairie School Superintendent Karen Sullivan sided with many other Illinois school officials opposed to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s school funding plan even though their districts would have received more funding under the governor’s plan.
In fact, Sullivan took trips to Springfield on the taxpayers' dime to fight for the original school funding measure, which included bailing out Chicago’s teachers’ pensions at the expense of other school districts. Rauner's amendatory veto distributed the extra funding that would have gone to Chicago to schools throughout the state.
According to expense receipts obtained by the Will County Gazette under the Freedom of Information Act, Sullivan was reimbursed $1,219.62 between February and June for travel to and from Springfield, as well as lodging and meals.
A Naperville Sun article reported that on May 16-17, Sullivan and three other superintendents traveled to the capital to lobby lawmakers and the governor over the budget impasse.
Receipts show that she spent $461.62 of taxpayer money for the trips and lodging over those two days. On May 16, she also spent $33.81 for a salmon meal at the high-end restaurant Maldaners.
Sullivan did not return a call seeking comment by press time.
In September 2016, the school district extended Sullivan's contract for four years at a base salary of $248,734.49 over the 2016-17 school year. With retirement contributions, health and life insurance, and other benefits, the total package comes to $305,713.80.
In early July, the legislature approved a $5 billion increase in personal and corporate income taxes, and on Aug. 13, the Senate overrode the Rauner's amendatory veto of SB 1, the school funding bill. In an Aug. 15 Chicago Tribune article in anticipation of a House vote to override, Sullivan said that she couldn’t support the veto even though her district would receive more money under his plan. Rauner's changes spread statewide funding more evenly, resulting in a funding increase in 97 percent of school districts.
The fight over a school funding plan ended Aug. 31 with Rauner’s signature on a compromise plan that for the first time includes a scholarship plan for kids wishing to leave underperforming public schools and attend private schools. Under the plan, businesses or individuals who sponsor the students will receive tax credits.